Beginners DAW

Hi All,

I’m just getting into making music on my iPad and was wondering if you could recommend a decent DAW for a beginner? I don’t want to spend mega bucks on something massive but want to be able to capture different tracks and process them. As I said, I’m a bit of a beginner so any help and advice would be greatly appreciated!




  • Beatmaker 2 all day long....

  • GarageBand for iOS is really, really easy to use, and pretty intuitive so you can figure most of it out just by playing around for an hour. If you need help there are tons of YouTube videos and tutorials available. The built-in sounds and instruments are fantastic and very flexible - you can spend endless hours tweaking the keyboard and synthesizer effects, for instance. It does all the basic DAW functions like multitrack recording, MIDI input (for an external controller if you have one), piano roll for note editing, basic audio effects like compressor and reverb, and can export & share tracks. It's also Audiobus compatbile now, as an output target at least.

    For $5 you can't go wrong. The biggest limitation is that you only have 8 tracks to work with, but you can merge tracks together once you have them recorded & set the way you like to free up more track space. Honestly you can do quite a lot with it.

  • edited March 2013

    Beatmaker 2....the biggest bang for the buck. Don't let the name fool's suitable for every genre of music and one of the most capable apps out there

  • As a beginner you can't go wrong with Garage Band, it's easy to use, has some great sounds and functions and is terrific value. Once you have the basics sorted on that, you will have a better feel for where to go next.

  • Guys, Beatmaker 2 is no beginners DAW. It really isn't. Garageband is.

    If you don't need MIDI then MultiTrack DAW would qualify as well.

    GarageBand on the other hand can't record multiple streams at once.

  • @Sebastian agreed. I'm pretty used to the typical DAW environment already, but BM2 still has a significant learning curve. By contrast GB is as intuitive as can be.

    Also with GB you get a lot of other features for the money. High quality instruments, smart instruments, and so on. The smart drums alone are worth the $5 for a newbie just getting their feet wet in a DAW environment. Frees you up to actually play melodies and record tracks, and not get bogged down in the drum pattern minutia.

  • edited January 2017
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  • That's nice to hear. :)

  • I recommend also GB. GB is really easy to use. The choice of sounds and fx is limited, but their quality is great and inspiring. Less is more.

  • Cubasis is a bit expensive but well worth the money has a stack of pre loaded loops and a nice set of internal instruments, is also going to upgraded soon, has a bit of a learning curve but nothing mega..BM2 is awsome but can be complex..Music Studio is also very good has great instruments and drums built right in, and you can make your own instruments from samples you can import from AudioCopy/Paste..Multitrack DAW is very basic, just like having a in some ways thats for more advanced users were they know what to go in first..and then GarageBand..this will give you lots of great stuff for very little money and no in-app purchaces..
    Personally I would go with Cubasis, not too complex but enough to keep you interested and learning and it's very stable even when recording external instruments i.e guitars, keys, vocals etc.

  • +1 for garageband here. If you want to make electronic music though, get nanostudio. Not quite as simple but extremely intuitive and very powerful.

  • Oops, I misunderstood...misread and thought for some reason they were looking for a good DAW to start out with on iPad. BM2 has a pretty steep learning curve. GarageBand is pretty user-friendly and once you get the hang of it, you can always move up to something a little more advanced.

  • What's your background @eyeball are you a new to computer music making altogether or just ipad ?

  • I have to admit for £2.99 Garageband is a no brainer....

  • I can't imagine someone coming to the audiobus forum before they heard about garageband, so I'm going to assume eyeball knows about Garageband and suggest MT-DAW to use with audiobus. I will also say that BM2 isn't a horrible choice for a beginner and I say that mostly because there is a crazy amount of tutorials and user support for BM2.. More then I've seen for any other DAW.. Although the getting started might take longer then it would with MT-Daw, It gives him more room to advance when the time comes. Also not to crap on anything but I actually think that BM2 is easier to record in AB then GB is.. At least BM2 auto creates tracks that are ready to go.. Garageband requires you to go in and make a new track and it isn't super obvious what kind of track to make. :-)

    In conclusion: @eyeball if you are willing to watch some videos to learn what to do i say go with BM2. Otherwise Multi-Track DAW for sure. :-)

  • I thought I would share this as I have just joined Soundcloud - mostly done in Garage Band some months ago, with help from DrumJam and ThumbJam.

  • Thanks for the info everyone! To give you some background, I play a bit of guitar and drums but have just really started playing around with anything digital. I can slap loops together in GB and get something going but I'd really like to be able to sample tracks easily and use them in various mash ups. At the moment when I import a track into GB and sample it i get a slight jump at the end of the sample so I was wondering if I was doing something wrong or if there was a better tool. As for learning, I'm all up for teaching myself something new as long as I can end up doing what I want!

  • key info there. :)

    Beatmaker or Auria (auria if you don't need midi yet). Not sure off the top of my head if either of them can import from your itunes library.

  • Spend the $20 and take some time reading the extensive manual...

  • you might not even need a daw for mashups. Check out this app, imashup. it will actually auto scan your library for bpm and give you hints on which tracks might be good to beatmatch plus you can edit which parts of the track you want but youre not able to stick in your own musical ideas.

    If you play drums and wanna do mashups, check out Auria. It's not a beginner app but it will have DIRAC time stretching which will make it easier to make those loops and samples match almost making it sorta the Ableton for Ipad. It has some cool EQ where you can filter out the low end on your lead track to keep the vocals and other high end stuff like keyboards/guitar (ex. Britney Spears track) and filter out the high end off your other track to keep the bass and kicks (ex. Dr. Dre or Skrillex track) And if you play drums, you'll especially appreciate DrumAGog via Auria. It's where you can switch out diff drum samples with your recorded drum hits. This is especially helpful with kick and room mics because unless you have a great sounding room and proper mics, recording drums can be a bitch and they usually end up sounding weak but having the ability to switch out sounds with cleaner drum samples will make your drum tracks sound fuller. Also, many professional producers will often blend drum samples with live drum tracks but dont admit it.

  • I was wondering if I could ask for a bit of help while I decide which package to go for. As I mentioned before, I want to take a sample of a track and loop it. Not difficult in itself but I'm having difficulty in getting it to flow smoothly without a judder at the end of the sample before it starts at the beginning again. I'll use a specific example but its really the process that I need to nail. So, if I take Springsteen by Eric Church for example, I want to sample from the beginning of the song to just before the vocal comes in (around five measures I think off the top of my head) and then loop it but I can't get the join smooth, it always sounds like it has a stutter. So, can anyone enlighten me on how to achieve a smooth loop? As I said, I'm using GB on the ipad (i also have GB on my Mac) at the moment but would be interested as to how it's done in other packages.
    Many thanks!

  • In GB the trick is to zoom in on the clip as closely as is reasonable to see the waveform in detail. Zoom in far enough and you should be able to see when the "good" audio ends and you need to set the end point of the loop. Then it's just a matter of grabbing the end marker and sliding it to the exact spot it ends. In GB if you aren't zoomed in enough it will snap to a beat measure and hat might not line up perfectly with the end of the actual loop pattern on the waveform.

  • Jesse had a good answer but there can be more to it, particularly with the start of a song. Getting good at making loops takes a bit of time/practice. Google for 'making dreamless audio loops' or something to see lots and lots of info on it.

  • edited March 2013

    I can't remember the exact technical term but it might be a cross fade feature that makes it flow smoothly. Sorry, i dont use GB but most programs should have a way to select a portion of the file to loop over and over so you can ensure you've got the sweet spot of a loop before trimming off the edges.

    I dont know if you do this already but zoom in as close as possible, i mean CLOSE and trim it clean as youd be surprised at how even a little bit of the unwanted part of the wave can affect the "feel"

    edit: sorry, just read jesse's response. what he said

  • edited March 2014


  • Sometimes ill take a standard 4 measure loop but other times, i might take a small portion and because of the odd timing, creates a new rhythm/feel. depends on what you're trying to accomplish.

  • edited March 2013

    Although not AB compatible, Traktor and the hardware Maschine can loop just about anything smoothly with almost no effort.

  • Yes, some sections of some songs can't be cleanly looped without a very long cross fade and that may change the character of the loop. 4 bars where the music gets louder over the course of it is a classic example.

  • Thnx for that traktor tip Solador! Just bought it and it seems pretty badass! Just wish it was ab compatible or at least had audiocopy to export ideas out. Also if a dev could come up with an app that could automatically send music ideas to music library, that would be great!

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