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Best DAWs for Mac

by | Master Your Craft, Mastering

When it comes to choosing the right Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for your needs, there is a vast range of options available to you, and for the most part, it doesn’t matter what Operating System (OS) your computer runs. The majority of contemporary DAWs are compatible across various OSs, and so you can make your pick from several world-class software. However, there are still a select few programs that focus their product on a specific OS for various reasons, such as offering a highly personalized user experience and progressive improvements to ensure this. 

For the Mac users out there, Garage Band and Logic Pro are the dedicated DAWs that offer fantastic digital audio platforms, mixing environments, sound-to-picture facilities, and much more. You’ll have access to Garage Band, which is free and affords its users an incredibly user-friendly program that offers a simplistic landscape if you want to get into music/sound.

Additionally, Apple offers another DAW specifically to its users. It is more advanced and provides a professional working environment – it’s a hot-competitor of any pro-DAW out there but made specifically for Mac users. These two products are compatible in many ways, and it can be said that Logic Pro is the step-up from Garage Band or the graduation package, I suppose. Apple has done a fantastic job creating a smooth transition from an ‘amateur’ software into the professional realm. This kind of design facilitates opportunities for any person to get into the world of sound and then take it further – these are two promising platforms for the future of audio.

Logic Pro

OS: Mac

$200

Let’s start with the more advanced program of the two Mac options because they are very similar in many ways, and this is, essentially, a step-up from the introductory Garage Band. Many things make this appealing to any Apple user because of the connectivity and easy-to-use functions that link your work across multiple devices. Incorporating your iPad or iPhone into your productions and using them in unique ways to achieve various outcomes is a huge win for your production. Not only can this save you money from not needing a lot of hardware (gear), but it opens up so many new possibilities as to how we use instruments and the control we have over parameters. Aside from the general production features, Logic offers a fantastic sound-to-picture post-production environment. 

It is the complete package, and you’re in luck if you are an Apple person!

We’ll explore some of the features of this DAW and establish the unique characteristics that make it so user-friendly but, at the same time, a powerful professional tool. We’ll go over the ‘Logic Remote, Samplers, Step Sequencer, Remix FX, Drummer,’ and a couple of extra things that make it appealing to potential users as well as what makes it stand out. Afterward, we’ll have a clearer understanding of what makes for such a smooth user experience that successively improves over time and an idea of the ground-breaking technology employed.

Starting with the ‘Logic Remote’ feature, we’ll explore many tasks that can be handled using a portable device (or a number of them). Developers have smoothly integrated this component to ensure accuracy, speed, and ease-of-access throughout the software. Using “multi-touch gestures” and various tilting abilities, we can control the desktop program with our handheld, portable devices and do it all from anywhere in the room – we’re not limited to staying in the box (behind your screen), meaning that we can move around our space to gain some inspiration or get a different fee. Whether compiling loops, laying down a beat, or even mixing down some tracks, this can be handled in a very different manner than prior times. Having this autonomy as a creative can be just what we need to make something beautiful or get past an artistic block. 

The ‘Live Loop’ component gives users a great platform to build unique progressions and resample audio. It allows us to add various samples and sounds to a grid that can be triggered and played back, allowing us to create exciting combinations and flows that can easily be transferred across to the editing region for further mixing and production. For beatmakers, this is a powerful tool when establishing a vibe – remember, this can now be done from anywhere within the vicinity because of the remote feature, meaning that if you’re comfortable on the couch, you can maintain that while still working and making progress.

The ‘Drummer’ feature offers a fully-tractable environment that one can use to create professional, organic-sounding drum takes across many genres. You can change the sessions drummers used, the drum kits, and even the rooms where your drums are being “tracked” until you are happy with your sound. This is just the start, really; you’ll have even more control once you start processing. This is an excellent addition to the software as it means that you’ll have realistic sounding drums and the freedom to change them to precisely what you need, but you won’t need a professional live room, and you won’t have to mic-up 17 spots around the kit, ideally.

The ‘Sampler’ and ‘Quick Sampler’ are similar but different and provide opportunities to produce unique sounds integrated into the mix. Building banks of resamples, sliced audio, and recorded sounds means that we can get into a unique groove with ease and create authentic beats. These features afford us great versatility in our production methods and, subsequently, in our end-results. 

The ‘Step Sequencer is an element of this DAW that has been designed from a number of classic drum machines and synthesizers. It can be used for several processes, including building basslines, exciting beats, and other musical sequences. Coupled with powerful automation and variation tools (beat repeats, randomization, mutated playback, etc.), this is a winning component of the software and provides an infinite hole of editing to descend into. 

In terms of recording, Logic offers a great punch-record feature which makes running through sessions much more efficient. This makes for reliable take management. While this is all great, it means nothing if the audio isn’t of extreme quality – fortunately, Logic has a reputation for “pristine audio.” Hand-in-hand with these are the valuable audition, consolidation, and summing abilities which allow for a great deal of autonomy in the mix, help to decide on takes, as well as efficient editing. 

In general, the mixing capabilities of this DAW are up there with some of the best programs in the industry. Being able to manipulate pitch easily, timing and automation mean that there isn’t much we can’t do with this program. By applying the correct methods in the mixdown processes, we can rest assured that we’ll come out with a competitive, professional-sounding track at the end of it all. 

If you are in the post-production realm, you’ll be able to undertake any sound-to-picture tasks that you might expect to use Pro Tools or something else for. 

All-in-all, Logic Pro is a fantastic DAW that can handle pretty much all your audio needs. If you’re a Mac user and have started with Garage Band, it provides a seamless transition from that into the professional realm of sound production. With this being said, let’s take a look at Garage Band next.

Garage Band

OS: Mac

$Free

For anybody interested in trying out this whole “music-making thing,” this is a fantastic place to begin your journey. Over many years, this program has been developed to provide a simplified DAW that still offers superb audio quality and abilities. Here we have a solid entry point into the digital world of audio.

Many features are similar to Logic (they are designed to work together, in many ways) but exist on less of a grand-scale. Bearing in mind that this is, effectively, the free version of Logic Pro, we’ll run over the features and focus on the things that make this an excellent DAW for entry-level candidates. 

As this is free software, there are a few limitations in the number of tracks you can use, what instruments you have access to, what plugins you can implement, and how you use them. A great feature of this DAW is that it offers suggestions throughout the mixdown process, which act as guidelines for an unwary producer. With these, one can learn enough to advance their skills and depart from the ‘unwary’ zone into a more professional mindset and graduate from Garage Band to Logic Pro. Without prior training, there’s no way one can tell how to correctly use compression or EQ (or when and where to use them), sp the suggestions can be a huge help.

Another fantastic element of Garage Band is the in-app lessons that one can take if you’re interested in learning how to play guitar or piano. Some of the most influential artists in their field are given these lessons and provide an opportunity that would have been unheard of twenty years ago. 

If you know how to play and want to start tracking your ideas to turn them into tangible tracks, you can do so with ease. It’s also relatively simple to add processing onto an input (record) channel if you want to enhance the sound or change it completely. The great thing is that you can change these parameters and instruments just as easily as you applied them, all while keeping the takes you laid down. 

You’ll be able to use a variety of incredible-sounding VSTs such as amplifiers, instruments, and other such things to achieve your desired sound. Fortunately, as we’re not all perfect players, timing editing and stretching of audio features mean that we can lock-in on grooves with effortless editing. 

You can do it all with this free DAW. Record, edit, manipulate, mix and master your tracks with ease, knowing that if you do it right, you could land up with professional-sounding content. Some of the most popular records in history have been produced with much less than what’s available here, so don’t be shy! 

Conclusion

In a scenario like this, it is safe to assume that the developers have music’s best interests in mind. They are making its production so widely accessible and helping teach people how to go about it. Transitioning from an amateur program like Garage Band to a professional suite such as Logic Pro has never been easier, and anybody would likely be comfortable enough to do it with time and practice. 

Being a Mac user, if you’re interested in music, you can comfortably get involved with no prior knowledge or training and begin to express yourself in a new way. I think it’s safe to say that these two DAWs dedicated to Mac provide plenty of opportunities for anybody with a desire to create within the audio realms. 

You can do it all with these incredible DAWs – from recording, editing, mixing to mastering your final track. It’s amazing to see what is freely/cheaply available to those interested in music and imagine what’s to come as a result of it.

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