5 Best BandLab Alternatives

5 Best BandLab Alternatives 2022

Last Updated on March 22, 2022

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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!

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