Digital Audio Workstations

10 Best Free and Open Source Digital Audio Workstations

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic device or application software used for recording, editing and producing audio files. DAWs come in a wide variety of configurations from a single software program on a laptop, to an integrated stand-alone unit, all the way to a highly complex configuration of numerous components controlled by a central computer.

A DAW is usually used alongside an audio interface, mixing desk, microphones and other bits of external gear. Designed for those in the recording industry, the DAW’s user interfaces replicated many of the same features of a multi-track tape recorder. Play, record, and other controls such as waveform, track controls, a mixer, and so on. In fact, many of the most popular DAWs have very similar interfaces.

The main reason why a DAW is so useful is the range of add-ons with new options popping up all the time. VST plugins give the DAW even more versatility, sample packs expand audio file libraries, and the recording software itself is constantly being improved.

If you want to record, edit, mix and master audio and MIDI projects, a DAW is the tool you need.

To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 10 top free and open source DAWs. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who wants to record and mix music on their PC. With a high quality DAW you can get on with writing and producing great music. With samples, drum machines, MIDI keyboards, and other digital tools, let’s make chart-topping music.

Here’s our verdict captured in a legendary LinuxLinks-style ratings chart..

Ratings chart

Let’s explore the 10 DAWs. For each program we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.

Digital Audio Workstations
ArdourRecord, edit and mix with this digital audio workstation
MusEFull featured MIDI and audio sequencer with recording and editing
BespokeSoftware modular synthesizer with a large range of modules
ZrythmAutomated and intuitive digital audio workstation
RosegardenSophisticated MIDI (and audio) sequencer and notation editor
QtractorAudio/MIDI multi-track sequencer
LMMSDigital audio workstation
RadiumMusic editor sporting a sleek interface
Seq66MIDI sequencer and live-looper
StargateAll-in-one DAW and plugin suite

This article has been revamped in line with our recent announcement.

Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

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JOhan Clareboudt
JOhan Clareboudt
2 months ago

Missing audacity in this list…

24 days ago

[Edited] is missing from this list.