- What are the best online resources for making music?
- Are there any online music makers that enable group sessions?
- Are there any online music makers for free?
Are you looking for a reliable means to make music online? The modern era has afforded audio technology with a flood of innovations. One of the most interesting innovations is the concept of online DAWS.
Online music makers can be a very useful resource to producers and other creatives, especially if you need something to store an idea and have no access to your own DAW offline. There are a few frontrunners for the best online music maker, and testing them all out can be extremely tedious and time-consuming.
To save you some time and effort, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best online music makers currently available. We’ll provide a brief overview of each service’s features and overall usability, as well as any notable pros and cons.
What Are The 5 Best Online Music Makers?
There are several factors we had to consider when selecting the best online music makers in 2023. These factors included functionality, ease of use, and value for money. It’s also important to consider that choosing the best DAW for you will ultimately come down to personal taste and workflow preference.
Bandlab is the most developed service and our top pick on this list. Highly cohesive live collaboration interface with a myriad of music-making and mixing devices.
Our second pick is Audiotool. An awesome visually driven user interface for fans of hardware device emulation. Offers an immense amount of music tools and resources.
Lastly (but not least), our third pick is Soundtrap which harbors an exceptionally powerful plugin system and is an extremely useful tool if you’re a proactive Spotify creator!
In the same way that some producers prefer Ableton over Logic or
Our list of the 5 best online music makers is as follows:
- Price: Free
- Platform: PC/Mac Browser, iOS/Android app
- Trial Offered: N/A
Bandlab is the longest-running online music maker on this list and is also the team responsible for the fairly young offline DAW Cakewalk. Bandlab’s website centers around a community base where users sign up to create a Creator profile that plays host to their personal info and Bandlab creations they wish to share in a similar fashion to SoundCloud, but with the addition of an online DAW.
The Bandlab Studio GUI has a similar linear layout to Ableton’s Session Mode. There’s a Mix Editor pop-up window that acts as a mixdown stage for any instrument or audio tracks that you lay down within a session.
Bandlab relies heavily on the beat-making aspect of composition, as opposed to living recording. One of the most notable tools in the DAW’s instrument array is the pad sampler, which allows users to drag and drop one-shots or samples into an 8×8 grid drum pad for live triggering.
Users can also instantly record a sample into any pad with a simple click-and-hold command. Each pad on the sampler can expand to reveal a concise sample editor, although seasoned beatmakers may find the slicing, playback, and warping functions of the editor slightly limiting.
Adding to the primary instruments is Bandlab’s Sequencer Piano roll for rhythmic and melodic composition. Notes can be manually drawn in for either device using the on-screen piano roll or played using the keyboard piano or through an external midi controller. On-screen touchpad keyboard or external midi controller, BlueTooth dongle, or direct line.
Sadly for such a well-developed online music maker, Bandlab has yet to include any midi mapping functionality to its DAW, which may lead to issues using external gear.
The stock virtual instruments offered on Bandlab are pretty versatile, and there’s a reasonable balance of organic and synthesized instruments available to users. These instruments range from traditional organic elements like keyboards, guitars, and percussion to some of Bandlab’s more experimental synth and ambient devices.
What gives Bandlab a slight edge over its competition is the fluidity of its collaborative session mode. Users can start a group session with a few simple clicks, and there is very little lag between users, regardless of how many hands you throw on deck.
It’s also possible to save group presets and other settings on your respective profiles, which can be extremely handy for maintaining sonic consistency while collaborating. While some of the foundational areas of Bandlab may need a few minor adjustments, it’s the group session mode that exhibits the platform’s strengths.
- Free to use
- Very active online community
- User-friendly interface is well-guided for beginner producers
- Limited audio mixing tools.
- The Colab feature lags in certain browsers like Safari
For a deep dive into Cakewalk, check out our full review.
- Price: Free
- Platform: PC/Mac Browser
- Trial Offered: N/A
Audiotool hosts a similar social system to Bandlab, although with a bit less usability and a similar layer to Soundcloud’s user profile layout. You can search for music by browsing through different genres, tracks, albums, or artists and each profile contains a follower system, as well as a wall to display your and others’ creative projects.
What sets Audiotool apart from other online music makers is its unique graphic studio interface. At the center of the GUI is a workspace, which acts as a digital table where you link all aspects of your studio session, including device routing.
Users create audio and instrument tracks by dragging and dropping devices from the device window into the mixer visualizer on the GUI, with graphics showing guiding you through the entire routing process This kind of approach to beat-making is extremely tactile and should be particularly appealing for any gearheads who like to quickly experiment with various device routing options.
Every element of the studio GUI is resizable in Auditool, from the devices to separate browser windows. Users can zoom into each window with a simple mouse scroll, and this is an often overlooked but very useful user feature that you won’t find on offline DAWs like Logic or Protools.
The right side of the Audiotool user interface houses a browser window split into three sections: Devices, Samples, and Presets. The stock sounds in the samples library are all of pretty high quality, but there’s no real organization by style or genre, and this can make finding specific sounds a tedious process.
Many of the user devices on Auditool are modeled on classic hardware units, with particular attention being given to the drum machines, which include one-shots from classic vintage units like the TR – 808, 909, and Lindrumm units. This factor makes Audiotool an easy choice for anyone that enjoys making music using analog device emulations.
Fans of the traditional DAW layouts may take some time to adjust to the unique interface design. However, once you become accustomed to the workflow of Audiotool, the service offers an incredibly immersive and intuitive approach to composition and arrangement.
- A very unique and novel user interface.
- A great option for fans of classic hardware analog emulations
- Every user window is resizable
- Bigger sessions could lead to a cluttered workflow
- Mixing devices have minimal usability.
- Price: $4.99 – $29.99 monthly
- Platform: PC/Mac Browser
- Trial Offered: Yes
Check out our full, in-depth review of Soundation.
Soundation is outright the best pick for anyone that likes to avoid complex user interfaces. Instead, the service offers users a much simpler minimalist GUI that is easy to navigate and gentle on the eyes.
With Soundation, you have the option of creating an audio, instrument, or FX channel, which can be routed as a send or insert. These tracks are laid out in a classic linear configuration that experienced music makers and engineers should be familiar with. Unfortunately, there are no resizable elements to the studio interface, but no menus or devices get in your way while composing
Soundation’s sample library includes quick access to a generous supply of stock sounds, as well as an instant portal to the sound packs store where users can browse for one-shots or loops categorized by genre. There are beat packs in the store created by the Soundation team, and they also allow users to upload their sample packs for personal sale.
One notable feature of Soundation’s arrangement mode is that audio samples can be converted to midi with a simple drag-and-drop function. The most common use is selecting drum loops that can be applied to a drum machine and then further tweaked or rearranged.
There’s nothing much to write home about in the effects department on Soundation. The team has provided a handful of basic fundamental mixing tools like parametric EQ, compressors, reverbs, and other common effects. Every device comes with a very rudimentary set of controls, and most have only one or two dials, which may dissuade anyone that prefers to have maximum control over their mixes.
Soundation’s most powerful feature is its ability to work alongside FL Studio and Ableton Live in real-time. You can drag mid and audio samples back and forth between Soundation and offline DAW with a simple drag-and-drop command. Soundation also lets multiple users handle a session remotely at one time.
- A clean, clear user interface creates a seamless workflow
- High level of user customization
- Direct link into Ableton or
- Not ideal for beginner producers or beatmakers
- The limited scope of genres in the sound library.
For more on Soundation, check out our full review right here.
4. Amped Studio 2
- Price: Free or $4.99 monthly premium
- Platform: PC/Mac Browser
- Trial Offered: N/A
Amped Studio combines traditional approaches to online music-making with a few personal touches. Amped Studio has a very affordable pricing plan for most users, which is fortunate as using the free tier comes with unavoidable obstacles. There are crucial composing and mixing devices kept exclusively for the premium tier, like
Amped Studio’s primary interface comprises a standard session view as the center window, with various dropdown menus at the parameters. The Studio Sound library to the right of the interface is extremely fluid and well-organized. Users can preview and loop files before selecting something to drag and drop into the arrangement system.
Amped has developed a series of Unique MIDI instruments and devices to use in Studio 2, including the XY Beats device that blends a combination of up to 4 drum loops for live sampling and recording. There’s a very fun and intuitive hum and note detection unit that lets users capture quick rhythmic or melodic ideas by humming or beatboxing into an audio track with a microphone.
There are 21 onboard effects for premium members of Amped Studio 2. Unfortunately, some vital effects are only available on the premium tier, like the compressor, limiter, noise gate, and chorus. There is also a reasonably versatile range of stock VSTs and instruments, from natural-sounding keyboards to granular synth engines and ambient noise generators.
The Amped Studio website is also home to a very proactive online community, and the site has done well to facilitate a variety of outlets for creativity. Users can compile mixing, songwriting, and production courses through Amped’s Learning Management System to sell on their site.
You can also create, compile and sell and purchase beat and sample packs through their online store or reach out to other creators through the online social platform and forums for collaborative efforts.
5. Soundtrap Studio
- Price: $7.99 – $13.99
- Platform: PC/ Mac browser
- Trial Offered: 1 Month
Soundtrap studio was created by the team at Spotify, so it naturally features the same visual styling and quick access portals to some of Spotify’s distribution services. Soundtrap studio provides demo templates to new users that are great starting blocks for beginners. This online music maker also offers production templates for creating podcasts.
It could be easy to underestimate an online music maker designed by a company that focuses on music streaming. However, Soundtrap has some surprisingly useful virtual stock instruments, from drums to keyboards, synths, and organs. Overall most of these instruments fit the scope of modern pop genres, and there isn’t a wide range of experimental or atmospheric sounds.
There are certain melodic instrument emulators like guitar and brass that sound a bit cheap. However, they are still good for laying down a clear idea or demo: Anyone that uses Soundtrap should find its touch-screen keyboard highly responsive, a subtle detail that can largely affect the rate of your creative productivity.
Soundtrap comes with 24 color-coded stock effects with simplistic layouts and basic controls. These effects include dynamic devices like a three-band EQ, compressor, and gate, as well as a handful of spatial and modulation units. Users can create near-endless custom pedal chains and save them as presets for later use. The Premium paid subscription features more advanced effects like Auto-Tune by Antares.
Soundtrap comes with a crossover mobile app in the form of Soundtrap Capture. Both the web and mobile app include live collaboration modes, which do come with a few limitations but can still cover the bare essentials of laying down a basic beat idea or arrangement. For now, the Soundtrap Capture app is only available on iOS.
- Highly affordable pricing
- Surprisingly useful stock sounds.
- Templates available for Podcast creators.
- Advanced producers may find the stock sounds limiting.
- Sound library and stock sounds lean heavily on commercial genres.
There are a handful of online music makers available today that provide producers of any level a reliable workspace to capture, edit and arrange their compositions. These services also offer a community where you can share and develop ideas and possibly meet new collaborators.
While these services all have some progress to make before they carry the capabilities of offline DAWs, they offer the unique benefit of live online collaboration. This factor alone is pretty revolutionary, and with the right team, you could generate a fast and fluid workflow.
Each of the above-listed online music makers offers some form of free tier to let you test out their usability and primary features. Be sure to try more than one of these so that you can get a good understanding of which online music maker works best for you.
Can I record on an online music maker through my sound card?
Yes. All the above-mentioned online music makers allow you to record using a microphone or instrument line through your sound card. Each service has specific settings to help you integrate and calibrate your sound card into their GUI for recording purposes.