DAW or Standalone Music Sequencer?

DAW or Standalone Music Sequencer?


By C. Kamb & C. Sessions on January 21, 2021


Becoming a successful music producer can be tricky. Sometimes success depends on the chosen method of production. A digital audio workstation or DAW is used widely in the music industry. Before we can start comparing music sequencers, we should understand the difference between DAW and standalone music sequencers.


Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)


A DAW is a software application that utilizes the operating system of your computer.  It allows you to mimic the sounds of acoustic and electric instruments. The sounds include samples and vocals enhanced by software plugins. Plugins allow you to play around with sounds and add effects to your piece to make it more interesting for the listener.


Standalone Music Sequencers (SMS)


Standalone music sequencers are hardware-based and include firmware. An SMS can run without added hardware or software. A sequencer uses hardware and software to combine sequences of notes and sound. Like a DAW, sequencers use MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) to connect sound modules, keyboards, and drum machines to create music.


The Benefits of DAW


Well, many music producers prefer DAW because they offer the flexibility to create various sounds together. DAW not only allows the creation of sound using virtual instruments, but it also allows you to record it and arrange it the way you want to. A DAW provides the tools to make vocals sound real and trigger the ‘chills’ which a real singer would have given you at a studio. You can even take a song and change the mix, add new sounds and new effects to create the so-called ‘remix.’


The Benefits of Standalone Music Sequencers


For starters, with a standalone music sequencer, you don’t need your laptop for every step of the process. You get a rawer experience with your instruments. You can also get to change the sound if you feel like it needs some fixing. Standalone music sequencers come in all shapes and forms and prices that can fit various budgets.


Who Wins?


 Well, it doesn’t come down to which one is the best. It is more about what you need and how you like to work. First, consider how you would like to experience the music production phase.


Would you like to do it through your computer, and what type of sequences are you interested in creating? What are the needs of your music production? You might also want to ask yourself; what kind of knowledge is needed? What additional equipment do I need to create professional sound recordings?


Every super-producer started with nothing before they learned something. Both methods have a learning curve. Each requires some effort and a lot of passion. However, after much practice, you’ll soon be feeling comfortable enough to play whatever method of production you choose to use.




Ableton Live Cakewalk  Logic Pro Pro Tools Sound Forge
ACID Pro Cubase  Mixbus REAPER Studio One
Adobe Audition Digital Performer  Mixcraft Reason Tracktion
Audiotool FL Studio  MuLab Renoise  
Bitwig Studio GarageBand  Nuendo Samplitude  



Akai ASQ10 Roland MC-327[citation needed]
Alesis MMT-8—a buddy of HR-16 drum machine Roland MC series: MC-50/MC-50MkII/MC-80/MC-300/MC-500 Microcomposer
Korg SQD-1 Roland MSQ-100 (1985)
Korg SQD-8 Roland MSQ-700 (1984)—one of the earliest multitrack MIDI sequencer (8tr),[22] a buddy of TR-909
Kawai Q-80 Roland SB-55SMF recorder
  Yamaha QX series: QX1/QX3/QX5/QX7/QX21