Making music with a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) doesn’t have to be complicated or cost money. You may be surprised to know that you don’t even need to download any software. With a variety of full-featured, powerful, browser-based DAWs now available, anyone can start creating music.
Whether you’re an amateur producer, hobbyist musician, or new to learning how to use a DAW, it’s worth checking out what these seven online DAWs can do.
What is a browser-based DAW?
With a browser-based DAW, you can produce, edit, and mix audio right in your web browser. In the past, DAWs required powerful computing to do this, and the software is still expensive to buy, but all of 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 user interface is typically much less complex than a traditional software DAW, but still gives you the ability to play software instruments, add plugins, effects, and more.
Benefits include accessing the DAW from anywhere with an internet connection and the ability to collaborate on a project with other people. This is very useful if you want to start a remote podcast, for example.
Each browser-based DAW we list below is different, and the best way to find out which one is right for you is to take a test drive. To help you narrow down your choices, we’ve also written about some of the best features each has to offer.
Anyone with experience using a DAW might be surprised at how many features BandLab has to offer, especially considering that it’s available completely free of charge. Not only is it capable of editing and producing audio, but it also connects directly to BandLab’s own music platform for music sharing and discovery.
In less than 30 minutes you can create an account, spin some beats and start publishing your new tracks directly on the BandLab platform. From there you can share or embed your audio track on your website or social media. Thanks to an extremely user-friendly layout, you can practically do all 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 the full works. While not all features are available in the free version, you still get unlimited projects, tons of instruments, and loops to try.
Soundtrap’s layout is fairly minimal, with most of the editing tools and features contained within the menus. The clean look keeps everything looking user-friendly, but some odd design decisions make navigation less intuitive. For example, the playback buttons are located at the bottom of the screen, while almost every traditional DAW has them at the top.
A list of features includes a pattern sequencer for creating beats, a nice MIDI editor reel, and a modest collection of audio effects. Soundtrap can definitely do a lot of things for an online DAW, but we recommend using the free version before deciding to purchase a subscription.
Amped Studio is a freemium online DAW whose Pro version is only $4.99 per month. Both options have a small but curated set of instruments and effects that prioritize quality over 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 panes are well proportioned and fit snugly in a browser window. This 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 guide, and Amped Studio is extremely easy to learn.
Audiotool differs from any other online DAW because of its graphical user interface and the ability to put any device on the screen. For example, when you add a synthesizer, an image of the synthesizer appears in the workspace, complete with all of the interactive buttons and controls you would find on the hardware version.
While it’s not particularly easy to navigate with a computer and mouse, it does mean you can connect synths and effects in quite interesting ways, pulling cables to and from inputs/outputs. In fact, this was traditionally done before software instruments came out.
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 producing unique sounds rather than generic, pre-made samples. If you’ve never used a synthesizer before, downloading some free synthesizer apps for iPhone is a great place to start learning.
With Soundation, you can expect a sound library full of excellent, organic sounding samples that have been well recorded. Many of the 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, $14.99 Creator plan, or $49.99 Pro plan.
Well organized and easy to navigate, the layout doesn’t lack much other than color-coded tracks. If you click the “Get Started” button in the editing timeline, you can learn more about the DAW on the go by clicking on the “Create Melody” or “Record Audio” topics. It’s another DAW that will get you up and running in no time.
Another useful feature is the CPU and memory meter, which makes it easy to monitor how well your computer is handling audio processing. Although many audio functions rely on cloud processing, learning how a sound card works will help you get the best sound out of your computer.
The beauty of GridSound is that you don’t need to create an account to tinker around in this browser-based DAW (unlike most other options). In fact, it is currently an open source project with all code available which can be viewed on the GridSound GitHub page.
It’s important to note that this is still a development work, with new features being slowly added over time. There’s still plenty to keep your time occupied, however, including a drum sequencer, synth, mixer, and an arrangement window.
All together is a fun retro feel 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 to see them.
You won’t find any samples or pre-built software instruments here yet, so this DAW might be best suited for people who already know a thing or two about sequencers and FM synths.
What sets Scribbleton Live apart from the rest is that it’s a fully code-based DAW. That means all operations are typed out, including everything from changing the volume to entering notes.
This isn’t your average easy-to-use DAW, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you have some programming experience. The creators behind Scribbleton hope that people will use this DAW to experiment with making music in new ways, and by throwing the traditional DAW layout out the window there is no other choice.
Future plans even include integrating AI and machine learning to create sound using a shared human-computer creative model. If you’re interested, be sure to check out Scribbleton Live.
A simple way to start making music
The competition between browser-based DAWs is starting to intensify, which means there’s plenty to choose from. Pick a few to test out, or choose a DAW based on the feature 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.