9 Music Production Software Tools With Features And Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Digital audio editing, digital audio workstation (DAW) software and musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) are some elements of music production. Music production results from music producers using a software tool for recording, mixing and mastering sounds. Learning about some music production tools can help you select a suitable program when creating a song, either with vocals or instruments. In this article, we learn what a music production software tool is, explore some popular ones, list their features and examine some tips to choose the right one.

What Is A Music Production Software Tool?

Referred to as a sequencer or DAW, a music production software tool enables you to record, mix and master music tracks. Some software is so powerful that arranging the sounds of an orchestra of thousands of people is also possible. The process of music production includes external and internal sounds. External sounds are what musicians create with their vocals and instruments, such as guitars, drums and bass. Referred to as MIDI tracks, virtual instruments in a DAW create internal sounds, such as drum kits or guitar strums.

These sounds can be simple to edit with the help of software tools for music production. A versatile sequencer offers a splendid selection of virtual instruments and allows you to edit the mix precisely. You may find that some advanced music software programs pack an extensive range of virtual effects for mixing and a robust equaliser for mastering. Some examples of popular software tools are Cubase, Pro Tools and FL Studio.

Related: What Does A Music Producer Do? (With Career Steps And FAQs)

9 Music Production Software Tools

Here are nine software tools for music production that may help you make impressive audio tracks:

1. Cubase

Offering professional-level music production, Cubase features a channel strip module that offers strong production quality. It shows MIDI controllers on the screen after automatically detecting your MIDI device. Its Chord Pads tool allows you to play different chords and patterns. These pads are playable via a MIDI controller and enable you to tweak tensions and voicing. Sampler Track is another tool included in Cubase, which allows you to select a piece of audio and turn it into a sample track. This software tool also offers a range of loops, presets and effects for high-quality music production.

2. Pro Tools

Pro Tools offers several instruments, loop recording and automated playlist tracking for recording and creating captivating music. The tool allows you to use several plug-ins, helping you stay inventive while producing. With its editing tools, you can trim clips and change session tempo. Its compression option allows you to compress multiple tracks, delivering a high dynamic range for your music. You can even automate volumes and settings for plug-ins for a balanced result. Different plug-ins for the software offer you different equaliser settings, virtual instruments and guitar amps.

3. FL Studio

Mixing and mastering sounds with FL Studio delivers professional results. Some features that allow you to work on complex production projects are the effects chains, sidechain control, audio sends, advanced automation and plug-in delay compensation. Its vast array of native instruments and effects, coupled with plug-ins, help you enhance your production quality. FL Studio features a collection of samples, loops and presets and is available as a mobile application, allowing you to produce music from anywhere and transfer projects between operating systems.

Related: What Does A Music Composer Do? Guide And Career Tips

4. Ableton Live

Ableton Live has many innovative features, such as the Session View, where playing MIDI and audio loops of varying lengths in any combination is easy. The program can change the tempo and timing of any audio file easily. You can even use warping to mix and match loops from a range of tempos and fix timing errors present in a recorded performance. Using this software's MIDI effects can help you creatively manipulate your compositions. Analogue-modelled noise, distortion and saturation are some of the other features of this program that can support your creativity.

5. Magix Acid Pro

The Magix Acid Pro software offers an in-app store for downloading instruments, samples and loops to add to your sounds. The tool features a MIDI Playable Chopper option with which you can play samples with any MIDI keyboard. Its loop-based music production workflow helps you develop patterns quickly by automatically matching loops to the project's key and tempo. The tool offers a collection of virtual instruments, including acoustic emulations and synths. Magix Acid Pro has tools for easy sampling and remixing, including Beatmapper and Chopper.

6. Cakewalk by BandLab

Cakewalk by BandLab is an impressive DAW that lets you track, mix and master sounds using several effects. The music software has a design that follows the layout of an analogue console and features a vast library of modules, like convolution reverb, dynamic compression, peak limiting and tube saturation. This free online DAW is compatible with touch devices and offers a range of virtual instruments and guitar simulations. Its mobile multi-track Mix Editor allows you to work on a project anywhere. The cloud syncing functionality of the program also enables you to collaborate with other musicians easily.

Related: What Is A Sound Engineer? (With Duties And Career Advice)

7. PreSonus Studio One

Studio One offers an efficient workflow with its drag-and-drop functionality. It lets you drag and drop various elements, such as virtual instruments and plug-in effects. You can even use the drag-and-drop function to convert MIDI to audio or audio to MIDI. Dragging chords from the Chord Track section to an Instrument Track section allows you to compose music instantly. Extracting the chord notes from audio helps you develop great harmonies. From transient detection to multiple slicing and time-stretching, these features help you edit multi-track drums quickly. Its extended mapping editor also enables you to manage complex articulation maps.

8. Cockos Reaper

Promising fast load times, you can instal and use Reaper from a portable or a network drive. Its multi-channel support delivers powerful audio and MIDI routing. It features 64-bit internal audio processing that allows you to import projects in several media formats. It also supports third-party plug-in effects and virtual instruments for a productive workflow. You can process audio and MIDI with various effects, and there are built-in tools if you want to create your own. This music software also allows you to open several projects simultaneously in separate tabs.

9. Audacity

Audacity is an extremely light, free audio editor to get you started with music production. It lets you record your sounds through a microphone or create a digital recording from other media sources. With Audacity, importing, editing and combining sound files is incredibly easy. You can export these files in multiple formats using high-quality re-sampling and dithering. Cut, copy, paste and delete features are simple to use in this software, which offers a plug-in manager to install or remove effects from the menus. Its vast array of keyboard shortcuts allows you to work efficiently.

Related: How To Become A Songwriter In India (With Skills And Tips)

Tips for choosing your software for music production

Here are some tips to help you select your software for music production:

Identify your requirements

The appropriate software tool largely depends on your level of music production. A feature-rich program may help you deliver quality work if you are a professional with substantial experience in this industry. If you have just started producing music, consider using a free tool to help you learn the basics of DAW. If your goal is to record music and do basic mixing and mastering, a trial version of a software tool is also a good option.

Determine your budget

After determining your requirements, your budget is the next factor that may help you select your ideal software tool for music production. While you may like to buy an expensive DAW that offers a long list of features, it might be better to purchase software that aligns with your available resources. Many free music software tools provide the essential features. Consider using these while saving for a full-featured version.

Choose a platform

The OS of your computing device may or may not support a specific DAW. Before subscribing to a tool, check the software website for the system requirements. Verify if your hardware and OS are compatible with the software. If confusion persists, visit online forums and communities and ask if your device can run the tool you intend to buy.

Plan for the future

Entry-level software can help you get started, but you may need professional-level features in your music software as you advance. When upgrading your music software, it is beneficial to select a future-proof tool or DAW that is unlikely to become obsolete soon. While you may initially spend more on an advanced tool, it can help you save money in the future, making it unnecessary to buy intermediate-level software.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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