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My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

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My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Forum Admin » Sun Jun 30, 2019 6:37 pm

Thought I'd start a new topic to let everyone who uses a DAW to post their Top 5 Functions/Features of their own fave DAW software, be it Cubase, Studio One, Pro Tools, Samplitude, Logic Pro, Digital Performer, Live, Reason, FL Studio or whatever you prefer to use.

I know it's asking a lot, but I'm hoping between us we can highlight the coolest practical functions you simply would not wish to be without.

Please try to number them 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 so we have some consistency. As much detail as you like...

Oh yeah: edit the Topic Reply title please and put your DAW name at the front, eg. Studio One: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:13 pm

I'll have to be honest and say I'm having trouble with this one. To me it's a bit like asking me to name my top feature for a hammer from B&Q. Answer, I can hit things with it. Likewise with a DAW; I can record things with it, I can do non-destructive editing, I can pan tracks, I can vary volumes, I can tweak the EQ on a track and so on. But all DAWs do this, don't they?

I must be missing something :(

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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Eddy Deegan » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:28 pm

I am going to throw my oar in here soon. Truth is, I'm more of a performer than an engineer and as such I use the DAW as a glorified tape recorder with the ability to mess around with things after the fact.

There are definitely things I really like about DAWs in general and which I'll reference in Reaper-specific terms but at present I'm enough of a noob to Reaper that I didn't even realise that you could filter the mixer view so as not to show the FX inserts, which confused me when someone kindly sent me some chord sequences in response to my request for experimental input in the lounge and I ended up copy-pasting the MIDI to a new project as a result as the project they sent me had that option enabled.

I know exactly 3 keyboard shortcuts in Reaper! I'd really like to respond on a considered manner coming from my perspective but it's not a 10 minute job to do so as I can't reel things off the top of my head, so I'll feed back more in a day or two :)
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby desmond » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:30 pm

ConcertinaChap wrote:I'll have to be honest and say I'm having trouble with this one.

Me too, but not in the way you describe - I'll have to put some thought into it to provide some meaningful answers, I think...

Eddy Deegan wrote:I'd really like to respond on a considered manner coming from my perspective but it's not a 10 minute job to do so as I can't reel things off the top of my head, so more in a day or two :)

Exactly the same for me...
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:44 pm

Maybe I can draw another comparison, but this time with a word processor. Like a DAW a WP has a complex but pretty well understood set of tasks to fulfil but it can perform those tasks in a number of ways, like, say the differences between Wordstar and Word Perfect (for people with long memories). Is the question, then, the top five implementations of the basic task set? Or is it your five favourite features that other DAWs don't do? Or something else.

I remain Confused of Bradford on Avon, but I'm beginning to get used to that. I'll wait and see what you two say and find out what I'm missing :)

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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Eddy Deegan » Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:01 pm

ConcertinaChap wrote:Wordstar and Word Perfect (for people with long memories).

I was a Write On! man myself :)

ConcertinaChap wrote: Is the question, then, the top five implementations of the basic task set? Or is it your five favourite features that other DAWs don't do? Or something else.

Absolutely this. The top 5 features of Reaper for me would by default contain the ability to drag in audio files, slice them, move them around in the timeline etc. which seems all rather generic.

Maybe you could elaborate on the objective of the article (if indeed that's the goal) such that we can tailor the responses accordingly? Perhaps a short list of things not to include as they are taken as read.

I doubt there's much shortage of willingness here to provide input :)
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Reaper: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:27 am

I've been having a think about this and so far only come up with 4. These may not be the sort of thing you are thinking of but they are the things that matter to me.

1. Reliability. It is no good having a flashy fancy DAW if you don't know whether that performance of a lifetime is going to be captured or not - especially when the performer is paying you to record them. The first software we had at the studio was Voyetra's Sequencer Plus which never crashed in something like 5 years of almost daily use. Since then I've expected that level of reliability from any software that I use but have often been disappointed. I started evaluating Reaper over 10 years ago when Adobe decided to completely rewrite Audition and then rushed out a very unreliable version. Reaper turned out to be far more reliable than anything I'd used in the years since Sequencer Plus. Last weekend I took a bit of a risk by hooking Reaper up to an X32 for the first time on a computer that I had never used for anything more than stereo before. It worked all afternoon and evening with no problems.

2. Performance. Gone are the days when a DAW programmer had to hand code everything in assembler to achieve native multitrack recording on a PC. But that shouldn't mean that we should ignore performance - especially now that some plug-ins require astonishing amounts of processing power to accurately emulate hardware. The DAW is a platform that should stay out of the way as much as possible and should allow you to run hundreds of tracks if that's what the production needs. The Reaper download has only recently reached 10MB in size and it runs well on ancient systems as well as modern ones.

3. Accommodating. Nowadays I really appreciate being able to drag almost any media file into Reaper's timeline and have it handled sensibly. It will handle audio or video with almost any bit depth, sample rate and data rate with decent conversion quality if needed. The same goes for plug-ins as I can use my old Direct X plug-ins just as easily as I can use VST's (not to mention the great range of JS effects that you can modify yourself or even create new ones from scratch).

4. Updates (or not). As the business changes our software needs to move on. I'm fairly late to the delights of stretching audio and shifting pitch but when something needed it I was pleased to see that the algorithms included with Reaper were very good. I found the addition of DDP export to be extremely useful and it is now one of my main output formats. It is rare that a month goes by without and update. However, there is no compulsion to upgrade and old versions are still available from the Reaper website.


Edited to add:

5. Approachability - the Reaper developers encourage participation in their forums and in the development process through the Pre-release section of the forum. They seem far more approachable than many other audio software companies that I've had dealings with.
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Re: Reaper: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Eddy Deegan » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:39 am

James Perrett wrote:3. Accommodating. Nowadays I really appreciate being able to drag almost any media file into Reaper's timeline and have it handled sensibly.

I alluded to it, you confirmed it in detail, I'll be re-enforcing it :)
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:42 am

I'm with CC and Eddie on this.........

If I had to respond it would be so generic as to be meaningless (but seeing as I specialise in meaninglessness here goes):

1/ It records multitrack audio.

2/ I don't have to have a doctorate in writing code to operate the thing.

3/ Absolute reliability.

4/ Painless updates

5/ Must be Mac based.

I happen to use Logic, but I'm sure the above would apply to almost all DAWs......

Point of the thread being?

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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby desmond » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:11 am

I don't think the post is "name 5 things that make a DAW a DAW". I think we can all take features such as importing audio, playing back multiple tracks, handling plugins and virtual instruments, editing audio etc as given for pretty much all DAWs.

From what I can see it's about posting five features that are something that's important to you and your workflow in your DAW of choice.

So for example, you might be a ProTools guy, and one of the features you use all the time and couldn't do without might be Beat Detective. Or maybe there's some small key command function that you love, such as "Set rounded locations by selection, cycle and Play". Or may you love Logic's automatic Drummer feature for writing, to get you realistic sounding drums, with some control and development over time, without having to program them yourself, or be stuck to prefabbed loops. Or maybe you do something slick in Reaper with the scripting ability that's impossible to do anywhere else.

I think the idea is to give some inspiration and suggestions to people using these DAWs to find and explore new cool things that others are using that they might have missed. For sure, very few people have actively explored Logic's key commands, for example - there's a lot of stuff in there that aren't available from menus or any other way.

I'm sure that 90% of people are using basic, front interface facing features only, using the mouse to open menus, and generally using these tools in a fairly simplistic way. (The amount of people who start every project from a stock, blank Logic template still astounds me.) There is something to be said from watching other (skilled) people working, when you get that "wait... *what* did you just do there?!" and have a "that's *awesome*, I didn't know you could do that" moment, as you add a new trick to your vocabulary...

Just my thoughts, anyway... (it will take me some time to boil down five of my most significant things... it's kind of as hard as listing what are your five all-time favourite songs/pieces of music...)
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Forum Admin » Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:03 am

desmond wrote:From what I can see it's about posting five features that are something that's important to you and your workflow in your DAW of choice.

So for example, you might be a ProTools guy, and one of the features you use all the time and couldn't do without might be Beat Detective. Or maybe there's some small key command function that you love, such as "Set rounded locations by selection, cycle and Play". Or may you love Logic's automatic Drummer feature for writing, to get you realistic sounding drums, with some control and development over time, without having to program them yourself, or be stuck to prefabbed loops. Or maybe you do something slick in Reaper with the scripting ability that's impossible to do anywhere else.

I think the idea is to give some inspiration and suggestions to people using these DAWs to find and explore new cool things that others are using that they might have missed. )

You struck the nail on the proverbial head there, desmond. Thanks for clarifying my intentions.

I'm looking for members to highlight functions they couldn't live without and, I guess, reveal why they stick with their DAW(s) of choice.

I'm a PreSonus Studio One Professional user (not implying I am 'professional' just happens to be the name of their flagship DAW). I'll post my Top 5 soon... haven't upgraded to v4.5 yet (still on 4.1) and I just know that some of the new features and improvements will make it into my Top 5 ! eg. pre-fade metering, improved Grouping, retaining side chain routing when plug-ins are copied...
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Jul 01, 2019 6:12 am

I think we probably got that - but what you appear to be wanting to find out is what particular, new, or unique features are deemed essential relative to other DAWs and that can only be answered if you have knowledge of what is, or isn't on offer in other DAWs.

As a Logic user, I'm probably only using 10% of its usability - which is exactly all I need!

Is it plugged in? Is it switched on? :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:

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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Forum Admin » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:08 am

Bob Bickerton wrote:...what you appear to be wanting to find out is what particular, new, or unique features are deemed essential relative to other DAWs...

Bob, not really thinking of new features, more like essential features/functions that you as a user find useful, inspiring, time-saving beyond belief, etc... it can be anything. It can be as simple as the price/updates policy of the DAW company...

For example, I know that v4.5 of S1 Pro has much-improved waveform drawing resolution when zoomed in to sample-level (no more staircases - yippee!) and I've been wanting this for donkeys years, so it'll probably make my own Top 5.

Another for me would be the flexibility of S1 Pro's Macro editor and toolbars. I'm a huge keyboard shortcuts fan, for every application I use on my Mac. And I hear v4.5 has added 'steroids' mode to Macros. :)
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Folderol » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:01 am

Not wishing to be anti-DAWish, but this reminds me of the 1970s Music Centres V Audio Separates.

I've had little exposure to mainstream DAWs, but for what I most often do I find them over complicated. If I have one of my 2AM inspirations I want to just switch on and play - immediately! I'll worry about instrument/effect/routing concerns once I have the ideas clearly fixed in my head.

The thing that really pushes my buttons is UI changes :protest: although, to be fair, quite a lot of that is down to the underlying OS.

As a matter of interest, I find many of the modern hardware synths give me similar issues these days :(

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Can't give you 5, but my priorities are simplicity and consistency.
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby John Egan » Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:07 am

ConcertinaChap wrote:I'll have to be honest and say I'm having trouble with this one. To me it's a bit like asking me to name my top feature for a hammer from B&Q. Answer, I can hit things with it. Likewise with a DAW; I can record things with it, I can do non-destructive editing, I can pan tracks, I can vary volumes, I can tweak the EQ on a track and so on. But all DAWs do this, don't they?

I must be missing something :(

CC

Me too! I appreciate what DAWs do, but they all do the basics which form the major features.
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Forum Admin » Mon Jul 01, 2019 10:01 am

It's taken for granted that they all do the basic functions.I'm looking to find out what makes your fave DAW special for you.

eg. do you make world music and find DAW X really helps to create polyrhythms using a certain workflow?

I'm just trying to learn more about how our readers use their gear, whilst hoping to learn more about some features I might have missed in Logic Pro X or Studio One Pro (the 2 DAWs I keep updated) and how I might go about applying other DAW favourite functions in my software.

Maybe this Topic was a bad idea and I should delete it?
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Logic Pro X : My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Dave B » Mon Jul 01, 2019 10:30 am

I'm sure other DAWs do these as well. I'm struggling a bit, but things that I find ultra useful are :

1. The take management for overdubs. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

2. Drum replacer. Basically, it's a 'spike to midi' translator and it's very useful to me for a variety of jobs. The obvious one is beefing up recorded drums, but there are other uses I can think of (and sometimes try). It's not particularly clever, but it's a very handy thing to have

3. Tempo detection. Again, not world changing or the one killer feature, but it's a useful tool for me when importing recorded audio.

4. The sheer volume of content. Bit of a double edged sword here - on the one hand, it's all great content but it does take ages to download and a shedload of hard drive space

5. The environment. I've only scratched the surface of this, but already found interesting ways of doing things and solved one issue I have
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Reaper: My Top 5 Reaper Features & Functions

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Jul 01, 2019 10:36 am

I mostly use Reaper as a "Digital Multitrack Tape Recorder" with my X32 as the front end so my top 5 essential features all relate to editing (often a single stereo track for the purposes of making a piece for a competition or exam dance with a stipulated length).

1, The very quick and simple way Reaper allows editing/cutting/pasting/moving etc of tracks/clips.

2, Dragging the start and end points of a clip/track (even when it's been previously split)

3, Applying fade/cross fade to the end of a clip just by pointing the mouse and I can adjust the length of the fade by dragging (or by dragging the two clips start and end points in the case of a cross-fade).

4, 'Gluing' a number of clips back into a single track.

5, Normalising and time or pitch shifting a track.

5a ;) , Rendering a track/mix into a single stereo track in the format of my choice.

That is basically my process for taking a piece of music, cutting (usually) it to a length that is acceptable for the purpose, changing (sometimes) the verse/chorus/middle 8 format or WHY to generate rhythmic and emotional interest/variety to give the choreographer something to work with and adjusting any cuts/edits so the timing remains consistent (remember this is for a dance piece so missed beats or skips are a no-no).

I could do this (and used to) using a stereo editor like Wavelab but Reaper's stereo editing facilities are far superior to the Wavelab versions I was using years ago.
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Forum Admin » Mon Jul 01, 2019 10:55 am

Thanks! Now we're getting some insightful posts. All good stuff.
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Logic: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:20 am

Forum Admin wrote:It's taken for granted that they all do the basic functions.I'm looking to find out what makes your fave DAW special for you.

That's where I'm probably not your best bet, then. My DAW of choice came about rather by accident. My wife was doing a music degree course and they included a couple of modules involving recording. The uni's chosen DAWs were Pro Tools 7 and Logic 8 so we bought a copy of each at academic prices. I played about with PT for a couple of hours and didn't like it that much but liked Logic a bit more and so stuck with it since. So I don't have any breadth of experience to say why I like Logic against anything else but I'm not going to change because I can't face the learning curve. Not a very good reason, maybe, but it works for me.

Now, having said all that I will contribute one item suggested to me by what Will said about "If I have one of my 2AM inspirations I want to just switch on and play - immediately!" with the suggestion that DAWs are over complicated for this. I love templates, in fact I adore them. I even have templates for basing new templates on. I have templates for most situations I encounter day-to-day with plug-ins already in place and reasonable starting values applied and if I happen on something new then it starts from one of my base templates and ends up as another template. It may take time physically to set up the studio with mics and whatnot but just seconds to set up the DAW. I really couldn't do without templates.

Do other DAWs apart from Logic have templates? I assume they do, it's too good an idea not to implement.

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