7 Best DAWless Setups To Make Music Without A Computer - Best Friends Club (2022)

A DAWless setup is for you if you want to make music without having to endlessly stare at a computer screen or, if you simply would like to enjoy a ready-to-go setup that is fully dedicated to making music.

I’ve researched some of the best DAWless setups for the price that are available today.

It is easy for costs to get out of control so I made sure to find options that are highly flexible music creation tools that pack as much value as possible for the price.

Elektron DigitaktSampler + DrumsBestCheck on Amazon7 Best DAWless Setups To Make Music Without A Computer - Best Friends Club (1)
Korg Volca FMSynthesizerBestCheck on Amazon
Arturia KeystepControllerBestCheck on Amazon
Pocket Operator KO-33Sampler + DrumsBudgetCheck on Amazon
Korg Volca SampleSampler + DrumsBudgetCheck on Amazon
Novation CircuitEverythingAll-In-OneCheck on Amazon

So what should you look for in a DAWless setup?

These are the 3 main things you should look for in a DAWless setup:

  1. A decent cost. Music gear costs can really add up, so look for value.
  2. A high amount of flexibility. You should be able to make great music without any limitations.
  3. The ability to expand in the future. You want your setup to be able to grow with you over time.

In this article, I will be breaking down and rating these DAWless setups based on the above 3 categories.

If you’d like a comprehensive look into how to actually go DAWless and what you need, check out my article How To Go DAWless (The 3 Things You Need) for everything you need to know.

Best Overall DAWless Setup

The best overall DAWless setup has the combination of the Elektron Digitakt on sampling and drum duties, the Korg Volca FM handling synthesizer duties, and the Arturia Keystep controlling everything with a standard keyboard/piano layout.

The Digitakt is a highly praised sampler that is powerful because it can easily handle sampling and drum duties. Plus, you get all the coveted Elektron features like the Elektron sequencer, effects, and LFOs.

Although you can control the samples to create bass, pad, and lead sounds, the Digitakt is missing traditional synthesizer capabilities.

This is where the Volca FM comes in. FM synthesis is more powerful because it is flexible: you can get high-quality bass, pad, lead, and keyboard-style sounds out of this.

Pair this with the highly popular Arturia Keystep to control everything, and you’ve got yourself the best overall DAWless setup.

Elektron DigitaktSampler + DrumsCheck on Amazon
Korg Volca FMSynthesizerCheck on Amazon
Arturia KeystepControllerCheck on Amazon


You can get this entire setup for under $1000 and even less when these products go on sale. Be sure to check Amazon for up to date sale prices, particularly with the Korg Volca FM and Arturia Keystep. I noticed that Elektron gear does not go on sale as often though.

For a more budget version of this setup: you could start with the Elektron Digitakt and expand later when you are ready.


This setup is both extremely flexible and great to expand upon.

The Digitakt is a fantastic sequencer, so it can easily be used to sequence and control other music gear as your collection grows.

(Video) How To Go DAWless (The 3 Things You Need For Studio or Live DAWless Setups)

But even if you simply stick to this setup, there are an endless amount of possibilities when you combine the powerful sampling features of the Digitakt with the sound design potential of FM synthesis.

Why It’s A Great DAWless Setup


  • Everything you need to make music without a computer
  • Extremely flexible
  • Easy to expand this setup over time


  • Can be expensive for a beginner
  • Not extremely portable

Best Budget DAWless Setup

If you want to start making music without a computer on a budget, then look no further than the Pocket Operator line of devices from Teenage Engineering.

To keep things as budget and beginner-friendly as possible, I had to find just one single device that would be capable of making a full song.

This is why the Pocket Operator KO-33 is the most recommended budget DAWless setup.

Because this device is ultimately a sampler, you can use it to sample drums, bass, leads, pads, chords, and vocals, and then sequence everything together to create a full song without the assistance of a computer.

Pocket Operator KO-33Sampler + DrumsCheck on Amazon


You can get yourself a brand new Teenage Engineering KO-33 for under $100. On top of this, they do go on sale quite often, so check the link above to see what the latest price is.

If you are okay getting one of these small but mighty warriors second-hand, it would be easy to pick one up used for under $50.

This is definitely the most budget possible way to go DAWless, and the entire Pocket Operator line is very much well-loved and praised by the music-making community.


Because this device is a sampler, it is quite flexible in what music it can produce. Simply import different samples whenever you want to change things up.

The entire Pocket Operator line can actually sync together if you want to go down the path of creating a miniature army of Pocket Operators. They can even sync with other gear (although it is a bit tricky) if you want to expand your setup beyond Pocket Operators.

Why It’s A Great DAWless Setup


  • Flexible sampling features
  • Extremely portable
  • Great place to start with computer-less music-making


  • Can be tricky to sync with other non-Pocket Operator gear

Best DAWless Setup For Under $300

(Video) Music Production Process - Why I Have A DAWless AND Computer Setup

If you have a bit more cash to spend and want to get yourself a setup with more than 1 device, the Korg Volca line of devices might just be right up your alley.

Volcas may not be pocket-sized, but they are still very small when compared to other drum machines and synthesizers. They are also very capable devices in their own right and play well with both other Volcas and other music gear.

For this setup, the Korg Volca Sample will handle sampling and drum duties, while the Korg Volca FM will handle bass, pads, and leads.

The Volca Sample is preferred over the dedicated Volca Drum so that you get the flexibility of sampling both melodic (chords, vocals, etc) and percussive elements (drums, kicks, snares, etc).

Howevre, if you really want a dedicated drum machine, be sure to check out the best drum machines for techno and underground house music.

Just like in the “best overall DAWless setup”, the Volca FM is chosen for its flexibility in sound design, thanks to it’s FM synthesis engine.

Korg Volca SampleSampler + DrumsCheck on Amazon
Korg Volca FMSynthesizerCheck on Amazon


You can get this Volca-based DAWless setup for around $250 – $300, depending on if there is a sale or not. It is common for these bad boys to go on sale, so make sure you watch the current sale price.

If you are okay with buying used, you may even be able to pick up this setup for closer to $200. New or used, this is a fantastic entry-level setup that anyone should consider.


You will get a pretty flexible setup in terms of sound design and general sonic possibilities. Sampling and FM synthesis is really a match made in heaven. However, the one con is that the keys on the Volca FM may be hard to play without an external MIDI controller (like the Arturia Keystep).

Just like with the Pocket Operator line of devices, there is a Korg Volca for just about anything you need. So expanding your setup with more Volcas will be a breeze.

Also, because Volca’s connect to other non-Volca gear a bit better than the Pocket Operators, it is easy for you to add a Volca to any setup you have or to expand your setup with non-Volca gear.

Why It’s A Great DAWless Setup


  • Flexible sampling features
  • Flexible sound design with FM synthesis
  • Lots of potential to expand upon this setup when you are ready


  • Volca FM may be hard to play if you are used to a traditional piano

Best All-In-One DAWless Setup

If you want everything you need to make music all inside of one box, then you will want to start looking into the wonderful world of groove boxes.

A groove box is a standalone piece of hardware that can handle sequencer, synthesizer, drum machine, and more duties all with one single box!

(Video) DAWless Mixers: How To Choose The Best DAWless Mixer For Your DAWless Setup

The best all-in-one groove box is definitely the Novation Circuit.

With this one device, you get 2-tracks of drums, 2-tracks of synths, a great sequencer, and built-in effects. On top of all that, it is battery powered and has a built-in speaker.

If you’re new to making music, you can actually set the key and scale of the song, and the pads will only play notes that are in key. Of course, you can simply play it in a standard chromatic mode like a traditional keyboard as well.

If you are looking to make music without a computer and without having to make multiple purchases and sync everything together, the Novation Circuit is a fantastic place to begin your journey into the world of DAWless music-making.

Novation CircuitSampler + Drums + SynthCheck on Amazon


You can grab yourself a Novation Circuit for between $250 and $350. These devices have been out for a few years now, so it is definitely quite easy to pick one up on the used market for under $200.


Because you get multiple tracks, the ability to import your own samples (I’d recommend checking out the best sample packs for deep house) and other people’s sound packs, the Novation Circuit is incredibly flexible in what it can output.

The community is quite large if you want don’t like the stock sounds, and you can actually access every little feature of the synth engine when you connect your Circuit to the computer.

The Circuit uses standard MIDI to connect and sync to other devices and is a fantastic “brain” for your setup. You can use the Circuit to sync up and control all the other devices in your DAWless setup by using the Circuit’s powerful sequencer and scale-mode feature.

Why It’s A Great DAWless Setup


  • Everything you need to make music in one box
  • Intuitive scale-mode
  • Portable and battery-powered
  • Built-in speaker


  • Synth engine can sound a bit cheesy

FAQ / Related Questions

What do I need to go DAWless?

The main 3 things you need to go DAWless is a synthesizer, sequencer/sampler, and drum machine. A DAWless setup can have more or fewer items depending on if you want your computer-free set up to be completely portable, more flexible, or have the ability to record.

Can you record music without a computer?

You can record music without a computer by sending synthesizers, drum machines and other instruments through a digital or tape sound recorder. A setup like this will allow you to record music without the help of a computer.

Good portable ways to make beats without a laptop?

The best portable way to make music without a laptop is to use battery-powered groove boxes. Some great examples include the Novation Circuit, Teenage Engineering OP-1, or MPC Live 2.

(Video) A Sampler, Synth, and Drum machine.. All you need! // A Compact Creation with this Dawless Setup

What does DAWless mean?

DAWless means to make music without a computer’s Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Essentially making DAWless music means to make music without a computer.

The Bottom Line

Although there are several reasons to go DAWless, it is important to remember that you should consider cost, flexibility, and ability to expand in the future when looking to create your very own DAWless setup.

There is nothing worse than having a closet filled without devices you aren’t actually ever going to use, so making sure that each device you pick up is flexible in what it can do and how it can play nicely with others in the future.

One great thing about making music without a computer like this is that you can always expand upon your setup over time to build your very own ultimate DAWless setup (at that point you will need to know how to find the best mixer for DAWless setups).

If you want to learn more about what to look for when creating your own setup, I’d recommend checking out my articles on How To Go DAWless (The 3 Things You Need) and How To Make Beats Without A Computer (Beginner’s Guide) to get started.

Hopefully, you found this article helpful, and good luck with ditching the computer and going DAWless, my friend! 🙂

What Next?

Once you’ve got some jams under your belt, you might want to look into recording them and getting them up on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.

Thankfully, it is actually 100000X times easier to do this than it was 10 years ago.

Sure, when you look at how much Spotify pays per stream, it is not too much but it can definitely add up. Plus, it’s pretty cool to have your music available where everyone can hear it and it takes your musical project to the next level.

After recording and polishing up your DAWless jams, you will need what is called a “music distributor” to get your music uploaded to all the popular streaming services and stores.

My top suggestion for a music distributor is definitely DistroKid because you get unlimited song uploads for a small annual fee (it’s also what I personally use).

With that said, I’ve compared DK to other popular services if you would like to search around first to find the right digital distributor:

  • DistroKid vs TuneCore
  • DistroKid vs CdBaby
  • DistroKid vs UnitedMasters
  • DistroKid vs Ditto
  • DistroKid vs Amuse
  • DistroKid vs SoundCloud

Or, if you would like a more detailed look into what DistroKid has to offer, you can check out my big fat DistroKid review. 🙂

P.S. If you also want to learn about music publishing and make sure that you are not leaving any money on the table with your music distribution setup, I’d recommend checking out these 2 articles:

  • Is DistroKid A Publisher?
  • Songtrust vs DistroKid


What do I need for a DAWless setup? ›

For a DAWless synth-pop setup, you'll need a polyphonic synth for your chords and pads, two monophonic synths to handle bass and leads respectively, and a drum machine — and you'll definitely want to choose analog devices!

What does DAWless mean? ›

Dawless is making music without a Digital Audio Workstation. In this case, we're talking about electronic music.

How do I make music without a computer? ›

By far the simplest way to make music without a computer would be to invest in a groove box. A groove box is simply an all-in-one hardware device that allows you to create electronic music right from the box.

How do I make music without a DAW? ›

Today we'll look into the various methods you could employ to make music without using a DAW, so let's dive right in! An all-in-one solution with a plethora of instruments, tools, effects, and options.
  1. Synthesizers. ...
  2. Sound Modules. ...
  3. Grooveboxes & Drum Machines.

What is a DAWless jam? ›

If you've been on the internet in the last 10 years, you've probably stumbled across the phrase 'DAWless jamming'. It's a mildly clumsy expression for making electronic music without a computer.

How can I get music without a laptop? ›

How To Make Music Without a Computer - YouTube

How can I create my own song? ›

How to Record Songs
  1. Create a home recording setup. Setting up your own home recording studio is super easy. ...
  2. Run a digital audio workstation. ...
  3. Organize what to record. ...
  4. Set Up Your Equipment. ...
  5. Create Your Base Track or Guide. ...
  6. Record the Rhythm Section. ...
  7. Record the Harmonies. ...
  8. Record the Melodies.
31 May 2022

How do you make music easy? ›


How can I make music at home without equipment? ›

Here are 7 steps on how you can record music at home without equipment:
  1. Gather the items you'll need.
  2. Set up a noise-free location for your recording.
  3. Install a DAW on your computer.
  4. Connect the audio interface.
  5. Connect the microphone.
  6. Check for levels.
  7. Start recording.

Do you need a DAW? ›

A DAW is simply essential if you want professional sounding music. Or if you want unprofessional sounding music. The ability to multitrack record, cut and paste audio with the simplicity offered by DAWs has revolutionized the way creators and engineers think about music.

How can I start making beats for free? ›

30 Websites to Make Beats Online For Free
  1. Splice Beatmaker.
  2. Sampulator.
  3. Sample Stitch.
  4. BandLab.
  5. Soundtrap.
  6. Genius Home Studio.
  7. Amped Studio 2.
  8. Soundation Studio.

How do I make music on my phone? ›

MAKE MUSIC on your PHONE! (BandLab app tutorial) - YouTube

What do you need for a beat machine? ›

  1. 5 Things You Need to Start Making Beats. Don't be discouraged by the fancy equipment you see celebrity beatmasters and producers to the stars like Calvin Harris and Dr. ...
  2. The Computer. ...
  3. The Beat Making Software: DAW (digital audio workstation) ...
  4. MIDI Keyboard (MIDI Controller) ...
  5. Audio Interface. ...
  6. Studio Headphones.

How do you write a hit song? ›

In my experience, here is what makes a song a hit:
  1. The songwriter writes a song that is catchy, compelling and commercial. ...
  2. The song gets into the right hands. ...
  3. The right artist is matched with the song. ...
  4. A great recording is made of the song. ...
  5. The record label promotion team gets behind the song.
24 Mar 2022

Where can I record my song? ›

Use Reverb Record as your free online song recorder and record a song now! There's no registration, sign up, or email required. All you do is click and start singing. Once you're done, you can give your song a title, or leave it blank, and then share your tune with a link.

How do I mix music? ›

The Basics of Mixing for Beginners: Start Here - YouTube

How do you make a beat? ›

How to make a beat
  1. Step 1: Define your vibe. ...
  2. Step 2: Create a bass line. ...
  3. Step 3: Add in the drums. ...
  4. Step 4: Add melodic elements. ...
  5. Step 5: Fill in the gaps. ...
  6. Step 6: Expand the beat. ...
  7. Step 7: Mix and master your beat.
12 Nov 2021

How do you record a song cover at home? ›

Here are some simple ways in which you can record clearer, more professional sounding covers at home, without spending too much money.
  1. Smartphones – perfect to record good cover song at home. ...
  2. Earphones/Headphones with Mic. ...
  3. Karaoke App. ...
  4. Location – Set up for good audio recording. ...
  5. Location – Set up for good video shoot.
25 Mar 2020

What DAW does Kanye use? ›

Today in the 21st Century it's just more convenient to also use digital tools and not only analog hardware to produce music. So after Kanye West creates his beats with his analog gear he is using the Digital Audio Workstation called Pro Tools for the processing.

What means DAW? ›

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic device or application software used for recording, editing and producing audio files.

How can I make music on my phone? ›

5 of the Best Mobile Apps for Making Music in the Moment
  1. Hip-Hop Drum Pads 24. Hip-Hop Drum Pads 24 is one of my favorite music-making apps. ...
  2. BandLab. BandLab is available for both iOS and Android (unlike GarageBand below). ...
  3. Soundtrap. ...
  4. Roland Zenbeats. ...
  5. GarageBand.
2 Nov 2020

How can I write a good song? ›

Find out how to write a song from the best in the biz
  1. Where to start writing your song. ...
  2. Lyrics matter. ...
  3. Record any spur of the moment inspiration. ...
  4. Write from experience. ...
  5. Collaborate with other musicians. ...
  6. Keep it simple and build on it. ...
  7. Make sure to take breaks. ...
  8. Don't overthink it.
25 May 2018

How do you make a beat? ›

How to make a beat
  1. Step 1: Define your vibe. ...
  2. Step 2: Create a bass line. ...
  3. Step 3: Add in the drums. ...
  4. Step 4: Add melodic elements. ...
  5. Step 5: Fill in the gaps. ...
  6. Step 6: Expand the beat. ...
  7. Step 7: Mix and master your beat.
12 Nov 2021

How can I make my own beats for free? ›

30 Websites to Make Beats Online For Free
  1. Splice Beatmaker.
  2. Sampulator.
  3. Sample Stitch.
  4. BandLab.
  5. Soundtrap.
  6. Genius Home Studio.
  7. Amped Studio 2.
  8. Soundation Studio.

Which app can I use to record my music? ›

Android has some fantastic apps for recording songs.
The 10 Best Music Recording Apps for Android
  • BandLab. 3 Images. ...
  • Dolby On. 2 Images. ...
  • FL Studio Mobile. ...
  • Voloco. ...
  • Smart Recorder. ...
  • RecForge II. ...
  • Voice Recorder. ...
  • ASR Voice Recorder.

Why is songwriting so hard? ›

Each song is unique, so there can never be a cast iron reliable method for writing one. This means every song involves an element of trial an error which is time comsuming. There are also several skills we need to learn because songs are a jumble of fast moving parts and it's easy to write one that doesn't work.

How do you write a pop melody? ›

Melody Writing Tips - Pop & EDM Music - YouTube

How do you make a melody in FL Studio? ›

FL STUDIO • How to Make A Melody in Under 10 Minutes - YouTube

How do you make catchy melodies on FL Studio? ›

How To Make Catchy Melodies THE RIGHT WAY | FL Studio Tutorial

How do you make a beat with a pencil? ›

How To Make Pen Beats (Tutorial) - YouTube

How do I become a beat maker? ›

How to Become a Beat Maker - YouTube

How do you rap on a beat? ›

How to Rap to a Beat | Rap Music - YouTube


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