The momentous surge of Internet has transformed the music production landscape in ways aplenty. Gone are the days when a budding musician had to depend on a music label for crafting some sublime music. Now anyone can create beautiful melodies confined in the realms of their home and put out their songs for the world to marvel at. Thanks to modern music production software, creating music has become so ridiculously easy! However, getting hold of a decent music production tool can be a daunting task. Especially when there are so many expensive software lingering on the internet. So, how can an aspiring songwriter find a decent free music production software? By going through our list of the best free music production software for beginners, of course!
How To Choose The Best Free Music Production Software For Beginners?
The free programs or DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that we have handpicked offer an abundant collection of free synths and VSTs that are compatible with modern OS, be it Mac OS X or Windows (7, 8, 8.1), and Windows 10. For selecting a suitable music creation program, do give credence to the responsiveness of the user interface as well as ease-of-use. Luckily, all the programs in our roundup of the best free music production software meet all the aforementioned criteria.
No matter if you are seeking a powerful all-encompassing DAW, a robust synth + drum machine or a free sampler program, all the programs mentioned in our list will make it easier to select what you’re scouting for. So, are you ready to find out the best free music production software for beginners? Let’s get started.
Note: If you are a budding hip-hop, or EDM producer, you might as well want to check out our roundup of the best free beat making software for Windows and Mac.
10 Best Free Music Production Software for Beginners in 2018
1) Tracktion 6 [For PC & Mac]
If you are seeking a full-fledged DAW that delivers the goods no matter what genre of music you create, Tracktion 6 is a behemoth that can’t be overlooked. For starters, it supports loads of AU plugins as well as VSTs that can be further enriched through Tracktion’s brilliant automation tool which allows users to automate any parameter on a plugin.
In fact, it won’t be a hassle to sift through hundreds of plugins thanks to a nifty plugin management system. Coming onto the intuitive single-screen interface, any novice can learn the ropes of composing, recording, editing, mixing and mastering their music with ease and grace in no time.
Some of the highlights of Tracktion 6 comprise: beat time correction tool kit, Z-Plane’s elastique pro time stretch algorithm, tape-style start/stop effects, a robust “super comp” audio compiling tool, and Warp-time audio editing features. All together, Tracktion 6 is a formidable workflow-oriented tool for music production.
2) GarageBand [For Mac]
GarageBand has been a staple of Macs since time immemorial, and still remains one of the best free music production software for beginners who want to create some great sounding music. What’s more, GarageBand’s UI seems very smooth and responsive wherein you can rack up to 255 tracks, add a virtual session drummer and suss out hundreds of AU plugins, synth pads, guitar and drum loops.
In fact, GarageBand also offers a realistic array of amp emulators traversing genres such as Indie, Grunge, Classic Rock and Metalcore if you are into guitar-based music production. So much so, you can also revel in presets for guitar, voice, and percussion sounds to create, record, edit and share your sick tunes worldwide.
What’s more, GarageBand is a brilliant stepping stone for beginners who, once they have honed their skills, can get hold of Garageband’s elder brother i.e. Logic Pro for more advanced music production features.
3) Reaper [For PC & Mac]
To be precise, Reaper is not intrinsically ‘free’, but the weird part is you can still use it. Makes sense? Well, Reaper offers a 60-days trial period, but you won’t be coaxed to shell out the nominal $60 fee for full access after that period is over, so you can use it all you want. Reaper proffers powerful MIDI routing to multiple media formats at any bit depth and sample rate. Not to mention, a crafty Notation Reader for reading and writing music, and real-time FX processing. Also, Reaper is pretty efficient for users with low spec computers since it doesn’t hog the memory. Besides, it can even produce songs with over 100 layers of audio tracks in the mix.
But, the real novelty factor for Reaper is its seamless integration of third-party VSTs, AU plugins, MIDI plugins, real-time pitch shifting, auto plugin delay compensation, real-time stretch, et al. Also, the amount of customization options that Reaper offers are very impressive, in the sense, that it empowers every user to craft music whichever way they want. What’s more, you can revel in ReSurround for spatial visualization and process stereo and multichannel audio (up to 64 channels).
Novices will find the customizability of Reaper’s drag and drop layout very enticing considering its outboard windows can be docked, shown, or hidden on a separate monitor. Also, it is very easy to overdub, record multiple takes and loops, or punch in and out thanks to simple resizing, trim, and glue tools which promise a lot of accessibility to beginners.
4) Ableton Live 9 Lite [For PC & Mac]
Despite being a limited edition suite, Ableton Live 9 Lite is one of the best free music production software for beginners to fiddle with. You can use up to eight recording tracks on the lite version for MIDI sequencing and harness an eclectic collection of SFX (drum sampler, EQ, delay, chorus, reverb, compressor, etc.) as well as AUs and VSTs to create professional quality audio.
Moreover, you can even pair up MIDI equipment such as keyboards with Ableton Live Lite 9. What’s more, it is also compatible with the Export live set feature of many iOS apps so that you can play your EDM set on the go, anywhere.
Beginners will find Ableton Live 9 Lite’s fast and intuitive workflow-based interface fairly easy to write and record music with as well for producing their own songs. Some other spellbinding features include: Analog-modeled filters designed on the lines of vintage hardware models, inbuilt slicing and warping capabilities, and more.
5) LMMS [For Mac & Windows]
If simplicity of interface were to be the sole criteria for choosing a DAW for beginners, then LMMS takes the crown. It’s still suitable for all levels of music producers, but there is something “familiar” about the layout that hooks you right in. LMMS boasts five editors for creating melodies (Song Editor), an FX editor for your own mixes apart from a Beat + Bassline Editor for rendering those groovy beats.
LMMS also has a gamut of instrument synthesizers (including emulations of Roland TB-303, etc), and native multichannel support for Soundfont for quality instrument patches and banks. Moreover, LMMS is renowned for its compatibility with other DAW files and support for drop-in VSTs and LADSPA plug-ins with which you can incorporate a multitude of extra effects into the music track.
Of course, you can also use the usual fare: piano-roll editor, inbuilt compressor, distortion and bass enhancer, limiter, delay, reverb, and spectrum analyzer. Lastly, you can export your files into WAV, MP3, and AIFF formats as well as import MIDI files from different music production software such as Hydrogen.
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6) DarkWave Studio (For PC Only)
A slick alternative for PC users, DarkWave Studio doesn’t consume much storage space, but it is a powerhouse of rich features such as Pattern Editor, Virtual Studio, Multitrack Hard Disk Recorder and Sequence Editor. We were very impressed with the Sequence Editor which allows users to line up patterns that can be played in any arrangement. In fact, you can also mix all the track patterns together.
DarkWave is also renowned for supporting all kinds of ASIO audio drivers and VSTs that provide a variety of instruments to choose from on its slick drag and drop interface. What else injects DarkWave Studio into our roundup of the best free music production software? DarkWave Studio includes 19 different plugins which can be harnessed to add virtual effects to your tracks. However, some beginners might find DarkWave a little bit complex viz-a-viz dealing with many separate windows and menus.
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7) Ardour [For Mac & PC]
Ardour is a unique DAW that piqued our interest in many ways. For starters, it supports a large swathe of VSTs, AU plugins, FX plugins which are pivotal for audio enhancement in every DAW. The USP, herein, lies in Ardour’s ability to automate parameters within the plugins.
In fact, the mixing console of Ardour is one of the best in the industry in terms of flexibility and ease-of-use thanks to a well-defined and soothing interface that hardly looks like a hotchpotch of random widgets and buttons.
Also, Ardour is a non-linear editor (with virtual stacking for showing overlapping regions) like some programs on our list of the best free music production software for beginners. Which means that multi-track MIDI editing becomes an easy affair. Moreover, Ardour can also be used to edit the soundtrack of a video with a frame-by-frame timeline of the video displaying by the side in a separate monitor window.
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8) Hydrogen [For Mac Only]
For those budding musicians who are on a tight budget, but yet seek a nifty program with modular interface to create beats, Hydrogen fits the bill just right. It is a great free option for creating and customizing your rhythm-based songs. Although Hydrogen is not riddled with as many features as some expensive DAWs on the market, but it gets the job done especially if your sole focus is on sampling drum beats.
Don’t be fooled by its limited features, Hydrogen is an advanced drum machine that comes loaded with a pattern-based sequencer which can blend in hordes of patterns into a song. There is also a sample editor with cut and loop options as well as advanced tab tempo, time-stretch and pitch corrector. Of course, there is MIDI input support and rendering options available for formats such as AIFF, WAV, FLAC, OGG, et al.
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9) MULab [For Mac & PC]
If you are on the lookout for a top-notch modular synth and effects engine, MULab is a surefire no-brainer and one of the best free music production software for beginners looking to create, record, edit and render multi-track audio and EDM tracks. The modular interface of MULab is flexible enough to support audio, MIDI playback and automation parts. Coming onto the programmable synths and drums, you can harness the MuSynth workhorse synth/sampler (a library of world-class synths) and MuDrum module for tweaking sampled drum loops.
MULab’s intuitive visual routing options including a streamlined and versatile mixing desk making it a cinch for you to carry out edits that are normally complex and time-consuming. For instance, its automation parts let you swiftly automate any parameter, as well as provide auto mono/stereo handling. Some other highlights include an arpeggiator, step sequencer, and many more.
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10) Audacity [For Mac & PC]
What would a lineup of the best free music production software for beginners be bereft of a mere mention of Audacity? It is compatible with a plenty of VSTs and boasts some features (pitch corrector, delay) that are essential for a beginner learning the ropes of audio production. Also, Audacity is a multitrack audio editor with options to edit mono and stereo files separately. Sporting a simple and easy-to-pick-up interface, Audacity can invariably process audio files, edit samples, songs, and export files into numerous formats such as WAV, MP3, AIFF, FLAC, etc.
However, unlike other programs(DAWs) in our list of the best free music production software for beginners, Audacity is actually an open-source digital audio editor, not a digital audio workstation (DAW). Its primary pursuit is to manipulate audio data instead of helping users organize loads of different audio waveforms into a coherent mix. Also, it lacks in many features that can be found in a full version DAW.
And…that’s a wrap! Did you like our roundup of the best free music production software for beginners? Did we miss out on any great software that you know of? Sound off in the comments.
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