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Easiest DAW to learn as a beginner

Discussion in 'Home Recording Studio' started by Morf2540, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. Morf2540

    Morf2540 Strat-Talker

    Nov 8, 2017
    Philadelphia, PA
    I've been reading a lot about the various DAWs. They all seem very similar, and everyone has their own favorite. My question is: which one is the easiest to learn as a total beginner. I am not asking for the best, or the most features, etc. Just the easiest to learn quickly to get up and running. All I want is to make simple home demos for personal use, as an aid for songwriting, etc. I don't need the ability to choose between 72 different kinds of compression. If years down the road I find the need for something better I can always upgrade.

    Side question: all the popular DAWs contain the ability to create a drum track, right?

  2. TheDuck

    TheDuck Most Honored Senior Member

    Jan 12, 2016
    Lil' Rhody
    Easy is a relative term. One persons easy is anothers tedious nightmare.
    Tha said, are you on Mac or PC?

    Mac has Garageband, which is powerful and user friendly.
    PC has Audacity, which is easy to use, but lacks many features of other DAWs.

    Not all DAWs can create virtual instrument tracks, but there are plenty of free loops available.

    Just keep in mind, they all have a learning curve.
  3. Morf2540

    Morf2540 Strat-Talker

    Nov 8, 2017
    Philadelphia, PA
    PC. Shoulda said that up front.
  4. Paperback Rocker

    Paperback Rocker Nitro-mancer Strat-Talk Supporter

    Sep 18, 2014
    Lewisville, TX
    Audacity. Lots of tutorials. Many podcasters use it as well, so watch their tutorials too.
  5. Miotch

    Miotch Senior Stratmaster

    Jun 28, 2011
    Never used one I actually found to be "easy"
    davidKOS likes this.
  6. jeff h

    jeff h Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 13, 2017
    Audacity is super easy and free but certainly has its limitations.

    If you need a audio interface as well, some of them come bundled with lite versions of more powerful DAWs that work really well.
    rgbedard likes this.
  7. CigBurn

    CigBurn Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 22, 2014
    Same Shed Different Day
    As a relatively new DAW user (a few years in now) this is my suggestion. Try a couple out, knowing in advance you aren't really getting 99% of it. So base your decision on look and feel for you and how well it works with your computer. Like most folks I went through several. The StudioOne that came with my Presonus audiobox, Ableton which came with a keyboard I purchased, Reaper from suggestions here at ST, Audacity and a couple others.

    I ended up using the one I felt gave me the most bang for my buck, and fit my personal sense of order interface-wise. imho/ymmv
  8. stratobiker

    stratobiker Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 16, 2011
    If songwriting is your thing then take a look at Ableton Live.
    It does things in a slightly different way....but lends itself to songwriting and arranging like no other.
    You can get the lite version for free.
    You can get a free online course from Ableton that will help you find your way around.
    The results you can get in a very short space of time are astounding.
    HTH SB :cool:
    Strat-Slinger likes this.
  9. roger@pennyflic

    roger@pennyflic Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 4, 2013
    I don't actual think DAW's are easy at all. I think you have to invest a fair bit of time into any of them to really get the hang of it if you haven't used one before.
    Having said that, learning a second one or third can be a bit easier as you kinda then have an idea of what you are trying to do. In those cases it seems to be a "which button does what I want in this DAW"
  10. Dare1

    Dare1 Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 16, 2011
    Definitely Audacity. There are tutorials on YouTube as well.

    EDIT: I use Audacity for literally all of my recordings. It works great. The delay and reverb effects were added through Audacity. I recorded this video this morning.

    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
  11. GaryCorby

    GaryCorby Strat-O-Master

    Apr 11, 2012
    Audacity isn't a DAW. It's not even close. It's recording software for podcasts, which can double as recording software for other stuff. If you want to record live but never edit, then audacity is fine. Or if you want to cut out excerpts from a track then it's great. Lots of gymnasts and ice skaters use it to prepare their music.

    All the major DAWs have lite versions. Try them all. But I honestly don't think there's any such thing as a DAW that's easy to learn. You're about to discover a thing called latency. You'll also need an interface box. The quality of the device drivers has a huge effect on how well the sound is recorded. Then you need to understand tracks, buses and maybe midi.

    Reaper's probably the most used, because so many people refuse to pay for it and get away with it. Ableton's probably the most popular among people who actually spend money. Personally I think Studio One's the easiest to understand, but it depends a lot on how your brain works.
  12. Lovnmesomestrat

    Lovnmesomestrat Strat-O-Master Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 11, 2014
    At Home
    I would recommend Presonus Studio one:

    Studio One also has a ton of free loops that includes drum loops, which you may find helpful.

    A guy named Johnny Geib (Songwriter\Producer\Engineer\Trainer) does a you-tube program/class every weeknight at 6pm central time and he is a really good teacher (he takes questions and shows examples to explain his answers, etc)

    I hope this helps,

  13. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    I use Studio One because after trying some others, it was the only one that I could understand. Obviously my brain works with it. :D
    Lovnmesomestrat likes this.
  14. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    The simplest is Reaper. To start with, it's as simple as using a tape recorder, but with pictures.

    I used Cakewalk all the way up to Pro Audio 9, Sonar, Cubase and loads of others I can't even remember.
    Bowmap and Omar like this.
  15. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 10, 2014

    If starting out recording then use Audacity. If you want to spend a lot of time learning a DAW that is a different goal -- which means finding a DAW that works for you or finding one that the studios use so you can chase that job.

    Drum tracks with Hydrogen drum machine.

    Get, it has at least two DAWs built in plus I think Reaper available, Amp sims, pedal effects, and a lot more. A whole production system in a box. Download and install to flash drive then boot off the flash drive, do your work, save to an external drive, reboot back to your base system. Or install to a second older pc kicking around the yard due to 'too slow'/'viruses'/etc and it will run fast.

  16. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    I had Ubunto Studio running on my old laptop with an external hard drive. I found Ardour a real pain to use.
  17. Grandy

    Grandy Strat-Talker

    Nov 3, 2010
    You might try one of the online tools that you can use in your web browser. I've been curious about them but I don't have any experience with them.
  18. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    Tell us more?
    Lovnmesomestrat likes this.
  19. Nubs

    Nubs Strat-Talker

    Aug 29, 2015
    Houston, TX
    I'm going to suggest looking at MixCraft. I used to use a Mac back in the day and Garageband was an outstanding app to create backing tracks for playing over. I really enjoyed the ease of plucking out a drum loop, bass loop, horn section, etc. and dropping it into the timeline. I could put together a back track in a matter of seconds.

    MixCraft looks to emulate that same functionality for Windows. The interface is similar to GB and it has a ton of pre-recorded loops to use. If simplicity is your goal, I would suggest looking into it.

    Good luck!
    Nick Evans likes this.
  20. Nick Evans

    Nick Evans Senior Stratmaster

    May 8, 2016
    South Wales UK
    I use Mixcraft it costs around £60 , if you can use a multi track recorder you can use Mixcraft its that simple.
    Nubs likes this.