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My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

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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Reaper: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:26 am

1. Freeze tracks
My PC is getting on a bit and on more complex tracks it starts to struggle a bit. Being able to freeze a track and free up extra processing power, knowing that it's trivial to unfreeze and make future edits, is a hugely useful feature. Way better than having to bounce a track.
2. Plug-ins and their configuration
The range of free-with-the-system options is huge and the quality is very high. It'll handle all manner of different formats (including old 32-bit versions). Virtually every plug-in parameter is automatable, and can be assigned to midi hardware controllers.
3. File / import handling
Video, audio, different sample rates… just lob them into the project and it translates everything to the project defaults and away you go. No fuss, no additional steps, no manual configuration required.
4. Small footprint and low CPU usage
Reaper has a very small download size and can run with a very low CPU overhead. It also can be made a 'portable install', all of which means I can put a copy onto my aging laptop and still comfortably record 16 tracks of audio without running into any issues.
5. Everything is configurable
Well, maybe not quite everything, but the depth of options under the hood is huge. Just a right-click away are a set of options that vary from the 'use every project' to 'Interesting, but I can't imagine why anyone would ever need to use that'. Configure your channels, your meters, your routing, your tracks, your automation lanes, your fader ranges, your colour schemes, your hardware, etc. etc. You can really set things up to your personal workflow.


P.S. a lot of this mirrors some of the stuff James said upthread, but I suspect that will happen a lot as this develops. :)

P.P.S. In response to CC's question above, yep, Reaper allows you to create project templates but also instrument templates as well. So if I'm recording electric bass (for example), I have a template that loads a blank instrument channel, a distorted channel to blend in some harmonics, a parallel compression channel, and a pre-reverb feed. All routings, plugins, formats etc set up and ready to go. Arguably this could replace number 5 above, but they could be seen as facets of the same thing...
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Forum Admin » Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:47 am

Thanks CC. I edited your post to include Logic in the title.

If someone is not primarily a DAW user, then I'm not hoping for a contribution from that person. ;-)

Templates?

Yes, pretty standard feature nowadays on most DAWs, though what isn't necessarily standard is the ability to save, import and exchange mix/console channel 'strips' -- a fab new feature in Studio One that I've wanted for a while, but have been using workarounds, like saving sessions (S1 calls these 'songs') after deleting unwanted tracks/channels and retaining only the plug-in configs I wanted to build a library of.
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Cakewalk by Bandlab/Sonar: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby CS70 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:04 pm

Giving it a go. DAW is Cakewalk Bandlab/Sonar

1. the prochannel EQ. Instant high pass on every track that needs it, and when used for musical reasons the EQ is really good.

2, The support for comping. It makes getting thru takes and pick the best bits... well, not a breeze (it's still boring) but not too much painful.

3. Nice sequencer and midi editor. I use midi and virtual instruments very little but when I do, I want to get result quickly without having to read a manual. Mouse in hand, even I move stuff around and set velocities quickly and efficiently.

4. Flawless support for 32 bit plugins. There's some I like and am very familiar with and there's zero technical reasons for having to move to 64 bit at plugin level. Cakewalk's implementation of bitbridge is rock solid.

5. Keyboard shortcuts for absolutely everything. There's gazillions and I definitely don't know even 1 per cent, but if I find myself doing something many times ("select -> none", for example) you can be certain there's a shortcut for it (Ctrl+Shift+A)
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Reaper & Cubase: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Matt Houghton » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:15 pm

I use Cubase and Reaper. There are too many features to list, and we can take the basics for granted. So instead of my 'top' five, here are 'five of the best' features of each...

Reaper
1. Parameter modulation. Wow. Every DAW should have this.
2. Mouse modifiers — way more powerful than keystrokes alone. Every DAW should have this.
3. Scripting support — there's a whole community of people who will adapt this DAW to meet your needs! Every DAW... ah, you get the picture.
4. The routing flexibility. Drag and drop sends. Sends and receives on every track. Folder-busses. Up to 64 channels inside every stereo track. Routing matrix for each and every plug-in.
5. Prolific updates, with new features and bug fixes pretty much every month or two.

I've not even talked about the tiny download size, the stability, the CPU efficiency, the various grouping/linking options, the ability to run it off a pen drive... etc etc.

Cubase
1. The Chord Track, and its integration with both Variaudio and MIDI. Elegant and helpful.
2. Quadrafuzz V2. Utterly brilliant plug-in (even if the default presets aren't!)
3. Groove Agent's Acoustic Agent, the drum editor and drum maps.
4. The Control Room.
5. Automatic vocal alignment (even if Revoice Pro is better, it's good, and this is bloody brilliant to have inside your DAW).
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Logic: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby kinglouis » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:58 pm

I use 2% of Logic's capabilities and features, I'd be very glad to hear about other user's favourite bits, best tips and tricks. Great post.

1. Cycle record and subsequent re-stitching of takes.
2. One click to turn a recording into an Apple loop.
3. Loving the eq range - channel eq low shelves on every track and the others are great for tone shaping.

Can't think of anything jumping out that other daws don't have but like I say I'm aware I only use a fraction of what it can do. Looking forward to learning some more, hopefully from this thread.
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Reason: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby John Egan » Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:54 pm

I use Reason and three features stand out for me :

1. The mixer, the layout of which, I believe, is modelled on an SSL desk. For an old school git like me having the Mixer View instantly accessible and in such a straightforward way makes life a lot easier. New tracks are added automatically and everything is clearly labelled, every channel has EQ and compressors just where you would expect them, with decent default effects automatically "wired" to the FX sends and returns, with the ability to accept additional supplementary FX.

2. The comping facilities are comprehensive, intuitive and effective.

3. The third feature I would highlight is one which I have found useful when trying to show youngsters looking to learn how to create recordings for themselves. It is the Reason "gimmick" whereby shift and tab used in Rack View reverses the rack units and shows the (virtual) cabling between units and mixer channels, enbling the connections to be modified or supplemented. This invariably provokes the reaction "cool, just like a proper studio" and helps create enthusiasm to learn to use the tools available.

Hope this helps.
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Forum Admin » Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:05 pm

Thanks for the tips - great stuff.

In truth, I think we're all in the same boat when it comes to only using a fraction of our DAW ( except desmond ;-) maybe).

I'm sure if I didn't say "thank you PreSonus" under my breath so much already when using Studio One, I'd be a massive convert to Reaper. I've always liked flexibility in software programs, and S1 Pro lets me achieve the same goal in multiple ways (as does Reaper from what I hear, and other DAWs).

And those Macros... being able to automate tasks and map anything to a custom keystroke is bliss. Again, Cubase is powerful here too, but I've watched plenty of YT videos and it never seems as simple and quick to set up as Studio One's implementation.

Macros can help with many tasks if you plan ahead, and this short tutorial video from Marcus Huyskens demonstrates how to use them to gain stage Virtual Instruments.

https://marcus-huyskens-music.com/mh-music-blog/quick-tip-gain-staging-virtual-instruments-in-studio-one-4-using-macros
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ADD YOUR DAW NAME HERE: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Forum Admin » Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:09 pm

Just a quick reminder to add your DAW name(s) as a Prefix to the Reply subject title, so skim-readers can find the DAW they use and read your tips/features.

I've edited them thus far. ;-)
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Cubase: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby Kwackman » Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:29 pm

1. Drum Edit Page.
I've used this since it was in Pro-24. The diamond icon for the hit makes it easy to see if a note is lagging or before the beat, better (IMHO) than a line or box. Maybe it's because I started with a TR707? Once a drum map is set up, creating patterns is easy.

2. Cycle Record with the corresponding comp tools.

3. User defined keyboard short cuts.
Everyone uses Cubase differently, so being able to change the keyboard short cuts to what makes my workflow easier is very useful.

4. Reliablilty.
Like all DAW's, reliability is almost the norm now. I did have my first huff with Cubase recently, it took a re-install to sort it. Other than that, it's been rock solid for me for many years on Atari and various Macs. YMMV

5. VST plug ins.
I know all DAW's have them (or their own versions), but Steinberg invented the VST ( I think) and there are now more EQs, Compressors etc. than we can cope with along with new stuff that isn't possible on hardware.
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Cubase: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Postby C.LYDE » Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:56 pm

I use more than 1 DAW... for exactly the reason that each DAW has unique strengths. :ugeek:

1. Chord Tools (Pads)
- be it the chord assistant, track, pads - everything related to working with chords - I love being able to keep track of musical ideas without having to write stuff down outside of the DAW. Coupled with the ability to jam within different scales makes this my goto feature for writing.

2. Arranger Track
Other DAWs have something similar but the flexibility to create different versions of my rough work is tops. I tend to work in parts and assembling the ideas in itself can be a creative journey which quickly can become confusing unless one has a map - visual aid - which the AT is...

3.MIDI Device Manager
I still use a few hardware synths - so this is a no brainer - other DAWS don't care about patch names for hardware synths

4. VariAudio
The quickest way to fix and to modify a recorded melody line - which before the latest update, was also the least messy way since Melodyne required more file management .

5. Expression Maps
I cannot imagine a realistic sampled instrument without a bunch of articulations, and keeping track of which is triggered where in the song quickly became irksome ... along came EM - changed my life.
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