Which DAW is the Industry Standard?

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A hot topic in the world of audio and composition is who is using what software and why? What is the industry standard? What software should I be learning and what would I prefer to use?

In order to assess the preference and perception of software currently in use by music producers, engineers and artists, I put out a short informal survey in January 2013. Receiving responses from over 100 sound and music people who generously spared a few minutes of their time, I’m delighted to share the results with you.

Before I present my findings I want to thank everyone for the valuable feedback and insights particularly those talented individuals always willing to offer assistance on the TAXI forum and the growing network of pro audio professionals I am connecting with on LinkedIn through my coaching and audio work.

The feedback has been great and I welcome your thoughts on these findings in the COMMENTS below.

So; to the survey.


The first question of the survey was to establish the spread of skills amongst respondents.

As you can see, a fair spread of musicians, producers, composers and songwriters. Sadly, no mastering engineers in the group of respondents. The ‘other’ category (where it says expand) included results such as: ‘all of the above’, ‘educator’, ‘recording and mix engineer and producer’, ‘singer/songwriter’, ‘music marketer’, ‘sound design’ and ‘sound recordist’. This highlighted a limitation of my survey: The choice of answers could have been more granular to suit the audience.

First Choice of DAW

Proving that Apple’s ‘Logic’ is still ever popular, the next question asked what user’s first choice of DAW is when it comes to audio work. My personal expectation was to see ‘Pro Tools’ as the leader. Not so:

Music Software - Q2

Apologies for the sloppy typo to users of Sonar. My defense is that this was a lazy copy and paste error from a third party list which I should have checked had I not been so excited and constrained by time.

The ‘other’ category this time included: ‘Analogue tape’, a ‘Boss 1600 CD digital recorder’, a multi-track studio and ‘Garageband’.

A number of respondents reported that they often use ‘Logic’ for composition and ‘Pro Tools’ for tracking and live work. Given that the biggest group of respondents are composers (27%) this may go some way to explain ‘Logic’ appearing in pole position in question one. Producers are the next largest group of respondents (25%) which could account for ‘Pro Tools’ taking the lead marginally in the next question.

Second Choice of DAW

Half of those responding to the ‘other’ category, accounting for sixteen (17.78%) of the respondents, stated that they only use one DAW and did not respond to this question. Those that did and completed this category revealed answers that include those as per the previous question plus ‘Wavelab’, ‘Finale’, ‘Sony Soundforge’, ‘Paris’, Mackie ‘Tracktion’, ‘Multiquence’, ‘Energy XT’, ‘Ignite’ and ‘Mixcraft 6’. The most insightful answer was ‘iPod voice memo’ which reminds us that simple tools must not be overlooked for such activities.

Which DAW do you think is the Industry Standard?

The survey’s next question was to establish which players are seen as major players in the creative media market place. The response regarding ‘Pro Tools’ was strong with 72% of respondents suggesting that they perceive Avid’s ‘Pro Tools’ as the de facto industry standard for recording, editing and tracking audio.

Worth noting is that this is the perception from respondents, most of which are based in the UK and USA. Some respondents commented that ‘they don’t believe in standards‘ whilst others reinforced the idea that ‘Logic is far superior for sequencing but Protools is excellent for recording and mixing‘.

Other Software

To round off the survey a question was asked about other software used. Amongst those that responded it was interesting to find that 67.74% of those that chose to respond to this question use Avid’s ‘Sibelius’ notation software. In reality this is 21% of total respondents. 25.81% (8% total) use ‘Finale’. Amongst the ‘other’ respondents ‘Notation’, ‘Izotope RX’ and ‘Propellerheads ReCycle’ were mentioned.

Are Surveys Like This Useful?

If you’re looking to find an ‘industry standard’ digital audio workstation, you’re unlikely to find one.

That’s not to say there are not some DAWs more popular than others and, of course, there are DAWs you will more commonly find than others in professional audio studios around the globe.

Whilst the core aim of this survey was to establish which products are perceived as the ‘industry standard’ amongst audio software users, there is no official industry standard in the world of professional audio software. Also, this survey does not cover software that you might find in broadcast, for example.

‘Logic’ and ‘Pro Tools’ are still very popular, however, the game is changing. ‘Pro Tools 11’ has just arrived and Apple recently stopped shipping physical media leaving a download only option for ‘Logic’.

Does all of this matter?

Whilst it’s useful to see what amateurs, semi-professional and professionals are using (in this simple survey that was a 30% 41% 29% split respectively) it is not as important as finding for ourselves a software tool that meets our needs and helps those involved in such endeavours to realise pieces of creative work.

In hindsight, the categorisation of ‘primary work’ would have made this survey more valuable. The survey could have been further improved had more categories been included.

I welcome your thoughts and opinions on these findings in the COMMENTS below.

What do you use, how and why?

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