Pro Tools is an effective, robust and popular digital audio workstation (DAW), but it is not the be-all and end-all in the world of audio software. If Pro Tools does not live up to your standards for one reason or another, several other choices are available. Some of these other audio platforms are free, some have interesting and unique features but all of them are worth exploring. To help you get started in finding the platform that is right for you, the following are the top 16 alternatives to Pro Tools.
Additionally, you can check out our list of the top music production software.
Price: $13.99/mo — Comes with a free trial
If you’re looking for an excellent alternative to Pro Tools, Soundtrap is probably the easiest DAW to get started with.
You can start recording and producing music online, in the browser within minutes. It also comes with built-in plugins, like the highly popular pitch correction Antares Autotune.
Best of all, you can collaborate online with other producers or musicians on projects seamlessly.
2. Logic Pro X
Price: $199.00 for Mac
Logic Pro is straight from the Apple iTunes store and is made for macs. It comes equipped with many awesome features for making beats and is perfect for EDM and hip hop.
Logic has time-saving beat making tools and allows you to have complete control over every last aspect of what you create. Learn how to use Logic with these courses.
Ableton Live 9 is a strong alternative to Pro Tools, and it is available in three versions, depending on your specific needs: Intro, Standard and Suite.
The features of Intro are limited but Live 10 Standard includes an 11 GB library of more than 1,100 sounds and 37 effects for three instruments. For in-depth education on Ableton, check out our list of best Ableton courses available.
Key Feature: Works on both Mac OS and Windows.
4. Acid Pro 10
Provider: Sony Creative Software
Price: $149.95 for Windows
Acid Pro 10 is a comprehensive DAW that can be used to produce 24-bit, professional-quality audio in both live and studio settings. It is also an excellent piece of software for loop-based music because of its MIDI sequencing and native support for virtual studio technology (VST) instruments.
Provider: The Ardour Community
Price: $1.00 for Mac and Linux
Ardour is an open-source DAW, and a ready-to-run version can be purchased for a donation of only $1.00. Subscriptions are also available that include automatic updates for $1 – $10 per month. Ardour offers flexible recording options, unlimited tracks with multiple channels and soundtrack mixing. Hundreds of free plug-ins are also available for further customization.
Provider: The Audacity Development Team
Price: Free for Windows, Mac, and Linux
Audacity is the most popular open-source DAW on the market today. It is easy to learn and use, includes a multi-track editor/mixer and can record live audio. Some of the files supported by Audacity are WAV, FLAC, MP3, AIFF, and Ogg Vorbis, and sound quality ranges from 16 bits to 32 bits for floating-point samples.
Price: Free for any Web browser
If you just need the basics, you might want to consider Audiotool, a free, open-source application that operates through any browser. Audiotool has a modular design that allows you to input unlimited audio devices through a virtual desktop, and it includes a polyphonic synthesizer, a sample player, a rhythm generator and the Tonematrix sound generator.
8. Audition CC
Price: $19.99 per month for Windows and Mac
Audition CC is Adobe’s powerful DAW offering that is part of the company’s Creative Cloud suite. Audition allows you to create, mix, enhance and repair audio through several state-of-the-art features, such as Preview Editor, Noise Generator, Pitch Bender and Sound Remover. Special pricing is available for teachers and students.
9. Cubase 10.5
Provider: Steinberg Media Technologies
Price: $99.99 – $580 for Windows and Mac
Cubase 10.5 is the latest release and is continuing to be a popular DAW. It’s is available in three versions — Elements, Artists and Full.
The Elements version is great for basic composing and editing while the Artists version includes sequencing tools, better performance and a larger selection of instruments and effects.
The full version is a professional-grade package that can be used for both live and studio sound.
10. FL Studio 20
Provider: Image-Line Software
Price: $99.00 – $899 for Windows & Mac
FL Studio is a professional DAW that can be purchased in one of four versions: Fruity Edition, Producer Edition, Signature Bundle or All Plug-Ins Bundle.
You have the ability to start a trial with FL Studio, and if you are looking to learn more about the DAW check out or resources on the top courses available.
FL Studio 20 can be used for audio editing, sound recording, enhancing live performances and sound creation.
Provider: Open Source
Price: Free for Windows, Mac, and Linux
Frinika is a free, no-frills DAW that runs on Java. It can be used to create sounds through an included soft synthesizer, add real-time effect to live or studio audio and record audio. Some of the notable features of Frinika are an Amiga-style tracker, mixing board, notation viewer and piano roll.
Price: $14.99 for Mac, iPhone, and iPad
GarageBand is a full-featured recording studio developed by Apple that can be used in conjunction with a USB keyboard, electric guitar and more than 100 software instruments, including drums, guitars, strings, brass, and woodwinds.
Effects can be added to guitar through virtual foot pedals, and access is granted to Apple Loops to create new music or enhance live performances.
13. Mixcraft 9
Provider: Acoustica Inc.
Price: $149.99 for Windows
Mixcraft 9 is a basic yet powerful DAW that is also reasonably priced. The software allows you to record and remix audio while adding effects, sounds, and music from virtual instruments.
In addition, it comes with an assortment of music loops numbering in the thousands. Mixcraft 9 also includes several features for working with video files.
14. Reaper DAW
Provider: Cockos Inc.
Price: $60.00 – $225.00 for Windows and Mac
Reaper DAW only comes in one version, but it has two price points. For $60, individuals can purchase the software for private use, but using it commercially requires the full $225. Two major-release upgrades are included in the price.
All this software requires to become a full-featured recording studio is a hardware audio interface and a microphone.
15. Reason 11
Provider: Propellerhead Software AB
Price: $99 – $599 Windows & Mac
Reason 11 is a complete music-production system that comes with everything required to write, record and mix music tracks. There are three levels that you can utilize — Essentials ($99), Full ($399), and Suite ($599).
It includes a number of synthesizers, a drum machine, and a loop player, and new instruments can be added from third-party developers.
Reason also includes more than 20 effects racks, a robust mixer, and a customizable recorder and sequencer.
Price: Free for Windows Users – Mac version coming soon
Cakewalk, previously mentioned on this list as Sonar X3, is available now via Bandlab. The years of work in perfecting their DAW is now free to use
The software can be used to enhance live performances, record sound, edit tracks, remix tracks and create professional masters.