Review – Tracktion from Tracktion Software Corporation

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Tracktion is a DAW from Tracktion Software Corporation.  We relate the product’s checkered history and make the case that not only is it back from the dead, with version 5 it’s actually become a contender.


by Dave Townsend, Jan. 2015


Tracktion 5.0

It’s been a while, but you remember Tracktion, right? In the larger DAW ecosystem, Tracktion has long been regarded by many as a simple entry-level product for casual users who weren’t too deep into music production technology. It was rarely mentioned alongside the heavy-hitters such as Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase and SONAR. It was just something you got free with your mixer and hadn’t had a major overhaul in years.

Well, I’m here to tell you that – surprise! -Tracktion is not only alive and well, it has a bright future.

With last fall’s release of version 5 this often-overlooked package is finally showing signs of becoming a true contender. Don’t let the $59.99 price tag put you off; this is a real DAW that deserves to be taken seriously. Yes, it’s been a long road getting here.


The Tracktion Saga

If you’re reading this, chances are you fall into one of two camps: either you’re a longtime Tracktion user who originally got the software free with a Mackie mixer, or you’ve never even seen it before and are simply curious about what else is out there in DAW-land.

If you’re in the first camp, you probably already know the Tracktion saga, but I’ll tell the story anyway for the benefit of those who don’t.

Tracktion was written by one Julian “Jules” Storer, an Englishman now based in Kirkland, Washington, USA. (Kirkland is the more residential next-door neighbor to Redmond, Microsoft’s home town.)

Tracktion came to life around 2000 and quickly became an underground hit in the still-new subculture of digital home recording enthusiasts. In 2002, Jules started a company called Raw Material Software and released Tracktion 1.0 as its flagship product.

Tracktion was ahead of the curve in those days, featuring such then-cutting-edge features as on-the-fly sample rate conversion, 32-bit processing and support for the Ogg-Vorbis file format (that we all thought would be the Next Big Thing, but wasn’t).

Jules was soon approached by Mackie, based in Woodinville, Washington (Redmond/Kirkland’s slightly more rural neighbor). Mackie was branching out from its core business of making mixers, going digital and cashing in on the exploding home recording phenomenon. They had already started selling studio monitors and had just acquired the Echo brand of audio interfaces.  The missing piece to fill out the product line was a software component, and Tracktion seemed the perfect solution.

So Mackie acquired Tracktion and took over distribution and support. They’d make Jules rich and famous, while relieving him of the drudgery of sales and marketing and the daily minutia of running a business that coders aren’t keen on anyway. The deal kept Jules on as Tracktion’s primary developer and he relocated to America. I expect Jules probably thought his ship had come in.

Unfortunately, Mackie was/is a hardware company, and hardware companies have a notoriously bad track record when they’ve attempted to diversify into software. 

Software is an entirely different game. Nobody calls you up to ask how to use their mixer years after they’ve purchased it. You aren’t expected to supply new features to old mixers year after year. Mixers don’t suddenly stop working because some other piece of gear has been added to the rig. Users don’t stick third-party components into a mixer and expect you to make them work.

Mackie may have been unprepared to become a software company, and by all accounts did not do a great job of it.

But mostly it was a case of bad timing. The global economy took a nosedive, and Mackie needed to cut expenses and staff to stay viable. Slow-moving and marginally-profitable products were dropped. With the company in survival mode, Tracktion became a low priority.

2007 saw version 3.0, and it was a hit among users. However, it was also to be the last major release under Mackie. Years went by without an update. Bugs weren’t getting fixed; new features weren’t getting added as other DAWs passed Tracktion by. Users became discouraged and many moved on to other DAWs. Tracktion was on its way to becoming a historical footnote.

Meanwhile, Jules wasn’t idle. He’d packaged the fundamental low-level building-blocks of Tracktion into a set of C++ class libraries and developed them as a separate product that Mackie didn’t own. Calling it JUCE (Jules’ Universal C++ Extensions), he released it under the GNU Public License (GPL), which means anybody can use it to build their own audio programs. It was distributed under Jules’ Raw Materials Software brand.

JUCE is multi-platform, meaning it can be compiled on Windows, OS/X, and most flavors of Linux, including Android. It’s why Tracktion runs on every major platform, in both 32- and 64-bit versions.

JUCE became a huge hit with audio software developers. You’ve probably been running some of Jules’ code and not known it, even if you’ve never touched Tracktion. Are you a Studio One user? That’s a JUCE-generated UI you’re looking at. Ditto for the Overloud effect suite bundled with SONAR X3, the Sonalksis-authored effects in Toontrack Superior Drummer, the UVI sampler and dozens of other audio applications and plugins from companies such as Korg, Akai, Arturia and M-Audio. JUCE is everywhere.

JUCE has recently (November 2014) been sold to another company. That decision, I suspect, was made in order to help get Jules’ new company, Tracktion Software Corporation (TSC), off the ground. Despite selling JUCE and starting a new company of his own, Jules remains JUCE’s primary architect.

In 2012, Jules worked out a deal to buy Tracktion back from Mackie and revive it. Tracktion 4.0 was announced at the 2013 Winter NAMM show. On the surface, it appeared to be Tracktion 3.0 with some long-awaited bug fixes, but in fact had an entirely new audio engine inside and a lot of cleaned-up and rewritten code.  It would provide the framework from which a revitalized Tracktion would spring.

Then, in the summer of 2014, TSC showed the world it meant business with the release of Tracktion 5.0.


Version 5

The brand may have been taking a nap, but Jules clearly wasn’t. Version 5 adds gobs of new features. There is still a long wish-list from users, but there is no longer any doubt that Tracktion has survived with its original vision intact, and is now a serious, if not yet major, player.

Tracktion’s greatest strength has always been its straightforward, immediately accessible user interface. You don’t need to learn any secret tricks or discover hidden menus to get things done. Everything’s right there on one screen. Signal flow is logically laid out in a left-to-right manner with inputs on the left and outputs on the right.

Tracktion has probably the gentlest learning curve of any DAW on the market. This not only makes it suitable for beginners but also for composers who just want to think about the music and not the software. And really, isn’t that what any DAW should aspire to – to just get out of the way of the creative process?

But easy doesn’t mean limited or dumbed-down, just – easier. All the essential features are there.  I found very few tasks that I could do in my regular DAW that I couldn’t also accomplish easily in Tracktion.

I did, however, note a few things that had taken days to figure out in my regular DAW but took only minutes to master in Tracktion.


Terminology and Concepts

The new version brings lots of very cool and useful features, but we’ll have to explain a few terms before some of them make sense to non-Tracktion DAW users. Although the UI may be immediately accessible, some concepts are just – different.

Some of these features are very forward-thinking concepts that might be lost on new users, but longtime home-recording enthusiasts will surely appreciate them once they’ve been explained. Especially when they realize that their “serious” DAWS don’t currently have these features.


Concept: Edits

Think of an “Edit” as one view of a project. Initially, a new project starts out with a single view much like any other DAW. In Tracktion-speak, it has one Edit.

As projects grow, we often need to organize tracks so as to not become overwhelmed. Many DAWs provide track folders, and so does Tracktion. Edits take that idea to a whole new level, allowing you to ignore most of the project while you work on a particular subset of it. But it’s far more than an extension of track folders or simply hiding tracks.

In an Edit, you can bounce entire sections of your project to a temporary wave file. For example, imagine that you have multiple tracks of string instruments but that’s not what you’re working on at the moment. Create a new Edit where the strings have been automatically bounced down to one track, freeing all their CPU overhead and memory usage while you work on other things. Now you have a second project view, or Edit, in which the entire string section is represented by a single stereo track that can be expanded back to its multi-track form by simply switching back to the previous tab.

Similarly, you could have a Vocal Edit where the entire project, busses and all, have been condensed into a single stereo wave so you can record vocals with minimal latency. Switch back to the main Edit and the project is automatically expanded back to its separate tracks. You can have as many Edits as you like, and you can have as many of them open at once as your RAM will allow. Switching between edits is a single mouse click, and changes to one Edit are automatically reflected in all the others.


Concept: Edit Clips

Whereas an Edit is comprised of some subset of a project’s tracks, an Edit Clip is a vertical cross-section of a project. It can comprise any section within a song (e.g. a verse or chorus), spanning all tracks within that section. It’s unique enough that TSC has applied for a patent for the concept.

An Edit Clip may be moved into its own tab as a single audio clip, where it can then be treated as if it were just one file. Edit Clips can be looped. You can move and copy Edit Clips to try out different arrangements without actually modifying the original project. But because the Edit Clip is just an alternate view of a piece of the project, any changes made via other Views are automatically reflected in the Edit Clip.


Concept: Freeze Points

Freezing tracks is a common capability of most major DAWs. It’s essentially a quick and convenient way to bounce tracks, and to optionally un-freeze them later for editing. Nobody but Tracktion lets you partially freeze a track.

In most DAWs, a track is either frozen completely or it’s not frozen at all. Many of them give you the option of including effects in the freeze or leaving them active, but that’s the only option. In Tracktion, you can actually freeze part of a track or some of the effects.

A “freeze point” indicates where the frozen section ends, splitting the track into frozen and unfrozen parts. Freezing up to a specific point is as simple as dragging a Freeze Point into the track.

The underlying technology also lets you freeze individual effects while leaving others active. For example, you could elect to freeze a resource-intensive effect such as convolution reverb, while leaving an EQ on the same track active for subsequent tweaking.

(On a related note, another very cool feature you don’t see every day is a handy breakdown of CPU usage and latency for every plugin in the project. This will help guide you in deciding which effects will benefit the most from freezing.)


Concept: Racks

In Tracktion, a “Rack” is not unlike an FX bin you’d see in any other DAW. However, as with many other concepts, Tracktion takes the idea several steps further than anybody else.

The biggest gee-whiz feature of Racks is that they let you split the signal path within the Rack. This allows you to create multi-band effects and parallel processing paths that you’d otherwise have to invest in special plugins to accomplish. Now, any plugin can be operated in parallel without having to use a bus. Now, any plugin can be made to affect only a specific band of frequencies, or just the wet or dry part of a reverb or delay – all in a single track.

The experienced mixer will easily imagine of all sorts of ways to use Racks, from the mundane to out-there experimental. Want to stack two or more software synthesizers and drive them from a single MIDI track? Many other DAWs can’t do this with just one track, but a Tracktion Rack can. Or, imagine multiple effect chains that you can easily crossfade between with automation.

In addition to allowing elaborate effects routing, Racks can also be used for routing across multiple tracks. This is called “track spanning”, and you can think of it as an unlimited number of aux sends that you define within a Rack. Racks can therefore be used to accomplish pretty much any convoluted routing you can imagine.

Once you’ve built a Rack, you can save it for re-use in subsequent projects. Put your favorite mastering chain into a Rack for future projects, or maybe build a standard multi for orchestration in Kontakt. Racks can be copied and pasted into other tracks, so that once created, even the most elaborate effect chains can be quickly and easily inserted into as many tracks as needed.


Terminology Clarification: Filters

Technically, Digital Signal Processing theory defines any processor that modifies the signal (output does not equal input) is a “filter”. The word does not apply to just digital emulations of analog filters, such as a parametric equalizer, but to all signal processors. In Tracktion, all effect plugins are “filters”. That may throw some users for a loop, but it’s actually the correct use of the term.

I do see that since 5.0’s initial release, they’ve changed the popup menu text to use the term “plugin” to avoid confusing users, but the context help balloons still say “filter”. So to avoid confusion, just think “filter = plugin”.


Demoing Tracktion

You can download Tracktion from\downloads. It’s only 8 MB in size. The demo is not time-limited and has no functionality restrictions, just periodic low-level noise bursts.

Run the installer, and in seconds it’s ready to start up in demo mode. There are only a couple things to set up before you can get started, so start by clicking on the Settings tab at the top of the main window.

Settings are neatly organized by category in a list-box on the left-hand side of the screen. Audio Devices is at the top of the list since that’s where you’ll most likely need to start if you’re not using your computer’s built-in audio interface.

If you’re using an external audio interface, you’ll have to tell Tracktion to use it by picking it from the dropdown list. Tracktion will assume you want to keep using the same sample rate and buffer size that’s already configured in your interface, so you probably won’t have to set any of that stuff.

Click on the next category down and verify that Tracktion has correctly identified your MIDI controller, if you have one.

Next, scan for plugins. Select the “Plugins” category from the list and then click the button labeled “Scanning and Sorting” below the initially-empty list of plugins. If you want to try out your already-installed plugins, just add the path(s) to their folder locations before starting the scan. It takes a while to run the initial scan, so be patient. The good news is that subsequent scans go much faster because Tracktion smartly knows to initialize only newly-added plugins (I wish my regular DAW did that).

That’s pretty much all you need to do to prepare Tracktion for first use. If you subsequently decide to purchase a license, you won’t need to re-install the program, just enter the serial number to activate. (You can run Tracktion on up to four computers with one license, which is great for those who have both desktop and mobile rigs.)


Walk-Through: New Project

Now that Tracktion has been installed and set up, let’s walk through starting a new project. First step, as you’ve probably already guessed, is to create the project. At the top of the screen are two tabs, labeled “Projects” and “Settings”. If we had any existing projects, we could just pick one from the list. But because we’re dealing with a new installation, click the “+” tab at the top of the screen and select New Project from the context menu. Give the project a name and a path to store it in. (By default, everything for a project is stored in one folder, making backups easy.)

Initially, there’ll be one Edit, named “Edit 1”. Click on the “+” tab to create additional Edits, which will be named “Edit 2”, “Edit 3” and so on by default. If you have a lot of Edits, it’s a good idea to give them more meaningful names, such as “Vocal Edit” or “Just Drums”.

By default, new projects open with 8 tracks pre-created for you. This behavior can be customized, though, using project templates. But for our walkthrough, the default tracks will be fine.

Notice that these tracks are not identified as “audio” or “MIDI” or “instrument” tracks. That’s because Tracktion tracks can be anything you want them to be: stereo or mono audio, MIDI, bus or track folder. They all start out as generic “tracks” whose subsequent behavior depends on what you choose for inputs. If you want an audio track, simply select an audio source as the track’s input. If you want a MIDI track, choose a MIDI source.


The Properties Panel

When you select a track, its editable parameters appear in the Properties panel, a window at the bottom of the screen. It took me a while to get used to looking down there. Any time you can’t figure out how to do something or other, look down there. In the screenshot above, I’ve gone to the Properties panel to name the first track “Piano”.

What specific information you see in the Properties panel depends on what you’ve selected in the main screen; click on a plugin and you’ll see settings for that plugin.  Click on a project in the Projects tab and you’ll see information about the selected project. Need to adjust input gain on an audio track? Click on the Input box for a track and you get input options down in the Properties panel, including gain.

For audio tracks, the panel features a nifty (and, as far as I know, unique) input gate, which you can set so that recording doesn’t happen until the input signal exceeds a given threshold.


The Input Section

Let’s take a closer look at a Tracktion track, starting with the Input section. Signal flow is left-to-right, so naturally the Input specification is the first thing on the left.

The Input box contains three items: the name of the input source, an input level meter, and the Record button. By default, in a new project the first two tracks will be automatically assigned to the first two audio inputs of your interface, but that’s just for your convenience. You can pick any source as the input, even another track. If the Input box is empty, it means no input has been assigned to that track yet.

Click the “R” button to arm a track for recording. Press the “R” key on your keyboard to start recording, or click on the transport. The procedure is the same for MIDI tracks, except you’ll choose a MIDI source.

In the screenshot below, I’ve recorded one audio track and one MIDI track.


The Inline Mixer

Now that we’ve got a MIDI track, let’s insert a software synthesizer. Shift your attention now to the right-hand side of the track. This section is called the “Inline Mixer”, but I think of it as a customizable channel strip.

You may have noticed that Tracktion does not have a separate Mixer window like most DAWs. Some users have complained about this missing feature, but it makes perfect sense to me. My regular DAW has a gorgeous Console View – which I never use. I like to do my mixing entirely in the track view, and that also happens to be a key principle of Tracktion’s design philosophy: everything on one screen. If you’re not used to working this way, it might seem weird at first, but it suits me just fine.

The inline mixer section initially contains three things: a volume and pan plugin, a level meter, and Mute/Solo buttons. To insert an effect or soft synth, just drag the “+” icon above the mixer section into the inline mixer, at the point in the signal chain you want the plugin to go.

Note that these default modules are actually plugins. That means you can have more than one meter, more than one volume control, more than one of anything. Want to watch levels before and after a compressor? Just insert a meter before it and another after.  

Some people have expressed disdain for the in-line mixer, but I think it’s brilliant. Why do we continue to emulate hardware console channels anyway? In the digital world we can essentially design our own channel strips any way we want! In Tracktion, even aux sends and returns are implemented as insertable plugins. There’s also a ReWire plugin.

Inserting a software instrument is as easy as inserting any other plugin. Here I’ve dragged an instance of Omnisphere into the inline mixer, inserting it after the volume control and before the meter:

There is no need to create a separate audio track for this synthesizer. The inline mixer is smart enough to know that the signal coming into this module is MIDI and that the signal going out of it is audio.

Even if you’re using multiple outputs in a multi-timbral synth such as Omnisphere or Kontakt, it isn’t necessary to create multiple audio tracks. That’s because of those versatile Racks. You can attach a Rack to a specific synthesizer which allows you to create separate signal chains within a single track for synthesizers that feature multiple outputs. Of course, if you prefer the versatility of separate audio tracks, you can do that, too.



OK, now we’ve got an audio track and a MIDI track feeding a software synthesizer. What’s missing? Why, a bus, of course. But wait a minute, where are the busses?

Somebody once told me that Tracktion “sucks” because it doesn’t have bussing. That didn’t sound right to me. How can a DAW not support bussing? Isn’t that pretty fundamental? Well, yes, it is. And it turns out that Tracktion does indeed provide bussing, and in fact does so quite elegantly.

Remember that Tracktion draws no distinction between a track and a bus. When you want to combine two or more tracks, you simply add a new track and route the others to it.

This can be confusing to old guys like me who grew up with hardware consoles in which busses were physical things, finite in number, and often even separate boxes. But in the digital world, there are no “tracks” or “busses” really, just virtual lists of numbers and the order in which they’re to be processed.

Note that the “master fader” is not a master bus. It is hardwired and need not be created, nor can it be deleted. It also cannot have effects inserted on it. What Tracktion calls the “master fader” represents the final output to the audio driver, like the master volume control on a mixer. If you want a conventional master bus with effects on it, you’ll have to create it.

To create a bus, simply add another track to serve as the bus. Then select the track(s) you want to send to it and select the destination via the “Track Destination” dropdown list in the Properties panel. That’s all there is to it.


Where’s the Help File?

Tracktion does not ship with a help file, user manual or tutorials. All references are online – which can be a problem if your DAW is not connected to the internet. However, it’s a reasonable trade-off for always having up-to-date documentation. It also means the information is available for those who are just checking out Tracktion but haven’t installed it yet.

There are, however, popup context help balloons that are enabled by default. These will usually give you enough guidance to get started. After a few days, however, they will become annoying but are easily turned off by clicking the Help button in the lower-left corner of the screen.

Another great resource is the tutorial videos from Groove3, which you can purchase here: A few excerpts may be viewed for free on YouTube:

While we’re on the subject of what’s missing, we should also mention that there are almost no third-party effects or synthesizers bundled with Tracktion. But there are good reasons for that:

  • Keeps the price down. You pay for those third-party goodies that come with other DAWs, whether you use them or not. Tracktion is only $59, and we’d like it to stay affordable.
  • Keeps the download size small. It takes only a few seconds to download Tracktion and about as long to install it. The whole shebang fits easily on a thumb drive, and can even be run directly from one.
  • All your third-party plugins will work fine in Tracktion. Many of us old-timers have accumulated an extensive collection of plugins that suit our own preferences, and we don’t often use bundled plugins anyway. I tested plugins from FabFilter, Meldaproduction, Voxengo, Waves, iZotope, Blue Cat Audio, Native Instruments, Spectrasonics, U-he, IK Multimedia, Overloud and ValhallaDSP. All of them worked great. Only one plugin failed to register out of over 300 in my collection, and it was a beta version.
  • The one third-party tool that you do get is a monster: Melodyne.


Other Cool Stuff

Here are some miscellaneous features that struck me as being particularly strong.

Project management. The Projects tab presents a list of every project you’ve ever created in Tracktion. This would eventually turn into a horrible mess if not for the ability to create categories and sub-categories for them.

Loop handling. I’m not a loop user myself, but then I’m an old dinosaur who still thinks music must be made by hitting and blowing on things. But I know that for many others, loops are an important ingredient. And they tell me that Tracktion handles all aspects of looping very well: browsing and auditioning loops, inserting, stretching and duplicating loops.

Track folders. A track folder in Tracktion can be a simple organizational aid like in other DAWs, or it can be a sub-bus with a common volume control for the entire group of tracks. The only thing you cannot do with a track folder that you can do with a proper bus is insert effects into it. However, that’s not much of a limitation considering how easy it is to create a bus in Tracktion.

Flexible routing. I haven’t found anything that I can’t do in Tracktion as far as routing goes. Send one track to another. MIDI to outboard hardware synths or audio to external hardware effects or separate track outputs to a console, no problem. Pre-fader and post-fader sends on the same track, even multiple aux sends at different points in the effects chain. Multiple headphone mixes. Audio to six separate effect paths and then recombine them on the same track? Not easy in most DAWs without third-party tools, but trivial to accomplish in Tracktion.

CPU Usage Management. If you’ve got a high-spec industrial-strength computer with 8 or more cores, then you might not care about this feature. But if you’re like the rest of us you need to keep an eye on CPU usage so as not to hit that dreaded wall where dropouts begin. If and when you do hit the limit to what your computer can keep up with, you’re going to want to know which plugins are eating the most CPU cycles and memory. I know of no other DAW that gives you as much detailed information as Tracktion does, making it easy to see which plugins are making the greatest demands on your system. And get this…you can freeze those hungry plugins right there in the CPU Manager window with two mouse clicks.

There is also a button on the CPU Manager screen for low-latency mode. What this does is render your entire project so that Tracktion is using the absolute minimum amount of resources, and then lowers your buffers for the shortest latency possible. All with one mouse click.



Marketplace and Master Mix


There is only one version of Tracktion – no “lite” version, no “pro” edition, and few add-ons to nickel-and-dime you with. There is, however, an in-product purchase screen called Marketplace where you can conveniently shop for plugins, loops, instruments, and whatever else they decide to throw up there.


One of the items you can buy there (and Marketplace is the only place you can buy it) is a multi-effect suite called Master Mix.


Although this plugin has “Master” in its name, it isn’t quite an all-in-one mastering suite along the lines of iZotope’s Ozone. Master Mix does have much of the same stuff (EQ, multi-band compression / expansion, gate, DC offset removal) but lacks some features you’d expect from a plugin whose name implies the last stop in the signal chain. It does not have dither, inter-sample peak protection, or a limiter (although it does have a soft clipper, so I guess that’s sort of a limiter).


If you’ve used Acuma Labs / Mackie’s popular but long-in-tooth Final Mix plugin, you’ll know what Master Mix is about, because the latter is based on the former product. Actually, it looks exactly like it. However, it’s not Final Mix with a new skin; it’s an all-new plugin (JUCE-based, of course) written for TSC by Christian Siedschlag (founder of DDMF). And, unlike Final Mix, Master Mix is available in a 64-bit version.


Marketplace is a recent addition. At the time of this writing, it feels a little like a beta work-in-progress. However, the folks at TSC are obviously intent on beefing up the feature. When I started writing this article, there was only one product available through Marketplace. Since then, they’ve added DDMF, Acon Digital and TekIt products to their online offerings, plus a couple of synthesizers. I’m sure more will have been added by the time you’re reading this.


Marketplace shows up as a separate tab in Tracktion, but it’s disabled by default. You’ll find a button in the lower-left of the Projects tab for enabling it.




Tracktion is cheap, simple and easy to use, but it ain’t no kiddie toy. It’s a real DAW for grown-ups. Sure, it’s still got some catching up to do, but Tracktion’s architect Jules is going full-tilt to close the gap with the big guys.

Being a one-man development team in a company of five people has its advantages. There are no market research committees to deliberate for weeks on what features to implement. Things can move very quickly. Version 6 might add a few new features or it could be a radical departure, we don’t know and Jules isn’t saying. But it’s a safe bet it’ll be another substantial step forward.

OK, so bottom line, no B.S. – who needs Tracktion, really?

If you’ve been using Pro Tools, Logic, SONAR or Cubase for 10+ years, then frankly it might not be for you. If you routinely swap project files with any of those platforms, it’s not for you, at least as your primary DAW. I can’t see large numbers of people switching from those full-featured mega-DAWs to Tracktion. At least, not yet. Down the road, who knows? I would have said the same thing about Reaper five years ago.

But I would definitely recommend checking out this product as a first stop for those who have not yet dipped their toes into the DAW world, or have a little experience but haven’t yet picked a favorite package to go with. For new users, Tracktion offers a gentle path to ease into the game.

Similarly, it will appeal to anybody who just thinks DAWs are too complicated and wish they weren’t constantly getting in the way of making music. If you spend an inordinate amount of time in online forums trying to figure out how to work your DAW, maybe you just need a more straightforward DAW. Songwriters who just want to quickly mock up song ideas without being distracted by technical minutia will appreciate how well Tracktion stays out of the way of the creative process.

I would also recommend Tracktion as a second DAW, perhaps for a mobile rig for remote recording. Its small footprint, efficient operation and single-screen UI make it ideal for laptops. You can even run Tracktion off a thumb drive and easily move an entire project from laptop to desktop.

If you’re running on an underpowered computer that’s prone to dropouts and requires frequent freezing, then Tracktion is far cheaper than buying a new computer. Its freeze, automatic rendering and CPU management features will help you get more mileage out of the hardware you’ve got.

Schools would do well to adopt Tracktion, whether for kids, teens or adults. Educational discounts are available. Teachers will appreciate how quick Tracktion is to set up and subsequently reset for the next class.


Price and Availability

Tracktion will continue to be bundled with certain Mackie products, as well as with Behringer interfaces and digital mixers, or you can buy it directly from for 60 bucks. If you already have an older version of Tracktion, you can upgrade to version 5 for $39.  


Tracktion main page:

Download the demo:

Groove3 Tracktion videos (for purchase):

Tracktion forum on KVR:



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