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Soundtrap Vs Bandlab 2022, Which Is Best? We Compare

Soundtrap Vs Bandlab 2022, Which Is Best? We Compare

Online music collaboration tools are beginning to explode in popularity. These apps have become increasingly viable thanks to stronger internet connections and robust web-based software development.

Soundtrap is one of the names that has come to represent the game itself. That said, as it does in every market, their presence has encouraged the mushrooming of competitors. BandLab is just one example, though it is certainly well-regarded.

So, in this hands-on review, we compare Soundtrap and BandLab to determine which is best.  

Studio Environment

Remote music production

The studio environment, recording workflow, Digital Audio Workstation… whatever you want to call it, this is one of the most important – if not the most critical – criteria to consider when deciding which online music collaboration platform to use.

Now, I’ve got to say – I’ve messed around and composed music using both platforms, and what I found is that, in almost every regard, Soundtrap and BandLab are equal.

Whether it’s ease of use, workflow, stability, design / interface, tracking (including audio tracks), effects, loops library, mixing, and even in the realm of collaboration, the two platforms come insanely close to even. If you know your way around one, you should be able to figure out your way around the other.

I did notice some minor differences, though, and in this case, these are the key determining factors in which one wins this category.

I discovered that BandLab has more export options for mixdowns (MP3, WAV, and AAC), where Soundtrap only allows you to export your project to MP3 or WAV. This is a relatively small difference, though, and I can’t see it swaying user opinion too heavily.

Here’s why I see Soundtrap coming out on top:

First, while design is always a subjective issue, I felt that Soundtrap had the superior interface. Again, they are both quite close in this regard, but if I had to choose, I feel like Soundtrap’s working environment offers a more enjoyable and fun experience overall.

Now for the biggest difference of all. Again, both platforms have effects and presets. But when you create a new virtual instrument track in Soundtrap, it usually comes set up with appropriate effects and settings already. That minimizes tweaking and makes your tracks near mix-ready without much alteration. You can basically just tweak to taste. That makes your workflow especially efficient.

Editing and mixing in BandLab will take a little more forethought. This is not a problem for experienced music producers and sound engineers, but for the average musician this is asking for a bit of a commitment. Besides adding the appropriate effects to the right tracks, you’d need to know how to set them up.

Sure, relying on your ear, especially when in doubt, is still the best way to arrive at a mix you’re satisfied with. But as with learning to play music itself, it’s always good to get acquainted with the rules you’re planning to break before breaking them.

And, while it is yet another minor thing, I prefer Soundtrap’s piano roll to BandLab’s MIDI editor. They are the same thing in essence, and it’s a feature you will find on every DAW, but I feel like I have a little more control with Soundtrap’s piano roll. And control is important when you’re writing and composing using virtual instruments.

For these reasons, I believe Soundtrap has the superior working environment for helping you get your projects done smoothly and efficiently. It's also why Soundtrap is seen as a good Bandlab alternative.

Mastering

Online DAW apps

You can have the best musicians, performance, studio takes, and mixing engineer in the world. But if you don’t have great mastering, you will never break through as an artist. That’s what I heard from an overdramatic YouTube ad I’ve seen a few times.

Mastering is no doubt important. But I don’t think it’s true that you can’t get anywhere with your music without the best mastering. You need mastering, and it does make a difference, especially in terms of overall levels and stereo expansion. But it should be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. And we’ve fast come to the point where algorithmic or A.I. based mastering is highly viable and more than competent.

That said, the question here is whether Soundtrap or BandLab has the superior built-in mastering module.

Soundtrap offers automatic mastering every time you save your project. While there is no way to alter the settings, the platform will prepare your tracks for publishing without any fuss. This is convenient, though somewhat unpredictable since you can’t make alterations to the master.

Meanwhile, BandLab offers BandLab Mastering. Although it’s still a form of automatic mastering, you can choose from a few different master presets (like Universal, Fire, Clarity, and Tape). BandLab also says this mastering function was built with multi-platinum Grammy winning producers and engineers. You can hear what your master is going to sound like before you export your project.

The fact that both platforms offer mastering at all is an amazing thing. And with A.I. driven mastering (like eMastered or LANDR) becoming better and better by the day, it’s gotten to the point where you can trust the results. I personally have a bias towards eMastered, as I have used it for a variety of projects.

Either way, chances are, if you’re serious about your music or have major label ambitions, you’re going to trust human mastering more. It’s just that A.I. mastering is fast, convenient, and powerful, and in some situations, more than good enough.

In this category, BandLab takes the cake. They give you more control over your master.

Distribution

Making music online

Spotify acquired Soundtrap in November 2017. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, then, that their value propositions often include some Spotify based incentives. Podcasters using Soundtrap, for example, can launch their projects directly to Spotify.

It’s a little strange that they don’t offer the same functionality for music. I can only imagine this is part of their plans.

That said, music distributors are kind of a dime a dozen. There are more now than there ever were in the past, and while they generally do get your music out to dozens of popular platforms for a small fee, rarely does that include promotion or any kind of accommodation to help you grow your listenership and fan base.

BandLab, on the other hand, lets you post your music to their newsfeed (more on this later), and allows you to publish your music with their new BandLab Albums feature. You can release your music for free, keep 100% of your album sales, and even offer bonus materials to your fans.

That said, their service is more comparable to that of Bandcamp than say, CD Baby. And that means your music isn’t going to be distributed to various services like Spotify, Amazon, and TIDAL. Rather, it will be set up on their proprietary platform, so you’ll need to send listeners and fans to your BandLab page to get your release heard and sold.

What does this all mean for this comparison? Well, both services are trying to offer something with regards to eCommerce and / or distribution. But in this case, these options are still relatively new, and not necessarily full-fledged. Again, we think there is more to come.

So, in this category, Soundtrap and BandLab are basically neck and neck when it comes to DAWs online. If you want to start selling music directly from the platform, though, BandLab is your best bet.

Social Connectedness

BandLab online music collaboration

BandLab encourages community members to connect with each other. They’re really pushing the collaborative aspect of their platform, with the latest news headlines, a Facebook inspired newsfeed, user recommendations (“who to follow”), shows, and more, right from your dashboard when you log in.

Some of the familiar functionality has even carried over from Facebook, with the ability to upload and share photos and images, audio files, and even live streams. As well, their built-in audio player seems to have been modeled after SoundCloud’s, and BandLab Albums, as noted earlier, is kind of like Bandcamp.

There’s also an entire page dedicated to the exploration of user creations – genres, creators, featured contests, albums, artists, music, and shows, as well as editor’s picks.

So, in the social connectedness realm, BandLab has cherry picked some of the best aspects of other social networks and e-commerce platforms to create their own.

Soundtrap has an internal messaging feature that streamlines communication with your collaborators. It keeps messages out of your various inboxes and neatly organized within Soundtrap’s platform, so you can keep up with your projects without missing a beat. But… that’s it. We’re not sure if Soundtrap has any plans of incorporating other social elements into their platform.

So, in this regard, BandLab has more to offer. That said, more social isn’t always a good thing. It can be a massive distraction and addiction at times, and little more than a brag fest at other times. It can lead to unhealthy comparison and the constant need for validation. We still give this one to BandLab, but there are pros and cons to everything.

Soundtrap Vs Bandlab, The Verdict

Soundtrap digital audio workstation

Soundtrap and BandLab are both quality cross-platform online music collaboration apps. They both have a lot to offer. In particular, BandLab has taken inspiration from Facebook, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, and other concepts with a proven track record. Soundtrap, though, focuses more on the creation of music and collaboration, with fewer potential distractions.

In many ways, Soundtrap and BandLab are alike. But where BandLab is gradually setting itself up as an all-in-one platform, Soundtrap offers a more streamlined experience as mentioned in our Soundtrap review. One is not right and the other wrong. It depends a lot on what you’re trying to accomplish.

But Soundtrap still has the superior working environment, and that counts for a lot. If you prefer to put creativity at the forefront, workflow really is the crux of the matter.

While BandLab is free, Soundtrap is also minimal in cost. And I have my doubts that BandLab will remain free forever. There needs to be a business model behind it for it to be viable long-term. If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to pay a subscription right now, then perhaps BandLab will be a better option for you right now.

In this comparison, Soundtrap still comes out on top. And if Soundtrap has been your home for a while, then you can rest assured you are taking advantage of the best option available.

Soundtrap Vs Garageband 2022, Which Is Best For Beginner Producers?

Soundtrap Vs Garageband 2022, Which Is Best For Beginner Producers?

Are you just getting started as a producer? Then chances are you’ve already been given a few recommendations in terms of Digital Audio Workstations (also known as DAWs). Soundtrap and GarageBand, specifically, are popular, powerful, and beginner-friendly options to get started with.

But which one is best for beginners? Should you use one or the other?

In this hands-on review, we offer tips on the best way to get started in music production.

Workflow & Working Environment

GarageBand DAW for Mac

Soundtrap makes it easy for you to get started, no matter what type of project you’re looking to create – a MIDI driven composition or pop song, a jam with your bandmates, a mix of the two (layers of MIDI and audio tracks), or otherwise.

You can create a drumbeat (and drum loops) using their built-in Beatmaker, which is easy and fun to use. You can drop in virtual instruments like guitars and basses, keyboards, synths, strings, brass and woodwinds, and more, and play your parts on your computer keyboard, plug in your MIDI controller, or MIDI sequence via the convenient piano roll.

You can record audio tracks by connecting your audio interface, and there are even built-in guitar and bass amps to help you color your tone the way you like to hear it.

Soundtrap even makes child play out of the often-complex science and art of mixing, because effects are often added to new tracks by default, outfitted with presets that make the virtual instruments virtually mix ready. Make quick tweaks if you so desire. Your project is even automatically mastered the moment you save it.

All this is quite easy to do within Soundtrap, especially if you already know your way around DAWs.

GarageBand is also quite friendly to beginners. It was my first DAW, and I loved it because of its straightforward workflow. At the time, my wont was to find a drum loop, and add guitars, bass, and vocals on top (all audio tracks) to create fun, home-based demos.

Upon starting a new project, you are presented with multiple templates to help you get set up fast – Ringtone, Songwriter, Voice, Electronic, Amp Collection, Keyboard Collection, Hip Hop, and Empty Project. Plus, there are dialog boxes within GarageBand that guide you to creating your first track fast.

Setting up your drum track or beat is considerably easier in GarageBand than it is in Soundtrap. You can choose from multiple virtual drummers depending on the style you want, select from multiple presets, tell the drummer how often you want fills, whether to swing the beat, which drums and cymbals to play, and more. The virtual drummer will go ahead and lay down a beat automatically, even without your input.

As with Soundtrap, in GarageBand, you can lay down a keyboard part using your computer keyboard, MIDI controller, or the built-in piano roll.

Audio tracks in GarageBand work just as they do in Soundtrap as well, and of course there are built-in amps. Additionally, the loops library is easy to access and is highly searchable with the filters.

Editing and mixing is where GarageBand might prove a little more cumbersome. It did for me, at least. Once you figure out the workflow, it’s not too bad, but you can’t add any effect to any track, it seems.

There are some built-in controls and EQ for each virtual instrument type, which is nice, but who’s to say I wouldn’t want to add a chorus to my synth, or a flanger to my drums? There are a few parameters you can control, so for instance, you can easily compress your drums or add reverb to your electric piano. But you can’t add effects that aren’t built into the track type, and that could prove limiting in some instances.

There are a lot of factors to consider here, but overall, I feel the workflow for Soundtrap is a little more intuitive and user friendly. GarageBand has more visual appeal, and it does have a sleeker design by comparison, but that doesn’t make it easier to use. I found myself fumbling around for controls in GarageBand more compared to Soundtrap, even though I use DAWs on a near daily basis.

That is the thing about DAWs in general, though, that they each differ in terms of workflow, sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small ways. The good news is that neither Soundtrap nor GarageBand have a steep learning curve.

One thing about GarageBand that will surely appeal to beginners is the virtual drummer. This saves you the guesswork of making your own beat from scratch. For those who are just looking to have fun and aren’t trying to compose their next epic, it’s nice to be able to give your virtual drummer basic instructions and have them go crazy.

Both Soundtrap and GarageBand have great interfaces and workflows. But I deem Soundtrap’s just a little easier to use.

User Friendliness

For a DAW working environment to be suitable to a beginner, it needs to be user friendly. And that’s the great thing about Soundtrap and GarageBand. They are both quite friendly to the beginner! Admittedly, they will both take some getting used to, especially if you’ve never used a DAW before. And if that’s the case, be patient with yourself.

But if you have a bit of an idea of how DAW software works, then you will be able to pick up either working environment relatively quickly.

That said, I do think Soundtrap is easier to pick up. It’s not that GarageBand is bad. But there are some idiosyncrasies to the workflow that just don’t feel quite as intuitive. For instance, you wouldn’t necessarily know off the bat that you need to keep the Library open to select instrument types and presets.

I do like that GarageBand has dialog boxes to guide you, though, and beginners will find this invaluable. Soundtrap doesn’t have this, but they do have video tutorials, and these should be more than enough to help you get started.

Virtual Instruments & Effects

Best music making apps

This is another area where the two DAWs are equally matched. Both DAWs feature a bevy of great sounding virtual instruments and effects. Even upon launch, GarageBand had great sounding virtual instruments. And that can only mean one thing, that Soundtrap had to rise to the occasion to be competitive. And they did!

As I pointed out earlier, though, you’re a little limited in the effects department with GarageBand. On the one hand, you could make the point that their setup – which puts a few tweakable parameters and EQ at your fingertips – is, for all intents and purposes, quite streamlined. But it is going to limit your ability to customize each track at the mixing phase.

After all, an effects chain for just an acoustic guitar could include multiple EQs, compression, range allocation, chorus, and reverb.

Adding effects to your tracks in Soundtrap is quite easy, and there are no major limitations either. Most effects are also quite natural and transparent sounding, so you’re less likely to unintentionally muddy up your mixes.

So, all in all, Soundtrap reigns supreme in this category.

Loops

One of the big draws to GarageBand upon its release was the abundance of loops available. Even people who were musically illiterate, or didn’t really know their way around making music, could quickly and easily combine and layer various loops to create sketches, demos, and jam tracks. GarageBand brought the fun factor back to the forefront.

Apple does not reveal exactly how many loops are included in GarageBand these days, but we do know that it’s in the thousands, and they are all organized by category.

Here’s the lowdown with Soundtrap’s loops library:

If you subscribe to Soundtrap’s Music Makers Premium plan, you get access to 16,580+ loops. If you subscribe to the Music Makers Premium or Soundtrap Complete plan, you get access to 19,460+ loops. So, in terms of the sheer number of loops available, Soundtrap comes out on top.

Their loop library is also searchable via keywords, and it’s not hard to find what you’re looking for.

While more loops aren’t always better, in the loops category, Soundtrap emerges victorious.

Collaboration

Music production for beginners

This is where it starts to become clear that SoundTrap and GarageBand are two very different things.

Soundtrap was designed specifically as an online music collaboration app. Meanwhile, GarageBand was created more so as standalone DAW software, localized to your own device.

With Soundtrap, you can collaborate with friends, bandmates, and other musicians online. It’s a great solution for collaborating remotely, in real-time, or even across different time zones asynchronously. Soundtraps also lets you keep your project related messages native to the platform without adding to your various other inboxes. And you can store your projects in the cloud.

GarageBand is also a great app for working from anywhere. You can save your work to iCloud and continue to make progress on your projects as you move about from one device to another – iPad, iPhone, and so forth.

Naturally, you can also collaborate with other GarageBand users – share project files and so forth. But GarageBand is not set up to be an online collaboration app, because it was not originally designed with these options in mind.

The app that offers a more seamless collaborative experience is clearly Soundtrap. In this category, Soundtrap is the winner.

Compatibility & Mobility

Recording music for beginners

Soundtrap and GarageBand both have mobile apps. They both work quite nicely on any device – desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, or otherwise.

But the main constraint with GarageBand is that it was designed for Mac OS. There are no Windows based alternatives, even if other beginner-oriented DAWs offer a similar feature set and functionality.

Soundtrap tends to work better on certain OS-browser combinations than others, but for the most part, if you have an internet connection and a browser, it works without issue. As I found out, the developers did not design Soundtrap to work on Firefox (my main browser), but even on Firefox, the app did not glitch out on me and seemed to work without issue.

Both DAWs are quite competitive in this regard, but here the cross-platform compatible Soundtrap must be given the golden star.

Distribution

Soundtrap online music collaboration

Spotify acquired Soundtrap as they obviously thought of it as a natural extension of their involvement in the domain of music. If they can appeal to listeners, why can’t they also appeal to the creator? As a podcaster on Soundtrap, you can easily launch your projects to Spotify, and that should hardly come as a surprise.

But what may come as a surprise is that Soundtrap doesn’t offer much else by way of distribution. There are no options, at present, to distribute your music to Spotify or anywhere else, for that matter. Integration with Spotify is likely part of their plan, but aside from their DAW, Soundtrap is still a relatively minimal product. So, for the time being, you’ll still need to go through a music distributor like CD Baby or TuneCore if you want to get your music out to a wider audience.

GarageBand doesn’t offer anything fancy in terms of distribution, either. But your completed works can be easily shared to your favorite social networks (like SoundCloud) directly from the DAW. You can also save your songs as custom ringtones or add them to your Music app library.

While distribution might not be the reason you chose Soundtrap or GarageBand to begin with, or the reason you’re comparing the two, but in this regard, GarageBand takes the cake.

The ability to distribute one’s music doesn’t factor too heavily into our verdict, because beginner producers will probably find themselves spending time practicing up before worrying about getting their music out there, but it is worth pointing out.

Price

User-friendly DAWs

GarageBand is free, but it’s only available on Mac devices. If you have laptop or desktop computer, or even a tablet, GarageBand comes installed on your device. In all other instances, or devices, you should still be able to download and install it for free. There are some GarageBand alternatives for Windows, but none are exactly like GarageBand.

You can use Soundtrap for free, but you do not get access to all the features under the free plan. Their business model works on a subscription model with plans beginning at $9.99 per month. That said, even the free version of Soundtrap is surprisingly competent.

The price of admission for GarageBand is a Mac device. Meanwhile, Soundtrap costs a low monthly fee at any level of subscription. To be honest, it’s hard to make an honest comparison of the two in terms of price. If you have a Mac, then it’s nice to know that GarageBand is free to use, and if you’re planning to record across a variety of devices and platforms and collaborate remotely, Soundtrap is still a better option.

Soundtrap Vs Garageband, The Verdict

If you’re a beginner producer, then both Soundtrap and GarageBand are viable options. They are both user-friendly, full of features, and scale relatively well to various project types. Both platforms have their limitations in terms of how far they can take you, but you can create near professional-quality recordings on both, if you know what you’re doing (it’s still recommended that you upgrade at some point if you want to take the craft of music production seriously).

Soundtrap is your best bet if you’re planning to collaborate online, remotely, with guest musicians, session musicians, or otherwise. There is a monthly cost to it, but these days popular DAWs like Pro Tools also have subscription plans. So, all things considered, it’s a minimal investment.

If most of your collaborations will be taking place at home, in your bedroom, basement, or home studio, then GarageBand is likely a better option. It’s free if you own a Mac, and there are no monthly payments for ongoing use.

If you plan to record in a lot of different places on different devices, Soundtrap is probably your best bet. All you need is an internet connection and browser to use it, and while it’s not an equal opportunity on all OS-browser or app combinations, it’s well-suited to capturing song ideas on the fly.

In most other ways, Soundtrap and GarageBand are equals. There are situations where Soundtrap will serve you better, and there are some scenarios where GarageBand will offer better performance. But a close evaluation of your habits should give you a good sense of which to choose, and there are also no rules against trying both!

If you need additional information, you'll want to see our review of Soundtrap.

Best Online DAW

4 Best Online DAWs 2022 – Most Others Don’t Work

You love recording online. Whether setting up solo projects or collaborating with others, the experience has proven enjoyable.

But now you’re wondering. What online DAWs are out there, and which one is the best? Or, if you’re already using one app, you might be considering alternatives.

Good news, because in this guide, we cover the best online DAWs.

Soundtrap – Best Online DAW

Soundtrap

Soundtrap declares itself “your everywhere studio.” And true to form, if you have a browser and internet connection, you can access it from anywhere, on practically any device. Of course, there are mobile apps for iOS and Android too.

Spotify obviously saw something in it because they ended up acquiring Soundtrap in November 2017. And some Spotify services are built into Soundtrap’s value proposition too.

What Does Soundtrap Offer?

Online DAW Soundtrap features an easy-to-use recording interface (more on this later) with a full effects suite, amplifiers (for guitar and bass), loops and instruments, as well as their Patterns Beatmaker for sequencing drum patterns. It handles both audio and MIDI tracks.

Designed with online collaboration in mind, Soundtrap is ideal for those who want to work with other producers, artists, and musicians remotely. Soundtrap has an internal messaging system that allows you to keep your project related communication self-contained too.

If you have other ways of capturing your ideas or can connect with the people you want to work with locally, then you probably won’t be fully leveraging Soundtrap’s technology, but there are artists who use Soundtrap because they love the recording interface and workflow.

Soundtrap is also enjoyed by content creators, especially podcasters, because they can publish their episodes directly to Spotify. This feature is not available to musicians yet, but one would assume it’s got to be part of their plan.

If you don’t know your way around Soundtrap, or are new to recording in general, don’t worry – they also have 30+ videos to help you at every step.

Aside from that, though, Soundtrap seems to pride itself in being an online DAW and online music collaboration tool first and foremost, and all other features are secondary to that.

How Much Does It Cost?

There are a few plans you can choose from based on what you need. First, let’s look at the Personal plans.

  • Free. You get access to unlimited projects, 4,650 loops, 430 instruments and sounds, 150,000+ sound effects from freesounds.org, and Soundtrap Originals sound packs every second week.
  • Music Makers Premium. $9.99 monthly or $7.99 per month annually for unlimited projects, 16,580+ loops, 860+ instruments and sounds, 150,000+ sound effects, Antares Auto-Tune, time restore, automation, remote interviews, and Soundtrap Originals and Expansion Packs every other week.
  • Music Makers Supreme. $14.99 monthly or $11.99 per month annually for unlimited projects, 19,460+ loops, 300+ sounds from Splice, 880+ instruments and sounds, 150,000+ sound effects, Antares Auto-Tune, time restore, automation, remote interviews, priority mixing, high quality downloads, and Soundtrap Originals and Expansion Packs every other week.
  • Storytellers. $14.99 monthly or 11.99 per month annually for unlimited projects, 4,650+ loops, 430+ instruments and sounds, 150,000 sound effects, time restore, automation, remote interviews, interactive transcripts (eight hours), high quality downloads, publish podcast to Spotify, and Soundtrap originals and Expansion Packs.
  • Complete. $19.99 monthly or $16.99 per month annually for all the above plus a Spotify Premium subscription.

And here’s an overview of the Education plans:

  • 30-day free trial. No credit card details required, all features for 30 days, 500 seats to try with your students.
  • School or District Plan. Starts at $249 per year (or $4.98 per seat) for a minimum of 50 seats.

Interface & Workflow

Learning to use a DAW proper was really a bit of a chore just 15 to 20 years ago. I like to say that it was on par with complex software like Adobe Photoshop or Final Cut Pro. You basically needed to commit to the process of becoming a pro. GarageBand was about the only thing that was beginner friendly at the time.

We’ve come a long way since then. Soundtrap is the kind of recording software that can come under the control of even an inexperienced musician or artist relatively quickly. Experienced producers might take a minute or two to adjust to the workflow, but in our experience it’s a smooth transition.

We like that they’ve kept the GUI simple while adding some basic touches to make it attractive. There’s a Light and Dark mode depending on your preferences, and recorded tracks are automatically color coded (standard feature in most DAWs these days).

When creating a new track inside Soundtrap, it comes near mix-ready with effects and presets. Adjust to taste and you’ll be off to the races.

BandLab

BandLab

Like Soundtrap, BandLab is an online music collaboration app. But part of their value proposition includes the ability to release your tracks, engage your fans, and even keep your earnings, all directly from their self-contained platform.

BandLab has mobile apps for iOS and Android, and it works on all devices.

What Does BandLab Offer?

There’s a little more to BandLab than initially meets the eye. If I were to bottom line it, it’s like Facebook, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, and Soundtrap all rolled into one.

Upon logging into BandLab, you’ll be brought to the Feed, which is basically a Facebook style newsfeed where you can create your own posts and interact on other people’s. When you post audio files, they come out looking like SoundCloud players. They’ve also included the functionality to go live on their site.

Then you have the Explore section. This is the part of the site that’s been set up like Bandcamp. You can scan music of various genres by a variety of creators and listen to, download, or buy their music.

The Library section is where all your own projects are stored, including collaborations. Simply click on “+ Create” in the upper right-hand corner if you want to start a new project from scratch.

Something that’s somewhat unique to BandLab is their built-in BandLab Mastering tool, which lets you choose from a few presets based on what sounds best for your track. Soundtrap also offers mastering, but it’s completely automatic upon saving your project and is not controllable.

How Much Does It Cost?

Amazingly, BandLab is free! We do wonder whether it’s always going to be that way though.

Interface & Workflow

Like Soundtrap, BandLab has a smooth looking interface that’s near identical in most regards. Starting a new track is easy and recording audio tracks or sequencing MIDI tracks using the built-in MIDI Editor is a cinch.

Now, this might be a subjective thing, but we prefer working with Soundtrap’s piano roll versus BandLabs MIDI Editor – it offers more control.

Further, when you create a new track inside BandLab, it isn’t as close to mix ready as it would be in Soundtrap. You’d need to figure out your levels, panning, effects chain, and so forth, all on your own. And mixing is a science and artform that can take a long time to master. This makes BandLab a little less user friendly compared to Soundtrap, especially for an artist with no mixing experience.

Besides these few considerations, though, we found BandLab to be quite competitive with Soundtrap.

Amped Studio

Amped Studio

Amped Studio positions itself as “an online music sequencer and sound editor.” They claim this makes their platform ideally suited to beatmakers, keyboardists, vocalists and rappers, as well as guitarists. Amped Studio has been around for 12+ years and has more than 205,000 users. They also have their own marketplace and Bandcamp like functionality.

What Does Amped Studio Offer?

Upon registering with – and logging into – Amped Studio, you will be greeted with a relatively sparse and sterile dashboard. You can navigate the site using the upper menu, but this is a little unclear upon entry.

Basically, you can enter the online DAW by clicking on Studio, check out the creation of others inside Tracks, and buy various instruments, loops and sample packs, and other kits inside the Shop.

The Learn section is home to 27 video tutorials and an in-depth, written manual as well. Naturally, you can upgrade at any time through Pricing, or read the latest updates on the Blog.

As for the recording environment, Amped Studio offers:

  • The ability for you to connect microphones, MIDI keyboards, guitars, and so on, and record your performances.
  • Collaboration. You can share your projects with friends and work on them together.
  • Samples and loops, including one-shots, construction kits, loops, and MIDI files.
  • VST technology.

How Much Does It Cost?

Amped Studio keeps it simple with three plans (and two of them are just monthly or annualized versions of the same thing):

  • Free. You get unlimited projects, 400+ audio and MIDI files, Chord Creator, five virtual instruments, 10 virtual effects, XYBeatZ, demo all devices, and demo recording and desktop imported audio.
  • Premium. $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year for unlimited projects, 10,000+ audio and MIDI files, Chord Creator, nine virtual instruments, 10 virtual effects, XYBeatZ, VST Remote (Experimental), save and export recording and desktop imported audio, automation of device parameters, and project sharing.

Interface & Workflow

Amped Studio’s interface obviously takes after some of the most popular DAWs out there and will probably strike some as familiar.

In my view, it’s not as user-friendly as Soundtrap or BandLab, though. I took me a minute just to figure out how to bring up the Note Editor (their equivalent of piano roll or MIDI editor) and start using it. Similarly, choosing and setting up virtual instruments was a little more confounding than it should have been. Some basic labeling would make a big difference.

As you probably gathered from the earlier section on pricing, you don’t have access to a lot of virtual effects and instruments inside Amped Studio. It’s not a bad starting point, but the average free DAW will come with just as many, if not more options, out of the box.

One thing that’s cool about Amped Studio, though, is how it has some familiar VST plugins built into its infrastructure. Names like Dexed and OBXD should ring a bell with experienced producers. There still aren’t that many to choose from, mind you.

Additionally, once you get used to the workflow, it’s not too bad. It feels like it could be a little clearer, but it’s still more straightforward than some of the top shelf recording software out there.

Overall, Amped Studio feels like it needs a bit of work. It only works in browsers like Chrome and Edge, features are limited, and the workflow could be better. But it does show promise, and for some basic idea capturing, it will do the trick.

Audiotool

Audiotool

If you’re looking to produce music online, then you should have a look at Audiotool. In addition to their free online digital music workstation with a sample library, beatmakers tool, synthesizers, and effects, Audiotool also claims to help connect musicians with fans.

What Does Audiotool Offer?

In addition to the award-winning Audiotool DAW, you get access to an ever-growing sample library, 200,000+ presets for synths and effects, three drum machines, and 28 effects units.

Once you’ve created your account, Audiotool will ask you what genres or styles of music you like, and take you to the dashboard, where you can watch the beginner’s guide to Audiotool video. You can also scan the single and album charts to see what other creators have been up to.

Entering the Studio would be the next logical thing to do.

How Much Does It Cost?

Audiotool is free!

Interface & Workflow

I will be the first to admit that the Audiotool workflow didn’t make much sense to me. So, I went through the tutorial, at which point I was able to get a synth track set up.

What I got from going through this process is that the Audiotool DAW features a modular interface. You start your project with a mixer, and then you can drop in additional modules (like synths), connect them to the mixer (tracks), and then sequence your MIDI tracks as you would in any other DAW. You can also play with the dials on the synth until you get the sound you like.

So, it’s like hardware recording, except in a software environment.

I’ll be honest. Some people will like this setup a lot. But it’s not for me. It would take me a little while to wrap my head around it, and it’s a very different workflow from what I’m used to. That doesn’t make it bad, but I’m the type that loves to work quickly.

Overall, the interface is nicely designed though. I’ve got to give it that.

What Should I Look For In An Online DAW?

As you can probably tell, your options for online recording apps are a little limited. This is because there are relatively few online DAWs that are still supported and have a stable working environment. In creating this guide, we tried several other so-called online DAWs, and that turned out to be a wild goose chase. If we had issues with them, we didn’t include them here.

So, right off the bat, we can tell you that your best bet is to stick to apps that are still fully supported by the developer and continue to be updated over time. For the time being, that basically means the above four.

But there are a few other things you might consider as you seek out the ideal tool. After all, each of the four DAWs mentioned here are a little different, even if they have some similarities.

Here we’ll be looking at the following criteria:

  • Recording interface and workflow
  • Features and tools
  • Social networking and e-commerce
  • Budget and price point

Let’s get into it.

Does The Interface Complement Your Workflow?

This tends to be personal. And the more committed you are to the specific DAW you’re using; the more sunk cost has had an opportunity to settle in. Meaning – the more time and money you’ve invested into something, the less likely you are to switch. Once you get used to something, learning new workflows starts to feel more cumbersome.

And that’s not a bad thing. But what you want to look at in this case, ultimately, is what works for you. Do you like Soundtrap’s workflow over BandLab’s? Or do you like Amped Studio over Audiotool?

There’s no right or wrong. And to be fair, differences between DAWs do tend to be more subtle than they used to be. The most different DAW on this list is obviously Audiotool, where the other three share quite a bit in common.

But if the workflow drives you crazy, doesn’t let you do what you want to do, or takes too long to figure out, it’s probably the wrong DAW. Either that or you just like being challenged (there is a time and place for that).

Conversely, if you can get your projects set up quickly, collaboration is fun and easy, and you like the results, you’ve obviously chosen well. And if you’re already settled into a specific DAW and you’ve had a good experience with it, there might not be much reason to switch.

How Much Power Do You Need?

Virtual effects. Instruments. Loops and sounds. Realistically, how much power do you need?

Each online DAW varies quite a bit from the other in this regard.

Now, flexibility is always a nice thing. But people who use a lot of virtual effects, instruments, or loops usually fall under one of three categories:

  • Hobbyist. They want to mess around with loops and sounds, maybe make their own beats. They don’t want to spend a lot of time programming, sequencing, or recordeing, and would rather just combine, and layer pre-made sounds.
  • Composer. A composer may also use many virtual instruments. This isn’t to suggest they don’t also use real instruments or record an orchestra in the studio as they’re able. But in the fast-paced world of television and film, composers are often working with small budgets and are under tight deadlines to create, and sequencing by hand or capturing a performance on a MIDI controller is often the speediest way to get the job done.
  • Beatmakers. Beatmakers will obviously find themselves tapping into as many sounds as possible, both for inspiration and for enhancing their tracks.  

Now, if you don’t fall under any of these categories, and still want to take advantage of as many features as possible, there’s nothing wrong with that. But a self-contained band, for example, may not use many virtual tracks.

A platform like Amped Studio, though, might be a little too limited in its toolset unless you’re just sketching out ideas.

Do You Need Social Networking & E-Commerce?

The value proposition of a platform like BandLab is that in addition to being a more than competent online recording tool, it’s also a nicely developed social network and e-commerce platform. There’s a built-in community just waiting to interact with others.

Both Amped Studio and Audiotool offer similar functionality, and do a fair job, but they look very much like works in progress compared to BandLab’s more polished ecosystem.

Soundtrap does not have any of this built in, besides the ability for podcasters to publish their content directly to Spotify.

So, if you’re looking for an online DAW platform that acts as your all-in-one hub, BandLab is really the top option, with Amped Studio and Audiotool taking a backseat to it. But they do have a head start on other DAWs that don’t have any of this functionality built out yet.

Though, in the highly siloed world of the music business, we find the idea of “all in one” to be a thing of distant idealism. You can obviously attract a fan base anywhere, but most artist don’t find success by limiting their marketing channels. Maybe a time will come when all tools and platforms talk to each other, but we’re not there yet.

So, whether an online DAW has additional built-in functionality may not be the top criteria to consider. But it might be something to think about if you want to interact with the artistic community at large.

What’s The Cost Of The Online DAW?

These days, we all have various subscriptions, and it should give us some pause to add one more to our rotation. If it’s within your budget, great. But if buying one more subscription would set you back and put you into debt, it’s probably not worth it.

Fortunately, in this context, we are talking tools that are either free or highly affordable. And all platforms give you the option of checking out or even using their app for free. Be cautious of overspending, and you should do fine.

Best Online DAW, Final Thoughts

If you take your music seriously, there are only so many online DAW environments in which you will thrive. In this guide, we’ve only covered the most stable of online recording studios. Each of them has something to offer, though Soundtrap is the clear winner overall followed by BandLab.

At the end of the day, though, you will be the one to decide. If you haven’t checked out any of the apps yet, then take them for a test drive. You will likely find your favorite ecosystem relatively quickly, and once you do; you’ll be able to get into creative mode and ride the flow.

Soundtrap Vs Fl Studio 2022, We Compare & Discover The Best

Soundtrap Vs Fl Studio 2022, We Compare & Discover The Best

You might love Soundtrap, but obviously there are plenty of great alternatives out there, including the much talked about FL Studio.

But how does something like FL Studio compare to Soundtrap? How does it differ? And what makes each Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) viable, and for what types of projects?

In this hands-on comparison, we look at Soundtrap and FL Studio to determine which is best for what situation.

5 Best BandLab Alternatives

5 Best BandLab Alternatives 2022

So, you like recording music online. You like being able to collaborate with others. But maybe BandLab just isn’t cutting it for you. Or maybe you’re just curious to see what else is out there, and whether it’s any good.

Well, you’ve come to the right place, because in this guide, we’ll be looking at the best BandLab alternatives – mostly online DAWs, but some not!

Soundtrap – Best BandLab Alternative

Soundtrap

Bar-none, Soundtrap is the best alternative to BandLab.

Now, here’s the thing. BandLab is like Facebook, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, and Soundtrap all rolled into one. It’s a social network, a music sharing and e-commerce platform, and a collaborative music app.

Soundtrap doesn’t do all that. It’s more focused on the recording and online collaboration aspect of things. They still have an internal messaging system, but other than that, they’re not much of a social network.

One thing Soundtrap has that BandLab doesn’t have is for content creators, specifically podcasters. Podcasters can create their episodes within Soundtrap and then publish them directly to Spotify. And, if you happen to sign up for Soundtrap Complete, their most comprehensive plan, you also get a Spotify Premium subscription.

In terms of their online DAW, though, Soundtrap offers some things that BandLab doesn’t, and BandLab offers some things that Soundtrap doesn’t. So, here’s an overview of those differences (we compared more differences in our Soundtrap vs Bandlab article):

  • Mastering. Soundtrap automatically masters your project the moment you save it. So, once your file is exported, it will be ready for release. But you don’t have any control over the mastering and how your track comes out sounding. Meanwhile, BandLab Mastering offers a few presets you can choose from to affect the outcome.
  • Presets. In Soundtrap, tracks basically come mix ready. Effects are already applied (you can still add more as desired), and tones come dialed in with presets. You can tweak or add additional effects, but many times you don’t need to do much at all for your individual tracks to be mix ready. BandLab doesn’t do this for you. Mixing is considered a big task, even by experienced mixing engineers. So, if this is something you’ve been struggling with as an artist, you might see an improvement by switching to Soundtrap.
  • Sequencing. This will probably be more a matter of taste than anything. But we like Soundtrap’s Beatmaker and piano roll better than BandLab’s MIDI Editor. Yes, they are the same thing, in effect, but we felt we had more control with Soundtrap. For instance, note duration was easier to set in Soundtrap compared to BandLab.
  • Pricing. Soundtrap can be used for free, but you don’t get access to all features. To unlock more, you’ll be going on a subscription plan, ranging from $9.99 to $19.99 per month. BandLab is free, so there’s that.

If you’re happy with BandLab, you might not consider switching to Soundtrap, but if you’re curious, there’s certainly no harm in trying out the free version to see what it’s all about. You can also check out SoundTrap review for more details.

Amped Studio

Amped Studio

Amped Studio is obviously trying to be a lot like BandLab. Their online recording DAW is stable, relatively easy to use, and they have some Bandcamp like functionality built into their platform too.

Compared to the more polished Soundtrap or BandLab, though, Amped Studio still feels like it’s under development. That’s despite being around for 12+ years. But as they say, every app matures at its own pace.

In terms of documentation, Amped Studio is basically on par with Soundtrap. There are 27 video tutorials and even a written manual that covers the platform in depth. So, there’s plenty of support if you’re excited about the DAW and want to go deeper with it.

The Premium version of Amped Studio comes with 10,000+ audio and MIDI files, nine virtual instrument types, 10 virtual effect types, and other great functionality. The Free version basically offers about half of what Premium offers.

If you’ve been around the DAW and VST community for a while, you will even see some familiar synths and tools integrated into Amped Studio – OBXD, Dexed, and so on.

But it is limited, especially the Free version. Compared to the alternatives, Amped Studio’s selection of virtual effects and instruments is relatively small. If you’re planning to do more than basic sketches and demos, I’m not sure if there’s enough here to keep things interesting.

There is something to be said for limitation as applied to creativity, and too many options can sometimes be overwhelming. But with Amped Studio’s limited toolset, you will need to use your imagination to keep your projects from all sounding alike.

And while this might not be a universal experience, we found Amped Studio’s interface to be a little more challenging to navigate compared to Soundtrap's or BandLab's. It’s either not clear what you need to do to set up your tracks, or labeling is a little arbitrary and not clear.

It comes quite close to the competitors in terms of workflow, but for us, it’s just not as instant or polished as Soundtrap or BandLab.

That said, there’s really nothing stopping you from giving the Free version a try to see if it’s something you might want to do more with.

Audiotool

Audiotool

Audiotool is probably the most unique online collaboration DAW app on this list. What makes it unique isn’t so much its feature set, though, and has more to do with its modular, hardware style workflow.

Like BandLab, Audiotool does attempt to connect creators with fans and has some of that functionality built in. Again, it’s a little like Bandcamp.

Audiotool’s DAW interface is award-winning, and it comes with 200,000+ presets for synths and effects, three drum machines, 28 effects, and a constantly growing sample library. There’s certainly enough here to keep you busy for a while to come.

So, what’s this award-winning user interface all about? As I hinted at earlier, it’s basically a hardware setup inside a software world.

And that means everything is modular, whether it’s your mixer or synths. A new project will start you off with your mixer, and if you want to connect a virtual instrument like a synth, you’ll need to drop it into your working environment, and connect it to the mixer. Then you can begin sequencing or tweak the synth until you’ve found a sound you like. Of course, you can connect your MIDI controller too.

Now, there’s no doubt this is a cool idea. But it is also drastically different than most of what’s already out there – online DAW, offline DAW, or otherwise. Most DAWs put convenience and efficiency above signal flow, where in Audiotool signal flow is up to the user.

First timers will probably find the workflow a little weird, maybe even cumbersome. And if you’re already used to a different way of working, it will probably take a while to adapt to this way of making music, which forces you to think more in terms of connections and signal paths.

I will be honest and say I’m not much of a fan, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be. It’s free to try anyway, so if you’d like to go and see what it’s all about, there’s nothing stopping you. There are also videos and tutorial wizards, so if you need any help getting set up, you can take advantage of these.

For those who love the idea of being able to turn every knob, and tweak every parameter, Audiotool is a must see.

GarageBand

GarageBand

Obviously, GarageBand doesn’t offer much by way of online collaboration opportunities. You can still share your stems and project files with your collaborators in the cloud, but that is a little “old school” compared to real-time, remote collaboration.

Here’s the thing, though. If you’ve got an iOS device, chances are GarageBand is installed on it already, and it’s free to use. If that’s not an attractive value proposition, I don’t know what is!

Plus, since its inception, GarageBand has always been a beginner-friendly DAW. There are tons of loops to mess around with, and the built-in virtual effects and instruments, while a little limited (you can’t create much of an effects chain), honestly sound great. No word of a lie – I’ve used their virtual instruments on some of my releases!

Something that’s relatively unique to GarageBand compared to Soundtrap and other DAWs, is the ability to choose from session drummers and percussionists who will hammer out a beat for you (without the need for programming and sequencing) based on the instructions you give them.

GarageBand’s workflow is different from everything we’ve looked at. It’s certainly less confusing than Audiotool (at least to me), but it’s not quite as straightforward as Soundtrap either. If you have any kind of recording experience, though, spend a bit of time with it, and you should be up and running lickety-split.

And GarageBand does allow you to release your music and share it via social media, so you don’t have to leave anyone out of the loop when you finish your next killer beat.

Waveform

Waveform

Okay, so you don’t have an iOS device. And you don’t care too much about online collaboration. But ease of use and budget are still a concern. What should you do? What other choices are there?

This is where Waveform comes to the rescue. There are free and premium versions, to be fair, but even the free version is a very competent DAW. I should know, I’ve been using it for years. It’s also compatible across several operating systems – Mac, Windows, Ubuntu, and Raspberry Pi.

I also find Waveform very easy to use. Now, as with anything, it may take a little while to learn. This DAW might have one of the most unique workflows out there (although Audiotool is on another level). That said, it’s very intuitive.

Now, Waveform may not compare to other DAWs introduced here in a few ways. It doesn’t come with much by way of instruments, effects, loops, and sound packs. These are all add-ons that need to be purchased (although there are a few free goodies on the Waveform website).

Waveform still comes with a stock set of instruments and effects though (more than enough to get up and running), and it plays well with most VST plugins. So, you can easily load it up with your favorite free or paid instruments and effects.

Again, like GarageBand, the only way to share your projects and collaborate might be to load up your stems and / or project files in the cloud, but whether you’re a complete beginner making beats or a more experienced producer taking on big name clients, Waveform has got something for everyone.

Are There Any Other Online DAWs?

Yes, and we do hear rumblings of new developments often.

The problem is that we’ve found all other online DAWs to be highly unstable. Either that, or they aren’t supported in the way they should be.

This includes platforms like:

  • SnapJam
  • AudioSauna
  • Soundation

All of which we’ve tried.

Some of these tools do show promise, yes, and they may even be worth checking in with from time to time (especially Soundation). But we can’t recommend any of these in good conscience, at least not as they are right now.

You’re welcome to dig deeper on your own time to see what else you can find though!

Top BandLab Alternatives, Final Thoughts

In terms of BandLab alternatives, there are a few worthy contenders out there. And whether to switch to something else mostly comes down to what you need.

BandLab has social media, e-commerce, and recording functionality built in. In that sense, it’s well-contained, and if you were to rate it based on its overall completeness, it comes out on top every time.

That said, Soundtrap is a little easier to use, especially for those who don’t know their way around editing and mixing. If you’re looking for a dedicated collaborative recording environment, and that’s all you need, Soundtrap is your best bet.

Amped Studio and Audiotool offer something a little different, and are worth checking out, but there may not be a compelling reason to switch to either. If you want to record offline, then GarageBand and Waveform are worth a look!

Soundtrap Review

Soundtrap Review 2022 – Perfect DAW For Beginners?

Whether you’re looking for an online music collaboration app or a modern, cloud-storage enabled Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) Soundtrap is outfitted with countless tools and features to help you create awesome beats, compositions, and even audio tracks.

But how good is Soundtrap, really? Can you do anything with it? Does it work as an online collaboration tool? What about tracking, editing, and mixing your projects?

In this hands-on review, we’ll be looking at whether Soundtrap is any good, if it's easy enough for beginners, and if you should use it for your online collaborations.

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