Whether you are brand new to producing hip hop or you are a seasoned veteran with producing, this guide for the best DAW for hip hop will help open up your mind to some new options as to what the best software is right for you. In this article, you'll learn the importance of DAWs today and what our recommendations are for this year.
Why Is A DAW Important For Producing Hip Hop?
Before we get started with our recommendations, a DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation. DAWs are used for recording and producing songs, speech, radio, television, podcasts, sound effects, and a multitude of other situations where recorded audio is needed. Since hip hop and rap have so many different moving parts, a DAW is essential for the overall production. We have here the top DAWs in the market right now for you to choose which fits with your budget, expertness, and needs.
The Best DAW for Hip Hop
Finding a DAW is like finding a partner. Once you commit to a DAW, there is a learning curve with learning the system and it will be hard to break up in the future. So choose wisely depending on your current budget and what your goals are for production. Those top 5 products vary in prices, needed skill level, and features. It’s almost certain that there’s something for everyone on this list.
Ableton Live is one of the ultimate DAWs for music production and performance in the hip hop arena. The Ableton software offers a range of instruments, effects, and sound libraries. This product by Ableton is a flexible sequencer that can be used for either live performances or studio-based recordings. It has multi-track audio recordings and is compatible with most controllers.
- Smooth workflow
- Good audio warping engine
- Built-in max for live recordings
- No combing
Its wavetable synth and echo systems are definitely two of the product’s best features. Another great feature is the upgraded clip arrangement system.
- Multitrack audio recording and MIDI sequencing of software and hardware instruments
- Unique session View for nonlinear composition, flexible performance and improvisation
- Real-time warping of audio: automatically sync music and loops, regardless of tempo
- Unlimited audio and MIDI tracks
- Includes 5000+ sounds (70+GB), 57 effects and 10 instruments (wavetable, Operator, Sampler, analog, electric, tension, Collision, Simpler, drum rack, Impulse)
Bitwig Studio 3 is an incredible DAW for hip hop and rap productions. With the newest edition of Bitwig, it now offers modular sound design environments, devices for creating synthesizers and sequenced patches, devices for creating audio FX, and much more. Bitwig Studio is an all-in-one place software for music production. It has both linear and non-linear sequence programs. It’s used on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
- Supports expressive MIDI – MPE
- Supports multiple Midi instruments on one track
- Many high-quality sound packs to choose from
- Can be known for bugs and random freezing
Its best features are its hardware integration, fast workflow for sound design, recording, and live performance. In addition to its detailed editing system that lets you stretch or trim easily with no damage.
FL Studio, once known as Fruity Loops, is a DAW that has progressed throughout the past 16 years. FL Studio is now one of the main DAWs in the game and has everything you need to get started. FL Studio 20 by Image-Line is one of the most competitive music production software on the market right now. It’s relatively affordable, while still having everything you need in one package to compose, arrange, record, edit, mix, and master professional quality music.
- Records both internal and external audio
- Offers free lifetime updates
- UI can get cluttered
Some of the best parts about FL Studio is that it is an easy-to-navigate interface and its inclusive complete package.
- Powerful mixing and automation
- The best Piano Roll in the business
- Flexible Browser and workflow features
- Support for all VST standards
- Over 80 instrument and plugin effects included
Logic Pro X is one of the more sophisticated DAWs in the music production arena, but also one of the fan favorites for many producers. Logic Pro X is filled with a massive library containing instruments, effects, and loops along with its complete toolkit to deliver incredible sounding tracks. Logic Pro X by Apple has been regarded from the beginning as the best DAW for Hip Hops. For its tools that are designed specifically for songwriting and mixing.
- Has a huge library of different instruments
- Affordable compared to other products at its level
- Offers professional, advanced tools for writing, editing and mixing songs
- It is not compatible with Windows
Logic Pro X has a variety of kits for effects, instruments, and loops.
Cubase Pro is a fan favorite for many hip hop producers today. Cubase has been around for quite a while and remains popular to this day. Cubase is used by some of the biggest and best rap producers and is used for composing, recording, mixing, and editing music.
If you love the look of analog equipment, then you are in luck with Propellerhead's Reason. The bundled virtual instruments are versatile and powerful. Reason comes loaded with great collaboration tools and is a great DAW for hip hop producers.
- Use it as a plugin in your favorite DAW or produce music in Reason standalone
How to Choose the Perfect DAW?
You’ve seen our top picks, but you’re still not sure which one to use. Picking a DAW is a choice based on your budget, your skills, your laptop or Mac, and your expertise.
You want to choose something that fits you. The answer is always ‘it depends’.
It depends on various factors, like:
Your Music Production Goal
The workflow should be your main focus here. You’ll figure it out bit by bit, as you work more and gain experience. Check here for tips to increase your workflow on Logic Pro X.
Another thing to consider is whether you’re doing live recordings. If you are, make sure to choose a software that’s designed for it like Ableton Live 10.
It’s not always the best case for you to get the most advanced and expensive DAW out there. For example, if you’re a beginner, chances are you won’t need all the features in an advanced product.
You’ll end up just using the basic, so stick to an affordable version and upgrade as you gain more experience and need more features.
Are You a PC or Mac Person?
Some DAWs are compatible with both, but a lot are only compatible with one or the other. While you’ll have to choose depending on what you have, you’ll want to get something that is compatible with both if you do a lot of collaborations.
The Different DAW Brands
Apple has been dominating in smartphones, laptops, and Ipads. What a lot of people don’t know is how massive its production of DAWs is. Logic Pro X for Mac is one of its latest products in the field and it’s critically acclaimed.
Ableton is a Berlin-based music software company that has been founded in the late 90s. Since its foundation, it has been considered a full contender to the others and more than earned its place there
Image-Line is a Belgian-based software company that has been founded in 1994. Its latest products of FL are one of the best DAWs on the market right now.
Bitwig is another digital audio workstation that is Berlin-based. It has been founded in 2009, so it’s relatively a newbie in the market, but it keeps proving itself.