Most of the best DJs playing the festival circuit are also fully established producers, completely capable of creating room shaking, crowd pleasing tunes.
In this article we discuss what we consider three of the best programs for dance music production and delve in why. We'll look at three industry standards, Ableton Live, Cubase, and Fruity Loops. Keep in mind that everyone has an individual preference when it comes to their DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and that the results will depend on your input and not the software that you use.
In the last few years German company Ableton has really made a mark on the international dance music scene with its Live software which can be used as a DAW for arranging music, but also as a live performance device.
Ableton Live is a very complex piece of software, used by EDM producers such as Knife Party and David Guetta. It can handle as many channels (MIDI and Audio) as the computer running it will allow and the options for sound design and arrangement are infinite. The real perk of this software is its ease of performance. The user can both produce and then play live using it. The downside of Ableton Live is that some users find its layout and design a bit visually “dull” and “unsexy”. There have also been some compatibility issues with recent operating system updates (in particular OS X Yosemite).
Steinberg's Cubase dates back to Atari computers. Producers as varied as Zedd and Aphex Twin have been known to use it. Both the program and the software have come a long way since then. Cubase 8 is the latest version and offers significant improvements to existing features rather than heaps of new ones. It comes with its own built in virtual instruments and a large library of loops and samples. It also has a very handy and powerful audio rendering function. On the down side, some users report difficulties with its display, a “cluttered mixer” and OS X compatibility.
A bit of an underdog in the DAW realm, Fruity Loops recently upgraded to version 11. Until then the software had remained more of a loop and beat construction program. That said, it is still used by industry heavyweights such as Afrojack and Avicii. Previously, users were able to construct songs but had to rely on other software for audio recording, which set it apart from other more powerful DAWs with audio input capability. The recent upgrade saw the added feature of instrument recording.
A downside to Fruity is that its interface is very cluttered and difficult to navigate for new users.