Best Daw For Hip Hop
Is there a secret to making dope hip hop beats? If you want to produce banging hip hop beats, it’s important for you to use the best software. Today’s music software makes it easier for beginners and experienced music producers to create unique sounds that will appeal to the hip hop audience.
Many aspiring music producers and beatmakers are under the impression that they must spend thousands of dollars to get quality music producing software. Nothing could be more further from the truth!
In this article, we will cover the best DAW for hip hop. We will also discuss the value of adding a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) to your arsenal. With a Digital Audio Workstation in your possession, you have tons of options on the table. You can produce old school beats, drill rap beats, and high-energy beats.
Top 3 Choices
PreSonus Studio One 4
Logic Pro X
FL Studio 20 Producer
Which is the best DAW for hip hop?
1. Ableton Live
- Smooth continuous workflow
- It’s extremely flexible
- It has an exceptional audio warping engine
- Dynamic built-in max for live recording sessions
- It does not allow combing
It’s fair to say that Ableton Live is one of the most popular DAW’s in the game today. It’s not unusual to see talented music producers use it for creating their hits.
Ableton Live offers a full range of sound libraries, special effects, and instruments.
Created by Ableton, this dynamic Digital Audio Workstation can be used in the studio or at a live performance. Its flexibility is the main reason why its popularity has grown over the years.
It’s compatible with most controllers, and it has unique multi-track audio recordings.
- Database of unlimited MIDI and audio tracks
- The unique session view makes it easy for you to have a flexible performance
- It can sync loop and music at any tempo with ease
- The hardware and software instruments pave the way for Multitrack audio recording
- It comes with 57 special effects, over 5,000 impressive sounds, and 10 instruments (sampler, wavetable, Impulse, drum rack, Collision, analog, tension, electric, and Simpler)
2. Bigwig Studio 3
- It has a touch screen
- It has a huge catalog of sound packs
- It can support multiple Midi instruments on a single track
- It supports MIDI – MPE
- It can freeze on you. If this happens during one of your intense producing sessions, this could frustrate you.
You cannot afford to ignore the Bigwig Studio 3. This incredible DAW is well-known for its special capabilities.
The new version offers these features: special devices that can create impressive audio FX, devices that can create sequenced patches and synthesizers, and sound design environments.
Bigwig Studio 3 is a music producer’s dream. It’s a one-stop shop for all your needs.
Unlike many other DAW’s being sold in the market today, Bigwig Studio 3 has deluxe linear and non-linear sequencing programs.
Bigwig Studio 3 is compatible with Linux, Windows, and macOS.
3. Image Line FL Studio 20 Producer Edition
- It’s affordable
- You get free updates
- You can record internal and external audio
- The UI can get messed up sometimes
Formerly known as Fruity Loops, Image Line FL has improved over the years. It has all the bells and whistles. It brings the heat!
What makes Image Line FL special? Besides having everything you need to produce sweet beats, it’s reasonably priced. You don’t have to break the piggy bank to get it.
You can arrange, mix, and edit your beats. It’s also important for me to mention that you can create professional music with the Image Line FL.
Here are some things I like about Image Line FL:
Instrumental and plug-ins – It comes with over 80 sweet instrumental and plug-in effects. It’s extremely hard to find this type of offer in other studios.
The Piano Roll – This may sound controversial, but the Image Line FL studio has the best piano roll. This helps me add that special touch to my beats.
Mixing – The mixing is extremely powerful. If you are looking for a DAW with precise mixing capability, don’t look any further. You will get it with this studio software.
VST Standards – Image Line FL offers full support for VST standards.
4. Logic Pro X
- It has a large library of incredible beats
- It’s affordable
- The advanced tools can help you write, edit, and mix songs
- Unfortunately, you Logic Pro X is not compatible with Windows
- Logic Pro X has tons of kits for instruments, loops, and effects
Logic Pro X is a true fan favorite. It is a little more sophisticated than the other DAW’s on this list. However, you will appreciate it once you get past the learning curve.
has a huge library of the latest beats. This will help you create new sounds for the hip hop audience. The beat library may help you produce like Dr. Dre. This makes it a candidate for being the best DAW for hip hop.
What will you find in the Logic Pro X studio? It has tons of instrumentals, loops, and effects.
5. Cubase Pro 10
- As I stated above, it’s reliable and stable
- It comes with good stock plug-ins
- The stock instruments and samples are incredible
- It will take a little time for you to master the workflow
Cubase Pro 10 has been around for years. It’s reliable, stable, and innovative.
Many television composers around the world use Cubase Pro 10. If you are focused on writing music, you will appreciate its smooth workflow.
Cubase Pro 10 is no slacker when it comes to mixing and editing.
6. Propellerhead Reason
- Large sound backs with more than 28,000 device samples, loops, and patches
- It’s loaded with 29 audio effects and top-notch instruments
- As a plug-in, it will compliment your music in almost any DAW
- The synthesizers, effects, and instruments can help you create unlimited sounds and music
- You get a free upgrade
- Not the best choice for complete beginnners
Propellerhead Reason is perfect for producers that love analog. The software’s instruments are powerful and versatile.
The tools in Propellerhead Reason make it a dream for hip hop music producers.
7. Pro Tools 12
- The editing capabilities are impressive
- It’s hard to overlook the quality recording
- It is the standard for Digital Audio Workstations
- Mixing and mastering can be done with ease
- It’s not ideal for beginners
- If you like writing music, this is not the DAW for you
- The interface is a bit outdated
There are some heavy hitters on this list, but Pro Tools 12 is probably the most popular Digital Audio Workstation on this list. It sets the standard for editing and mixing.
I’ve had tremendous success with Pro Tools 12. This is one of the reasons why I recommend it to other music producers.
Pro Tools 12 puts you in a position to tackle complicated edits within seconds.
Is Pro Tools 12 beginner-friendly? No, it’s not beginner-friendly. The software’s appearance is outdated and it will take some time for you to master the controls.
The stock plug-ins are decent, but they don’t have a multiband compressor. However, I don’t think this is a deal-breaker.
You should buy Pro Tools 12 if you want to serve as a professional audio engineer for artists.
8. PreSonus Studio One 4
- It’s versatile
- The stock plug-ins are great
- You can customize the interface
- You will not find a score editor in this DAW
- The interface can get messed up at times
Studio One 4 is becoming more popular as time progresses.
Some consider it to be the best of both worlds. It offers the features that can be found in FL Studio and many other DAWS’.
Why do I like Studio One 4? It has a Pattern Mode and Chord Track.
You should get Studio One 4 if you enjoy recording, mixing, and writing.
9. Bitwig Studio
- You will fall in love with the modular environment
- The features are not that flexible or detailed
Bitwig Studio is not as popular as the other DAW’s on this list. However, this does not mean that it doesn’t pack a heavy punch.
The networking features and modular synthesis environment is out of this world.
The developers have stated that new features will be added soon.
You should get this DAW if you are interested in setting up a digital modular environment.
10. Cockos Reaper
- Novice friendly
- You can make changes to the interface
- It’s cheap
- The features aren’t that flexible at this stage
This Digital Audio Workstation is great for the price. You can make changes to the layout. This will improve your workflow.
Cockos Reaper is easy to use. If you get stuck, you can find tutorials on the internet.
If you’re looking for a clean DAW on the cheap, you should scoop up Cockos Reaper.
11. MOTU Digital Performer
- The clips set the stage for nonlinear writing
- The stock instruments are impressive
- The stock plug-ins will surpass your expectations
- In my opinion, they could have done a better job with the automation
This DAW covers all the bases. This includes recording, mixing, and songwriting. It’s perfect for hip hop and every music genre you can think of.
It’s critical to point out that MOTU is compatible with Mac and Windows.
MOTU is a music composer's dream. It comes with tons of impressive features.
Luckily for you, you get a 30 day free trial period.
Do you want a super audio option for producing dope hip hop beats? Give MOTU a try.
You may feel like it is the best DAW for hip hop.
12. Mixcraft Pro Studio
- It’s reasonably priced
- It’s great for music producing novices
- The instruments and stock plug-ins are tight
- This DAW comes equipped with Melodyne
- Well, you can find some of the plug-ins on the internet (they’re free)
Mixcraft Pro Studio has a large fan base. The simple features make it easy for novices to use this DAW.
If your mind is set on getting a complete DAW at a cheap price, Mixcraft Pro Studio is for you.
13. Cakewalk Sonar Platinum
- It’s so easy to use
- It comes with deluxe pro effects plug-ins
- It’s stable
- It’s not compatible with Mac
- There’s a monthly subscription
Is Cakewalk Sonar Platinum the best Digital Audio Workstation on this list?
Cakewalks Sonar Platinum brings the heat, but it is not ideal for hip hop music. This does not mean that it doesn’t have an arsenal of cool tools.
Taking a Close Look at Free DAW’s and Paid DAW’s
It’s not unusual for music producers on a tight budget to lean towards using a free DAW.
Yes, there are free Digital Audio Workstations out there. However, this does not mean they will do a good job.
Don’t get me wrong. I know it is extremely tough for some people to buy expensive musical production software during the early stages of their careers.
However, there’s an old saying, “You cannot buy steak with hamburger money.”
What does this mean? If you want quality, you must be ready to pay for it.
You don’t have to take my word for it. You can experiment with free DAW’s for a few days.
You will eventually see my point.
For example, you can play around with Audacity for several days.
In my opinion, Audacity is the best DAW for hip hop in the free category.
However, it does not cut the mustard in my book.
I tried to produce a couple of books with Audacity, but it failed to meet my standards.
Let’s look at some better options.
Limited Versions and Free Versions
Instead of wasting your time on a free DAW, you should get the limited version of a paid DAW. This will help you get off to a better start.
The music software developers offer these versions to people running a small home studio. They know that many budding music producers are operating with a smaller budget.
What can you expect from the limited DAW versions? You will normally get 95% of the features that come with the paid versions.
The limited versions are either free or reasonably priced.
To be honest, there’s no need for you to buy the premium version unless you really want the best tool. They have features that cater to experienced music engineers. I don’t think you fall into this category.
Please keep in mind that you can upgrade your DAW in the future.
So, if your funds are tight, I suggest that you start with the limited version of a Digital Audio Workstation.
Making this move will help you save precious time and money.
The Best Digital Audio Workstation for Hip Hop Music
There are dozens of Digital Audio Workstations being offered today. It’s imperative for you to get the right one for your music.
Please keep in mind that it will take several weeks or months for you to get past the learning curve. No, you will not be able to produce monster beats like Jermaine Dupri overnight. So, you should get that thought out of your head.
Your budget and goals should be taken into consideration while evaluating DAW’s.
We will now take a close look at my top recommendations. They vary in skill level, prices, and features. I’m pretty sure you will find something interesting on this list.
Creativity plays a huge role in producing hip hop music. This is why you need to get your hands on a good Digital Audio Workstation.
The Digital Audio Workstations on this list offer some great features that you cannot afford to overlook.
Which one should you buy? It’s really a matter of personal preference. Examining the pros and cons associated with the DAW’s listed above will help you make the right decision.
I just want to make one final point. If you want quality, you should be ready to pay for it.
This philosophy will help you get the best DAW for hip hop music.