Online DAWs run on cloud architecture. So their performance pretty much depends on your internet connection and the web servers companies use.
Most devices can run these DAWs as they are device-independent and run on web browsers.
After testing 13 such DAWs, the following five came at the top:
These browser-based DAWs stand apart from traditional desktop DAWs, allowing easy access without installation and opening up music production to more people.
Most importantly, you must have an active internet connection to use these platforms.
However, they simplify collaboration and let you quickly draw out a song structure with samples and loops.
Online DAWs are still in their early development stages, much like offline DAWs once were.
However, these online platforms continuously build upon their existing capabilities and slowly improve overall functionality.
From my testing, online DAWs still have significant progress to make before matching the advanced features and performance of leading offline DAWs like FL Studio, Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and others.
The core sequencing, effects, and mixing capabilities are improving but currently lack the sophistication, customization, and processing power of mature offline production software.
Still, the convenience and accessibility of browser-based music production show promise as developers refine online tools.
Based on my experience and how I’ve seen many people in the industry use these online DAWs, they’ve already become viable alternatives for basic songwriting and demo creation.
So here are the ones I recommend:
BandLab is a free online digital audio workstation (DAW) that offers many powerful features for music production while maintaining an intuitive and user-friendly interface.
Starting a new project on BandLab looks like this:
You can create a project from scratch or use their AI-assisted SongStarter feature to kickstart a music idea based on your style.
If you have a high-speed internet connection, the project will load fast.
Otherwise, it’ll take some time as BandLab has to load all the project elements like sample, settings, effects, midi, etc.
For example, I tried opening a new project with a high-speed fiber network and a 4G mobile data connection.
It took around 47 seconds to load the project using the mobile data, whereas, with the fiber network, it loaded instantly in under two seconds.
One of BandLab’s standout features is its automatic pitch correction and effects.
You can auto-tune vocals and add professional-sounding effects to refine your tracks with just a few clicks.
The built-in drum machine also makes beat-making easier, providing a library of beats and rhythms that can be easily customized.
This makes laying down drum patterns quick and easy.
Also, the ability to import your samples and audio gives you the flexibility to make your creations stand out.
BandLab also allows MIDI integration, opening the door for those who prefer composing with virtual instruments.
Also, the library of synth sounds and effects further expands your experience with the platform.
On the collaboration front, BandLab fosters community engagement through features to share your projects and provide feedback on others’ work.
This promotes musical growth and allows you to connect with fellow artists.
However, BandLab’s web-based access can feel limiting compared to installable desktop DAWs.
The interface, while intuitive, lacks some of the advanced editing and mixing capabilities.
BandLab is a great starting point for those new to music-making before committing to a paid DAW.
I recommend it for beginners, as they can navigate the composing part easily.
Behind the scenes, BandLab is also building a new offline DAW called Cakewalk, and I’m eagerly waiting to try it out.
Soundtrap is a Spotify product that offers an intuitive online alternative to desktop DAWs for crafting professional tracks.
The platform provides a clean layout with various built-in instruments, loops, and effects that are easily accessible on the sidebar.
This makes it easy for beginners to create music without a steep learning curve.
Soundtrap also assists with music theory by displaying key signatures and suggesting chords.
It provides all the essentials, like editing, mixing, and exporting tracks.
The loop library gives quick access to melodies, drum patterns, and more to kickstart your projects.
Simple editing features allow you to arrange compositions seamlessly.
On the collaboration front, Soundtrap enables real-time co-production by allowing multiple users to work on projects simultaneously. This fosters creative teamwork.
However, experienced producers may find Soundtrap limiting.
Hardcore EDM or hip-hop producers requiring intricate editing may be left wanting more.
Soundtrap delivers an accessible music production experience perfect for beginners.
It also has a built-in podcast feature that allows you to record and publish podcasts directly to Spotify.
3. Amped Studio
Amped Studio offers a simplified alternative tailored for users just starting their music production journey.
The main advantage of Amped Studio over other DAWs in this list is that it is also a PWA (Progressive Web Application), meaning you can run it offline.
As shown below, you can install the web application to your PC, and it’ll create a desktop shortcut to open the DAW directly.
Remember, you won’t be able to access the library when using the program offline.
You’ll have to use samples saved locally when running offline, and the projects you work on will be saved locally.
Next time you connect to the internet, all the files will be synced with the cloud.
Amped Studio has a clean and intuitive interface. The instruments, effects, and editing tools are logically organized in easy-to-navigate panels.
This makes the learning curve much gentler for complete beginners.
Amped Studio’s paid version also features an AI-assisted feature that allows you to generate tracks based on genre, tempo, and desired song length.
While Amped Studio lacks some advanced capabilities, it provides user-friendly versions of all the core components.
You can easily add virtual instrument tracks, create melodies and basslines with the piano roll, and mix using basic effects.
The more accessible workflow allows you to focus on songwriting rather than technical complexities.
While the streamlined interface benefits beginners, pro users may feel restricted.
Audiotool offers an intriguing platform with unique capabilities.
It offers an entirely free and user-friendly experience, making music production accessible to everyone regardless of experience level.
Audiotool’s workflow differs from mainstream DAWs, with tracks, workspaces, and routing reminiscent of a modular system like Reason.
This provides a fresh, creative approach. Anyone who likes to play around with the routing of analog gears will love it.
This gives us extensive creative control without installing any software. The built-in instruments and samples make it easy to start crafting tracks instantly.
While Audiotool lacks some advanced features, its mixer and effects offer in-depth mixing capabilities.
You can route individual sounds to separate mixer channels like a professional DAW.
Also, the array of effects enables detailed sound design.
Drum beat creation is intuitive with the Machinist device. You can easily drag and drop samples to build patterns.
The ability to loop patterns enables you to build lengthy, dynamically evolving compositions over time by switching between created patterns.
While the Reason-esque workflow offers versatility, pro users accustomed to traditional DAWs may find Audiotool limited.
Features like drum programming and mixer routing still make it a valuable tool for producers looking to craft tracks online.
Soundation is an online DAW with a freemium pricing model.
With the free plan, you can have three projects and 1GB of storage. You’ll have to upgrade to one of their premium plans for unlimited projects.
Upon first look, Soundation’s intuitive drag-and-drop interface evokes a sense of familiarity for Ableton Live users.
The clean and straightforward layout provides quick access to instruments, loops, effects, and editing tools, covering the fundamentals for song creation.
While the streamlined workflow lacks advanced capabilities, it covers the core fundamentals like adding tracks, editing MIDI, and mixing.
MIDI note editing allows basic piano roll editing to create melodies and harmonies. This caters more to simple songwriting.
The effects and instruments are more basic, which can be limiting for experienced producers.
Complex editing workflows and detailed automation seen in professional DAWs are missing in Soundation. The focus is on simplifying the process.
Unlike advanced DAWs, Soundation focuses more on ease of use than robust features. This makes it better suited for beginners.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a browser-based DAW?
A browser-based DAW (digital audio workstation) is a web-based music production and audio editing application that runs entirely in an internet browser without additional software downloads or installations. The convenience of browser access comes at the cost of limited processing power compared to traditional heavyweight DAW applications. But browser-based tools are improving over time and can serve well for basic music demos and sketches and for introducing music production to new users.
How to use open-sourced DAWs from GitHub?
To use open-source DAWs from GitHub, you need some technical know-how. First, thoroughly read documentation to understand installation, dependencies, compilation, and configuration needs. Then, install the required libraries and tools and compile source code to generate the DAW application itself. Before launching, set up hardware like audio interfaces, configure files for plugins and devices, and check system audio settings. Be ready to troubleshoot crashes or bugs at first using community resources.
Will online DAWs support MIDI?
Yes, most online DAWs like Soundation, BandLab, and Soundtrap support MIDI connectivity and integration, allowing for MIDI recording, editing, automation, virtual instruments, and other production control via MIDI keyboards and controllers.