Behringer is building a free digital audio workstation

Reaper and Audacity might have some competition brewing.

When it comes to producing music, a digital audio workstation (DAW) is one of the most important tools of the trade. This software is where musicians record and edit tracks, add effects, and play virtual instruments. Behringer -- which is well-known for its hardware-based synthesizers -- confirmed on Facebook that it will create its own DAW, which will hopefully be out sometime next year. But the company won't be going head-to-head with the likes of Apple's Logic Pro or Avid's Pro Tools: Behringer's DAW will be free.

There's no shortage of options for DAWs, but most of them cost at least a few hundred dollars. Logic Pro is $200 and Pro Tools is $600, for example. There are a few options for hobbyists on a tight budget, such as Reaper, which costs $60. Behringer's DAW may be most attractive to those who have tried to use Audacity for music production. The freeware is great for recording simple audio tracks or creating low-budget podcasts, but it simply isn't conducive to producing music. If Behringer can offer non-destructive editing, wide plugin compatibility and some useful features like quantizing and time-stretching, it could have a hit on its hands. Granted, there are plenty of free "lite" versions of popular DAWs, but these are often limited by how many tracks they can hold, which plugins they can run and which features are included. Behringer will have to offer a fully featured product to compete with Pro Tools First and Ableton Live Lite.

Behringer has faced some backlash from synth fans. The company's current strategy is to create nearly one-to-one reproductions of vintage synthesizers from other companies. Putting legality of such copies aside, some see the practice of using another manufacturer's schematics as shady. Others, however, point to the fact that these manufacturers don't seem interested in re-releasing analog synths -- Roland, for example, has been creating digital "boutique" versions of its classic instruments. Behringer may be able to recuperate some of the community's good will with free -- yet high quality -- software.