Making music with a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You might be surprised to know that you don’t even need to download any software. With a host of full-featured, powerful browser-based DAWs now available, anyone can start creating music.
Whether you’re a hobbyist producer, hobbyist music creator, or just learning to use a DAW for the first time, it’s worth checking out what these seven online DAWs can do.
What is a browser-based DAW?
A browser-based DAW lets you produce, edit and mix audio right in your web browser. In the past, DAWs required powerful computing to do so, and the software is still expensive to own, but all that has changed, thanks to cloud processing and storage.
If you’ve never used a DAW before, an online DAW is a great place to start. The interface is generally much less complex than traditional DAW software, while still giving you the ability to play software instruments, add plugins, effects, and more.
Benefits include being able to access the DAW from anywhere with an internet connection and being able to collaborate with others on a project. It’s really useful if you’re looking to start a podcast remotely, for example.
Each browser-based DAW we list below is different, and the best way to find out which one will work for you is to test it. To help you narrow down the choice, we’ve also written about some of the best features each has to offer.
Anyone with experience with a DAW might be surprised at how many features BandLab has to offer, especially since it’s available completely free of charge. Besides being fully capable of editing and producing audio, it also connects directly to BandLab’s music platform to share and discover music with others.
In less than 30 minutes, you can create an account, create beats and publish your new songs directly on the BandLab platform. From there, you can share or embed your audio track on your website or social media. Thanks to a very user-friendly layout, you can practically do all of this without watching a single tutorial.
Soundtrap is a freemium online DAW with subscription fees starting at $7.99 for the Music Maker plan and $13.99 for full works. Although not all functions are available in the free version, you still have unlimited projects, tons of instruments and loops to try.
Soundtrap’s layout is pretty minimal with most of the editing tools and functions kept in the menus. The clean look makes everything feel user-friendly, however, some odd design choices make navigation less intuitive. The playback buttons, for example, are at the bottom of the screen whereas almost all traditional DAWs have them at the top.
A list of features includes a pattern sequencer for creating beats, a nice rolling MIDI editor, and a modest collection of audio effects. Soundtrap can certainly do a lot for an online DAW, but we recommend using the free version before deciding to purchase a subscription.
Amped Studio is a freemium online DAW with the pro version only costing $4.99 per month. In both options, there is a small but organized set of instruments and effects that focus on quality rather than quantity. Don’t let that put you off, though, as it easily has one of the best layout designs for an online DAW.
Unlike many other online DAWs, the editing timeline and additional window panels are well-proportioned and fit perfectly into a browser window. It makes a huge difference to your workflow, especially if you’re using a laptop on the go. Add to that a fantastic collection of video tutorials and a detailed user manual, and Amped Studio is extremely easy to learn.
Audiotool is quite different from any other online DAW due to its graphical interface and its ability to put any device on the screen. When you add a synthesizer, for example, an image of the synth will appear in the workspace, along with all the interactive buttons and dials you would find on the hardware version.
While it’s not particularly easy to navigate using a computer and mouse, it does mean you can hook up synths and effects in some pretty interesting ways by dragging cables to and from inputs. /exits. In fact, that was how it was traditionally done before the advent of software instruments.
It’s a very detail-oriented DAW that requires a lot of patience to navigate, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just means you’re more likely to produce unique sounds instead of pre-made generic samples. If you’ve never used a synthesizer before, downloading a few free synthesizer apps for iPhone is a great way to start learning.
With Soundation, you can expect a sound library full of great, organic-sounding samples that have been recorded well. Many samples and instruments are also available in the free version, where you can create up to three projects. After using the free version, you have the option to upgrade to the $9.99 Starter plan, the $14.99 Creator plan, or the $49.99 Pro plan.
Well-organized and easy to navigate, not much is missing from the layout except for the color-coded tracks. If you click the Start button in the editing timeline, you can learn more about the DAW as you go by clicking on the topics labeled “Create a melody” or “Record audio”. It’s another DAW that will get you up and running in no time.
Another useful feature is the CPU and Memory display which allows you to easily monitor how your computer is handling audio processing. Although many audio features rely on cloud processing, learning how a sound card works will help you get the best sound from your computer.
The nice thing about GridSound is that you don’t need to create an account to start tinkering in this browser-based DAW (unlike most other options). In fact, it’s currently an open source project with all the code available on the GridSound GitHub page.
It’s important to note that this is still a work in development, with new features added slowly over time. However, there’s still plenty to occupy your time, including a drum sequencer, synthesizer, mixer, and arrange window.
It all ties into a fun, retro design that features a modular interface. In other words, most windows can be dragged and moved around the screen, or minimized if you don’t want them visible.
You won’t find any pre-made samples or software instruments here yet, so this DAW may be best suited to people who already know a thing or two about FM sequencers and synthesizers.
What sets Scribbleton Live apart from the rest is that it is an entirely code-based DAW. This means that all operations are typed, including everything from changing volume to entering notes.
It’s not your average, user-friendly DAW, but definitely worth checking out if you have some programming experience. The creators of Scribbleton hope people will use this DAW to experiment with new ways of making music and throwing the traditional DAW layout out the window, there is no other choice.
Future plans even include integrating AI and machine learning to produce sounds using a shared human and computer creative model. If this interests you, be sure to check out Scribbleton Live.
An easy way to start making music
The competition between browser-based DAWs is starting to heat up, which means there’s plenty to choose from. Pick a few to test out or choose a DAW based on the functionality you want the most. No matter where you are or what computer you’re using, browser-based DAWs are there for you when inspiration strikes.