Your Questions: What’s A Good DAW For DJs?

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ableton live DAW your questions
Last updated 3 August, 2017

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Which DAW?
Our reader would want to know which digital audio workstation to get as his needs begin to grow beyond simple audio editing.

Digital DJ Tips reader Tribal Pilot says: “I’ve been using Audacity for all of my audio editing needs, but I’m starting to feel the need for something more robust: I need a digital audio workstation (DAW) that can ‘fix’ tracks with inconsistent BPMs for beatgridding in Traktor, along with the ability to create DJ edits and mashups. I’d also like to use it for editing my DJ mixes by adding post-processing effects like compression and EQs.

“There are an overwhelming number of DAW programs out and I would like to know what you would recommend. I’m on a budget and would like to keep the cost at under US$200 as much as possible.”

Digital DJ Tips Says:

Out of all the DAWs I’ve used through the years, one has repeatedly come up as my choice recommendation for DJs: Ableton Live. There are many reasons why, but the main one is that it feels like it’s tailor-made for electronic music, meaning functions that you’d most likely use for both DJing / performing live and producing (sketching with loops, editing audio, copy / pasting audio and midi clips, and so on) are simple, intuitive, and fun to learn, especially if you know where to start.

Ableton Live has an important feature called Warp that lets you modify a track’s tempo easily, which will let you do the BPM fixing that you’re interested in for songs with wavering tempos. Other DAWs have this (Pro Tools has Beat Detective, Logic has Flex Time, and so on), but I find that this sort of time stretching is easiest to do in Ableton Live.

You can do your DJ mixes within Live as well – a lot of DJs do this for their radio shows because it lets them do edits within the DAW itself (eg you can shorten / lengthen certain musical chunks if you want to), and also add in other bits like a voice over, DJ idents, or even sound and transition effects if needed.

There are three different versions of Ableton Live with three price points: Live Suite is the full version at US$749, Live Standard is the mid-tier offering at US$449, and Live Intro at US$99. While limited, Live Intro will let you do much of what you require from a DAW, albeit you’re limited to 16 audio tracks at most.

I suggest giving it a try first (it comes with a 30-day free trial), and then going with Live Intro. If you need more power after getting to grips with it, you can always upgrade to either Standard or Suite.

What digital audio workstation can you recommend our reader? Do you use Ableton Live, or are you happier doing your DJ/producer work on another DAW? If so, which one? Let us know below.

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