Best Music Production Software in 2022 (Reviews and Comparison)

Making music (or anything, really) is such an intensely personal experience. What does someone know about your creative process if they can’t hear the music you’re making? 

When it comes to the music production world, there are some great music production programs out there that can make your life a lot easier. But what are the best ones? 

If you are looking for the best music production software to bring your musical ideas to life, you are in the right place. This is a review article on the best music production software, with the pros and cons of each, along with pricing options.

Why trust us? We review products daily for our devoted readers to help them with their buying decisions. They value our honest and unbiased opinions and we really appreciate them putting their trust in us.

COMPARISON CHART

IMAGE PRODUCT
ableton 1. Ableton Live
  • Extreme flexibility when creating music
  • The software is very forgiving; if you play too many wrong notes, it will adjust the pitch to where it should be
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applelogic 2. Apple Logic Pro
  • Fully Mac-compatible (and compatible with Mac OS X 10
  • Easy upgrades
  • Great pricing model
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flstudio 3. Image-Line FL Studio 20
  • Mac/Windows compatible
  • Works with Both iPads and Windows Surface OS
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cubase 4. Cubase
  • Runs on both Mac and PC machines
  • Lots of expansive tools
  • Unmatched MIDI composing features
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5. Presonus Studio One 3
  • Versions for both Mac and Windows
  • Easy and wonderful interface
  • Remote software for iOS, Android and Windows tablets
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bitwig 6. Bitwig Studio
  • Supports Mac, Windows and Linux
  • Very good support community
  • Nice interface
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What Is Meant By A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)?

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is software that allows you to process and produce audio. Most DAWs can also record audio as well.

Some DAWs do not come with raw recording capability. You have to record from the computer, and it can be difficult to track down a decent mic or other audio device without downloading the software. Also, in some cases, you have to pay extra to get these features in the DAW that are worth the extra money.

A DAW usually comes with a myriad of features that can help artists and musicians to make their music better.

1. Ableton Live

ableton

Specification

Launch price$99 – $749
VersionsIntro
Standard
Suite
CompatibilityMac and PC
System RequirementsOS X 10.13 or later w/Intel i5 processor or later
Windows 10, Intel® Core™ i5 processor or an AMD multi-core processor

Ableton Live is a digital audio workstation for modern music production. It can be used to record, produce, mix, and master both audio and MIDI data. 

Ableton Live comes in three versions: Intro, Standard, and Suite. The Intro version does not allow you to record MIDI data or use third-party plug-ins. The Standard version has all the features of Intro plus recording MIDI data and using third-party plug-ins. And finally, the Suite has all the features of both Standard and Intro plus more. 

Ableton Live has three recording modes: Ableton Live Immediate Recording (ALR) uses the internal microphone to record audio. Ableton Live Live Continuous Recording (ALCR) uses the internal microphone to record audio and save it for playback. .

With Ableton Live, you can take note of anything and everything, for example, clickable areas, drumheads, or racks. You can also take notes for playback purposes.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Ableton is a software that allows you to customize your music easily. Unlike other software, where there are only minimal options, the developers of Ableton let you create whatever your musical desires are. 
  • It allows you to customize the interface and track sections of the software in order to get your music exactly as you want. With this great flexibility, you are assured of being able to create a unique and individualized song in no time at all. 
  • With music production software, you can play any key or tempo at any time and it can automatically make the music play perfectly in the appropriate way.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

  • Price
    Ableton Live is available for around $99, it quickly steps up to $799 depending on your needs and budget.
  • Unwieldy
    If you’re used to using a traditional DAW, such as Logic Pro, you might find Ableton Live to be a bit unwieldy. This is especially true if you are used to working with a smaller number of tracks on Logic Pro. 

    If this is the case, you may want to try an iPad Pro to see if you can get used to working with fewer tracks. The other disadvantage is that Ableton Live’s interface is somewhat confusing. 

    It has a unique layout. If you are familiar with modern software development, you’ll quickly get the hang of it.

PROS

  • Extreme flexibility when creating music
  • The software is very forgiving; if you play too many wrong notes, it will adjust the pitch to where it should be

CONS

  • The interface can seem unwieldy at times, especially if you are used to other music software. It can be confusing to use at times
  • The price while structured, will be a steep investment if you want the best version

Ableton Live can do a lot for you. The question is not “Can Ableton Live do a lot for me?”, but rather “Is Ableton Live a good choice for me?”. We believe the answer is yes, as it is a top choice for most music producers. 

It’s the one tool that can open up all the potential of electronic music to you, and it allows you to get a true idea of how far you can take it, even if you’re inexperienced.

2. Apple Logic Pro

applelogic

Specification

Launch price$199
VersionsLogic Pro X
CompatibilityMac
System RequirementsmacOS 10.15.7 or later
iOS 13.1 or later

Apple Logic Pro has come a long way since the program first came out. Logic Pro was first released by Apple in 1999. Since then, it has remained a popular music production suite used by professional musicians, Grammy and Academy Award winners all around the world.

As a professional-level suite, Logic Pro has all the features you need to create professional sounding music. You can record and playback MIDI, synthesizer, drum loops and many other features. It also has many features that are dedicated to electronic music such as microphones, high-quality effects and sequencer.

It’s also quite affordable at just $199. It is by far the most comprehensive music production suite at this price point. It offers so many features that if you use it in the professional way it makes a lot of sense. It’s worth it.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Apple Logic Pro X is available for macOS and has an extension for iOS that turns your iPad or iPhone into a remote to control the software on your Mac computer
  • With Logic Pro X, you can produce professionally sounding music, add various sound effects, audio manipulation, and write music, song lyrics, and sound effects.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

  • The interface can be a bit confusing at first, but there is plenty of built in help support
  • Depending on your computer setup, the program will suck any and all available RAM, which can slow things down
  • No native Windows App, but if you use a virtual emulator to load a version of MACOS you should be good to go

PROS

  • Fully Mac-compatible (and compatible with Mac OS X 10
  • Easy upgrades
  • Great pricing model

CONS

  • Can be a bit glitchy at times
  • No native Windows app

Logic Pro is considered to be the de facto standard when it comes to making professional music. The price is astonishing when you consider all that this software is capable of. It contains excellent mixing and mastering tools that can handle any music project and make it as easy as making toast.

3. Image-Line FL Studio 20

flstudio

Specification

Launch price$99 – $499
VersionsFruity
Studio Producer
Studio Signature
Studio All Plugins Edition
CompatibilityMac and PC
System RequirementsMac OS X 10.13.6 or later
Windows 8.1, 10 or later

Producing high quality music is not easy. There are many different techniques and skills that can help you get to that level. One of these is mastering the use of a DAW, like Image-Line FL Studio 20. 

FL Studio 20 is a complete music production environment, from composing and recording to mixing and mastering. And not just for Windows – FL Studio works on macOS too! 

WHAT WE LIKE

  • It has superb cross-platform compatibility. It works flawlessly with Mac and Windows.
  • There is a comprehensive program guide for those who prefer to know everything about an application before starting.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

  • Being such a full featured program, it can be intimidating to use
  • The export function can be incomplete at times
  • New users may have a steep learning curve, but once they get past that they will enjoy the program

PROS

  • Mac/Windows compatible
  • Works with Both iPads and Windows Surface OS

CONS

  • Can be a steep learning curve for some users
  • Exporting can be problem at times

FL Studio 20 does what it sets out to do very well. It combines FL Studio’s own powerful tools with third-party plug-ins and add-ons and is open source.

4. Cubase

cubase

Specification

Launch price$99 – $559
VersionsElements
Artist
Pro
AI
LE
CompatibilityMac and PC
System RequirementsMac OS X 10.14 or later
Windows 10 or later

In terms of sheer amount of functionality and compatibility, Cubase is one of the most popular music production software products out there. There are literally thousands of music production projects available for download. 

Cubase’s interface is very easy to navigate if you are used to it, but in all honesty the learning curve is steep for newbies.

You have to purchase a USB eLicenser for some versions of the software. This is basically a USB dongle that plugs into your computer and tells it that you have licenses to run the applications. We understand its use, but it’s still annoying.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Runs on Mac and Windows operating systems
  • Pitch correction with Expert and Expert Studio
  • Allows layers for processing or layering
  • Great synchronization tools

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

  • Steep learning curve will put some off
  • You have to purchase a USB eLicenser for some versions of the software

PROS

  • Runs on both Mac and PC machines
  • Lots of expansive tools
  • Unmatched MIDI composing features

CONS

  • The USB eLicenser dongle is just plain annoying, plus these dongles are easy to lose
  • Some newbies will not like the steep learning curve

Cubase can create any type of music you want. It has an extremely loyal fan base and will be around for a long time to come. The MIDI features are its claim to fame and the program’s reputation is well earned.

5. Presonus Studio One 3

Specification

Launch price$99.95, $399.95, $14.95/month, $164.95/
year
VersionsArtist
Professional
Sphere
CompatibilityMac and PC
System RequirementsMac OS X 10.13 or later
Windows 10 or later (64 bit only)

One of the most popular music creation programs is Studio One 3! This is a program that beginners will love, primarily due to its user interface 

The visual environment is where you place your project files, such as a file folder, audio file, and MIDI notes. You can also upload a piece of image or video to it too, allowing you to compose in a more modern format.

The graphical environment on the other hand is where you do all the creative work. This is where you can select effects and parameters, and access them via a grid layout. For example, on the left hand side is a strip of 9 buttons, whilst on the right hand side is a 12-column grid.

WHAT WE LIKE

One of the things we liked about Studio One 3 is that it has a wide array of tools and features, similar to Logic Pro X. These are:

Artist Toolbox (AT)

This is where the AtoB interface for the 3d sound recording is located. If you’re not sure what an AtoB interface is, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Here you can record in stereo or mono (mono mode also has an “AtoB mode”).

Great Network Features

There is a network share feature, which allows you to share your files (as well as share your presets) with other Studio One users.

Integrations

Studio One works with a whole host of instruments: it allows musicians and non-musicians to compose original tracks and even gives them the power to use the instruments available in the program.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

  • The main problems of Studio One 3 are the sound engine, with low maximum sampling rate and its lack of granular modeling and advanced audio controls. One is a thing of the past.
  • The track editor in Studio One 3 is inferior to some DAWs such as Reason and Ableton.

PROS

  • Versions for both Mac and Windows
  • Easy and wonderful interface
  • Remote software for iOS, Android and Windows tablets

CONS

  • Needs higher sampling rates
  • The track editors struggles when compared to other music production software

Studio One is not your typical music production software! And that’s a very good thing. If you are looking for a music software that helps you learn how to make music, Studio One is definitely one to consider. Beginners can get started relatively easily and will truly be able to enjoy the experience.

6. Bitwig Studio

bitwig

Specification

Launch price$99 – $399
VersionsStudio 16 Track
Studio
CompatibilityMac, PC, Linux
System RequirementsMac OS X 10.14 or later
​​Windows 7 64-bit
Windows 8 64-bit
Windows 10 64-bit
Ubuntu 18.04 or later

Bitwig Studio is one of the most popular music production tools out there. The quality of the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) itself, the sounds that come with it, and the level of integration with other software and hardware that you can get with the software is amazing. 

The program supports Mac, Windows and surprisingly Linus operating systems. This is an extremely nice touch. You can also create sample libraries, arrange and edit audio and MIDI data, plus you can mix and master any type of music with ease.

The software is split into two programs, which are packed with a huge array of options and possibilities. Bitwig Studio is a bit more advanced and complex than GarageBand, which offers you everything you could want in terms of getting started with music.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Supports Mac, Windows and even Linux
  • Plugin crash protection prevent serious problems with third-party integrations
  • Huge community bas is always there to help
  • User interface is very good for both beginners and experts alike
  • Supports SF2 samples right from the start

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

  • The program freezes at times which is very annoying, particularly when in the middle of a project
  • Although there are only two prices, the disparity between them is a bit strange
  • No real LV2 plugin support, which we find strange, since they are widely used

PROS

  • Supports Mac, Windows and Linux
  • Very good support community
  • Nice interface

CONS

  • Prone to crashing
  • No LV2 plugin support
  • Pricey for what it is

The best way to describe Bitwig Studio is “Apple Garageband on a plugin overload”. Bitwig has a very capable program that in our opinion needs some work on stability and plugin support.

Conclusion

Thanks for sticking with us to the end of our review about the best music production software. As you can tell, there’s a music creation program for every level and interest. Most programs can be used with any main operating system, which is very important for collaborations. 

All offer free trials so don’t be shy about trying them out. Happy music making!