The 10 Best Online DAWs (2023)
An online DAW is a music program that runs in a browser. Online DAWs are similar to regular DAWs, but they’re either web-based or app-based and don’t need to be downloaded. They’re great for online collaboration and are used for recording, editing, sequencing, and exporting audio and MIDI files.
Making whole songs in an Internet tab or mobile app was once impossible. However, the increasing development of high-quality browser-based DAWs (digital audio workstations) now allows musicians and producers to come up with a number-one hit using nothing but a laptop, an internet connection, and online-based music software.
Bandlab is a free online DAW designed to bring musicians closer together. Bandlab is basically a collaboration tool; it’s a social music software that allows users to quickly share projects. There’s no limit to the number of available projects, collaborations, and sample storage.
Loops are a big part of Bandlab’s workflow. Users have access to thousands of royalty-free loops and one-hit drum samples, as well as hundreds of MIDI instruments. These can be edited, sequenced, and exported with the help of a traditional DAW piano roll. Samples can be downloaded and used in different DAWs and music software.
Truly a modern-day music tool, Bandlab also features algorithmic mastering.
Soundation is one of the most complete online DAWs in the world. It allows for project-sharing, but it’s not centered around the idea of collaboration. Soundation’s biggest strengths are its numerous features and advanced performance.
A free DAW, Soundation features a large library of loops and instruments and tons of advanced audio-editing tools such as time stretching and pitch shifting. Due to its use of WebAssembly Threads, Soundation allows its users to create complex projects without experiencing significant losses in sound quality, PC performance, and latency.
Despite offering a significant number of loops and instruments, Soundation isn’t compatible with VST plugins, meaning you’re stuck with the software’s featured library.
Featuring a sleek design and some of the best-sounding built-in instruments and audio effects in the online-DAW world, Audiotool is yet another free app-based music program that allows for real-time music collaboration. Audiotool is also great for working with remixes.
Audiotool includes a live collaboration feature, MIDI compatibility, a sequencer, and access to a cloud-based million-sample library. What makes Audiotool unique, though, is its modular approach. Different instruments and audio effects can be quickly combined in creative ways by manually dragging and dropping inputs and outputs.
There are a few latency issues with Audiotool, but the program has enough interesting features to make up for this.
A freemium online DAW, Soundtrap may have a competitive edge over its main rivals—after all, it was acquired by Spotify! Soundtrap is great because it’s simple to use. That makes it one of the best DAWs for beginners (and probably the best browser-based DAW for beginners). It sticks to the basics of music production without oversimplifying.
Soundtrap isn’t the best online DAW for experienced producers due to its lack of unique, advanced features. The essentials, however, are all in there: you can work with high-quality loops, record multiple audio tracks, play with software instruments, and connect MIDI devices.
Soundtrap’s library is partially based on the library of the royalty-free sample website Freesound. Another big plus is access to Antares Auto-Tune.
5. Amped Studio
Amped Studio is an online DAW that features free and premium versions. And if you’re looking for a browser-based DAW that does it all without being too flashy, Amped Studio may well be the ideal choice.
Amped Studio is great because it can do everything a music producer (experienced or not) needs to feel at home. The interface is familiar and easy to navigate, the instrument and MIDI connections work flawlessly, the built-in instrument/audio-effect library gets the job done, and—crucially—it works with VST plugins.
If you’re into music collaboration and access to a wide range of royalty-free samples, Amped Studio’s also got you covered. The program’s downside is the pricing, as the free version only includes demo recording and desktop-imported audio.
A nice alternative to Amped Studio, SoundBridge is a complete online DAW that also features VST (virtual instruments) compatibility but is 100% free. SoundBridge’s built-in library of samples, instruments, and audio effects is not very impressive, but that’s one of the program’s few shortcomings.
Described as a “full-feature” free DAW, SoundBridge delivers on its promise: there’s everything a music producer needs to complete a track, from audio/MIDI sequencing and music recording to parameter automation.
AudioSauna is a free browser-based DAW that can be used as a web-based app but also installed as a traditional DAW. AudioSauna includes all the basic features you can expect from a music-making program, including a sequencer and piano roll, a mixer with two auxiliary channels, and a few nice-sounding essential audio effects.
Why should you choose AudioSauna over another online DAW? The included software instruments are probably what makes it a great choice. AudioSauna’s built-in analog and FM synthesizers sound great and come with over 40 presets. There’s also an interesting sampler instrument, Advanced Sampler, which works flawlessly with both .mp3 and .wav files.
SnapJam is a social online DAW with a focus on collaboration and music education. Simple and easy to use, it’s not the best option for experienced producers. However, it makes for a quirky music tool with such simplicity that it could be operated by toddlers!
If you want to introduce a friend to the world of music production, SnapJam may be a fun way to start. Its focus on online collaboration via chat and music education makes it a unique—albeit over-simplistic—browser-based DAW.
A downside to SnapJam’s website is that it contains some annoying ads, which isn’t the best look for an online DAW.
9. Online Sequencer
After covering so many high-quality, pro-level online DAW options, it’s hard to make the case that Online Sequencer is a complete music-making program. But even though this software looks like a just-for-fun app, it’s way more powerful than it looks.
A sequencer with a piano roll, Online Sequencer allows you to import MIDI phrases and even use complex time signatures. The cut/paste controls are also very interesting and reminded me of something you’d find in more established programs such as Audacity.
You’ll probably never make a masterpiece album using Online Sequencer, but if you want to have fun with a DAW-like tool without the hassle of committing too much to a project, this fun (and surprisingly versatile) app is a great choice.
In the line of Online Sequencer, PatternSketch is more of a music-making browser-only tool than an online DAW. It’s an online drum machine with all the features of old-school drum machines such as the Roland TR-808: there are up to 64 steps available, a BPM switch, and even a nice Shuffle option.
PatternSketch also allows you to export your grooves, meaning you can come up with actual beats using this quirky music-making tool.
The number of high-quality, browser-based DAW platforms continues to grow, and more and more people are getting accustomed to making music online. While real-time collaboration is the main advantage of using an online digital audio workstation, these are also perfect for lonesome producers and music makers looking for an affordable alternative to more established music-making programs via just internet access.
Soundtrap, Bandlab, Audiotool, Soundation, AudioSauna, SoundBridge, and Amped Studio all can rival desktop DAWs—even paid ones. As for SnapJam, Online Sequencer, and PatternSketch, these make for recommendable quasi-DAW browser apps that can help you to get a hold of the basics of music production while having some fun.