Best Beat Making Software of 2018

Billy Bommer ·
Writer/Reviewer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We researched and evaluated the loop library and virtual instrument options of 12 music production programs to help you find the right piece of software to match the type of music you produce. We believe the Cubase Elements is the best beat-making software for most people because it has an intuitive interface, sports a large selection of pre-made loops and costs less than $100. It has all the tools you need to produce, arrange, mix and master professional-level recordings without leaving the comfort of your home studio.  

Best Overall

Cubase Elements

Cubase Elements has more than 3,500 pre-made loops to choose from and costs less than $100. The interface is easy to navigate and includes all the tools you need to finalize your songs.
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Best Value

Magix Music Maker Premium

Magix Music Maker has one of the largest loop libraries and costs less than $80. This software allows you to upload your finished song directly to SoundCloud, YouTube or Facebook.
Best for Mac

Logic Pro X

Logic Pro X has an impressive list of realistic sounding virtual instruments and all the important editing tools. Unfortunately, you can’t use it with a Windows computer.

Our Test Results

Product
Price
62.04Amazon
79.00Amazon
Overall Rating
9.4
9.2
9
8.9
8.8
8.5
8.3
7.8
Production
10
9.4
8.8
9.4
8.8
7.5
5
8.1
Recording
9.4
10
10
10
10
9.4
10
6.9
Mixing
9.4
7.5
10
7.5
6.9
9.4
10
7.5
Help & Support
7.5
10
4.4
7.5
10
7.5
10
10
Time Stretch
Effect Inserts
8
2
15
Unlimited
Unlimited
4
Unlimited
2
Effect Sends
8
2
8
1
4
4
Unlimited
2
Mixing Equalizer
4-band
Multi-band
Multi-band
3-band
2-band
3-band
Multi-band
3-band
Maximum Number of MIDI Tracks
64
Unlimited
255
Unlimited
Unlimited
199
Unlimited
16
Import Audio
Write Automation
Maximum Audio Tracks
48
Unlimited
255
Unlimited
Unlimited
199
Unlimited
16
Loop Recording/ Track Comping
NA
MIDI Editor
Ease of Use
100%
95%
90%
85%
95%
80%
70%
85%
Number of Loops
3,690
6,000
3,647
7,000
3,000
NA
NA
700
Number of Virtual Instruments
3
15
18
15
6
30+
4
3
Total Number of Plugins
44
20+
67
25
7
40+
28
26
Supported Plugin Formats
VST 2.4, VST 3
VST 2
AU
VST, VST 2.4
Propellerhead Rack Extension
VSTi x DXI, VST, DX
Not Compatible with 3rd Party Plugins
VST, AU
Windows 8
N/A
Windows Vista
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Mac OS X
N/A
N/A
N/A
Windows XP
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Windows 7
N/A
Video Tutorials
N/A
Phone
N/A
N/A
User Forums
Manual
Email
N/A
N/A
Best Overall

Cubase Elements

Cubase Elements is a powerful and affordable music production program that has an impressive list of editing tools and more than 3,500 pre-made loops to help kickstart your project.
You begin by choosing one of the workspace templates for either recording, scoring, producing or mastering. Those templates add the appropriate tracks to your project and get you ready to record immediately. The interface has a clean layout and is easy to navigate for novice and advanced users alike. You can add content to the arrangement window by adding loops from the large loop library, recording external instruments or using a MIDI controller with one of the virtual instruments. Cubase Elements has 3,690 audio and MIDI loops to choose from, so you should have no problem finding a good starting point for any genre of music. The Elements version of Cubase allows you to record up to 48 audio tracks and 64 MIDI tracks per project. Some of the programs we reviewed have unlimited inputs and outputs, but you should rarely need more than 48 audio tracks in a production session. The mixer in this software supports up to eight insert and send effects per channel that you can use to create a textured tone and make the virtual instruments sound unique.
Pros
  • It’s less than $100.
  • It has more than 3,500 pre-made loops.
  • There are eight effect inserts per channel.
Cons
  • There are only three virtual instruments.
  • The track count is limited to 48 audio tracks and 64 MIDI tracks.
  • Some of the virtual instruments sound a bit dated.
$99.99Amazon
Best Value

Magix Music Maker Premium

Magix Music Maker has been around for more than 20 years and is one of the best low-cost programs for recording and producing music. You can start a project by using the loops in one of the genre-specific soundpools.
Inside those soundpools you will find drum, bass, melodic and even vocal loops to stack like building blocks to initiate the creation process. You can then add to your arrangement by recording real instruments or plug in a keyboard controller and use one of the eight included virtual instruments. One of the most important features of a good music production software is a large loop library. Magix Music Maker Premium has more than 6,000 pre-made loops between the soundpools and loop library, one of the biggest loop catalogs we’ve seen. You can drag and drop the loops onto the arrangement window and move them around using the editing tools. This software has an unlimited number of audio and MIDI tracks so you can add depth and texture to your music. The mixer has support for two insert effects per channel, which is limited compared to most production programs we reviewed, but that helps keep CPU usage to a minimum. The premium version of Music Maker includes a mastering suite that has a parametric EQ, multi-band compressor and limiter to help finalize your track and ensure that the final product is at an appropriate volume to distribute on any medium. Keep in mind that this beat making software is only compatible with Windows computers.
Pros
  • The premium version of the software is less than $80.
  • There are more than 6,000 pre-made loops.
  • You get unlimited audio and MIDI tracks.
Cons
  • It only works on PC.
  • You only get two effect inserts per channel.
  • You only get two effect sends per channel.
Best for Mac

Logic Pro X

Logic Pro X has the best virtual instrument selection and editing tools of all the programs we reviewed. It could be the best overall beat making software in our comparison if Apple would make it available to PC users.
If you plan on making music on a Mac, this software has a comparable feature set to other DAWs (digital audio workstations) and music production programs that cost three times as much. It is well worth the $200 price tag, especially if you primarily use virtual instruments to produce music. The most unique virtual instrument in Logic’s collection is the drummer track. This virtual drum plugin uses an AI algorithm to adapt a virtual drummer to the style of music you produce. It is common practice to start a song with a drum beat, but with the drummer track plugin, you can record a melody first and the virtual drummer of your choice will play along with what you recorded and adapt the feel and rhythm to fit with your melody. This is the best drum plugin available, and it works well with every genre of music. Logic’s workspace window is arranged nicely, with the transport controls at the top of the window. You can create up to 255 audio and MIDI tracks, which is more than enough to properly build an intricate arrangement and allows you to continually add new ideas to a song. The mix window is extremely flexible and lets you add up to 15 insert effects and eight sends per channel.
Pros
  • It has stunningly realistic virtual instruments.
  • There are 15 effect inserts and sends per channel.
  • The drummer track plugin is the best drum plugin available.
Cons
  • It's expensive.
  • It only works on Mac computers.
  • The track count is limited to 255 audio and MIDI tracks.

Why Trust Us?


I have been using music production software in a recreational and professional capacity for 15 years. My primary instrument is saxophone, and anyone who grew up playing a horn knows that it is one of the hardest instruments to write songs with because you can only play one note at a time and you can’t sing while you play. My limited experience with chordal instruments, like the piano and guitar, only led to further frustration when I tried to write a song while learning the instrument at the same time.

I expressed that frustration to one of my music writing mentors and he suggested that I start using software to help me arrange rhythm tracks. Even though I had been using audio editing software for many years before that, it was never presented to me as a viable way to write and arrange music. I was comfortable editing audio with Pro Tools, but knew that there were better programs available to produce music, so I tried them all.

I have now written and published more than 50 original songs, many of which began with software loops. I currently own five different music production programs in addition to my main editing software, Pro Tools, and use all of them for different applications. I tried hard to eliminate any bias I might have before making my recommendations because I realize everyone has a unique need for music production software. Instead, I focused my recommendations on highlighting the best features and benefits of each product so you can decide which one is right for you.

How We Evaluated

We realize that the benefits of each beat making program are subjective. Some people might find a particular interface easier to navigate than others, and for that reason we chose to research and evaluate the sheer volume of available tools in each program and tried to highlight which programs are best for a specific use case. We awarded high scores to beat making programs that have large and diverse loop libraries, a variety of virtual instruments and support for Windows and Mac machines.

We prefer to recommend products that support popular third-party plugin formats because that will ensure that you have unlimited possibilities for expanding your virtual instrument and loop collection, as well as expand your editing toolbox.

Features to Look For When Comparing Beat Making Applications


Production
Programs that have a wide variety of pre-made loops help to kickstart the process of writing and arranging by offering different styles and instruments that are ready to be pieced together.

If you are making music without the help of other musicians, having a variety of virtual instruments can be important. Creating a song by using all pre-made loops can make your song sound imitative, but if you replace one of the instruments in the loop with a unique-sounding virtual instrument, you can add a new level of originality to your arrangement.

Recording
Recording vocals and external instruments can be an important aspect of music production. Beat making programs that allow you to record original content remove the need to finalize your product at an expensive studio.

Help & Support

Obviously it's important to make sure the beat making software you choose is compatible with the operating system on your computer. The best programs are compatible with both Mac and PC operating systems. Companies that offer video tutorials and that have email and phone support can help you learn all the necessary features of your new software.


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