What DAW's offer a free plugin developer license?

Hello JUCErs,

Getting close to my first plugin release.
Testing has started and I need to be able to fix issues related with different hosts.
The problem is I can’t afford getting a license for every host there is (yet).

So I am hoping that (at least) some of the DAW makers out there do provide free licenses for developers?

I realise some of this information might not be exactly marketed, so please feel free to PM me, if you would like to share your experience, but don’t want that to be public.

As usual - I am grateful for your help.


Just to help everyone that is a step behind on this:

  • Avid will take care of your licensing for testing purposes - can’t share anything specific about it (because of the NDA), but you should register as developer with them and go through their support materials.
  • PreSonus were the fastestest to respond. They’ve sent me an NFR license for Studio One on the same day I wrote to them;
  • FL Studio’s Image Line were very responsive and provided me with an NFR license within a day;
  • Bitwig has a demo version, but you will not be able to export or save and reload a project - so no offline rendering and plugin state testing can be done with it;
  • Ableton Live has a Lite version coming as a freebie with some hardware products - I got mine with a Novation midi keyboard. There is a 30-day trial of the regular Live (this sounds weird :slight_smile: ), that can also be used.
  • Steinberg denied my request for an NFR license for Cubase (after almost a month without a word on that).
  • Propellerhead also didn’t provide an NFR license for Reason (they said they are going to provide one only AFTER I release… hm…)

I hope this is helpful to others.


1 Like

Well off the top of my head, Reaper, BitWig, Live and Waveform all offer some kind of free demo version that you should be able to use (although some are save disabled which may hamper state testing).

Other than that your best bet is to simply email the company and ask.

One other option, depending on your budget would be to contract a QA company such as this: Development Testing & Customer Support Services Offered
This could be an effective way to check a wide range of compatibility quickly.


Thanks for the info, Dave.

I do use QA services, but once identified, I need to fix those issues. So the need for having the DAW doesn’t get waived off, this way.

I am contacting the companies that don’t publicly offer a development NFR (not-for-retail) license of their DAW(s).

I think you’ll be hard-pushed these days to get an NFR as most companies offer entry-level/bare-bones versions of their DAWs that are reasonably priced and enough for testing plugins

1 Like

…except if the entry level has no plugin hosting, like StudioOne (just realised this morning after downloading Studio One Prime)
But yes, many others have a free month that you can use for initial testing…
So I will have to email themas well

StudioOne do a version for £80 that’s not too pricey, if you need it I guess. You could always get away with testing on a few DAWs, releasing and the downloading other trials if you get issues reported on a specific DAW. Thinks like Live can be used forever for testing everything apart from save/restore as mentioned. The only real pain is Logic which really needs to have a license bought for it and there’s no entry/cheap test options for that (that I’m aware of).

1 Like