When it comes to figuring out which OS is best to use for music production, the main factor to consider is the DAW you are looking to use. While DAWs work on most different OS now, some are still exclusively working or are optimized for one.
What Operating Systems Are We Looking At?
If you are looking to figure out which OS you want to be used for music production, it can be a somewhat complex question to answer, as there are a lot of different factors that you have to take into account.
This article will break down these factors to see if there is an OS that is better for music production, or if it more so depends on your specific circumstance and preference as a music producer.
To keep this article as to the point as possible, we will be focusing specifically on Windows, macOS, and Linux. These are by far the most popular operating systems at the time of writing this.
We will look at each of these operating systems’ pros and cons to see which is the best for you.
One of the most popular operating systems is Windows, which is the go-to for anyone not using an Apple-based computer.
It offers excellent functionality and features, with a sleek and easy-to-use user interface. For the most part, Windows provides a great experience with all popular DAWs; however, it does have some shortcomings.
To begin with, let’s look at some of the factors that make Windows an excellent option for music production.
In recent years, the windows UI has changed drastically, and mainly for the better. Overall, the design is clean and well thought out.
Regarding music production, this means that you won’t have any issues getting things like file directories set up quickly. You have all of your favorite applications right there on the home screen or hot bar for easy access.
Another big selling point for choosing Windows as your OS is that you also have more flexibility in choosing your hardware components for your needs. It often means that it costs much less than buying a fully built apple product.
For example, if you are just starting and you know that you will not require much CPU power, you can purchase one that suits your needs, which will bring down the cost of your computer build.
On the other hand, macOS-based Apple systems only come in prebuilt versions, often far more expensive than an equivalent Windows-based PC build.
Finally, suppose you choose Windows operating system. In that case, you know that you will be getting great support for most of the popular DAWs out there.
For example, FL Studio, Ableton, and Pro Tools all have had great support for Windows over the years, and that looks set to continue.
While Windows has a lot of significant factors going for it when it comes to music production, it also has some shortcomings.
One of the biggest letdowns is that one of the most popular DAWs is currently unavailable for use with this operating system.
Logic Pro has remained one of the most popular DAWs for music producers for a long time now. During this time, it has never been available for use on Windows-based computers.
Sadly Logic Pro is a native macOS application, which means that it will only run on macOS-based systems. Therefore, if you are a Logic Pro user or are looking to start with Logic Pro, macOS is the only operating system recommended.
macOS is another fantastic operating system that has developed and advanced throughout the years to offer a great blend of minimal design and deep functionality.
Being the main rival to Windows, this OS offers some benefits for certain DAWs but also has some drawbacks.
Next, we will look at some of the things that macOS does well in being one of the best OS for music production.
Firstly, macOS is well known for being easy to use and work with, straight out of the box. Whereas Windows can be a little bit more tedious to get set up how you want it, macOS does a great job of having everything ready for you to use from the word go.
This means less time messing around with the OS and more time producing in terms of music production.
Overall the macOS design is much more stript back and simple than Windows, which may not be to some users liking. Still, in general, it keeps everything easier to navigate and access.
They must have done something right with the design, as the latest version of Windows, Windows 11, bears a striking resemblance to macOS.
For music production, this helps with clearing clutter from your computer and allows you to browse and edit folders, samples, and applications with more ease.
Finally, macOS offers a great system in terms of its drivers when plugging in new external hardware.
In most cases, you won’t even have to think about it. The driver required to get the external hardware working will automatically be installed in the background.
Plugin and play is the term used to describe this type of functionality, and it is something that macOS has been doing very well for a while now.
That being said, Windows has been getting better in this department in recent years, so there is less of a gap between the two operating systems.
It is also worth noting that you do get the DAW Garageband free with macOS-based apple mac computers. This can be a great incentive to choose this operating system.
Unfortunately, with all the great things that macOS does, it has its downfalls in certain areas and specific contexts.
One big area of contention for macOS users has more to do with the hardware that it comes with: the lack of ports present on many Mac and Macbook Pro models.
Although this is not something strictly relating to macOS itself, you can’t separate the OS from the hardware in this case, so it’s something you will have to take into account.
Having a lack of ports is bad news for music producers. It simply means that you have less scope for hooking up different types of gear to your computers, such as midi keyboards and controllers.
In terms of a workaround for the lack of ports, users often have to attach a port adapter to their computer, giving them the connectivity they need to plug in their gear.
However, this can often end in a giant tangle of wires and adapters, which isn’t something you want to be dealing with when you are in the flow of producing music.
Linux has slowly developed over the years to become a very competitive OS for everyday use. It has gradually become more user-friendly and offers some great benefits to those looking to use it for music production.
That said, there are still some areas in which Linux falls short in certain areas.
One of the best reasons to choose Linux is that it is free to download and use in the first place. Saving money is always great in regards to music production, as it means that you can spend more of your hard-earned money directly towards music production-related products, such as virtual instruments and digital audio workstations.
Another big draw for those considering using Linux for music production is how much CPU and GPU power it takes to run.
Windows and Mac OS can sometimes take up a good chunk of your processor power, RAM, and storage space on your SSD or hard drive, especially if you don’t have a very powerful system.
Reduced power usage is excellent news for music producers, as you will need all the power you can get when working on a large project file.
On the other hand, Linux also has its fair share of downsides for those looking to use it as their primary operating system for music production.
One of the most significant downsides is that digital audio workstation and plugin support are very shaky and often non-existent.
For example, some of the most popular DAWs, such as Ableton Live and Logic Pro X, are unavailable when using Linux.
In terms of VST support, many of the most popular plugins appear to run very badly or simply just not at all when using this OS.
Support troubles also extend to things like your external sound cards or an audio interface. Many users have reported that they don’t seem to have any compatibility when running Linux as their OS.
This is compounded by the fact that Linux can be very tricky to use, sometimes requiring the user to use command prompts to get things working.
Considering all of these factors, it is pretty difficult to recommend Linux if you are considering an OS for music production.
Linux could potentially be used for very light audio editing and audio recording. That’s about as far as you are likely to go if attempting to use this operating system for music creation.
Does it matter which OS you use for music production?
As stated in the article above, the most crucial factor to consider when deciding which OS you are going to use is knowing which ones are compatible with your music production software of choice.
Once you know which ones are compatible or work best with your DAW, you can decide which OS would be best for you.
Which version of macOS is best for music production?
It is recommended that you keep your macOS as up-to-date as possible. This ensures that all the other applications that you are using will stay compatible with your version of your OS.
This is also true for music production, as you may find that your DAW software or certain plugins stop working correctly if you have not updated your macOS for a while.
Is there any way to use Logic on Windows?
There are some ways of getting Logic to run on Windows. Still, it seems that the method is very complicated, and the results can vary massively from user to user.
If you are looking to use Logic, it is best to stick with a macOS-based system for the time being, as there is no sign of a Windows PC release of the DAW coming any time soon.
Which OS is best for new music producers?
As mentioned in the article, it all comes down to which DAW you are using and its compatibility with the different operating systems.
Beyond that, it is all down to personal preference. There will likely be factors outside of audio production that will make you choose which one you prefer.
Why do so many people use Macbooks for music production?
Macbooks allow users to use the very popular macOS operating system while on the move.
As no other competition can do that, the Macbooks, Macbook Air, and Apple Mac Pro models have become very popular, especially amongst music producers.
There are some great windows PC laptops that offer similar specs. However, you will have to prefer the Windows operating system over macOS for a PC laptop viable option for you.
Which OS is best for FL Studio?
As of late, either macOS or Windows are great options for those looking to use FL Studio. Seeing as Windows has had much longer to become optimized with FL Studio, you may find better performance with Windows.
However, with recent Apple releases, it seems that both Windows and macOS offer somewhat similar performance when using FL Studio, so the decision is down to personal preference.
Why do so few DAWs work with Linux?
It is mainly to do with the fact that most DAWs and plugins are made only to be compatible with either Windows or macOS, as they are the most popular operating systems.
Unfortunately, this means that Linux users will have lots of issues trying to get their music software working, as the compatibility is not there.
Overall, the choice comes down to either macOS or Windows, and which you choose will mainly decide on two things.
Firstly, which of these operating systems is compatible with your DAW of choice, and secondly, which operating system do you personally prefer.
For example, if you are looking to use Logic, your decision is already made for you, as you can only use macOS.
Unfortunately, Linux cannot be recommended for music production due to its lack of support for many popular DAWs and plugins.
about the author
Hi, I’m Max, a passionate UK-based electronic music producer, and audio engineer.
I have now been making music for around 6 years.
Over this time, I have developed a deep passion and understanding of various musical styles and genres, along with the different production techniques that separate them from one another.
In addition, I have also recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in electronic music production from dBs Sound & Music Institute.