The 8 Best Alternatives to GarageBand for Your PC

Discover exciting music software for Windows

GarageBand is one of the best music production apps out there for musicians and podcast creators, but it's an Apple exclusive so there's never going to be a GarageBand for Windows. However, there's still great music software for Windows out there, with some keeping closely to the GarageBand concept.

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Best for Customization: Reaper

Reaper Music Production app screenshot
What We Like
  • Vast array of customization options.

  • As technically proficient as GarageBand.

  • 60 day free trial.

What We Don't Like
  • Complex to get to grips with.

  • Not the simplest of interfaces.

Reaper is a complex, but fully featured digital audio production software tool. While designed with music in mind and capable of dealing with broadcasting and other forms of recording, it's not the easiest software to get to grips with, but it's well worth investing the time. 

Reaper is fast loading and offers 64-bit internal audio processing, as well as powerful audio and MIDI routing, with multichannel support throughout. Alongside that is support for thousands of third-party plug-in effects and virtual instruments, so you can easily adapt Reaper to your needs. It also bundles in hundreds of studio-quality effects for processing audio and MIDI, providing you with plenty of flexibility. 

The interface takes a little getting used to, but that's also customizable, with user-built themes that can make Reaper easier to figure out early on.

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Best Online Music Production Tool: Audiotool

Audiotool Music Production app
What We Like
  • Works entirely online.

  • Can store files on the cloud.

  • Huge library of samples.

  • Free.

What We Don't Like
  • Requires Flash to work.

  • You need to be online to use it.

Prefer to use online tools over installing apps to your Windows 10 PC? Impressively, Audiotool is a music production studio that works entirely through your web browser. There's no shortage of options here either. Entirely free and reasonably intuitive to figure out, Audiotool focuses on music production rather than podcast tweaking. Instruments include the Pulverisateur, a modular polyphonic synthesiser, a beat box functionality, and the Machiniste, a drum sampler. 

Audiotool also offers over 50,000 device presets, along with over 250,000 samples via its community fed cloud-based library. Mixing is easy to conduct here with plenty of effects to add on thanks to the extensive library. 

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Best Professional Music Software: Cubase

Cubase Music Production app
What We Like
  • Extensive options.

  • Powerful software.

  • Professional quality.

  • Free trial.

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive.

  • Large installation size.

  • Intimidatingly vast.

For when you need a professional music production tool for Windows 10, there's Cubase. It's been extensively used by music professionals over the years, with the app offering decades of experience. 

Through it, you can record, produce, and mix sounds for distribution. It's part digital audio editor, part music sequencer. Learn it and you can use it to produce studio-like audio quality thanks to its vast options.

Cubase provides extensive built-in instruments so you can easily throw in samples as needed, produce some beats, or opt to record everything from scratch yourself. Composing is also supported here, along with tweaking what you record so timing and pitch is just right. 

The disadvantage? Well, Cubase isn't the simplest of tools to learn. Thanks to its well established name, there are plenty of tutorials out there, and you're going to need them.

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Best for Live Music: Ableton Live

Ableton Live music production app
What We Like
  • Lots of live music options.

  • It adapts to your needs well.

  • Comprehensive features.

What We Don't Like
  • Initially awkward looking.

  • It can be quite expensive.

Aimed squarely at those looking for real time editing facilities, Ableton Live is focused on each stage of music creation, from songwriting to composing, remixing, and recording. It's a software package that's been around in some guise for 20 years now, and its quality shows. 

Besides advanced editing tools that enable you to cut off samples when needed, it includes some live effects such as grain delay, beat repeat, a saturator, erosion, chorus, as well as vinyl distortion and many other effects. 

There's also extensive visual feedback so you know what's going on at a glance, along with an intuitive layout that makes lining up your plans easier. 

A 30-day free trial of Ableton Live is available, while the Intro, Standard, and Suite packages can cost you hundreds of dollars. The essential package is the same, but the more you pay, the more useful extra features unlock.

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Best For Mixing: Mixcraft

Mixcraft music production app
What We Like
  • Home edition is cheap.

  • Intuitive drag and drop interface.

  • Ideal for mixing.

What We Don't Like
  • Short free trial.

  • You need at least Recording Studio for full features.

  • Not so great for live recording.

If GarageBand is appealing because you want to mix music with many different samples and loops, then Mixcraft is the app for you. Much like GarageBand, you can simply drag and drop loops, combining them together to create the desired effect. It's super user friendly, which makes it ideal for novices to use and learn. 

Available in multiple different packages, its Home edition is quite basic, but ideal for newbies; its Recording Studio package offers up instrument sound controlling, a live performance panel recording, import functions, MIDI scoring, and editing. Want even more? The Pro package also throws in video editing, but it's going to cost you, as will the Home edition and Recording Studio package.

That said, a 14-day trial is available for Mixcraft so you can see if its right for you.

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Most Simple to Use: Music Maker Jam

Music Maker Jam music app
What We Like
  • Great for quick results.

  • Ideal for children to play around with.

  • Fun to use.

What We Don't Like
  • Not a true music production app.

  • Too simple for many.

  • You have to pay for extra features.

Music Maker Jam is a far cry from many here because it's focused on simplicity and fun. Free to use, you can make and record music, as well as mix it to your heart's content. The app offers 425 free sounds and loops, 3 free instruments, 8 free effects, and different sound pools dividing up the kind of music to expect.

As the name suggests, Music Maker Jam is pretty simple. It's the kind of app you could use with your kids and achieve results fast, but not necessarily the professional results you'd expect from a 'true' music production tool. It's a good introduction to the genre, though, and you can still play instruments through its virtual instruments engine. 

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Best Open-Source Option: LMMS

LMMS music production app
What We Like
  • It's open-source.

  • It's free.

  • Simple interface.

What We Don't Like
  • Could have more instruments and samples.

A free and open-source app, LMMS is as close to GarageBand for Windows 10 as you're going to get. With its simple interface, you can easily compose, mix, and automate songs, along with fine tuning chords, melodies, or patterns via its editor. Access to numerous musical instruments is available, and you can mix in samples as needed. 

It also includes 16 built in synthesizers, including emulations of the Commodore 64, NES, and Game Boy, so it's fun if you want to do something a little different. 

Thanks to LMMS's open-source nature, there are also plug-ins you can always install to extend its feature set. 

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Best for Creating Your Own Tracks: FL Studio 12

FL Studio 12 Music production app
What We Like
  • Uncluttered interface.

  • Simple to use features.

  • As professional as you need it to be.

What We Don't Like
  • Quite expensive.

  • A little intimidating.

If you want a professional setup that's ideal for creating your own tracks from scratch, then FL Studio 12 is an ideal software package. It has an interface that's full of options, but not too hard to get around. You can perform multiple different activities, from composing music to rearranging, editing, or mixing it. It's a great tool for starting from scratch and achieving something that sounds good. 

Elsewhere, there are plenty of plug-ins on offer, free samples, MIDI out, a keyboard controller, real-time stretching, and a full mixer and sequencer. Its potential should expand with your plans well. 

The downside is FL Studio 12 is pretty expensive. There's a free but limited trial to get you started. Otherwise, it's $99 for the basic Fruity edition, which doesn't include audio recording; $199 for the Producer edition, which allows for recordings; $299 for the Signature bundle offering extra plugins, or $899 for the full package and all available plug-ins.

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