Stagelight review: Best free DAW software for music production?

Stagelight review: Best free DAW software for music production?
Written by: Dexxter Clark
I`m gonna take a look at the free DAW Stagelight in this blog.
Stagelight DAW by open labs is a free daw for windows, mac, iOS and Android, but for the blog I`m using the free DAW for the Mac.

versions and limitations

Stagelight comes in 3 flavors, the free version, the platform unlock and the ultimate unlock version, which are 50 or 150 dollar.
The free version can handle only 2 effect plugins in stead of 8 in the paid version, you can’t export stems, and there is no VST support.
There are couple of basic versions of instrument plugins in the software, that you are bound to, to make your music with.
There is also a equalizer, compressor and delay stock plugin.
You are definitely missing a limiter and reverb plugin.



free daw User Interface

Stagelight is one of those DAWS that has it’s own typical user interface.
But not in a good, user friendly way.
No, in a way that you need a ton of tutorials before you can actually do something.
Things work counter intuitive.
For example, I want to add a MIDI track.
I click the plus, nothing seems to happen..., but on the right side a is menu with the plugins.
You just have to spot that.
I click on that, then a huge overlay appears with only a couple of options I can tweak.
Why the useless use of space?
Everything is full screen, the mixer, the piano roll, the plugins.
I get a bit of a iPad vibe here.
There are phone and tablet versions of the software available, but I can’t say I’m surprised.
 

counter intuitive

How do I lengthen a midi clip?
I can’t do it in the piano roll, nor on the time line.
No, you need to draw outside the boundaries, then you can extend the clip.
What??

The audio editor is not really a wave/audio editor, besides that you can apply some automation.

By the way, automation is basic, and also a bit confusing.
In this case I had a automation, because it highlighted the track above, I thought I had to draw on it.
No it pushed my current track to the bottom and made it darker, now I can draw on my track on the bottom.
The software is full of this kind of weird gimmicks.
Stagelight feels big, clunky and sometimes unresponsive.
Screen resizing for example is resource intensive.




free daw (non) features

You CAN search for plugins however, that’s a pro!
I can use my midi keyboard and freezing a track is easy.
There is a sample browser, but you have to copy your samples into a specific directory.
I couldn’t figure out: how to side chain, and judging by the forum, it isn’t possible at all.
This made me quit further exploration of the software.

free daw conclusion

The daw is pretty basic, which may be good for a beginner, but it’s really unconventional.
If you want to grow with a piece of software, take a look at something else like Reaper, then you can even switch to a bigger DAW that uses the industry standard conventions.

But my biggest problem with this free daw is, is that the free version is so handicapped, that is hardly usable.
And as you might have guessed, I’m not a fan of the software.

If you are serious about music production and want to take it to the next level,
download my free music production e-book.
Besides information about music production basics and computers for music production, the book gives also a unique perspective on the world of DJs and music producers.

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Author

photo author dexxter clark
Dexxter Clark
Music Producer / YouTuber

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