A Mac is a great computer for making music simply because there are so many digital audio workstations (DAWs) available with it. The best DAW discs on Macs let you record instruments, record MIDI presentations, edit audio files, and export quality mixes.
While buying some professional DAW discs costs hundreds of dollars, there are plenty of free DAW discs for the Mac. And these are the best free DAW files for Mac. Each one offers all the features you need to create professional-quality songs. All without spending a penny.
GarageBand is a free download for Mac, iPhone or iPad and lets you work on the same music projects on all your Apple devices. If you’re leaving Apple’s ecosystem, you might want to explore these GarageBand options for Windows
The top six GarageBand options for music production in Windows
. But none of them offer the same streamlined experience across multiple devices.
Don’t let GarageBand’s simple interface delay you. It is a powerful tool for composing, arranging and recording music. You can use the huge Apple Loops library to start or write something new with impressive virtual instruments. The drum function is especially great, so you can choose from 28 different styles.
GarageBand has all the bells and whistles you need to create music on your Mac. Work with audio and MIDI in the edit view. Customize your instrumentation in the organize window. And use a powerful set of extensions from the smart controls view.
But there are also limitations.
The biggest downside to GarageBand is that there is no mixer view. Your upper limit is also a total of 256 pieces, although you are unlikely to reach this limit. Upgrade to bypass these restrictions Logic Pro.
In brief: GarageBand is one of the best free DAW files for beginners to use on a Mac. This is due to its user-friendly interface and rich loop libraries.
Charge: For GarageBand Mac operating system (Free)
2. Waveform free
Tracktion makes software instruments, effects, plug-ins and DAW files, including Waveform Free. This is a fully equipped DAW with unlimited audio or MIDI tracks, built-in synthesizers, samplers, and compatibility with third-party plug-ins.
Even if you pay for Waveform Pro to unlock additional features, Waveform Free includes everything you need from DAW to produce professional music for your Mac. It is also available for Windows, Linux and Raspberry Pi. So you can collaborate on your music on any computer.
Don’t let the name fool you, Waveform Free is not a semi-finished version of the Pro option. Instead, you get everything you might have paid for from a professional DAW, except for the latest advances.
If you notice itching from the extra features, you can upgrade to Waveform Pro for $ 69. It unlocks fast functions, customizable layouts, plug-in macros, and other high-end features.
In brief: Powerful DAW with no track restrictions, including a full range of editing and recording features. If you like it, level the DAW for a low-cost Pro upgrade.
Charge: Waveform free Mac operating system (Free)
LMMS used to be a habit in Linux MultiMedia Studio, but that multiple stopped using when LMMS went multi-platform. It is now also available for Windows and macOS. And because it’s an open source DAW, you can get LMMS on your Mac for free.
An open source version of free software: What is the difference and why does it matter?
build community for community. This means that LMMS does not have the same resources behind that GarageBand gets from Apple. As a result, it is a bit awkward to use and is not as packed with features as other DAWs.
The biggest drawback to LMMS is that it is not a disk-friendly DAW. You can import pre-recorded samples, but you cannot record audio directly to LMMS. Instead, LMMS is best for people working with MIDI instruments who make electronic music.
Create melodies and rhythms using the piano roll and step sequencer. Then transfer the sound using the built-in virtual instruments. These include Commodore 64 SID microchip emulators, the Roland TB-303 and the Nintendo Entertainment System.
In brief: LMMS is a free DAW designed to sequence electronic music on your Mac. It is best to work with samples and virtual instruments.
Charge: LMMS Mac operating system (Free)
4. Studio One Prime
Presonus offers Studio One in a variety of versions: Professional, Artist, and Prime. Each version has a different set of features, but we are most interested in Prime because it is free. And it still includes everything you need to make music.
Studio One Prime includes support for unlimited audio and MIDI tracks, nine Native Effects plug-ins, and nearly one gigabyte for samples and loops. Unfortunately, you cannot use virtual instruments without upgrading. But Studio One Prime is great for working with sound.
Take advantage of Studio One’s single-window interface to easily store, organize, and mix your music. Presonus also offers an extensive drag-and-drop feature that allows you to add effects, edit audio files, and work with sequencers.
To activate other features, activate Studio One Professional’s 30-day free trial at any time. This provides the same clean interface as Studio One Prime, but with better virtual instrument support. You also get a larger effects and expansion library.
In brief: Studio One Prime is available as a free DAW file on your Mac with a wealth of features to get you started. But it lacks support for third-party virtual instruments.
Charge: Studio One Prime for Mac operating system (Free)
While Audacity doesn’t look as appealing as other free DAW discs for the Mac, it’s a powerful audio editor with a dedicated fan base. Audacity is perfect for recording and editing audio, whether you want to find the perfect sample or create a brand new multi-track recording.
There are many different ways to use Audacity, and it’s such a simple DAW that you don’t have to spend long learning how it works. Audacity includes a number of extensions and effects, including equalizers, echo, echo, distortion, chorus, and more.
Unfortunately, you can only have 16 audio tracks at a time. Audacity also doesn’t support MIDI recording, although you can import MIDI songs from elsewhere.
Audacity is one the best DAWs for beginners
The best free music production software for beginners
because there aren’t too many features to get on the road. It is especially good for recording and editing podcasts or Spoken Words.
However, you can use another DAW file alongside Audacity to access advanced features if you need them.
In brief: Audacity is perfect for simple audio editing tasks or recording multi-tracks for up to 16 tracks. However, it does not offer many advanced features outside of these tasks.
Charge: Loyalty Mac operating system (Free)
Ardor is a comprehensive open source digital audio workstation. It includes unlimited audio and MIDI tracks, indestructible editing, plug-in automation, video playback, and a mixing interface. Ardor may feel scary at first, but you can learn to use it by reading the guides Ardor community.
If you want to spend time, Ardor is a very powerful DAW that includes all the features you would expect from premium software. It’s available for Windows, macOS, and Linux, so you don’t feel bound to a particular platform if you learn to use it.
Unfortunately, there is a small catch.
Ardor is only available for free if you download the DAW source code and compile the Mac application yourself. This is a complex and time consuming process and Ardor offers no help.
Nevertheless, you can download $ 1 / month from the pre-built version of Ardor, which is much easier to install. We kept Ardor on this list of free apps because it’s so powerful that you should seriously consider learning to build it from source.
In brief: The whole package, but more scary to begin with. The learning curve is steep, but Ardour’s potential to produce, compose, and master is enormous.
Charge: ardor Mac operating system (Free)
7. First, the Pro tools
Pro Tools is an industry standard DAW and is used in professional studios around the world. Many find learning difficult, compatibility limited, and too expensive. But it is also undeniably powerful.
Fortunately, you can download a removed version of Pro Tools First, a premium DAW version that can be used for free on your Mac. This lets you get to know Pro Tools by learning how it works without having to pay for an expensive software license.
First, Pro Tools can only have 16 audio or MIDI tracks at a time, using up to four inputs. But you get access to the 23 included plug-ins and more than three gigabytes of audio. You can also create an unlimited number of buses, allowing you to group effects and reduce CPU drain.
The Paid Pro Tools update unlocks more than 100 plug-ins and adds editing tools such as a score editor and clip confirmation bars.
In brief: While Pro Tools limits the number of tracks and effects, it is a powerful DAW that allows you to learn how to use industry-standard software.
Charge: First Pro tools Mac operating system (Free)
Use the Premium DAW button for the best sound quality
The free DAW discs for Mac listed above provide everything you need to create great music. Record with audio or MIDI, import samples, work with sequences, and use free plug-ins and effects to improve mixing. There is a lot of stuck teeth.
However, to improve sound quality, you will have to pay for a professional DAW to open up a higher sampling rate and bit depth. If that’s something you might be interested in, check this out the best audio software for audiophiles
The best music production software for audiophiles
. None of them are cheap, but they are the best in terms of DAW values.