What Is the Best Software for Video Game Music

When you are passionate about video games and you’re talented at music, the only tools you need are the right software to record and mix (DAWs and VST plugins for effect and virtual instruments), a good midi controller, sound effects libraries, and the right sound engine to put it all together before it goes to the game development team.

Reaper is a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) to record audio and midi files, with a good number of VST instruments for many kinds of games. Add free and paid third-party instruments and effects (Native Instruments, iZotope) to get outstanding results for basic, AA, and AAA games. 

In this post I’ll present the advantages of the most popular free and paid DAW’s, my top recommended free and paid plugins for VST instruments, midi controllers, and sound libraries for sound effects so that you can get a better idea before making a decision.

Free DAWs Vs Paid DAWs

A Digital Audio Workstation is a software package that records audio and midi files from an audio interface, mixing desk, or a USB microphone connected to your computer. 

A paid DAW will offer a good number of great quality plugins for the recording, mixing, and mastering stages. In a free DAW, you may get good results with the basic included plugins, but you will definitely end up purchasing better-quality bundles to meet the needs of the game or any other audio product.

  • Any DAW will let you record audio and MIDI files at a professional quality standard. 
  • A free DAW includes some basic but good enough plugins. It can host paid premium VST plugins to apply all kinds of effects and every kind of virtual instrument you need for your projects. Get the best free VST plugins and you’ll be ready to work at a professional level.
  • A paid DAW will feature (depending on the price) advanced options with a bundle of included VST plugins to work on all the stages of any audio product, from music to surround sound mixes for movies. Take your time checking if the bundle plugins each version offers are worth the money.

In a few words, you can achieve great results with any of them. I insist: Do not rush and analyze if purchasing a paid DAW will include worthy plugins for what your game music needs.

What I would get, if I were to start my career from zero to making music for video games, and with a tiny budget but knowing everything I know now:

Get the best free-trial DAW in the market (REAPER, 60-days free trial), plus the best free VST plugins (Komplete Start, by Native Instruments). Then get Reaper’s paid version and keep adding advanced plugins step by step, until you know how to use them really well. This way you can get a superb DAW for a fair, affordable price.

Best DAWs for Video Game Music

This is my Top 5 Best Daw packages for video game music. I would have loved to include Pro Tools in this list, but currently, these other manufacturers and audio software developers have been doing an outstanding job. 

  • Pro Tools is great, but it’s the most expensive option. My recommended list of DAWs is also great at a much lower price, even with some paid plugins. 
  • Remember the key is to use the quality plugins that you need for your projects and how well you work with them.
Monthly SubscriptionMain FeaturesRecommended Free Plugins and Actions
ReaperFree Trial


License for Non-commercial or under $20K annual profit
N/AThe fastest to load

From basic to advanced results. Just perfect.
*Komplete Start
*Melda MUtility
*iZotope Ozone Imager v2
*iZotope Visual Mixer
*Waves StudioRack
*Waves Brauer Motion
*Waves IR Convolution Reverb
Reason 12
DAW plus Plugins 
75+ Instruments and effects

Emphasis on electronic music than other DAW’s with included plugins
You may feel satisfied with these plugins

AAA games do benefit from Native Instruments plugins, though
Cubase Pro 11€559N/ADrum production software, a great sample library, virtual instruments, sampler, effects, and synthsYou may feel satisfied with these plugins

AAA games do benefit from Native Instruments plugins, though
Cakewalk by BandlabFreeN/A29 plugins
A basic set of bass, drums, general midi, piano, strings
*Komplete Start
*Melda MUtility
*iZotope Ozone Imager v2
*iZotope Visual Mixer
*Waves StudioRack
*Waves Brauer Motion
*Waves IR Convolution Reverb
FL StudioFree Unlimited Trial 
$399 – 840
Depending on seasonal sales
N/AEmphasis on electronic music 

The free unlimited trial does not allow you to save your work
Play your track and record it on a handy digital recorder.

Then transfer it to your DAW

You make love it and decide to get the full version
Top 5 Best Daw packages for video game music – Audioproductcreators.com

  • I work with Reaper as my main DAW, from basic projects to cinematic sound, at all stages (recording, mixing, and mastering) using my favorite Native Instruments and iZotope plugins (see the table below).
  • I use Reason and FL Studio because they are the easiest to use to create music with an electronic sound, and have tons of drum presets, pads, and effects

Best Free and Paid VST Plugins

The best VST plugins can offer great results in editing, mixing, and mastering your music for basic, AA, and AAA games.

Many developers offer really good plugins for free, mainly for effects rather than for virtual instruments. 

Nevertheless, a top industry developer, Native Instruments offers a lot of free plugins for virtual instruments (See the table below) and you can achieve excellent results with them. You will be highly tempted to buy other bundles and believe me, they’re all worth it.

If you’re a beginner, try my recommended plugins in Reaper (See the table below). 

  • Sometimes we think that the more expensive the plugins, the better the results can be. And that is completely true; but in reality, your creativity and talent can produce awesome results with a good selection of free plugins, and only a few of the necessary paid ones.
  • High-price bundles in reality are a great option to get the very best tools at an unbeatable price. Using them saves tons of time when you’re committed to making music for medium and high-budget games. 

Get them when you feel that you have already mastered the free ones, and pick them according to the type of games that you work on the most.

Below you’ll see my top recommended free plugins, the best-paid plugins for all kinds of games, and the monthly subscription options some of them have:

Type of Game (Indie games, AA, AAA)Best Free PluginsBest Paid PluginsBest Monthly Subscription Plugins
Virtual Instruments, Effects, and Samples

Indie and AA
Komplete Start

9 sampled instruments, 2000 customizable sounds, 6 GB of instruments plus loops and sounds
Komplete 13 Select

Everything in Komplete Start plus: 16 sampled instruments and effects, expansions, 11,000 sounds, 50 GB library
Komplete Now

Drum sampler, synth, pads, pianos, mallets, effects, guitars, bass, keyboards, delay, and reverb
Epic Symphony Orchestra Instruments

Indie and AAA
Hollywood Orchestra Opus Edition

Indie and AAA
Visual Mixer
Mixing, masteringT-RackS 5
All types of games, at the mixing stage

(rack simulator)

Brauer Motion

IR Convolution Reverb Library
(4.8 GB of great reverb effects)
Create, mix, master, repair
Indie and AA
iZotope Music Production Suite Pro
RX Pro for Music, Ozone Pro,  Neutron Pro, Nectar Pro,  Neoverb Pro, VocalSynth Pro, Tonal Balance Control, Insight Pro,  Relay, Visual Mixer,  Melodyne 5 Essential
Indie and AA
Melda MUtility
Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain
$39 – 199
Indie and AA
iZotope Ozone Imager v2
Acon Digital Mastering Suite
Create, mix, master, repair, 3D surround

AAA games
iZotope Everything Bundle

Ozone 9 Advanced, Neutron 3 Advanced, RX 9 Advanced, Nectar 3 PlusNeoverb, Stutter Edit 2, Dialogue Match, Tonal Balance Control 2, VocalSynth 2, Trash 2Iris 2, BreakTweaker Expanded, Visual Mixer, Relay, RX Loudness Control, Symphony 3D by Exponential Audio, NIMBUS by Exponential Audio, R4 by Exponential Audio, Stratus 3D by Exponential Audio, Melodyne 5 Essential, Insight 2.

What Is a Midi Controller and How It Helps You Make Music

A MIDI controller is an external device you can attach to your audio interface or PC to create music. It looks like a music keyboard or a set of pads and includes a group of knobs, buttons, and pitch wheels that resemble the ones on the virtual plugins. It makes the creation process much faster than using the mouse on your PC.

  • Recommended for light work out of your studio: These are some midi controller apps for Android and IOS so that you can use a tablet or smartphone as a virtual keyboard. 

Top Midi Controller Apps for Android

Drum Pad MachineEasybrain
G-Stomper Rhythmplanet-h.com
  • Recommended for working in your studio: If you’re a beginner, Midi controllers of minimum two-octaves can grant you a good amount of options to start creating midi tracks with virtual instruments. 
Midi ControllerFeatures
Nektar Impact LX25+
Transport controls
8 knobs
8 drum pads
32 full-size keys (two-octaves)
2 pitch bend and modulation wheels
Launchkey Mini Mk3
Transport controls
8 knobs
16 drum pads
32 mini keys (two-octaves)
2 pitch and modulation touch strips
M-Audio Oxygen Pro Mini
Transport controls
4 knobs
4 faders
2 pitch bend and modulation wheels
32 keys mini (two and a half octaves)8 drum pads
*Available in full-size keys (M-Audio Oxygen Pro)
Arturia Minilab MKii
16 knobs
8 drum pads
24 mini keys
2 pitch and modulation touch strips
Nektar LX Mini
Transport controls
8 knobs
8 drum pads
32 mini keys (two-octaves)
2 pitch bend and modulation wheels
M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 49-key Keyboard Controller
Transport controls
8 knobs
16 drum pads
9 faders
2 pitch bend and modulation wheels

*6 great quality virtual instruments
*7 great quality expansion packs
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49 Smart Keyboard Controller
Transport controls
8 knobs
49 keys (4 octaves)
Drum pad through colored lights over the keys
2 pitch bend and modulation wheels

*Includes Komplete 13 Select ($199)
  • If you’re already an experienced composer, you already know that larger keyboards come with so many more knobs, wheels, pads and buttons to make your work even easier and smooth. 
  • Many of them also give you virtual instruments bundles or give a small price upgrade option to get the top best plugins.

Recommended Sound Libraries for Video Games

If you are the person in charge of creating the sound design or sound effects of a game, in addition to creating the music, sound libraries provide all sorts of categories and varieties of effects for games and cinematic productions. 

Give them a try and keep the ones that you find are the best quality. Keep in mind that many of them have already been used in popular games. You may look for something beyond that to make your game sound unique.

Also, explore all the sound effects from the expansion packs and virtual instruments from free and paid plugins installed in your DAW. On many occasions, you may find them more suitable than the one on sound libraries.

The following options are great sources for sound effects. Some of the paid ones do offer free effects you can get when you subscribe to their newsletter.

I’m not including their fees as each company’s prices change throughout the year for seasonal periods or special sales. The average price per sound effect is between $0.99 and $4.99.

Free Sound Libraries

  • Freesound 
  • Indie Game Music
  • Unity’s Asset Store 
  • Open Game Art 
  • Kenney’s Free Audio Resources 
  • BFXR (software)

Paid Sound Libraries

  • Soundmorph    
  • Audio Micro
  • Sound Ideas
  • Boomlibrary
  • Soundsnap
  • Prosoundeffects.com

Sound Engine Vs DAW

DAW’s allow you to record and mix music in audio and midi files. A sound engine software package facilitates working with sound effects libraries, imports the music tracks created in a DAW, organizes all the sound events into one single soundbank and makes it ready to be used in the game development software.

The following sound engines are the most robust and reliable. Working with them is easy, although at the beginning you may find their visual interface rather different, as some of them do not look like a DAW. 

You can see their pricing options below (2023). All of them offer a free unlimited version, so you can practice and be ready to compile all the sound events of the game (sound effects, music, soundtrack) in one single soundbank.

Sound EnginePrice
Wwise$0  Starter 
(For non-commercial or academic projects, small projects <$150K)

$750 Pro
(Up to $1.5 M budgets)

$1,500 Premium
(>$1.5M budgets)

$ Contact Wwise Enterprise
(Multiple projects) 
Fmod$2,000  Indie
(<$500K budgets)

$5,000 Basic
(From $500K to $1.5 budgets)

$15,000 Premium
(>$1.5M budgets)
Fabric$0  Small License (One game per year only)
($100K to $400K budgets)

$1,500 Medium License 
($400K to $1M budgets)

$5,000 Large License
(>$1M budgets)
Facebook 360
Spatial Workstation
Audio for video and cinematic VR
Best sound engines for video games. Audioproductcreators.com

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