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Best DAWs for Composing Orchestral Music (Top 3 Choices)

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As the digital age continues to revolutionize music composition, Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) have become indispensable tools for musicians and composers worldwide. When it comes to composing orchestral music, selecting the right DAW is of paramount importance. The DAW you choose can significantly impact your creative workflow, the quality of your orchestral arrangements, and your ability to bring your musical vision to life.

In this in-depth article, we delve into the world of DAWs and explore the top 3 choices for composing orchestral music. Our comprehensive guide will help you make an informed decision, empowering you to create captivating and emotive orchestral compositions.

Best DAWs for Composing Orchestral Music (Top 3 Choices)

1. Logic Pro X - The Orchestral Powerhouse


Logic Pro X, developed by Apple, stands tall as one of the most powerful and versatile DAWs in the industry. Its extensive library of virtual instruments and exceptional MIDI editing capabilities make it a top choice for composers seeking to orchestrate symphonic masterpieces.

MIDI Editing Capabilities:

In Logic Pro X, you’ll find a wide array of MIDI editing tools that offer precise control over every aspect of your orchestral arrangements. From articulations to dynamics, Logic Pro X ensures that your compositions express the full range of emotions and musical nuances.

Virtual Instruments and Sample Libraries:

Logic Pro X comes bundled with an impressive collection of virtual instruments, including strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion. These instruments boast high-quality, realistic sounds, allowing you to craft authentic orchestral textures.

Audio Recording and Editing Features:

The DAW’s advanced audio recording and editing features ensure pristine sound quality when capturing live instruments or vocal performances for your orchestral compositions.

User Interface and Workflow:

Logic Pro X boasts an intuitive and user-friendly interface, allowing composers to navigate the DAW effortlessly. Its smart organization and logical layout enhance your workflow, allowing you to focus solely on your creative process.

Recommended Orchestral Sample Libraries:

2. Cubase Pro - Precision in Orchestration


Steinberg’s Cubase Pro is a preferred choice for composers seeking meticulous control over their orchestral arrangements. Its versatile features and seamless integration with orchestral libraries make it a powerhouse for orchestration.

MIDI Editing Capabilities:

Cubase Pro offers a comprehensive array of MIDI editing tools, allowing you to fine-tune every detail of your orchestral compositions with surgical precision.

Virtual Instruments and Sample Libraries:

The DAW includes an impressive selection of virtual instruments, and it seamlessly integrates with third-party orchestral sample libraries. This versatility enables you to create unique and authentic orchestral sounds

Audio Recording and Editing Features:

Cubase Pro delivers high-quality audio recording and editing capabilities, making it an excellent choice for composers incorporating live performances into their orchestral works.

User Interface and Workflow:

The user-friendly interface of Cubase Pro ensures a smooth and intuitive workflow, enhancing your creative process without unnecessary distractions.

Recommended Third-Party Orchestral Libraries:

3. Ableton Live - Unconventional Orchestration


While initially renowned for electronic music production, Ableton Live has evolved into a versatile DAW that appeals to composers seeking experimental approaches to orchestral music.

MIDI Editing Capabilities:

Ableton Live’s unique Session View and Arrangement View provide a refreshing perspective on MIDI editing. Composers can experiment and improvise, fostering a dynamic and creative environment for orchestral compositions.

Virtual Instruments and Sample Libraries:

While offering its own set of orchestral sounds, Ableton Live excels in compatibility with third-party orchestral libraries. This flexibility allows you to explore unconventional orchestral textures and timbres.

Audio Recording and Editing Features:

Ableton Live’s audio recording and editing capabilities ensure the highest quality when incorporating live instruments and performances into your orchestral arrangements.

User Interface and Workflow:

The streamlined interface of Ableton Live facilitates a focused and creative atmosphere, enabling composers to explore new ideas with ease.

Recommended Third-Party Orchestral Libraries:


Selecting the right DAW for composing orchestral music is a pivotal decision that directly impacts your creative journey. Each of the top three choices – Logic Pro X, Cubase Pro, and Ableton Live – offers unique strengths that cater to different creative preferences.

For composers seeking an extensive library and intuitive interface, Logic Pro X stands as the orchestral powerhouse. If precision in orchestration is your priority, Cubase Pro is a reliable option. Alternatively, if you seek unconventional and experimental approaches, Ableton Live opens the door to endless creative possibilities.

In the end, the best DAW for you depends on your individual preferences, musical style, and workflow. Whichever DAW you choose, you can rest assured that your orchestral compositions will soar to new heights with these top-notch tools at your disposal.


1. Can I use Logic Pro X on a Windows PC?

As an Apple product, Logic Pro X is exclusive to macOS and not natively available on Windows. However, you can explore other DAWs like Cubase Pro or Ableton Live, which are compatible with both macOS and Windows.

2. What is the recommended system configuration for Cubase Pro?

Steinberg recommends a minimum of 4GB RAM, an Intel Core or AMD dual-core CPU, and 30GB of free disk space for Cubase Pro. However, for optimal performance, a higher-end system configuration is advisable.

3. Is Ableton Live suitable for classical orchestral compositions?

Yes, Ableton Live can be used for classical orchestral compositions. Its versatility and compatibility with third-party orchestral libraries make it an excellent choice for composers seeking unconventional and experimental approaches.

4. Can I use Logic Pro X with external MIDI controllers?

Absolutely! Logic Pro X supports a wide range of MIDI controllers, enabling composers to interact with their orchestral arrangements in a more tactile and expressive manner.

5. Are there trial versions available for these DAWs?

Yes, all three DAWs offer trial versions that allow you to explore their features before making a purchase decision.

6. Which DAW is most used by professionals?

As of my last update in September 2021, one of the most commonly used DAWs by professionals in the music industry is Avid Pro Tools. Pro Tools has established itself as the industry standard for professional audio recording, editing, and mixing. Its widespread adoption is due to several factors that cater to the needs of professional musicians, engineers, and producers.

7. What is the most successful DAW?

The most successful DAW, both in terms of popularity and widespread use, is Avid Pro Tools. Pro Tools has dominated the professional audio production landscape for decades and continues to be the go-to choice for recording studios, music producers, and post-production professionals worldwide.

8. Is Cubase good for orchestral music?

Yes, Cubase is an excellent choice for orchestral music composition. With its comprehensive MIDI editing capabilities, seamless integration with third-party orchestral sample libraries, and robust audio recording and editing features, Cubase offers a powerful platform for composers to bring their orchestral compositions to life.

9. Why do so many composers use Cubase?

Many composers use Cubase due to its versatility, precision, and reputation as a reliable DAW. The software’s deep MIDI editing capabilities allow composers to fine-tune every aspect of their orchestral arrangements. Additionally, its seamless integration with third-party orchestral libraries expands creative possibilities and enhances the overall orchestration experience.

10. Is it easy to learn Cubase?

The learning curve for Cubase can vary depending on your previous experience with DAWs and music production software. However, Steinberg has invested in user-friendly features and tutorials to make the software accessible to both beginners and experienced users. With dedication and practice, composers can quickly adapt to Cubase and harness its capabilities for orchestral music composition.

11. Which film composers use Cubase?

Cubase is favored by numerous film composers for its powerful MIDI capabilities and seamless orchestral integration. Some notable film composers known to use Cubase include Hans Zimmer, Junkie XL, Danny Elfman, and Thomas Newman, among others.

12. Is 16GB enough for Cubase?

The answer to whether 16GB of RAM is enough for Cubase depends on your specific usage and project requirements. In many cases, 16GB of RAM can be sufficient for running Cubase and handling relatively small to medium-sized projects. However, for more extensive and complex projects, especially those involving multiple high-quality virtual instruments and effects, 16GB of RAM might start to show limitations.

13. What are the orchestra instruments for Ableton?

The instruments include violin, viola, cello, double bass, French horn, trombone, trumpet, tuba, flute, clarinet, bassoon, oboe, English horn, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, crotales, glockenspiel, tubular bells, cymbals and timpani.

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