LMMS: A 2024 Review On The (Best?) Free DAW

LMMS (formerly known as Linux MultiMedia Studio) is one of the most popular free and open-source cross-platform DAWs. It is convenient and an excellent option for potential music producers who want to test their skills for free. In this article, we will analyze what it is, what it isn’t, and what you should expect. Long story short, it is a solid option if you need a free DAW to start your music journey.

About me and the DAWs

Back then, I was involved in various music projects and groups regarding the rap genre and culture. As PCs were taking over, DAWs were a solid and trouble-free solution to (re)produce music on your own. Rap was always about convenience by design, especially in its early and golden age. So, all the ambitious rappers of my generation were trying to do it all on their own: rapping, lyrics, and music production. In my early music days, the Internet wasn’t as popular as it is now. Because of the lack of money and ignorance, we used pirated versions (sorry, but I was young) of well-regarded Digital Audio Workstations such as Cubase and FruityLoops.

I preferred the FruityLoops and GoldWave combo and had been using them for years. However, as I became aware of cybersecurity basics, I tried to find free alternative options. That’s how I came across Linux MultiMedia Studio (and Audacity). The transition to LMMS was easy for me as an FL Studio user. Having decent experience with DAWs, I decided to dedicate an article to the most convenient free DAW I know. This is what this article is all about.

LMMS basic menu

About LMMS

LMMS was initially known as Linux MultiMedia Studio, and in its early days, as its name suggests, it was available only on Linux distros. Paul Giblock and Tobias Junghans originally authored it; its first version came out in 2004. Fortunately, it became a cross-platform DAW available for all major OSes (Windows, Mac, and Linux). Its latest stable version is 1.2.2, and it was released back in 2020. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been updated for almost four years (stable version). As a free project, it “suffers” from its own “curse”—the lack of frequent updates because of the limited resources. It was never frequently updated, though.

This is its main caveat, but its latest stable version has resolved many bugs from which the previous versions suffered. And as an old proverb says, “If it works, it works.” LMMS is a DAW similar to FL Studio’s design and philosophy. It is based on the same WYSIWYG notes in piano form on a pattern-based music sequencer as FL Studio. So, it is a decent alternative to the popular premium DAW. But, as expected, it might not be able to compete with FL Studio. Or maybe it can? Let’s find out.

How To and Usage Experience

Tested on the same low-spec notebook running Linux Mint and Windows 10 (I use it in my main Windows 11 PC and as a portable app on my other devices. But I prefer to be fair performance-wise. There wasn’t any notable performance difference on both OSes that was tested).

LMMS DAW is available through its official page for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. You should choose the file that complies with your OS. On various popular Linux distros, LMMS is available through their official “stores,” and on Windows, portableapps offer a portable version of it. So it is convenient, easy, and simple to install. After installing it, you will be greeted with the main settings menu, where you should choose the directories, etc. Choose the Buffer Size depending on your device’s capabilities. The less powerful it is, the more buffering you should choose to avoid crashes, etc. Exit the app and rerun it for the settings to take effect. Once set, it won’t need to be set again. If you need to change anything, you can do it through the Settings Menu (always restart the app).

Once you enter the app, you will be greeted by the Song Editor, who will provide the basics, the FX Mixer, and the libraries on the left. On the upper menu are the Main Menu, Tempo, Time Sig (4/4 by default), a CPU indicator, some essential tools, and the Master Volume indicator. All in a convenient way and structure. You can start a project by selecting the Beat/Bassline and filling in the “boxes.” You can add or remove steps. By double-clicking an instrument from the Instrument Menu, the selected one will auto-open in the editor. You can add or delete editors according to your needs.

Sampling, cutting, and recording are not possible with LMMS. You will need an editor like Audacity for these. But you can load them on LMMS as Wav, OGG, etc. (tempo is essential). You can use plugins, VST, etc., but things are not so smooth. Many are not fully or partially supported and depend on the OS. If you want MIDI SoundFont support, you should download one and select it in the MIDI section of LMMS (exporting is challenging, and MIDI files might not play at all or be partially loaded). You can set FX, Echo, limiters, faders, etc. on any channel or editor. But keep in mind that performance depends on your device’s capabilities.

Once you are over with the main editors, you can add notes by right-clicking on the instrument editor you wish to use and selecting “Open in piano roll.”. After that, you can add how many times you want the loop to repeat in the Song Editor. For certain areas looping and relooping, you should limit the area you wish to. You can Save, Open, Import, and Export your projects. These DAW fundamentals require some “digging” and a learning curve. But soon enough, you will master it, especially if you are an FL Studio user.

That said, the LMMS is not perfect. Some crashes, bugs, and instabilities remain, especially on bloated and demanding projects. Be prepared. LMMS has a forum with an active community to help you with any questions or issues. But some problems might never be resolved, unfortunately. LMMS is a great free option, but it is not trouble-free. So, don’t expect things to run smoothly like a breeze. It is a highly capable DAW, but some skills and a learning curve are required. It is excellent for amateur and non-demanding stuff, but you need some talent to run it for more demanding projects. Nothing is perfect, though.

An LMMS project


LMMS is a great free option; if you are familiar with FL Studio, you will feel right at home. It is a capable DAW, but it doesn’t come trouble-free. It is a convenient tool for amateurs and beginners, but it can’t compete eye-to-eye with the paid alternatives. As a DAW, it might not be ideal for professional use, but a knowledgeable, talented person can advance it to the next level. It is best for digital music projects such as TRAP, electronic music, etc., but when it comes to demanding projects that need natural instruments, etc., things are challenging. If you want a free tool to start your music journey, you can’t go wrong with LMMS if you know its limits. Nothing is perfect, but you have nothing to lose by adding it to your toolbox.


( 0 is the minimum, 5 is the maximum )

  • Overall Performance: 3.5 / 5
  • Plugins, VST Support: 3 / 5
  • Usability: 4 / 5
  • Features: 3 / 5
  • Audio Quality: 3 / 5
  • Projects: 4 / 5
  • It is ideal for: amateurs and beginners, mainly for rap, trap, and electronic music. Many factors should be considered for demanding projects.
  • Low on resources
  • Cross-Platform
  • Easy to use
  • Free
  • A DAW with great potential
  • Requires a learning curve for some projects, etc.
  • Not ideal for music other than electronic-based
  • Not Updated for a long time
  • Occasional crashes and time-outs, depending on the projects
  • Plugins-ins and VST compatibility
  • Importing or Exporting crashes
  • Compatibility with external devices
  • Requires to add your own MIDI Sound-Font

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