The 10 Best Desktop DAWs Of 2015


best-of-2015-desktop-dawBest of 2015: We asked and Synthtopia readers voted – and you chose Ableton Live as the Best Desktop DAW of 2015.

Ableton Live is followed by Logic Pro, in second place. New DAW on the block Bitwig Studio took third place.

Check out the top 10 list below!

ableton-live-9.5The 10 Best Desktop DAWs Of 2015

  1. Ableton Live 29%
  2. Logic Pro 15%
  3. Bitwig Studio 12%
  4. Digital Performer 7%
  5. Propellerhead Reason 6%
  6. Cubase 5%
  7. Cockos Reaper 4%
  8. FL Studio 4%
  9. Renoise 3%
  10. PreSonus Studio One 3%

See the poll for full detailed results.

26 thoughts on “The 10 Best Desktop DAWs Of 2015

    1. Ableton is built on unstable code from the Stone Age. They keep piling more shiny garbage on top of it, hiding a rotting core under the hood.

      15 years later, and the audio quality is still out of whack. Do your own research and don’t believe the hype.

      1. Hilarious comment!
        Come on man, the sharpest musicians and engineers on hearth work with it on daily basis, and not mentioning thousands of multimedia artists and other high tech creative people.

    1. BEST. not worst, or most horribly outdated and yet still somehow trumpeting features that were “new’ 10 years ago as some kind of fantastic revolution you should shell yet another $800 out on.

  1. I’m surprised to see DP at #4, but otherwise this looks about right. Live at #1 (for better or for worse) and Logic at #2 are completely unsurprising. It’s all fighting for scraps after that, at least as far as electronic musicians/hobbyists are concerned.

    1. i was a little bit too, but, having switched to DP recently, I gotta say, its nice going back (I was a user years ago)… DP gets points for being an app that maintains a degree of consistency over the years, unlike certain produce-named companies that like to pull features when they feel they’re no longer worth supporting, or drastically changing workflows that have been done the same way for years, simply because some UI genius feels the need to reinvent the wheel.
      or the fact that when you buy motu stuff, its supported for seemingly… forever. their newest drivers still support their original firewire interfaces from the late 90s. I logged into my account the other day and saw that I still could upgrade my original copy of AudioDesk version 1 to the newest DP9 if i wanted to. How many other companies will still offer you a discount to upgrade from 15 year old software?
      Each version continues to add features that are compelling. MX4 being added to DP9 has be about ready to pull the trigger on the upgrade from 8.

      I think the reason DP’s making a comeback is due to the fact people are tiring of having the product they use daily messed with, or being milked by the company to perpetually upgrade and/or go to support contracts like digi….

  2. Keyword here is WORKSTATION. In that context, I’m not surprised at all ProTools didn’t make the cut. Fantastic for straight recording and audio editing, but falls off a cliff on the creative side. In a perfect world Ableton would have the audio quality of PT, but still maintain the integrated controllers and M4L. What blows my mind is that in 2016 (now) we still don’t have a sample accurate MIDI solution standard in DAW’s.

      1. If by “Quality” you mean “they can all export in the same exact format [.wav] with same bitrate”, then I agree. Apples=Apples

        But, if you are talking about sonic range, intensity of the sounds, and being able to hear the subtle nuances of the plug-in’s in the final mix, you have to realize all the DAW’s have a slightly different character.
        There are things we can do in Live or Logic, that Reason or Bitwig can’t do, and vice-versa.

  3. Sorry to rain on this parade, but…Is this really a rating of the “Best DAWs”?
    Have any of these voters actually worked thoroughly with all the DAWs in question to even form such an opinion? Did they carefully compare features, bugs, stability, interface, usability, sound quality?
    Such polls are more like popularity contests; I suspect most just vote for the DAW they happen to use.

  4. Year after Year I find Ableton’s software to be unusable, and my favorite: Sonar, never makes the cut. Ah well, guess i’m an outlier.

  5. I feel these kind of polls are a bit like a hollywood gossip mag rating the best/ most popular stars of a given year but for music nerds instead. We all know it’s a bit of nonsense but we love bitching/arguing about the results.

    1. Is it nonsense? You can tell a lot from these things. First thing is that Ableton is massive, at least 1/3 of all users are using it and rating it. Secondly, no one is using Pro Tools, and people don’t rate it as a DAW. So it will fail as a studio standard – and if you are working in a pro studio then Ableton would be all you need to service the majority, Logic and Bitwig would help in boxing 50% of all jobs off, to bounce stems into – which is a £1000 investment – nothing. In the next few years that will make Ableton the new studio standard, if it isn’t already. Unless Pro Tools can come up with a structure to change their fate – I can’t see it myself. I think the only people currently buying Pro Tools must be the people stuck in the mindset of not having a Pro setup without it – which it a ten year old mentality. I kinda think Pro Tools is already dead.

  6. i don’t think i know a single person that uses Digital Performer.

    but i know a FUCKTON of people that use the next 5 daws after it on this list.



  7. Wow. A DAW war breaks out…FFS, your DAW does not matter. So, presumably those on here who claim to appreciate all the subtle differences in audio quality would like to stand shoulder to shoulder with a thousand musicians producers and verify that? No. Bollocks. Yes, people vote on these things based on what DAW they happen to be using, not remotely with the knowledge of what the others they do not use actually do or sound like. I chose Logic in 2008, because I switched to OSX and Mac and at the time it was the obvious choice. When I was at Nimbus, I had to learn ProTools because…that happened to be the standard that was set up in most studios to work with giant Outboard rigs and boards. Made perfect sense, even if I never got on that well with it. The DAWs fault? Hardly. Already had hundreds of Logic projects in the works, and switching is beyond an inconvenience. I loved Reason, Sonar was perfectly fine when I was on a PC because I tended to rely on my ideas more that feeling crippled by having a “shitty DAW”…Logic Pro X got a pretty nice update this year, with Alchemy integration made the $200 cost justifiable for that unbelievable synth alone for a lot of potential buyers. But link. Gee, what will I ever do without that? Oh…yes. Make music. That is fine with me, actually. Be thankful for whatever DAW you have. They are all good and should be the very least of your worries if you are thinking they are going to make or break your creative work. No. They won’t.

  8. All I use is mixcraft pro studio 7 and I make beats that blow people’s minds and a good supplement income btw. How come it gets no love? Cuz it’s not cool enough? Hmmm

  9. Been using Cubase for several years now, MOTU’s DP prior to that and just purchased Ableton Live 9 for another application. I’ve read through many DAW ratings list, comparisons, reviews, etc. Bottom line? It’s all about your preferences, your desire for a workspace, workflow, support, intuitiveness of the software. All DAW software does pretty much the same thing. You can utilize MIDI, VSTi, audio loops, files, and the list goes on. You can work in a linear fashion (i.e. tape machine style) or program like an old school drum machine (i.e. in ‘chunks’ of material, patterns, etc.)

    It’s funny to see comparisons that are slanted toward the cheapest DAW out there and then the real workhorses, IMO (Cubase, Pro Tools, DP) get dumped to the bottom of the list. Walk into a professional studio in Nashville, NY or LA and you’re going to see the ‘Big Boys’ using ‘Big Boy’ DAWs. Show up in someone’s home or basement studio, and you’ll see guys just starting out, or on a budget using your Logic, PreSonus, Ableton, etc. DAWs. It’s not a good or bad thing, it’s WHAT FITS YOU and your working environment. No, money doesn’t equal better…all the time. However, you won’t see Cubase or Pro Tools, or DP going away anytime soon, they are just TOO powerful.

    Much like the “I work on a tablet, or laptop” vs. the “I use a desktop machine” mantra, it’s all about where you are in life and your profession. If you can make music that sounds GREAT with a $99 DAW and a tablet, go for it! If you’re in a place where you use an $800 DAW and a $4K desktop machine then you should not be judged. 🙂

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