We live in a strange society, while majority of people associate high price tags as equal with higher quality, but they love cheap products justified by discounts at the same time. Some developers have their own reasons to justify low price tags, whether in the hope of accessibility, market size, expected sales volume, cost vs revenue ratio, and many more. This article can prove us the false association of high price tags = quality by judging this quality products solely by what it can done and the sole sound quality of the result. So… try these DAWs by yourself, and judge later.

Every since Digital Audio Workstation was born, many bedroom musicians were emerged from the corners of the world, our country, Indonesia is no exception. Years before, producing electronic music or recording a demo for our bands was only can be done using hardware devices in an expensive recording studio, but after everything move digitally into Digital Audio Workstation has made things more accessible for us musicians.

Digital Audio Workstation software become essential for any of them who want to try to become an (amateur to pro) record engineer, producer, DJ, composer, anything with a sole laptop and any proper audio interface. While many newbies or starters tried-out several DAWs to create their music, proper professional Digital Audio Workstation software may cost you more than a hundred dollars. The latest software from Cubase costs you $599. The Reason Propellerhead’s price is up to $459. It might be too expensive for some of us, or don’t want to spend too much when starting out a composition or recording session. This article will be listing sub-$100 digital audio workstations under our radar, with a short comment and few of them are a personal favorite among our team, while FL Studio Fruity Edition ($99) and Presonus Studio One Artist ($99.95) because these doesn’t have the full feature and need to be upgraded to use them as a proper DAW.

GarageBand ($5)

Garage Band 10. Source: macworld.com

Garage Band 10. Beginner friendly DAW for Mac Musicians. Source: macworld.com

This music making app can also accepted as a Digital Audio Workstation. Pre-installed for free for every (newer) Mac owners, while older Mac owners can pay as cheap as $5 in their mac’s App Store. Some say that it’s really easy to use for a newbie, while can be confusing for the rest (one time, it took us 20 minutes for only to figure out where to insert audio units effect). While shipped with a pack of tutorials, loops, and some okay-sounding Audio units, for you who demand more ‘polished’ sound quality can easily use our Audio Units to take Garage Band to another level. In addition, Garage Band also has a handy mixdown function to convert your song straight to iTunes and Soundcloud while their frequent updates can give you a different pack (add-ons) upgrades.


Reaper ($60)

Small footprint,inexpensive, while powerful enough for handling numerous tranck on a single mixing session

Small footprint,inexpensive, while powerful enough for handling numerous track on a single mixing session

A popular personal favorite among Kuassa personnel. If you ever think that Digital Audio Workstation software is usually high-priced and takes up much of a computer’s CPU and storage. Well, Reaper is an exception. It won’t empty your wallet, and won’t eat much of your space. As matter of fact, it is only takes a few megabytes of storage that contain of 13 MB installer. It’s also available as portable version for carrying around in a flashdisk, really convenient for working across studios and sessions. Never consider Reaper as non-professional, the feature set is large and large session can run easily and stable. The price is $60.


Tracktion ($60)

Tracktion 5: chep Source: tracktion.com

Cheap while powerful digital audio workstation for many studio-related needs. Don’t let the corporate-ey looking visual fool you, Tracktion is robust and stable while having most distinctive single-screen graphic and swift user interface which rely heavily on drag and drop. Several years ago, Tracktion was acquired by Mackie but back on his own feet now.

Overall, Tracktion is a newbie friendly, yet it is powerful enough for professional use. You can buy it via www.tracktion.com for $60.


Harrison Mixbus ($79)

Source: harrisonconsoles.com

Source: harrisonconsoles.com

Based on the Ardour open-source project but with a bunch of solid Harrison DSP engines up on its sleeve. Harrison Mixbus is oriented more towards hardcore mixing purpose, boasting its sound quality and precision summing engine known mainly on their hardware consoles. While it have some limitation here and there such as occasional crash and no rewire support, but many users swears for it’s (superior) sound quality compared to other DAWs.


EnergyXT ($49)


It’s Linux support have gained many attention and loyal following. EnergyXT boasts a combination of fluid workflow and outstanding value making it hard to resist.


Acoustica Mixcraft ($90)


Earlier, Mixcraft is positioned towards newly entrants of the digital audio workstation realm with it’s budget friendly price and ease-of-use compared with Garage Band which is exclusive for Mac computers. By time, it steadily grows into a more complete and powerful DAW which receives Musictech choice and Computer Music performance award due it’s extensive features.


Kuassa’s Plugins: Cheap, yet, It’s Powerful

Kratos 2 Maximizer

Since you’ve got a plenty options of cheap digital audio workstation recording software while most of them shipped with a small selection or so-so quality audio effects. If you’re also looking for audio plugins to extend your DAW, Kuassa offers you the very best audio plugins that available for VST, Audio Units, AAX and even Rack Extensions. Take a look on Kratos 2 Maximizer, it’s a limiter/loudness maximizer plugin with a price of $69. This will make your Mix LOUD transparently without sacrificing punch and sound quality. A guitar amp simulator can be a good reference for you if you wanted to play a virtual guitar amp, for example, Amplifikation Creme is the best guitar amp simulator for more modern high-gain guitar sound, metal, and alike.