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DAWs

A DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is a software program that allows users to record, edit, and produce audio files. It is used in many different settings, including music production, sound design, game audio, film and TV post-production, and podcasting.

Main Functions of a DAW

The main functions of modern-day Digital Audio Workstation software include:

Recording: DAWs allow users to record audio from a variety of sources, such as microphones, instruments, and MIDI controllers.

Editing: DAWs allow users to edit audio files by cutting, copying, pasting, and rearranging sections of audio. They also offer a variety of tools for cleaning up and enhancing audio, such as noise reduction, EQ, and compression.

Mixing: DAWs allow users to mix multiple audio tracks together, adjusting levels, panning, and applying effects to create a cohesive final product.

Mastering: DAWs offer tools and features for mastering audio, such as loudness normalization and EQ adjustments to ensure that the final audio product meets industry standards.

Main Benefits of using a DAW

Some of the main benefits of using a DAW include:

  • Efficiency: DAWs allow users to quickly and easily record, edit, and produce audio, saving time and effort compared to traditional analog methods.
  • Flexibility: DAWs offer a wide range of tools and features that allow users to customize their audio production process and achieve the desired results.
  • Collaboration: Many DAWs offer features that allow users to collaborate together and work on projects remotely, making it easier to work with others on audio projects like podcasts and song ideation.
  • Portability: DAWs can be used on a variety of devices, including computers, laptops, and tablets, making it easier to work on audio projects from anywhere.

There are many popular software DAWs, some of which come built into the Operating System of your favourite computer, such as Apple GarageBand on Macs. Sound On Sound regularly covers all the top brands in its monthly DAW Masterclasses. From Steinberg Cubase and Avid Pro Tools, PreSonus Studio One and Apple Logic Pro, MOTU Digital Performer to Ableton Live, Reason Studios Reason and Cockos Reaper, you'll find how-to techniques and tips for all of these and other DAWs collected under the sections shown above.

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    Easier Alternatives To Flagship Music Apps

    PC Musician

    Flagship sequencer apps are so packed with features that it could almost be a full-time job learning the package of your choice. If your needs are simpler, why not make it easy on yourself and investigate one of many options that are more entry-level or cut-down, yet still remarkably capable?

    Reviews Apr 2005
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    Sony Acid Pro 5

    Audio & MIDI Loop Sequencer [PC]

    Version 5 of Acid Pro is the first major upgrade under the Sony Media Software badge, and has taken two years to arrive. Does it keep pace with other manufacturers' loop-sequencing packages?

    Reviews Apr 2005
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    Image Line FL Studio 5

    PC Virtual Studio Software

    FL Studio has always been popular with those seeking a cost-effective, easy-to-use alternative to the 'big name' sequencers. The latest version adds a new drum sequencing tool, high-quality time-stretching and video support.

    Reviews Mar 2005
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    MOTU Digital Performer 4.5

    MIDI + Audio Sequencer [Mac OS X]

    The migration to OS X has caused major upheavals for both software manufacturers and musicians, but Mark Of The Unicorn's long-established Digital Performer sequencer is better than ever.

    Reviews Feb 2005
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    Cakewalk Sonar 4

    MIDI + Audio Sequencer [Windows]

    The latest version of Cakewalk's flagship sequencer brings it into the world of surround sound, makes it easy to work with folder tracks and multiple takes, and adds one of the most comprehensive Freeze functions available on any DAW.

    Reviews Jan 2005
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    Apple Logic Pro 7

    MIDI + Audio Sequencer [Mac OS X]

    The new version 7 of Logic is a huge upgrade which sees the program assimilated even further into Apple's product range, and adds some intriguing new instruments and networking features. Following last month's preview, here's the full lowdown...

    Reviews Dec 2004
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    Steinberg Cubase SX 3

    MIDI + Audio Sequencer [PC & Mac OS X]

    Cubase SX 3 is the latest incarnation of one of the best-known brands in sequencing software, offering many new features and tying up the loose ends from previous generations of Cubase. But with increased competition, most notably from Apple and Cakewalk, can Steinberg maintain their cross-platform advantage?

    Reviews Nov 2004
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    Apple Logic Pro 7 [Preview]

    MIDI + Audio Sequencer [Mac OS X]

    When Apple bought Emagic two years ago, the question on everyone's lips was 'What will they do with Logic?' Now they have unveiled perhaps the most radical overhaul the sequencer has ever seen, with improvements ranging from new instruments and effects to a networking system that could eliminate CPU restrictions completely. We explain what's changed in this preview (our full in-depth review will follow next month).

    Reviews Nov 2004
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    Ableton Live 4

    Loop-based Sequencer [Mac/PC]

    As a creative, stable and above all fun way of combining audio loops in real time, Ableton's Live has proved an ideal counterpart to Rewire-compatible applications such as Cubase. With version 4 offering a wealth of new features, including MIDI sequencing, could Live now replace traditional sequencers altogether?

    Reviews Sep 2004
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    Cakewalk Sonar 3

    MIDI + Audio Sequencer [Windows]

    The Sonar adventure continues with a new audio engine, a fresh look, new plug-ins and a surprising sampler.

    Reviews Feb 2004
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    Propellerhead Reason v2.5

    Virtual Studio [Mac & PC]

    The success story that is the Reason software studio continues to unfold with the release of v2.5, which adds a slew of sophisticated effects and processing devices — all free to registered users.

    Reviews Dec 2003
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    Steinberg Cubase SX 2

    MIDI + Audio Sequencer [PC & Mac OS X]

    This first major revision to Steinberg's Cubase SX incorporates the newly developed audio engine from Nuendo 2, new features for media composers, and classic features from Cubase VST. Does it all add up to a substantial improvement over version 1?

    Reviews Nov 2003
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    Image Line FL Studio

    Loop-based Sequencer For Windows

    Fruity Loops has built itself quite a cult following in dance music circles. The latest version comes with a new name, FL Studio, as well as some interesting new virtual instruments and proper audio recording features.

    Reviews Nov 2003
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    Steinberg Nuendo 2

    Digital Audio Workstation

    Since its first release three years ago, Nuendo has raised a great deal of interest among those who need a professional audio production tool, and with Nuendo 2, Steinberg have developed one of most ambitious native-based audio systems yet seen. But in an industry dominated by Digidesign, will it be enough to lure potential users away from their Pro Tools rigs?

    Reviews Sep 2003
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    Making Waves Studio

    Loop-based Music Production Software [Windows]

    Making Waves have been developing their eponymous looping software to include new features such as VST Instrument support and high sample-rate recording, while retaining its core virtues of simplicity and low hardware requirements.

    Reviews Jul 2003
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    Synapse Audio Orion Platinum

    Software Studio [Windows]

    Synapse Audio's Orion is now supplied platinum-coated and, with only a modest price rise over the Pro version, is also available in a cardboard box.

    Reviews Jul 2003
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    Magix Samplitude 7.1

    Digital Audio Workstation [Windows]

    The latest 7.1 version of Magix's popular recording software adds support for native audio standards including ASIO and VST, as well as some tasty new features such as full plug-in delay compensation.

    Reviews Jun 2003
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    Digidesign Pro Tools 6

    Audio + MIDI Recording Software

    The major audio and MIDI recording applications are slowly migrating to Mac OS X, and the latest to arrive is Digidesign's Pro Tools. The upgrade also introduces powerful new project management features, Groove Template functionality and a more powerful LE version.

    Reviews May 2003
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    Serato Scratch SE

    Turntable Controller For Pro Tools TDM, HD & LE

    We are used to the idea of using fader boxes and other MIDI controllers to manipulate our music software, but now Serato want to get us using our turntables to scratch digital audio. Can it possibly work?

    Reviews Mar 2003
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    Making Waves v3

    Loop Sequencing Software [PC]

    The straightforward but effective Windows-based sequencing package Making Waves has been upgraded to include multi-channel recording, DirectX and MIDI support.

    Reviews Aug 2002
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    Cool Edit Pro's multitrack editing window, with its virtual mixer open in front.

    Syntrillium Cool Edit Pro v2

    Audio Editing Software For PC

    From its beginnings as shareware, Syntrillium's cool Edit Pro has acquired an impressive professional user base. The new version offers more features, more power, and an updated user interface.

    Reviews Jul 2002

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