These are the greatest digital audio workstations for filmmakers in 2024.
While there are hundreds of articles online about the best DAWs for music production, there are very few resources to help indie filmmakers choose the right DAW.
So, in this comprehensive overview, you'll find a list of the best digital audio workstations (DAWs) for filmmakers on the market today, with apps tailored to every workflow, budget, and level of experience.
What is a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) exactly?
A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is a single application used for audio recording, editing, converting, mixing, and delivery. DAWs are frequently used in the sectors of music production, podcasting, film scoring, and movie sound design.
The great majority of DAWs have extensive internal feature sets as well as the ability to incorporate third-party plugins, effects, and filters.
All DAWS share the following characteristics:
The simultaneous recording and editing of numerous audio recordings is known as multitrack recording.
Audio editing software allows you to change audio files right down to the sample level.
Users can record and edit MIDI data from devices like as keyboards, drum pads, and other MIDI-capable touch interfaces.
Many DAWs contain built-in virtual instruments, allowing users to create music without the need for extra equipment.
Effects processing choices include EQ, reverb, compression, and many more.
Mixing and mastering tools include EQ, compression, and limiting.
You may adjust the pace and pitch of audio tracks using time stretching and pitch shifting.
Tools for collaboration: Some DAWs enable remote cooperation with other artists and producers.
What Role Do Digital Audio Workstations Play in Video Post Production?
Because a DAW will provide you control and refinement over your sound editing, sound design, and sound mixing that you will not be able to perform if you solely use your preferred video editing program.
Professional sound designers, film composers, sound editors, and music editors all work in specialized digital audio workstations because of this. Given the level of competence, innovation, and talent required to accomplish this type of work properly, an editor should not assume they can handle these responsibilities on their own.
If you are not working on a large enough production to hire for these tasks, understanding how to manage a few basic jobs in a DAW will benefit the entire project.
Professional plugins designed to accurately mold your sonic architecture will be available, as will the ability to work with professional delivery formats such as Dolby ATMOS, Auro 3D, and other multi-channel spatial audio formats.
This course delves into the audio post-production workflow for film and television, from spotting sessions to audio editing and mixing.
The Top Filmmaking DAWs for 2024
We chose the DAWs on our list using a simple process that took these four variables into account:
-Compatibility with video editing software -Audio processing capabilities -User interface and usability -Price
Without further ado, here are the greatest digital audio workstations for filmmakers in 2024.
The greatest DAW for gaining a job in cinema sound is Avid Pro Tools.
Avid Pro Tools is the industry standard for film post-production sound. That doesn't mean it's the best DAW available, but it's the one that all of the major Hollywood post-production houses use for a variety of reasons.
So, if you want to work in that sector, mastering Pro Tools is a great place to start.
Avid Pro Tools costs $99-$599 per year for Mac and PC.
Collaboration on workflow with several users.
Integrates with the industry-leading Avid Media Composer.
It is trustworthy and expandable on huge productions (up to 2,048 tracks in Pro Tools Ultimate).
The finest first app for learning how to acquire a job in the industry.
A 30-day trial period is available.
Cons A subscription license is not cheap, ranging between $99 and $599 per year.
Pricing and feature tiers are more complicated in this app than in others.
3. Logic Pro is the greatest digital audio workstation (DAW) for Apple Mac users.
Logic Pro from Apple
Logic Pro is another advanced DAW that is popular among Apple-based filmmakers. Logic Pro is a considerable step up and a professional solution in compared to Apple's Garageband program, but its user-friendly design makes the move simple.
Logic Pro Software for Mac Only | $199
Spatial audio capabilities are extensive, including a 3D object panner and Dolby Atmos outputs.
Native interaction with Apple's M-series chipset improves performance significantly.
Switch between Apple's Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro with ease.
Use the iPad and iPhone as Logic Remote for multi-touch gestures and 'physical' control faders and dials.
Excellent native plugins for rectifying timing errors and providing interesting tempo effects, such as Flex Time.
Cons Because Apple's development cycle is slower, you may have to wait longer for changes.
Only Mac users have access to this feature.
Best DAW for Film Sound Design - Audio Design Desk
The Audio Design Desk (ADD) is one of the market's most modern and innovative digital audio workstations, designed specifically for film sound post production.
As a result, ADD fully employs AI technology while also providing a distinct and appealing user experience that distinguishes it from many other DAWs with established workflows.
Users can assign sound effect groups to keyboard shortcuts and simply 'play' the keyboard to drop sound effects on the timeline, each of which contains a sync point and metadata that allows the ADD app to instantly replace all of these sounds with a single keystroke to generate an infinite number of options.
ADD is one of the most forward-thinking and enjoyable DAWs on our list, and it's well worth a look if you're serious about sound design for movies.
Audio Design Workstation for Mac Only | $89-$299/year
Because AI learns your preferences, the more you use it, the more precise its recommendations get.
Pricing options include monthly, annual, and perpetual licenses.
The mid and upper tiers additionally include approximately 70,000 sound effects and music cues.
DAWSync integrates ADD as a 'large plugin' into other DAWs.
The 'Basic' license covers both broadcast media and online content.
The type of project determines licensing; for example, a Pro license is required for TV, commercials, and streaming media.
The new method of dealing with ADD may not be appropriate for everyone's workflow.
Only Mac users have access to this feature.
The greatest free DAW to download is DaVinci Resolve Fairlight.
Fairlight was an industry-leading standalone DAW until being acquired by Blackmagic Design in 2016 and incorporated into DaVinci Resolve.
Unlike other workflows, DaVinci Resolve lets you to complete a complete Post workflow within one program, easily transitioning between the four main pages: Editing, Effects (Fusion), Sound (Fairlight), and Grading.
DaVinci Resolve Studio is also one of the most economical applications on our list, costing $295 for a license that includes lifetime updates. Even if you only get the free edition, DaVinci Resolve is a fully functional and feature-rich piece of software.
As such, it is the most powerful free digital audio workstation on our list.
Fairlight DaVinci Resolve | Available for Mac, PC, and Linux | Price: Free / $295 (once)
Free is always a good thing.
Powered by Blackmagic Design's AI Neural Engine.
This is perfect for beginners using a laptop.
It's also ideal for seasoned professionals who want to use specialised tools such as Blackmagic Design's Fairlight Audio Editor.
The user interface is simple and straightforward.
Editing tools are offered (no app-to-app process is required).
Cons When compared to learning Avid Pro Tools, Fairlight does not have the same level of industry adoption to assist you in finding a job as a junior or assistant in post production sound.
The greatest DAW for film scoring is Ableton Live.
Because of its long history in the business and extensive use by composers and artists, Ableton Live appears on practically every list of "the best DAWs." As a result, it features synthetic instruments, musical sound packs, and midi-controlled effects.
While its sound editing and design capabilities allow it to readily generate a soundtrack for a film or video project, Ableton's musical background suggests that it will be more difficult to integrate into a film post production workflow.
Prices for Ableton Live for Mac and PC range from $99 to $749.
A terrific 90-day free trial that is fully functioning.
Created a legacy in the field of cinematic composition.
Not suitable for post-production work in film and television.
It is not feasible to import XML/AAF or OMF files.
Audio files with multiple channels, such as multi-track dialogue recordings, are not supported.
Adobe Audition is the greatest digital audio workstation for beginners.
Adobe Audition is Adobe's take on a digital audio workstation for filmmakers, and it's now available as part of a Creative Cloud membership ($54.99/month), however it's also available as a separate product ($20.99/month).
Audition is the most user-friendly DAW on this list, thanks to features such as its complete set of audio restoration tools and its easy user interface, which allows you to focus on a single clip or your entire mix.
Given the immense popularity of Adobe's AI-powered online 'enhance' tool, which makes terrible audio sound like it was recorded in a professional studio, and the possibility of these tools becoming native components of apps like Audition, having a DAW like Audition at your disposal is a strong reason.
Adobe Audition costs between $21 and $55 and is available for both Mac and PC.
Adobe Premiere Pro has a native round-trip procedure.
A wonderful choice for video editors looking to improve their sound editing and design abilities.
Podcasters and musicians will find it useful as well.
Because of its simple tools, it is ideal for beginners.
Artificial intelligence-powered tools are on their way to the app.
Cons It is not a widely utilized DAW for locating jobs in the industry.
The monthly subscription is pricey as a single app.
Reaper is the most customizable DAW.
Reaper is one of the most customizable digital audio workstations on this list, which explains its popularity. You may truly tailor the UI by changing the layout, keyboard shortcuts, tools, menu lists, color schemes, languages, and even applying themed skins.
On the Reaper website, I was also blown away by teacher Kenny Gioia's extensive (read: hundreds!) video courses. If you're new to Reaper, he'll be your tour guide.
Reaper | $60-$225 | Mac, PC, and Linux
Individual user requirements can be highly adjusted.
A dedicated user base is available to provide assistance.
Thousands of third-party scripts, macros, and plugins are available for download.
Reaper allows you to run LUA or Python scripts.
It requires no hard disk space and has a modest installation footprint.
Perpetual licenses cost $60 for personal usage and $225 for commercial use.
Cons Reaper's 'blank canvas' interface and approach may be confusing to beginners.
This phrase is not widely used in the film and television post-production industry.
This guide to the finest digital audio workstations for filmmakers in 2024 should have given you some fantastic ideas for your next sound edit, design, and mix.
Studying Avid's Pro Tools for example, is a wonderful place to start if you want to work professionally in sound design.
If you're already editing with Avid Media Composer, use Pro Tools.
If you're currently editing with DaVinci Resolve, stick with Fairlight.
If you're already editing with Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro makes sense.
If you're already editing with Adobe Premiere Pro, give Audition a shot.
With its 70,000+ file sound collection and machine learning code foundation, Audio Creation Desk could symbolize the agile and exciting future of AI powered film sound creation and editing.