You don’t need to spend money on expensive software to produce music. If you’re looking to make electronic music using synthesisers and drum machines, or record live instruments, there are some great options for free that you can download and start producing music straight away. We’ve put together this guide to some of the best music software that you can download for free and start making music with today.
The Best Free Music Making Software
Here are some suggestions on how you can make music for free using some amazing music production software. It’s split into sections, so you can go straight to DAW, instrument, audio FX etc. to easily navigate the list.
This is a growing page so keep coming back for more free music software. If you use something great that you feel should be added to this guide please let us know…
DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
Cakewalk – The classic DAW is now available for free. Windows users have access to a complete recording studio on their 64-bit machine. It’s now owned by BandLab and offers you the full Cakewalk package for free, including audio editing, mixing, midi sequencing and VST3 support.
Garageband – MIDI and audio sequencing on your Mac. It’s a good intro if you’re thinking of moving up to Logic Pro. You can use it on iOS too.
Presonus Studio One – Recording and production suite for Mac and PC. Includes audio processing plugins and a sample library.
Waveform Free – Made by Tracktion, Waveform Free calls itself the world’s best, fully-featured, completely free DAW. It’s certainly got some great features, including an unlimited track count. It doesn’t have all the features that you’d find in paid versions, such as custom layouts, video playback, Melodyne and Antares autotune, but it’s free.
Audacity – Audacity is an audio editing tool for Windows, macOS and Linux.
Komplete Start – This is a great introduction to the world of Native Instruments. Komplete start contains a range of synths including Reaktor based instruments, a collection of Kontakt based sampler instruments, dynamics effects, a guitar amp simulator plus a bunch of loops and samples. It’s amazing what you can get for free these days!
TYRELLN6 – A virtual analogue synth with classic subtractive architecture.
Tricent mk III – A great sounding emulation of the Korg Trident mk II
Cheeze Machine 2 – Cheeze Machine has been around since 2007, replicating classic string synthesisers with style. It’s now updated to Cheeze Machine 2, and still rocks!
Valhalla – Amazing, massive, reverb.
OrilRiver – Algorithmic stereo reverb from Denis Tihanov.
Valhalla Freq Echo – Great dubby echo FX
TAL-Dub – 3 dub FX from TAL (32 bit on OSX)
Dynamics / Utilities
ReaPlugs – A collection of plugins used within Reaper. Includes ReaComp, ReaXcomp, ReaDelay, ReaEQ, ReaFIR, ReaGate, ReaStream, ReaJS, ReaControlMIDI. Some useful utilities as well as the normal plugins you’d find. (Windows)
MFreeFXBundle – This is a bundle of 37 audio effects and utilities that’s available as a free download. You can upgrade to the full versions for a small charge but these should get you up and running.
VCVRack – A virtual Eurorack modular synth emulator that allows you to create your own sounds within your browser.
Audio & Audio-Visual Programming
Pure Data – Similar to Max/MSP, Pure Data is a graphical programming environment designed for audio, and is well regarded within the academic community as a compositional tool. You can download loadbang, a great book on programming with pd for free here.
Chuck – Real-time audio programming language for synthesis and sound creation.
Browser-based Music Production
Audiotool – A web-based interface that allows you to connect virtual drum machines, synthesisers, and effects to build your own studio. It also has a built-in sequencer to control your machines.
808.303.studio – A recent project by Yuri Suzuki, released in collaboration with Roland, this web based app gives you an 808 drum machine and a 303 bassline synth to play with in your browser. Whilst it might not be totally suitable as a production tool, it’s an excellent way to waste your day…