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Last Update: June 2019What is the best beat making software? Here's our take:
There are so many to choose from, it can be tough deciding what’s best for the music style you want to make. So in this post, we’ll help you choose the best beat production software for your music.
We’ll explain all the features of the latest 2019 versions of the most popular beat makers out there and some beginner options.
Then we’ll let you know what beat software is best for different types of beat makers.
And remember this stuff isn’t just drum beat software – you can make entire songs with melodies and more with these options.
Let’s get to it…
Magix Music Maker
Propellerheads Reason 10
Image-Line FL Studio 20
Native Instruments Maschine MK3
|Main Benefits||Affordable, Easy to Use||Intuitive & Self-Contained||Super Fast Workflow w/ Computer Mouse, Popular Option||Hands On Feeling w/ Hardware Controller, No Need for Mouse/Keyboard|
|Shortcomings||Limited Compared to Others||Not Great for Recording Audio or Mixing||Not Great for Recording Audio or Mixing||Not Great for Recording Audio, Arrangement Workflow Lacking|
|Who Should Use It?||Beginners / Hobbyists Who Want to Dabble in Beat Making||Intermediate Beat Makers||Trap / EDM Beat Makers||Beat Makers Who Like Playing Out Notes/Patterns|
This is probably the best software to make beats for beginners or hobbyists that are just looking to dabble in the world of making music. It’s also likely the best program for DJs and others who don’t want to get too technical when they make beats.
The company Magix has been in the game for years and also controls the “VEGAS” brand of media editing software. They do great work.
And just because this is good beat making software for beginners, does not mean it’s a bad option for anyone who’s not a total newcomer. But you can quickly and easily get right to the music with this option because of it’s ease of use.
You won’t get caught up in the “technical process.”
This is our current go-to recommendation for absolute beginners and hobbyists. If you just want to try out beat creator software or are looking for something easy to use, this is your best bet for now.
Plus the training included makes it easy to learn to use in a few minutes so you can get right to making music without getting lost in workflow problems. Some of the other software we talk about below is more complex and tougher to figure out.
Anyone who wants to have more control and flexibility over their music production software should probably choose another option below.
Even if you’re a beginner, if you know you want to do this (make beats) for real, spend your money on one of the industry standards we get into below.
Also, if you’ve made beats before, have tons of VST instruments or can already play piano or guitar it may not be your best choice. Magix is just an easy beat making software option for beginners.
Next up, we’re going to get into the really powerful software that all your favorite producers use.
Propellerhead Reason is a great software beat maker that I’ve used a lot.
It used to be my favorite beat creation software and I would swear by it.
I still love it and when it first came out it was revolutionary. But I’ve since moved on to other stuff (see below).
It’s a completely stand alone beat maker program with it’s own instruments, samplers and more.
But it’s a beast with a ton of additional features, including audio recording and VST support (third party virtual instrument plugins) too.
It’s got a great layout and interface and a really easy workflow.
It’s a simple-to-use software beatmaker that can still be deeply customized by advanced users.
Just flip the virtual “studio rack” around and re-route audio signals however you want.
If you like producing electronic (EDM, Hip-Hop, R&B, Pop, etc) music quickly, try Reason 10 out. You can use hardware controllers (like midi keyboards, etc) but the way Reason works doesn’t require it.
If you’re looking for something more than just a really great beat making program, then Reason may not be your go-to choice.
Even though the “music making” features are amazing, the audio recording functionality seems like it’s secondary. A “nice to have” instead of a core component of the software. So if you’re planning on doing lots of recording, mixing and mastering with your beat making you may want to consider something else.
Also, if you do a lot of sample chopping (like in boom-bap style hip hop) then choose something like Native Instruments Maschine (see below).
The idea behind the Reason user interface is like having a virtual studio rack on your computer. You can add in an unlimited number of drum machines, synths, effects processors and combine them all.
The team takes it further by letting you route the virtual gear just like you would a real physical studio rack.
It looks cool af…
It’s a solid piece of software that goes a long way. Some people also find the workflow very easy to get the hang of. I’ve used Reason for years… But then I eventually upgraded to Native Instruments’ Maschine as my go-to beat maker, which I currently use now.
Best for: Basic Beat + Loop Making w/ Limited Instruments/Effects
This version is bare-bones and has the following features:
Best for: Full Instrumental + Song Creation
This version is the full version and has the following features:
Best for: Previous Reason Users
This version is the UPGRADE version (you must own a previous license to this software) and has the same features as Reason 10 FULL:
FL Studio (formerly known as Fruity Loops) is one of the most popular pieces of music production software out there.
It has been used by heavyweights from 9th Wonder to Metro Boomin and many others.
It can do everything and has a extra streamlined workflow if you’re good with the mouse and keyboard as your beat making tools.
You’ve probably heard of it if you’re into making beats at any level and it’s a DOPE choice for any genre of music.
If you’re into make hip-hop/trap, edm or any electronic based music this might be for you.
There are now a few hardware controllers coming out that you can use flawlessly with FL Studio, but where the software really shines is it’s mouse+keyboard workflow.
If you’re not interested in playing keys or learning to finger drum on pads then this is definitely the best choice for you.
If you prefer to play piano or tap out drum beats on pads then FL Studio isn’t your best choice. Yea, there’s hardware out now, but for that you’ll might want something that was designed originally to be used with hardware (like Maschine).
If you’re going to be doing a lot of audio recording, audio editing or mixing and mastering then FL Studio may not be the best choice for you either. Although the more expensive versions have audio recording capability, other DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) like Cubase and Pro-Tools handle all that stuff better.
What makes FL Studio really great is the loads of features and tools that are super easy to use.
Want those signature trap-style hi-hats? How about the MPC-style swing? FL Studio does it in a couple of clicks.
Since everything can be done with the mouse, it’s a good choice for anyone who doesn’t want (or can’t yet afford) a midi hardware controller (like a keyboard or drum pads).
Oh and I bet your favorite producer probably uses this software to make beats. It’s just how it is…
Best for: Basic Loop Creation With Minimal Functionality Included
This version does NOT include any of the following features:
Best for: Full Song Creation – Includes Audio Recording/Editing Functionality
This version does NOT include any of the following features:
BEST DEAL: enhanced functionality and extra plugins
This version DOES include the following additional plugins/modules:
Best for: Professional producers who want EVERY SINGLE plugin that integrates with FL Studio
This version includes EVERYTHING plus the following premium plugins:
Maschine is the revolutionary beat production software from Native Instruments that combines the best of both worlds – hardware beat makers and software studio applications.
Just like FL Studio above, you’ve probably heard about this hardware + software combo.
It was first created at a time when all software beat makers were mostly mouse + keyboard based. There was a huge population of producers who loved the feel of hardware and the ease of software.
Native Instruments was the first to offer a really seamless solution.
It doesn’t matter what style of music you make, it can all be done on NI Maschine – but like other “beat makers” it’s mostly for making electronic based music and not recording vocals and instruments.
If you love to make music on your computer but wish you could use hardware to bang out your drums, and play your synths and samples – this is for you.
The software is robust enough that you can also click in (i.e. program in) notes, but it’s main function is to let you “play” your music.
If you make sample-based hip-hop music (or if you sample at all) Maschine is one of your best choices. Even if you currently use a hardware controller like the Akai MPD series of the drum pads from M-Audio hardware, Maschine will take your production game to the next level.
If you don’t want to tap our drum beats or melodic/rhythmic patterns with your hands and prefer the mouse and keyboard approach, then stick to FL Studio or maybe even Reason.
Also, if you’ve already been using a specific midi hardware controller (like the Akai MPD, etc) and are used to it then you might not want to switch to Maschine (but I still think it’d be worth the switch)
One thing to note is that it’s arrangement functions run on patterns and scenes, not your typical DAW linear timeline.
So it can take some getting used to when trying to arrange your loops into full songs, but it’s not a deal breaker – you can always use it to sketch out the beat and another DAW to arrange and finish it off.
What makes Maschine really great is that you get the hands on feel of a hardware sampler (like in the old-school beat making days) combined with the flexibility and power of a computer studio setup..
It was the first of it’s kind that was truly integrated, intuitive and easy to use. And it’s still the best – which is why producers like DJ Numark, 9th Wonder, No ID and many others prefer it.
We also use it here (along with Reaper, FL Studio, and Pro Tools).
Since it combines both hardware and software you get the feeling of making music organically, instead of drawing in squares and rectangles with a mouse. Combine that with an unlimited array of tracks, sounds and effects on your computer, and it’s easy to see why this beast is a best-seller.
Best for: Entry Level Beat-Makers
This model is the smallest hardware size and has the following features:
Best for: Beginner and Experienced Beat Makers
This model is the original type + size and has the following features:
Best for: Complete Physical Control of Every Function Quickly and Easily
Largest sized model with the most functionality:
They’re top-of-the-line and the best beat software options out there.
But that doesn’t mean the ones we mention below are bad. It’s not about the tool, but how you use it.
Sonic Producer is a basic beat making program that has made a pretty good name for itself. It’s light years away from something like Reason or FL Studio, but it’s still got a lot to offer.
With most production software you need to have the skill, experience and knowledge necessary to produce full tracks.
But that’s not true with Sonic Producer. It’s got a lot of good features and support and an extra bonus that other software programs don’t feature.
The BTV Solo is the stand-alone software that came with the original “Beat Thang” portable production studio – which was the actual hardware piece. The BTV Solo software works fully without the hardware.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the hardware Beat Thang is still available for purchase. It must not have caught on like the designers hoped it would. It was supposed to be a hardware/software combo similar to the Maschine (and even the Akai MPC Renaissance – which also isn’t available anymore).
The software is pretty tight and backed up by music aficionados who have serious music cred.
Dr. Drum is an online beat creating program that’s not a bad choice for beginners and people who just want to dabble in beat making without spending a lot of money.
It’s a pretty basic option, but it has the same main functionality as more expensive beat makers at a fraction of the price.
This used to be our go-to recommendation for beginners, but now we feel it’s probably better for hobbyists. If you’re interested in dipping your toe into beat making for fun then it could be for you – it’s easy to use and doesn’t cost much.
Plus the training included makes it easy to learn to use in a few minutes so you can get right to making music.
Basically anyone who wants to make professional music. Even if you’re a beginner, if you know you want to do this for real, don’t spend money on Dr. Drum.
Also, if you’ve made beats before or can already play piano or guitar it may not be your best choice.
It really depends on you. Most of these programs to make beats do the same things, just differently.
Some of the included sounds/synths/instruments may differ but there’s a good chance most of the sounds and instruments you end up using will be third-party anyway.
Having one particular software for making music will not allow you to “make beats like [insert favorite producer here].”
What really matters is what you want to do. Every case is going to be different, but don’t worry about making the wrong choice.
We’ve used a lot of the stuff we talked about in this post, and we’ve gradually transitioned from one to another, and sometimes even back again. But we always remember one thing…
It’s not the tool itself, it’s how you use it.
Trust us – you can make straight HEAT or complete TRASH, regardless of the software you use.
And it doesn’t matter what genre of beats you make either.
But choose your weapon wisely, because workflow, ease of use and features DO matter.
For example, if you like the hands on feel of hitting pads maybe Maschine is for you.
Or if you like to make trap style beats, FL Studio makes it easier to get those crazy hi-hat patterns southern beat makers are known for.
Maybe you prefer the workflow or look of a particular piece of software. Other times, certain tasks/techniques are done easier in certain beat makers and more difficult to do in others.
But at the end of the day, it’s all about personal preference and how you use the music production software you have.
At the end of the day, you’re able to do pretty much anything on any DAW. How you do them may end up being different, but that’s it.
If you’re an absolute beginner just starting out and learning the ropes, don’t invest hundreds of dollars into software like Maschine, FL Studio or Reason just yet.
Try out Sonic Producer, Dr. Drum or BTV Solo if you’re just dabbling in the whole production process for fun. Make some beats right away instead of getting stuck in the “process.” Those options make it easy.
But if you’re serious about making beats then you can get something more geared towards “professional” music creation and beat making. At that point our top 2 recommendations are FL Studio and NI Maschine – those are hands down the best beat makers for the price/quality.
It’s all about how you use the software and how well you know it. Then the limits are non-existent. You can make any type of sound or style of music you want.
At Deviant Noise, we’ve used most of the best beat maker software options and love them all.
But currently our setup is based around the Native Instruments Maschine Studio hardware and software.
We’re big fan’s of Native Instruments and the entire studio is based on their products – including Komplete Ultimate (virtual instruments) and a Komplete Kontrol S-Series Keyboard.
These guys are really on top of their game and we love em. There’s a few features we’re missing in the beat program and hardware, but it’s nothing we can’t get around with a little bit of creativity.
And if it’s absolutely necessary, we’ll sometimes open up Reason, Cubase or FL Studio. It all depends on how we’re feeling.
And that’s another point – one that we’ll end on – you don’t need to only use one piece of software. If you like different features of different beat makers, get them all and use them however you feel. That might get expensive, but making music is an expensive hobby! But one, that’s so worth it.
Good luck with your beat making – leave us some comments letting us know your choice/preference. And if you know anyone that would find this article useful, please share it with them.
Back in the day one had to have a ton of different instruments (as well as people to play them), huge pieces of studio equipment to record with and massive budgets to make professional records.
But all of that has changed with the rapid improvements in music technology. Now there are easily available and very affordable choices of music making software. What the best program for making beats is, however, is really dependent on what you are planning on doing, and the features most important to you.
And once you start making lots of music and beats, you’ll see that workflow is REALLY important.
Every music producer has their favorite beat machine software – just pick one and try it out. Learn the beats maker software you chose inside and out – don’t just get frustrated and give up.
Whatever you choose, just make sure you’ve got some sick drum samples and sample packs to use with it.
We highly recommend picking up Beat Building Blocks to use with your beat making software, especially if you’re a beginner. It makes it SO EASY to quickly make professional sounding beats.