Custom DAW Development

Hello, I am looking for developer(s) who would be capable of making a DAW. The DAW I need will be similar to Ableton, Logic and FL Studio, perhaps a combination of those with my own ideas of improvement. It is a simple replication of the pre-existing DAWs with certain additions and minor changes. I need a full-fledged desktop version and a lite mobile version.

Dude, you might as well ask the community to build a rocket ship for you. Creating an entire DAW is a very significant task. You better have a big cheque book. You’re going to want to have a couple hundred thousand dollars to pay your team, and even then you won’t have something as good as any of the products you mentioned.


I would put it far over 1 million+…

Even if you somehow have access to that kind of money, unless you’re an eccentric billionaire entrepreneur with a proven track record of companies/products (think Elon Musk), all senior developers capable of working on a DAW (which is easily one of the most challenging types of software to write) will be able to smell an inexperienced “ideas man” without a clear vision from a mile away.

There’s a reason why there’s so few powerhouse DAWs - they take decades of development amongst dozens of highly experienced developers and millions of dollars of investment to develop. Take a look at “new” DAWs like Studio One or Bitwig, which are made by developers from big names like Presonus and (formerly) Ableton. They’re years into development and still appearing to have issues gaining major market adoption due to not having as much “out of the box” content, editing features, or the industry track record of long-standing competitors.


There’s also the thousands of ProTools users who refuse to try other daws out because they spent so much money on their PT HD hardware or are just really comfortable with what they know and depend on it to make their money. It’s hard to convince Sibelius users to use Finale too…

I agree. I think the real problem is that the pro audio world evolves too slowly for a dramatic change to occur that changes people’s buying habits. We need something to be released that is as exciting as the iPhone was for phones. If somebody does that for music production, then it could be a very different story. But copying the incumbents and making minor changes to the old stuff is not going to win anybody over.


I agree with all answers given so far. But IMHO it doesn’t mean it is not worth doing it.
What I would do:

  • start writing the things, that make it unique that you can’t do in existing DAWs
  • implement that DAW features, that are absolutely necessary
  • restrain yourself from adding as much common functionality, it only slows you down
  • when your POC works and you see, it makes life for other people easier, try to get a patent for it
  • sell this patent to a DAW producer, or use the IP to raise money for your own company. But be warned, it is not unusual to spend the same amount in marketing again, that you spent so far, just to sustain on the market

N.B. if you want to get a patent, make sure not to tell the topic in public. If you discuss with someone, make sure to have a NDA with them. That is not, because you should not trust your friends, but patent law says, you cannot get a patent granted, that was discussed in public before.

Good luck!


Thank you all for your input. But I beg to disagree and differ, in regards of investment and the procedure. All of the DAWs work on the same principle and share the same or similar functionality. For example, a Midi Input and Editor, a Mixer with functions such as volume manipulation which is basically changing the amplitude of the audio and changing the pitch changes the frequency. One could easily make a template which would serve the most basic functionalities. Optimization is a different thing which depends on execution. It could be as simple as using a double or a float or an integer. Most of these things are easily covered under Digital Signal Processing. There aren’t many functions in DAWs, most of such come(s) from the interface, the design and ease of use. Automation is either one click away or it’s a lengthy process of locating it in a drop-down menu. There are so many Synthesizers in the market but most of them are exactly the same, served in a different look/style with additional facilites/functions such as an effect panel enabling one to add effects like distortion, reverb or flanger, nothing that other plugins do not offer. And one has access to each one of those effects separately in their DAW. I do admit that I don’t even know the ABC of DSP but I think for those who develop software which enables others to make softwares to make music, this should not be too hard. I would also like to add that not even the bigger companies make big changes to their DAWs in terms of functionalities, most of the changes are done to the user interface, the design and accessibility of and to the pre-existing features/functions, mostly at the user’s fingertips.

As far is it goes for investment, I don’t it requires millions or even lacs. A few people can come together to make such a software. I can offer equity but most people are reluctant to work without an upfront payment so I will pay, but not an unreasonable amount. Reaper is a great example which disproves your statements. All one needs is the knowledge. I can do it all by myself and I was going to but learning will take time and so will development so it’s much more better and efficient to find and hire people who have the knowledge to do something that I need and get it done much quicker. On each and every forum, there are people who say things like this and I despise that instead of offering me something related to my request, they try to preach me about how impossible something is. I do appreciate that people tend to show some sort of concern by doing so but I am already aware of the risks and complexities and despite that, I am willing to do it.

ok, come back in a week and let’s see your DAW lol

Just out of interest, what do you envisage the effort cost, i.e person years of effort, to get your basic DAW up and running?

I ask for 2 reasons:

  1. You mention people not being willing to put in up front effort. I think that largely depends on how much up front effort they are required to contribute - obviously 100 hours is very different to 10,000.
  2. You say you are willing to pay people for this effort - how many hours have you budgeted for?

As you also mention Reaper as an example, how many person years of effort would you think has gone into that?

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Their development time counter shows almost 12.5 years now. One could multiply that by 2 because usually at least 2 people have worked on it during that time.

I think Justin did originally push out the first alpha/beta version after a relatively short initial development time…(Just a few months. Of course it wasn’t very advanced at that point and it took them years to make for example a Mac version because they program with the win32 API, they don’t use Qt or JUCE or anything like that.)


So why would anyone want to buy and use your DAW and not the existing ones? I think you would have hard time to get people to even download a demo if there isn’t anything really new and different about it…

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I know what you’re talking about. However my experience regarding this forum is that it‘s really different to many other forums out there. You don’t need a certain level of experience to get accepted here. And I really enjoy getting answers from much more experienced users to any level of question that actually greatly help making things possible instead of declaring anything as impossible . So maybe you should re-think your judgement!

Justin Frankel sold Winamp for $80 million before developing Reaper! I believe he left AOL in January 2004 and prototypes were available at the end of 2005, but I don’t know when development started and how big the team was.

People continue to add useless points in this thread. Please, if you do not have anything to propose related to the topic, please refrain from writing.

And to answer Leehu’s question - Sir, I do not have a budget, neither do I have a deadline. I don’t think I said anything about people being willing to put an upfront effort, or maybe a miscommunication has occurred. I did say I will pay but I will only pay what sounds right to me. I am only looking for people who want to do this just for the fun of it. This way, they will be able to broaden their knowledge and at the same time, make some money. This is not going to be my main source of income and to invest more than my stature in something that I do not expect to yield any returns is not feasible. I have my reasons for wanting a DAW, one of which is that I can have the features I want the way I want without having to write several mails to companies and hoping that they will make those changes. Biggest issues that I have seen, heard and experienced is that most of them crash very easily. And none of them have a proper backup system. I would like to implement one. I have lost several projects and even though I save in increments, many-a-times, I do not save for long periods of time and the backups aren’t always the most recent. Now, you did bring a good point about “years worth of knowledge”. Their years have passed, and they chose their path because they were interested in it. This will simply be a workshop/exercise for them, an experimentation. I can also go to final year students with the same approach but it will be too tiresome for them. This can be considered as a side project for the experienced professionals. If nothing works out, I might learn it and try to work on it by myself but that is my last resort. If someone joins me from here, it will be gracious of them. Those who are willing to participate will do it regardless of the payment. And those are the kind of people I am looking for. I have a very simple reason for this desire to have a DAW, but it may not make sense to many. If you are interested, please let me know. I believe there is an option to message as well so you can do that too.

And Justin already had the knowledge of audio and sound so it did not take long for him and his team to build Reaper. Justin started in the year 2004 and in 2006 or 2007, Reaper was released. I do not think that is a long time.

And to answer the other question regarding replication, all DAWs are the same just skinned differently. Each one of them be it Logic, Ableton, FL Studio, Cubase, all of them are the same. People choose the one they are most comfortable in and with. It is all about the design. People who use pirated softwares, they can easily get Ableton or Cubase but they don’t because it’s very dull and can be intimidating because of that. Logic on the other hand looks beautiful but each and every task takes longer because everything is nested in menus. FL Studio is the well balanced one, which is why it is the most popular among people who are just starting. And most people are not even aware of Nuendo, they do not even talk about it but I know people who use it. On the other hand, Audacity is very famous. Most of these softwares have the same tools. If I knew about making such softwares, I would have made a software like Juce but with templates where people could simply drag and drop functions. For example, I would have given a basic mixer tab with the design and the code, both of which could be changed. But even just changing the design would be enough. Realization of this is what lead to development of softwares such as GoDot Engine and forms of visual scripting and development of games. There is Blueprints for Unreal which is a very capable tool, and there are softwares like Game Salad and Stencyl which do not require any programming. At the core, all of these (DAWs) things are the same just written in different forms. None of them are capable of running 50 instances of Serum and 50 instances of Kontakt without breaking down. Why? Because they are essentially the same and it all narrows down to the computer. Optimization doesn’t do much.

I know people are not going to care but please, if you do not have something much better to contribute, don’t. It’s a humble request.

Don’t get me wrong though if you want to create a new DAW, go for it, don’t let anyone here stop you. I think people are just trying to help you align your ambitions with reality. On the face of it a DAW can seem simple enough but that will definitely snowball! There are a few on the forum that will know this better than others after I believe Jules made JUCE initially as the supporting library for creating Waveform (formally Tracktion).


Thank you Sir! I do know that people portray their concern by the means of this like I said in my previous statement but I am already aware of it all. If I wasn’t so hell-bent on it, I would not have known about Juce at all! I am giving this a try and if any of you could help, I will be grateful. First of all, I will need a list of all the basic things available in a DAW for example the types of effects. This also reminds me that certain DAWs have a limitation to the number of mixer slots available. Another reason for me to want one of my own.

In mature DAWs crashes are in the majority of cases caused by 3rd party plugins. There is no solution for that apart from hosting the plugins in separate processes and that in turn has its own issues. You are not going to be able to come up with anything significantly different for that. But if you think spending time and effort to make a DAW that attempts to solve that in the most optimal way possible, go for it. (But it’s not necessarily going to be an interesting problem for developers to solve, especially if you are not prepared to pay a salary for the development time.)


I would like to add that I do not mean to disrespect anyone. If my tone seems harsh, I apologize for that. I simply want this to work out, I sincerely hope for it.

I will not be doing regular updates. I will make something stable and do updates annually, maybe. If something is stable and works fine, I do not see the point of changing anything about it. Sure, addition will occur but that should not affect the entire software and compromise it’s stability. If something is good and works fine, I simply do not see the point in changing it.

A good place to start is in the documentation of the most popular DAWs, start with Logic, Pro Tools, and Cubase. However I think you’ll quickly learn how many features there really is in each of these DAWs. For example the documentation for Logic is 2,690 pages long. I’ve been using a range of DAWs now for coming on 20 years. I’ve worked professionally in recording studios, released my own music, I have a degree in Music Technology and I’ve been developing plugins professionally for over 4 years, and I still learn of new features every now and again. For a basic feature set I would personally pay close attention to StudioOne, IMO it’s a very keep it simple stupid approach to a DAW. However there are several different approaches to a DAW. For example FLStudio / Reason / Orion, are really very different to ProTools, Logic, Cubase, and Sonar. Then there’s the slightly more middle of the road Live and BitWig. There’s the editors WaveLab / SoundForge / Audacity, and a few other outliers such as SADiE and RADAR. There’s also the new kids on the block, wwise and fmod, they’re not really DAWs in the conventional sense but they do have a lot of overlap and ultimately they just cater for another market.

There are plenty of other DAWs out there too. Basically each one has it’s pros and cons, they find themselves suited to particular work flows. If you think you have something unique to offer go for it.

I know I have an idea or two knocking around in my head that I think would be interesting in a DAW, but the task is pretty mammoth IMO.