The Best Beat Making Software in 2021


Learn what the top software for making beats is and what’s right for you

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Last Updated: November 2021

Best Beat Making Software

What is the best beat making software? Here’s our take:

  1. FL Studio 20
  2. Ableton Live! 11
  3. Maschine MK3
  4. Magix Music Maker
  5. Reason 10

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 music production software for your situation.

We’ll explain all the features of the latest 2021 versions of the most popular beat makers out there and some beginner options as well. 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 – these are full fledged music making machines.

Beat Software Comparison Table

Magix Music Maker Propellerheads Reason+ Image-Line FL Studio 20 Native Instruments Maschine MK3 Ableton Live! 11
Rating3/53/55/54/55/5
Main BenefitsAffordable, Easy to UseIntuitive & Self-ContainedSuper Fast Workflow w/ Computer Mouse, Popular OptionHands On Feeling w/ Hardware Controller, No Need for Mouse/KeyboardVersatile + Fast Workflow, Hardware Available
ShortcomingsLimited Compared to OthersNot Great for Recording Audio or MixingNot Great for Recording Audio or MixingNot Great for Recording Audio, Arrangement Workflow LackingCan be weird to get your head around at first
Who Should Use It?Beginners / Hobbyists Who Want to Dabble in Beat MakingIntermediate Beat MakersTrap / EDM Beat MakersBeat Makers Who Like Playing Out Notes/PatternsProducers who want fast keyboard/mouse workflow WITH hardware controller option
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An In-Depth Look at Your Choices

Learn about each option to see which software is best for you.

Magix Music Maker

Magix Music Making Software

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.”

Click Here to Buy Magix Music Maker Today!

Read Our Full Review of Magix Music Maker

Software Highlights:

  • Free Version Available
  • Compatible with PC Only
  • Instantly Downloadable
  • Easiest software option to start making music fast
  • Tons of online tutorials to help guide you quickly
  • Tons of professional sounds and features included

Program Features:

  • Various included SoundPools (sound packs)
  • 4-8 Virtual Instruments included (depending on version)
  • Audio Recording Functionality
  • Various Effects and Guitar Amp Emulations Included
  • Modular Software (choose the features you want)

Who Should Use It:

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.

Click Here to Try Magix Music Maker Today!

Who Shouldn’t Use It:

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.

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    Image-Line FL Studio 20

    FL Studio 20

    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. There’s no doubt it’s a GREAT piece of work that’s easy to use and can do everything you need it to as a music maker.

    It has a really 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.

    Software Highlights

    • Cost: $99.99 – $899.00
      • 4 Different Versions Available
    • Both PC and Mac versions Available
    • Limited Free Trial Available

    Program Features

    • Up to 125 Insert/Send Tracks
    • Robust Piano Roll and Step Sequencer for MIDI Programming
    • Fully Featured Mixer With 10 FX Slots per Channel
    • VST Support + Included Plugins/Synths
    • Export Beats/Songs to all Audio Formats
    • Audio Recording Functionality (in certain versions)
    • Automation Control, Compatible w/ Midi Controllers
    • Up to 103 Audio Inputs/Outputs
    • Load FL Studio as Standalone Software or a VST Plugin in Another DAW

    What’s New

    • Designed for Use with Multi-Touch Devices
    • Fully Integrated Hardware Controller Options Available
    • They Have a Working Mac Version Now!
    • Powerful Live Performance and MIDI Learn Features
    • Free Lifetime Updates on ALL Editions of Software

    Try FL Studio 20 Now!

    Who Should Use It?

    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.

    The Pros:

    • Super fast workflow and shortcuts to make producing faster and less cumbersome
    • Includes GrossBeat – the effect heard in tons of modern trap music
    • Everything can fit on one screen – no need to switch between screens or windows often
    • Easy to create complex programmed rhythms and melodies
    • Easy to learn – TONS of beat making video tutorials out there on how to do every little thing
    • Cheats + hacks within software if you don’t know a ton of music theory

    Try FL Studio 20 Now!

    Who Shouldn’t Use It?

    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.

    The Cons:

    • Not the best for sampling or sample chopping
    • Wack factory/stock sounds (but some plugins are pretty good)
    • “All Plugins” edition is maaaad pricey.
    • Not the best for high-level mixing/mastering or audio recording/editing

    More About FL Studio 20

    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…

    FL Studio – Software Version Comparison

    FL Studio Fruity EditionFL Studio Producer EditionFL Studio Signature EditionFL Studio All Plugin Edition
    $99.00$199.00$299.00$899.00
    Best for: Basic Loop Creation With Minimal Functionality IncludedBest for: Full Song Creation – Includes Audio Recording/Editing FunctionalityBEST DEAL: enhanced functionality and extra pluginsBest for: Professional producers who want EVERY SINGLE plugin that integrates with FL Studio
    This version does NOT include any of the following features:This version does NOT include any of the following features:This version DOES include the following additional plugins/modules:This version includes EVERYTHING plus the following premium plugins:
    – audio recording + clips– pitch + time editor– NewTone Time and Pitch Editor– Drumaxx Drum Machine / Synth
    – audio/pitch/time editor– DirectWave Sampler– DirectWave Full Sampler– Harmor Additive / Subtractive / Image Synth
    – DirectWave Sampler– SoundFont Player– Harmless Synthesizers, Hardcore Guitar FX and Fruity Video Player– Morphine / Ogun / Poizone / Sakura / Sawer / Toxic Biohazard / Transistor Bass Synthesizers
    – Slicex Beat Detection Sample Slicer– Missing FX / Instruments / Plugins (No Gross Beat!)– Pitch Shifter and Gross Beat– Transient Processor FX Plugin
    – SoundFont Player
    – Missing 11 FX / Instruments / Plugins (No GrossBeat!)
    Learn More and Get Latest PriceLearn More and Get Latest PriceLearn More and Get Latest PriceLearn More and Get Latest Price

    Native Instruments Maschine 2 MK3

    NI Maschine MK3 Software

    Maschine is the revolutionary beat production software from Native Instruments that combines the best of both worlds – hardware beat makers and software studio applications.

    Back in the day there was a huge population of producers who loved the feel of hardware and the ease of software, but no elegant solution. Native Instruments was the first to offer a really seamless solution.

    Software/Hardware Highlights

    • Cost: $259.00 – $649.00 USD
      • 3 Different Models Available
    • PC & Mac Compatible
    • Maschine 2.0 Software Available Standalone (No Hardware)

    Program/Controller Features

    • 16 Multi-Colored Drum Pads w/ Knobs
    • Large Digital Display
    • 25 GB of Sounds + 25 Pro Effects Bundled With Purchase
    • Seamless Hands-On Control of Every Software Function via Hardware Controller
    • Drag-And-Drop Export of Audio to WAV or Track Out Each Instrument Separately
    • Full VST Instrument and FX Support
    • Hands-On Automation Writing/Control
    • Keyboard Mode, Arpeggiator Control and Note-Repeat
    • Unlimited Number of Instrument Groups, Patterns/Tracks, Scenes
    • Sampling + Audio/MIDI Import
    • Flagship MK3 Edition Includes Audio Interface for Recording

    What’s New

    • Pro-grade, 96 kHz / 24-bit audio interface in Flagship MK3 Edition
      • 2 x 1/4” TRS line outputs, 2 x 1/4” TRS line inputs, 1/4” dynamic mic input, stereo headphone output, 1 x MIDI In, 1 x MIDI out; 1 x Footswitch
    • Smart Strip for strumming notes, pitch bending sounds, performing with FX, and more
    • New extra large full-color LED screens
    • Bigger Pads and Updated Look to Controllers (Except Maschine Studio Edition)
    • Includes Komplete Select Instruments and Effects

    Try Native Instruments Maschine Today!

    Who Should Use It?

    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.

    The Pros:

    • Seamless integration between hardware and software – no mapping different parameters
    • Hands-on hardware control of transport controls, instruments and almost every parameter
    • Plug-and-play functionality and full integration with Komplete instruments
    • Easily export patterns to DAW with drag-and-drop
    • Tons of high quality expansion sound packs available
    • Super fast workflow with minimal keyboard + mouse use needed
    • Works standalone or as a VST plugin in any other DAW

    Try Native Instruments Maschine Today!

    Who Shouldn’t Use It?

    If you don’t want to tap out 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. They’ve also just released a stand-alone version called Maschine+ which works more like a traditional MPC – you don’t need a computer to make your beats. It’s a pretty cool move, but is pricier than the MPC One.

    The Cons:

    • Not good for recording vocals and instruments
    • Arrangement workflow takes a LOT of getting used to
    • Maschine VST mode does not give you seamless or full integration with hardware/software

    More About Maschine

    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.

    NI Maschine – Hardware Edition Comparison

    Maschine Mikro MK3Flagship Maschine MK3Maschine+
    $259.00$599.00$1399.00
    Best for: Mobile Producers on the GoBest for: Most Producers – especially sample-based beat makersBest for: On-The-Go or Computer-less Beat Making
    This model is the smallest hardware size and has the following features:This model is the original type + size and has the following features:This is a fully stand-alone system, the size of the Maschine MK3 Flagship model:
    – USB PoweredPro-grade, 96 kHz / 24-bit Integrated Audio InterfaceSeparate Wall-Plug Power Adapter
    – No Integrated StandClassic MPC-Style WorkflowNo Computer Needed
    – Compact Monochromatic Screen2 High Definition Full Color Displays2 – 480×272 Pixel Hi-Res Color Displays
    – 1 Push Encoder/Control Knob8 Knobs + 1 4D Encoder8 Knobs + 1 4D Encoder
    – 39 Function Buttons, 16 Pads50 Function Buttons, 16 Sound Pads, 8 Group Buttons50 Function Buttons, 16 Pads, 8 Group Buttons
    – Cannot Control Sample Slicing from Hardware2 x 1/4” TRS line outputs, 2 x 1/4” TRS line inputs, 1/4” dynamic mic input2 x 1/4” TRS line outputs, 2 x 1/4” TRS line inputs, 1/4” dynamic mic input
    – Only 1.6GB of Included Sounds/InstrumentsStereo Headphone OutputStereo Headphone Output
    – Cannot Adjust Multiple Parameters At Same TimeCAN Adjust Multiple Parameters At Same TimeCan Adjust Multiple Parameters At Same Time
    Learn More and Get Latest PriceLearn More and Get Latest PriceLearn More and Get Latest Price

    Propellerheads Reason+

    Reason Software

    Propellerhead Reason 11 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. And now, with Reason+, you can even use it as a plugin inside another DAW.

    Software Highlights

    • Cost: $499.00
    • PC & Mac Versions Available
    • Self-contained, All-In-One software AND can be used as a plugin.

    Program Features

    • Dozens of Virtual Instruments Virtual Effects Racks Included
    • VST Support
    • Robust MIDI Editor, Arranger and Mixer Areas w/ Complete Channel Strip Control
    • Exports to All Major Audio Formats
    • Unlimited Number of Channels/Lanes Can be Used
    • Compatible w/ MIDI Hardware Controllers
    • Pattern-based Sequencer, Groove Control
    • Time-Stretch, Transpose and Pitch Editing Functions

    What’s New

    • New Synths Included: Monotone Bass Synth, Rytmik Drum Machine, Europa Shapeshifting Synth, Grain Sample Manipulator
    • New Sampled Instruments Included: Klang Tuned Percussion, Pangea World Instruments, Humana Vocal Ensemble
    • Even More Included Sounds: Multi-GB Drum/Loop Library, “Radical Piano” Instrument, Synchronous Effects Modulator
    • Multi-Lane MIDI Editing (ex/ program a drum beat using a different “lane” for each drum hit)
    • Improved Navigation + Snap-to-Grid functionality

    Buy a Copy of Reason 11 Today!

    Who Should Use It?

    If you want a professional-grade all-in-one solution Reason could be a good choice for you. 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.

    The Pros:

    • All-in-one solution (you don’t have to spend tons on additional plugins/sounds right away)
    • Simple to use + everything you need on one screen
    • Tons of powerful synths,  and samplers included
    • Import your own samples or use third party VST instruments/effects
    • “Industry Quality” audio engines
    • Audio routing flexibility (mimics hardware “racks”)

    Try Reason 11 Now!

    Who Shouldn’t Use 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 Cons:

    • Not the best choice for recording/mixing/mastering music.
    • Limited sample chopping capabilities
    • Won’t “seamlessly” integrate with third-party hardware controllers (you have to spend time mapping parameters)

    More About Reason

    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.

    Reason – Software Version Comparison

    Reason+ TrialReason 11 FullReason+ Subscription
    Free 30 Day Trial$499.00$20/month
    Best for: Basic Beat + Loop Making w/ Limited Instruments/EffectsBest for: Full Instrumental + Song CreationBest for: Every plugin available for REason
    This version is bare-bones and has the following features:This version is the full version and has the following features:This version is the monthly subscription version that gets you EVERYTHING
    – 10 Included Virtual Instruments– 16 Included Virtual Instruments– 16 Included Virtual Instruments
    – 3 Player Devices (Scales/Chords, Note Echo, Arpeggio)– 24 Included Virtual Effects– 24 Included Virtual Effects
    – 12 Included Effects– 3 Player Devices (Scale/Chord, Arpeggio, Note Echo)– 3 Player Devices (Scale/Chord, Arpeggio, Note Echo)
    – Mixer: 4 band EQ, 8 send effect slots, 1 insert effect slot– Mixer: 4 band EQ, 8 send effect slots, 1 insert effect slot– Mixer: 4 band EQ, 8 send effect slots, 1 insert effect slot
    Learn MoreLearn More and Get Latest PriceLearn More

    Cheaper Beat Making Software

    There are a lot of other great pieces of beat making software available for you to buy, but the choices above are the most popular with today’s beat makers. They’re top-of-the-line and the best beat software options out there. That doesn’t mean the ones we mention below are bad. It’s not about the tool, but how you use it. So here are some other low-cost options for those looking to dabble in beat making without spending a ton of money.

    Dr. Drum Digital Beat Making Software

    Top Music Maker Software

    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.

    Read Our Full Dr. Drum Review Here

    The Highlights

    • Cost: $29.99 (one-time cost) + add-ons
    • Mac + PC Compatible
    • 60-Day Money Back Guarantee (June 2019 WARNING: we’ve gotten a couple of emails/comments saying that the customer support is garbage and they don’t respond to customer emails and requests for refunds, so buy at your own risk.)

    Click Here To Try Dr. Drum

    Who Should Use It:

    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.

    Who Shouldn’t Use It:

    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.

    What Beat Maker Software to Choose

    So what is the top beat making software for pc and mac? Which should you choose? 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].” 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. But at the end of the day, it’s all about personal preference and how you use the music production software you have.

    Our Top Beat Maker Recommendation

    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. Use the free trial of FL Studio. Or if that one seems too complicated, 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 Ableton Live! – those are hands down the best beat makers for the price/quality/workflow.

    A Quick Final Word on Beats Making Software

    Maschine Beat Maker

    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. Software changed all that. 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.