On our list of the best DAW software on the market today, there are some very high-end suites and some completely free DAWs for beginners. Today’s featured software – the popular RiffWorks Standard from Sonoma Wire Works – sits towards the lower-end of the price range, although has plenty to offer musicians of all levels.
Firstly, we really love the design of RiffWorks Standard. It may well be a budget DAW, but it feels like Sonoma Wire Works has put a lot of effort into creating something memorable. The UI is set out like the front of an amplifier, with amp control knobs and metallic panels creating a pretty cool effect. As Sonoma Wire Works themselves state, they have created ‘tools that look like gear’ and we’d agree! The whole package is very slick and attractive, everything is laid out sensibly, and it feels very functional and intuitive – complemented by the useful help and tutorial features.
In short, RiffWorks is a full DAW, allowing you to capture audio and create songs, using a riff-based workflow. This means plugging in your guitar, recording a few riffs, then having some fun with them – such as rearranging them to create a new sound.
One of the highlight features of RiffWorks Standard is InstantDrummer. As the name suggests, this feature provides you with tempo-synchronized drum loop sessions, that you can manipulate and work into your tracks. Even better, these are loop recordings of professional drummers, including John Tempesta (Rob Zombie, Tony Iommi, The Cult) and Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver). RiffWorks comes with nine of these drum loops, with more than 100 others available for purchase.
Another very useful feature of this DAW is the selection of effects that can be added to riffs and layers. There are seven in total, comprising Wah, Distortion, Modulation, Delay and Reverb. They aren’t the best effects out there, but have some degree of customization and prove a handy addition. Overall, it’s quite a feature-rich DAW for such a small price.
For the affordable price tag, RiffWorks performs very well indeed on both Mac and PC. It installs quickly and is a relatively lightweight application that runs very smoothly on most computers. Ultimately, making music on this DAW is good fun. The level of detail isn’t as high as the premium platforms, but the focus of RiffWorks is more on the experimentation as opposed to creating a finished product. It certainly does its job in this respect.
As we have mentioned, you can certainly record complete tracks with RiffWorks Standard, but there is better DAW software available to do this. The strength of RiffWorks is really its ability to allow you to get riffs down and play around with them until you arrive at something you can work with. It encourages you to be creative and, ultimately, have some fun along the way. For this reason alone, it is highly recommended to guitarists and bands of all levels.