There is, however, some software. Processing power for music production on a Mac. High-end audio work can be extremely processor intensive, especially when using professional plug-ins. The Best Free Audio Production & Recording Software app downloads for Mac: Apple GarageBand Apple Final Cut Pro X Sibelius LMMS MPEG Streamclip Voice.
Get a music studio for Mac
By now, you probably know what a powerful creative tool your Mac is. It’s definitely hard to beat when it comes to retouching photos, editing videos, and — naturally — making music.
There are, in fact, so many music making apps for Mac that it’s hard to decide which one to get and what’s the difference between them, especially if you’re just starting out. But don’t worry — below is the ultimate guide to help you pick the best music production software currently on the market.
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It’s important to note that no single music creation software is best for everyone. Needs, experience levels, and preferences tent do differ a lot, so the final choice should be different as well. Having said that, there are a few options that have been winning in their respective categories over the years again and again. Here they are.
GarageBand: The easiest way to start
You don’t have to go far for an introductory experience to music making programs — the GarageBand app is already pre-installed on your system.
GarageBand for Mac is a versatile free music making software for beginners. You can use its tutorials to make your first steps into playing an instrument, record your own music (including your voice), add special effects, and produce complete tracks to upload to SoundCloud or beyond.
If you don’t have GarageBand in your Applications folder yet, download it from the App Store for free. When you open the app, it’ll prompt you to get all the available sounds and effects. The newer version of GarageBand for macOS Catalina and macOS Big Sur covers a fantastic virtual drummer that you can customize to fit your patterns exactly, whether you’re playing rock or hip-hop.
Some downsides to the GarageBand app are essentially reasons why pros don’t use it: at some point you max out its capabilities and need features like advanced crossfades, for example. When you feel that instead of the music making software serving you, you start serving the music making software — it’s probably time to upgrade.
Ableton Live 10: The best music making software ever
At the other end of the music software spectrum is the industry-standard Ableton Live. First released in 2001, Ableton has been honing its music making software for nearly two decades. It’s not only able to record, arrange, mix, and master your music but also be used at live shows to play that music back, right from the same interface.
Bad news: it’s very difficult to learn Ableton on your own if you don’t have any background in music making. Luckily, there’s a large international community of users, so you’ll likely be able to find either a local or online group in your language, which could become instrumental to getting over various hurdles.
Even more bad news: Ableton is not a free music production software at all. While Ableton Live 9 used to have a Lite version that could be downloaded free, Ableton Live 10 starts with an Intro edition at $99 (then Standard at $449, then Suite at $749). The more expensive the version the more effects, instruments, and sounds it contains.
n-Track Studio: A top recording software for Mac
If the gap between GarageBand and Ableton Live is so wide, naturally there would be some music making apps that would try to fill it up. Enter n-Track Studio.
Make music with n-Track Studio
With this simple app, you can take a professional music recording studio to your Mac. No expensive equipment, no fuss.
n-Track Studio is a music making software free of Ableton’s complexities but with nearly all of its power. You can record songs from live instruments or create complex EDM tracks using virtual tools as well, with the help of a massive library of sound effects. What’s more, n-Track Studio features a free MIDI software built right in and doesn’t require a too powerful of a processor on your machine, since its audio engine is optimized for minimum latency, even when dozens of tracks are played at once.
Starting with n-Track Studio is very easy:
Click the circled plus icon to create a new track, either blank or armed for recording
Right-click on the new track and choose “Add blank MIDI track”
Select your instrument
Play any progression you like, either using your trackpad or a connected controller
Repeat as many times as needed and enhance with other effects
Overall, exploring n-Track Studio is pure pleasure: more freedom than the standard GarageBand without the difficulty and cost of Ableton. Perfect choice!
Make all music sound better with Boom 3D
While selecting the best free music making software is important, it’s equally important to ensure that whatever tunes you create are going to be played appropriately. As most Macs are simply too quiet for all the intricacies of the music software, you need Boom 3D to make it all work.
Boom 3D is a system-wide volume booster and equalizer for your Mac. First, it features a variety of presets to make every genre sound as good as possible, by setting the right midtones, bass levels, and high-pitched notes. Second, it lets you surpass the default volume limit on your Mac to really get the maximum out of your speakers.
Finally, Boom 3D also acts as a nifty little music player that features over 20,000 radio stations from around the world and plays back tracks set in your specific preferences.
So, again, while choosing the best music production software comes down to your level of experience and needs, if you go for a mid-market product like n-Track Studio, you definitely won’t be bored for a long time. Just don’t forget to couple it with Boom 3D for an absolute killer of a sound.
Best of all, n-Track Studio and Boom 3D are available to you absolutely free for seven days during the trial of Setapp, a platform with over 200 apps for your creative self, from music making programs to film editing and drawing. Try Setapp today and unleash you creator spirit. It’s free, so why not at least try?
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Ridiculously powerful. Seriously creative.New
Live LoopsFor spontaneous composition.
Live Loops is a dynamic way to create and arrange music in real time. Kick off your composition by adding loops, samples, or your recorded performances into a grid of cells. Trigger different cells to play with your ideas without worrying about a timeline or arrangement. Once you find combinations that work well together you can create song sections, then move everything into the Tracks area to continue production and finish your song.
Bring DJ-style effects and transitions to an individual track or an entire mix with a collection of stutters, echoes, filters, and gating effects.
Control features like Live Loops, Remix FX, and more from your iPad or iPhone using Multi-Touch gestures.New
Step SequencerPure beat poetry.
Step Sequencer is inspired by classic drum machines and synthesizers. Using the Step Sequence editor, quickly build drum beats, bass lines, and melodic parts — and even automate your favorite plug-ins. Add sophisticated variations to your pattern with a wide range of creative playback behaviors. Use Note Repeat to create rolling steps, Chance to randomize step playback, and Tie Steps Together to create longer notes.
Logic RemoteTouch and flow.
Logic Remote lets you use your iPhone or iPad to control Logic Pro X on your Mac. Use Multi-Touch gestures to play software instruments, mix tracks, and control features like Live Loops and Remix FX from anywhere in the room. Swipe and tap to trigger cells in Live Loops. And tilt your iPhone or iPad up and down and use its gyroscope to manipulate filters and repeaters in Remix FX.
Control your mix from wherever you are in the room — whether that’s next to your computer or on the couch — with Multi-Touch faders.
Pair and play
Use a variety of onscreen instruments, such as keyboards, guitars, and drum pads, to play any software instrument in Logic Pro X from your iPad or iPhone.New
We redesigned and improved our most popular plug-in — the EXS24 Sampler — and renamed it Sampler. The new single-window design makes it easier to create and edit sampler instruments while remaining backward compatible with all EXS24 files. An expanded synthesis section with sound-shaping controls brings more depth and dynamics to your instruments. The reimagined mapping editor adds powerful, time-saving features that speed the creation of complex instruments. Use the zone waveform editor to make precise edits to sample start/end, loop ranges, and crossfades. And save hours of tedious editing with new drag-and-drop hot zones.New
Quick Sampler is a fast and easy way to work with a single sample. Drag and drop an audio file from the Finder, Voice Memos, or anywhere within Logic Pro X. Or record audio directly into Quick Sampler using a turntable, microphone, musical instrument, or even channel strips playing in Logic Pro X. In a few steps, you can transform an individual sample into a fully playable instrument. And with Slice Mode, you can split a single sample into multiple slices — perfect for chopping up vocals or breaking up and resequencing drum loops.New
This powerful but easy-to-use plug-in creates synthesized drum sounds. Choose from a diverse collection of drum models and shape their sound with up to eight simple controls. Drum Synth is also directly integrated into the bottom of the Drum Machine Designer interface — giving you a focused set of sound-shaping controls.New
Drum Machine Designer
Redesigned to be more intuitive and integrated, Drum Machine Designer lets you effortlessly build electronic drum kits. Apply individual effects and plug-ins on each discrete drum pad to experiment with sound design and beat-making in new ways. You can also create a unique layered sound by assigning the same trigger note to two different pads. To help you quickly edit sounds, Quick Sampler and Drum Synth are directly integrated into the Drum Machine Designer interface.
DrummerCompose to the beat of a different percussionist.
Using Drummer is like hiring a session drummer or collaborating with a highly skilled beat programmer. Create organic-sounding acoustic drum tracks or electronic beats with the intelligent technology of Drummer. Choose from dozens of drummers who each play in a different musical genre, and direct their performances using simple controls.
Compositions and PerformancesYour studio is always in session.
Logic Pro X turns your Mac into a professional recording studio able to handle even the most demanding projects. Capture your compositions and performances — from tracking a live band to a solo software-instrument session — and flow them into your songs.
The ultimate way to record.
Seamless punch recording. Automatic take management. Support for pristine 24-bit/192kHz audio. Logic Pro X makes it all easy to do — and undo. You can create projects with up to 1000 stereo or surround audio tracks and up to 1000 software instrument tracks, and run hundreds of plug-ins. It’s all you need to complete any project.
Get the most out of MIDI.
Logic Pro X goes beyond the average sequencer with an advanced set of options that let you record, edit, and manipulate MIDI performances. Transform a loose performance into one that locks tight into the groove using region-based parameters for note velocity, timing, and dynamics. Or tighten up your MIDI performances while preserving musical details like flams or chord rolls with Smart Quantize.
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As your song develops, Logic Pro X helps organize all your ideas and select the best ones. Group related tracks, audition alternate versions, and consolidate multiple tracks. Lightning-fast click-and-drag comping helps you build your best performance from multiple takes.
Go off-script and stay on beat with Smart Tempo, a way to effortlessly mix and match music and beats without worrying about the original tempo. Record freely without a click track. And easily combine and edit MIDI and audio tracks — from vinyl samples to live instruments to multitrack audio stems — with constant or variable tempo.
Quickly manipulate the timing and tempo of your recording with Flex Time. Easily move the individual beats within a waveform to correct drum, vocal, guitar, or any other kind of track without slicing and moving regions.
Edit the level and pitch of individual notes quickly and easily with Flex Pitch. Roll over any note and all parameters are available for tweaking.
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Create alternate versions of a track or multiple grouped tracks, and switch between them at any time to audition different options. Create, store, and select from different edits and arrangements of track regions to make it easier to experiment with various creative ideas.
Takes and Quick Swipe Comping
Click and drag to choose the best sections of each take to create a seamless comp, complete with transition-smoothing crossfades. Save multiple comps and switch among them to pick the one you like best.
Consolidate multiple related tracks into a single track. Use a Summing Stack as a quick way to create submixes. Or create layered and split instruments.
Create as many alternate versions of a project as you’d like, each with its own name and settings but sharing the same assets — efficiently saving storage space. Load any version to make changes without compromising your original.
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Track Groups and VCA Faders
Manage large mixes with Track Groups and VCA faders. Assign any selection of channels to a track group, then control the levels or other parameters of all tracks in the group from any single channel in the group.
Easily capture changes to any channel strip or plug-in parameter. Just enable automation, press Play, and make your changes.
Even more pro features in the mix.
Logic Pro X is packed with incredible tools and resources to enhance your creativity and workflow as you sharpen your craft — even if you’re a seasoned pro.
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Graduate from GarageBand.
Logic Remote. Touch and flow.
Sound as great onstage as you do in the studio.
Best Music Production Software Mac