The best free DAWs
Good digital audio workstations are not cheap but startling changes in the world of audio software have brought to the free market, composition and processing powers that once costed a fortune.
Cakewalk has long been a commercial super power in the audio industry and now, everyone can reap the rewards of its rich history in sound design. Sporting a beautiful UI, unlimited tracks and a massive suite of pro-quality gear bundled in, it brings a truly outstanding, commercial DAW experience to the free market.
Different from most DAWs, VCV Rack is more like a software simulation of real world hardware. And that's one of its greatest strengths. It sounds like the real world gear it's made to emulate. It also looks like that gear, wires and all. That's also where it differs most from other DAWs. Music is made by adding modules and routing them in any way imaginable using virtual wires. The sheer number of modules available is astounding and best of all, most are free and even open source like VCV Rack itself.
A cross-platform DAW that showcases the power of the JUCE library, Tracktion was set free at version 7 which was then forked to create its commercial counterpart, Waveform. Meanwhile, Tracktion 7 retains its modular routing powers with unlimited tracks but without the cost. It's an outstanding DAW that works natively across Mac, Windows and Linux desktops.
Ardour is a commercial strength DAW that continues to advance in sophistication and features. Not only is it dirt cheap for a pre-compiled version, it's totally free for the code to compile it yourself.
AudioTool is a gem of audio composition, being totally free but still possessing advanced features that easily compare with the big DAWs. Plus, it's built for online use so compositions are easily portable and collaboration and social sharing is very simple.
The commercial Caustic is designed for mobile use but the desktop version has all the same power at no cost at all. It's a free version of the app that works perfectly well with a mouse.
Designed strictly for Linux, Rosegarden provides powerful multi-track composition features normally found in pricey commercial apps, totally for free.
Different from most DAWs, SunVox relies on a tracker interface that can take some effort to learn but provides powerful pattern-based composition capabilities. While the interface is different, it's a fully capable DAW with advanced, modular routing. And the desktop version is totally free.
A little less known than many similar full-featured DAWs, MultitrackStudio packages its commercial powers in a super intuitive interface that greatly simplifies composition workflow. The fee, lite version has a 3-track limit, but the app's core strengths are all there.
SoundBridge - A Free Full-Featured DAW Designed with Simplicity in Mind https://soundbridge.io