BEST DAW FOR HIP HOP
If your looking for the best daw for hip hop you’ve come to the right place. Since the emergence of home recording, DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) have become very popular. And hip hop music production became easier.
Beat pads and beat machines led the way for the production of hip hop music from the 70s through the 90s. Classic drum machines with a small amount of on-board memory were a go to for rappers in the past. Tools like the Alesis HR 16. We’re talking OLD SCHOOL my friend! And then more fancy beat machines came along like the MPC 400 up to the MPC 3000. These were favorites of people like Dr Dre and rappers like Nas. In fact, Dr Dre even said how much of a fan he was of the MPC. These beat machines changed the game because they had more memory and the pads had better customization.
The Problem: These machines lacked the memory capacity for large sound libraries and sound storage. And as computers became smaller and smarter, so did the way producers create hip-hop music.
DAW workstations began to develop software with hip-hop producers in mind. They began making their own beat machines that linked to the sounds stored on a very large hard drive. Fast forward to the year 2018, today. A DAW is now the go-to idea of software most all types of music creators use.
Whether you’re working out of a home studio or a small project studio, your DAW is the most important part of your set up. It is the link to your musical flagship, as it contains and co-ordinates all the software and hardware needed to create unique beats and sound notes, transforming your musical ideas through the system to superb production.
Many hip-hop producers, especially beginners have wondered which software is the best to use for mixing and mastering, so here I will outline the best DAW for hip-hop, giving a brief about them and then some features that catch the eye.
Laptops for Hip Hop Beats
Before we dig into your software workstation let’s consider laptops. Trust me on this, without the right one your creativity can be halted fast. Ever found yourself in the zone with creativity then all of a sudden CRASH! All your work gone. Here is one that comes highly recommended by producers. What we’re looking for in a laptop music workstation are as follows:
- Available connections: We need at least 2 usb 3.o or fire wire ports. Lightning connectors for mac computers or apple products. You will be connecting you sound interface via these connections.
- Ram: Nowadays in 2017 and 2018 it shouldn’t be hard to find a good laptop with at least 6gb of ram. You’ll need this for quick access to you VSTI library of instruments. Don’t get anything less than 6gb. Just leave it at the store!
- Strong Processor: Get an intel i5 or better yet an i7. These processors in my opinion are excellent work horses. They can handle plenty of load. Be sure its a 3rd generation.
- Screen Resolution: Now this might sound a little weird but here’s why screen resolution matters. Many of the most popular Digital Audio Workstations have a minimum resolution requirement. Basically that means the software could become very unstable due to lack of an acceptable resolution. What happens is parts of the work space could be cut off from view. Any laptop built in the past two years would more than likely have the right resolution.
- Touch Screen: This isn’t a vital thing. With that said, since we have officially arrived at the future, most DAW now have touch screen natively in their software. With mixing music on the go, this feature is especially relevant in today’s climate of music creation!
Bitwig Studio is a music creation and performance enhancement software that has taken innovation to the next level for beat making for all major platforms. With Bitwig Studio, you experience the seamless integration of linear timeline sequencing mixed with nonlinear, performance-oriented clip launching plus an intuitive user interface that adapts to each step of your workflow. This makes it one of the easiest daw to use.
The first release of Bitwig studio; the Bitwig studio 1 was in 2014 and combined linear and non-linear sequencing on various platforms. It had hi-tech features like plug-in crash protection and a highly flexible user interface, joined with a lightning-fast workflow experience using keyboard, mouse, and touchscreens.
Despite already having one of the most flexible and powerful modulation systems in the industry, the new version Bitwig Studio 2 now has modulation slots where you can load individual modulators. The modulators can be interconnected to give a truly dynamic and expressive sound design creation which makes it a top contender for the best DAW for hip hop.
Some of the features of the new software are:
- Adjustable track height in arranger
- Improved editor workflow
- Remote controls
- Fades and crossfades
- VST3 support
- Enhanced dynamic displays and spectrum analyzers.
- Smart tool switching
- Controller API improvements.
Additionally, each sound content library consists of over 2,000 pre-sets and 9GB of audio content: drum machines, acoustic, multi-facet instruments, loops and sound effects.
For Hip hop and R&B, I feel that this one really shines as a qualified beat maker! I could say it’s for simplicity but I think FL Studio had the Hip Hop Producer in mind during development. It’s former name was Fruity Loops. Due to the other similar cereal brand as well as patent issues they re branded as FL Studio.
FL Studio is the most complete digital audio workstation (DAW) software for music production. It really could be the best daw for hip hop! From its initial release, the FL Studio has metamorphosed into a very widely used software for music beats makers. Over 18 years of improvement and innovative developments have made FL studio compile everything you need in a rap DAW in one package to arrange, compose, edit, record, mix and master quality and professional music.
Currently, FL Studio is one of the most popular and thrilling music production software systems. FL Studio started out as fruity loops but after a run in with Kelloggs, over a name breach with their breakfast cereal, the owners, Image-Line adapted the name to FL Studio. Since then, they have adapted to the transformation of rap beats over the years with its step sequencer making it a top choice for hip-hop, EDM musicians, and DJ’s. You’ll want to make sure and get the full version! It’s also one of the easiest daw to use too
Its big hit features for producers include the:
- Spreadsheet-like playlist
- Flexible piano roll
- Extensive automation capabilities
- It’s the only popular premium DAW that offers quality and great free lifetime updates.
- Vast number of synthesizers and plugins
- Compatibility with multi-touch monitors for a touchscreen experience.
There are two modes of FL Studio; the producer and signature bundle; each with its awesome features. And yes, it has a mobile version.
Ableton is a DAW that focuses on both live performance and creating musical ideas. It came into the market with a transforming workflow that was different from the general workstations available. Rather than focus on the standard record – mix – master like most DAWs, Ableton brought its automatic beat matching system on board which consequently changed the game. Certainly this one comes close to being the best daw for hip hop music production. You can even mix and master withing the software! The software doesn’t qualify as the easiest daw to use. But still an excellent choice for live production.
They had unique clips view which gave musicians and producers to create tracks using automation and loops rather than always staying matched to a specific timeline. They have made innovations in workflow, automation, electronic music tools, and even widely regarded peripherals like their push audio controller have drafted Ableton to the top echelons of electronic music and hip-hop production.
The best features of the Ableton Live DAW are:
- Unique and intuitive workflow helps to transform musical ideas into finished tracks.
- Has one of the best push audio controllers in the market, and it is integrated into the framework of the software.
- One of the best native samplers, soft synths, and packs of any workstation.
- Can be extensively customized to suit your needs.
LOGIC PRO X
Industry professionals have dubbed this as The Best Daw For Hip Hop. Does it live up to the hype? Lets dig in:
Logic Pro X is a digital audio workstation that comprises advanced tools for professional songwriting, editing, and mixing. These tools are built around a modern interface. An interface created to get exciting hip hop beats with speed and ease while delivering power and tuning as needed. This recording interface has always stood out as one of the best daw for hip hop and beats production. Logic Pro has a massive collection of instruments, effects, and loops, and provides a complete toolkit to create beautiful music. Like most Apple products, it combines class and style into giving you an aesthetic workstation interface. Logic Pro also comes with an arsenal of top quality virtual instruments and sound libraries. This probably isn’t the easiest daw to use. But it definitely stands out with amazing production quality.
Some optimized features of the new version are:
- Optimises performance for iMac pro including support for up to 36 cores.
- Additional stability and performance improvements.
- A diverse array of quality synths and studio-grade effects.
The major drawback of the Logic Pro X is that it is optimized for Mac users.
A strong contender for The Best Daw For Hip Hop:
Samplitude pro x3. A favorite of mine. Magix Samplitude is set to fulfill the requirements of the highest quality standards. Samplitude Pro X3 is made with carefully selected plug-ins, efficient editing features and clinically precise algorithms which have set new standards in the audio industry for over 25 years.
It comes packed with unique features like:
- A 64-bit hybrid audio engine with 12GB database extendable to 70GB for the suite.
- Powerful multicore support.
- Sound neutral audio engine.
- Up to 999 inbuilt tracks. You will find a range of modern and classic instruments at your finger tips.
- Hardware protocol support, multiple outputs and a variety of VST effects.
Samplitude offers sound engineers and producers a professional virtual studio platform for music production.
Cakewalk Sonar Platinum:
Could this be The Best Daw For Hip Hop?
I recently did a full review of Sonar Platinum as probably one of my favorites even though it might not be the best choice for hip hop. It ranks at the top for audio tracking and a very stable UI.
Sonar has some really cool tools you might want to check out. For one, ease of use. Did I say this program was easy? It really is. The new version has bumped up their vst stock with things like BreVerb and SSL eq channel strips as well as some really great tape simulators. All good stuff to help you get that Old School sound. This has been the easiest daw to use in my opinion.
- Ease of use
- Solid workstation platform
- one of the most stable Digital Audio Workstations out there
- Pro effects plugins
- Solid VSTI hosting platform and rewiring Technology
- Not for Mac only for PC
- I really don’t like the whole monthly subscription thing
Word of caution
Being that there are so many DAWs out there from which to choose from, you might find yourself at a stand still. Kinda frozen in time! Which one do I choose? Well here’s my honest answer. And I want to really emphasize on this point. Rather than remaining stuck, start on something that you like. Learn as much as you can about that DAW. It amazes me how much hidden potential can lay inside of even some of your more basic Digital Audio Workstation. By taking the time to become more antiquated with your recording software, you’re better able to really understand the weaknesses they may have.
I know there are some free music programs out there but in my opinion, I think it’s best to stay clear of those. This is your music, your art, you life’s blood, and it’s perfectly ok to spend a little money on doing what you love!
- Concluding The Best Daw For Hip Hop
Hip hop music production requires lots of creativity. The genre in general is a very creative! While there are other genres that require even more attention. I say this because you’ve probably seen how full music scores with live instruments are used in the studio and with digital audio workstations. Consequently, you still need a tool that handles well and produces fast. The last thing you want is for a piece of software to get in the way of your creativity. In the end, it is up to you to determine what suits you best. These rankings have looked at beat production and interface quality. You might want to go for ease of use over interface, or memory size over power. Just be sure to make the best use of whichever option you settle for. And learn everything you can about your DAW!
Check out my thoughts on GarageBand vs Pro Tools!
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