The Best DAWs for Mixing and Mastering Music

Music production professionals use digital audio workstations (DAWs) to record, edit, mix, master, and loop multiple tracks. This results in an audio file like a song.

Mastering is an integral component of the music production process. It adds uniformity and cohesiveness, gives the right “punch,” and primes the individual track for commercial use.

If mastering is polishing audio to improve playback quality, then a DAW is the worktable with all the tools—the sandpapers, oils, and sealants—needed to make that audio shine.

This article covers some of the best DAWs for mastering audio at your shared or home studio. We also discuss why you should consider working with a professional music producer to help with the mastering process.

Working with a professional music producer

Since DAWs can be expensive and often have a steep learning curve, hiring a professional music producer can make all the difference in creating professional-quality audio. Music experts have invested in their studios, and understand how even subtle alterations can influence a song’s tone, sound, or feel.

Upwork lets you hire talented and technically savvy music producers, songwriters, or mastering engineers to add professional-level sheen to your music so it’s launch-ready. Hire top-rated music producers today.

Top three DAWs for mastering audio

DAWs are popular among professional musicians for creating top-quality tracks, which is why we have curated a list of DAWs that suit them best.

Let’s review some of the best DAWs for mastering audio:

Image-Line FL Studio

FL Studio

Created by the Belgian company Image-Line, FL Studio is standalone music production software with an intuitive graphics-based user interface (UI) that promotes pattern-based music sequencing. Professional musicians use it to compose, record, arrange, edit, mix, and master quality music.

It comes with a built-in instrument tuner to help vocalists during practice sessions or when checking their pitch, tune an assortment of instruments, and match tunes when music is sampled and off-key. Another great feature, called “smoothing,” helps achieve a more natural, pleasant sound. You can also make time signature changes across the playlist.

When it comes to mastering, FL Studio comes with 40-plus effects, including compression, maximization, limiting, delay, phasing, distortion, equalization (graphic and parametric), filtering, flanging, chorus, and vocoding. Image-Line FL Studio is compatible with both macOS and Windows.

Features include:

  • 40+ effects
  • Group multiple recordings
  • Export WAV, MP3, FLAC, MIDI, and Video
  • Frequency splitter

Recommended for: While the interface is suitable for both beginners and experts, FL Studio is recommended for those who create EDM music.

Pricing: Starting at $99

Avid Pro Tools

Avid pro tools

If you’re looking for an industry-standard DAW, Pro Tools might be the one for you. The program lets you make beats, compose songs, and record vocals and instruments.

It has an exceptional set of features, like compressors, EQs, effects, and 120+ plug-ins for mixing and mastering music. It also has a clean and dark interface that enhances the workflow. Pro Tools also lets users do seamless cloud-based collaborations with multiple people around the world. The program comes with 32 audio and instrument tracks and 16-channel simultaneous multitrack recordings.

Pro Tools is compatible with both Mac and Windows.

Features include:

  • Loop recording
  • MIDI editing tool
  • Seamless automation
  • Fine-tune tracks with 2,000+ plug-in options

Recommended for: Large studios that need a proper support network or beginners who can benefit from its starting plans and tutorials

Pricing: 30-day free trial; paid plan $99 for a one-year subscription

Ableton Live

Ableton live

Ableton Live is mixing and mastering software that lets music producers compose, record, arrange, mix, and master music. Its exceptional sounding warp algorithm makes it one of the best in the industry.

You can measure the drum beats, individual stems, or loops. It also lets you finalize songs to the project’s tempo without changing the pitch. Live comes with pre-installed instruments, sounds, and a quick MIDI setup. The auto-save feature lets you recover your unsaved work from the undo history.

Ableton Live is compatible with both Windows and macOS.

Features include:

  • Live performance mastering
  • Robust automation options
  • 17 instruments
  • 74 effects

Recommended for: Artists or DJs who create electronic music, since it has an intuitive loop-based production and a bunch of effects. Ableton Live is also a good pick for musicians who have basic knowledge about mixing and mastering, thanks to its super-clean interface.

Pricing: 90-day free trial; paid plans starting at $99

It’s easy to hire the top-rated music products. Find the experts you need on Upwork today.

Other common DAWs

Although Ableton, Avid, and FL Studio are great picks, we’ve got you covered if you want to explore more DAWs. DAWs like Cubase, Logic Pro, and Audacity do a stellar job when it comes to mastering high-quality music.

Steinberg Cubase Pro


Cubase Pro is a DAW created by Steinberg for music and MIDI recording, arranging, and editing software. Cubase boasts a sound engine that helps with versatile editing and routing for both mixing and mastering.

When it comes to mastering tracks with Cubase, special cycle markers provide a visual guide to help navigate across elements of the music. They also streamline the final export process and ensure that both unmastered and mastered mixes are of an ideal length.

Cubase is compatible with Windows and macOS.

Features include:

  • Powerful set of automation tools
  • 81 VST plug-ins
  • Unlimited MIDI tracks

Recommended for: Cubase has basic controls that even a beginner can work with, and comes in three plans for professionals, artists, and hobbyists.

Pricing: 30-day free trial; starting at $99.99



Audacity is a free, open-source wave editor for recording, mixing, and mastering tracks. Audacity lets you do an A/B comparison of your original mix and mastered mix.

Add warmth or fix the volume of the frequencies with the Equalization feature. GVerb lets you add a touch of reverb or blend voices and instruments to make the music sound even better.

Other features include compressors and limiters to smooth out dynamic changes to the final sound. You can check/uncheck the “Make-up Gain” box depending on the song’s loudness.

Audacity is compatible with Windows, macOS, and GNU/Linux systems.

Features include:

  • Extensive range of keyboard shortcuts
  • Supports multiple file formats
  • Unlimited sequential undo/redo
  • Access LADSPA, LV2, Nyquist, VST, and Audio Unit effect plug-ins

Recommended for: Hobbyists who want to gain some basic-level insights into the mastering process

Pricing: Free

Logic Pro

Logic Pro

Logic Pro is a macOS-compatible music-recording workstation and MIDI sequencer software application, meaning musicians can record and edit a song without needing an audio-based input source.

It lets you make high-quality beats and now comes integrated with Dolby Atmos tools that help mix and export songs as spatial audio.

You also get access to royalty-free producer packs from Oak Felder, Take a Daytrip, TRAKGIRL, and more.

When it comes to mastering tracks, Logic Pro lets you import reference tracks, match the EQ, use the LUFS meter to adjust loudness, level with gain plug-ins, and finalize it with a compressor. It also supports a slew of mastering plug-ins like Flux Stereo Tool V3, TDR Nova, Sonimus SonEQ, and more that greatly enhance the tracks.

Features include:

  • 103 bundled plug-ins
  • 5,500 presets
  • Useful tips and guides
  • iPhone and iPad support

Recommended for: Apple users who want to create professional-grade audio and self-master their tracks

Pricing: 90-day free trial; one-time payment of $199.99

Hire top-rated music producers for best results

Mastering music is an unavoidable step in any music production process. The audience expects a mastered recording, so sound that isn’t mastered will feel, at best, amateurish, and, at worst, bad.

If you want to convert your raw audio into quality music, a music producer can be a good addition to your team. It’s best to hire a vetted independent music producer who understands the ins and outs of professional mastering.

Upwork has a robust catalog of freelance services for all your music production needs. You can hire music producers for podcast editing, mixing, voice-tuning, voice-over, and more.

Hire an independent music producer on Upwork today!

Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.

Prices are current at the time of writing and may change over time based on each service’s offerings.

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The Best DAWs for Mixing and Mastering Music
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