What is a Digital Audio Workstation?
The digital audio workstation, also known as DAW, is used by recording artist and producer to record, edit and play back digital audio. The DAW consists of four basic components. The first item in the system is a computer. This can be MAC or PC depending on the user’s preference. The second piece of the system is the sound converter/audio interface. This converts the analog sound to digital. The third component is the software. The software provides a GUI that allows the user to work with the digital audio sounds. Finally, there is a requirement for some sort of input device. This can range from a mouse, to MIDI keyboard, microphone or musical instrument. For the best quality sound the computer needs a good sound card; along with a program that allow for editing and processing the audio. The range of software programs vary depending on the features available. The program could be a simple sound editor all the way up to a complete software suite.
At the heart of the DAW is the software. The software is the user interface that allows the recording artist or producer to capture, edit and process the sound signal. As you continue to read, you will learn about the various software packages that are on the market.
Which DAW is better than all the others?
The market has several brands of digital audio workstation software packages available. There are advantages to each one as well as disadvantages. What you eventually end up getting will be ultimately a result of a budget to features ratio.
Ableton Live is available to both PC and MAC users. This software is primarily a music sequencer that loops sound samples. This software can be used in several ways. It can be used as an instrument when performing live. It can also be used a composing tool. In addition you can record, arrange, mix and master music with it. It features beat matching, cross fading useful to DJ’s. Ableton was one of the pioneers in beat matching songs. There are several other special effects available.
Mixcraft is available to PC users. It is a multitrack recording program. This software package provides the user with MIDI sequencer, virtual instrument host, and the ability to remix loops. It is very similar to GarageBand but for the PC.
Logic Pro is a hybrid DAW with 32 or 64 bit digital processing. It is only available to MAC OS X computers. It features MIDI sequencing. Apple purchased this technology from the German company Emagic in 2002. Logic Pro is part of Apple’s Studio portfolio of music software packages. Think of Logic pro as a professional grade of Garageband on steroids.
Pro Tools is one of the premier DAW software package on the market. It runs on both MAC and PC computers. Avid Technology is who manufactures and develops this product. Many in the music industry consider Pro Tools to the industry standard. Therefore is widely used by professional for music production, film scoring as well as TV and film audio. The software features the ability to record, edit, music notation and MIDI sequencing. In addition to the software AVID also offers a portfolio of hardware for the computer. Instead the track was created in an entirely computerized environment using the Pro Tools software package. With the growth of DAW most of what you hear today has been created using this software.
Cakewalk SONAR offers users with these features: recording, editing, mixing, mastering and audio play back.
FL Studio is DAW software developed by Image-Line a Belgian company. It was previous called FruityLoops. This software provides a GUI based on a pattern based music sequencer. There are several versions of this software for the PC. Each version is designed for different proposes and uses. Each package has features to fit individual budgets. One nice thing about this software is the lifetime free updates. They also offer apps for several Apple mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad.
This software package is more than a simple digital audio workstation. It is really quite powerful. PreSonus also manufactures audio hardware and this software is designed to operate seamlessly with all of the PreSonus interfaces and controllers. There is not limit to the number of track you can have. Move things around the screen with drag and drop ease. There is only one screen to work with making a very clean work space. On top of the other fine features the software provides mastering tools and a variety of plug-ins. You get a ready to go beginning to end recording solution.
Reason is a software program designed for creating and editing music. The software emulates many processes. This includes processes of hardware synths, samplers, signal processing. Each of these individual components can be connected in an infinite number of ways. There are different ways to use Reason. It can be used as Virtual music studio. It can also be used as a sequences used in live performances.
ACID Pro 7 features functions that allow the user to record, mix, sequence MIDI and use ACID looping. This is a great program for a PC-based studio. The package comes with 3000 loops and 1000 MIDI files. This is a great way to begin the creative process. Add to this, it also comes with realistic sounding virtual instruments. Users have control over the MIDI information. Users get real time MIDI automation, quantization, and deep editing functionality. Also, there is the ability to do time stretching.
Cubase is used for music recording, arranging and editing. It is one to the first Digital Audio Workstation software that is widely used today. The software features comprise of MixConsole, an improved workflow including full-screen capability, and redesigned channel strips and channel centrals. It also includes a new Chord Track and a Chord Assistant.