What is a DAW
A digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic device or application software used for recording, editing and producing audio files. DAWs come in a wide variety of configurations from a single software program on a laptop, to an integrated stand-alone unit, all the way to a highly complex configuration of numerous components controlled by a central computer. Regardless of configuration, modern DAWs have a central interface that allows the user to alter and mix multiple recordings and tracks into a final produced piece.
DAWs are used for the production and recording of music, songs, speech, radio, television, soundtracks, podcasts, sound effects and nearly any other situation where complex recorded audio is needed.
An integrated DAW consists of a mixing console, control surface, audio converter, and data storage in one device. Integrated DAWs were more popular before commonly available personal computers became powerful enough to run DAW software. As computer power and speed increased and price decreased, the popularity of costly integrated systems with console automation dropped. Systems such as the Orban Audicy became standard production equipment at radio and television stations.
DAW can simply refer to the software itself, but traditionally, a computer-based DAW has four basic components: a computer, either a sound card or audio interface, digital audio editor software, and at least one input device for adding or modifying data. This could be as simple as a mouse (if no external instruments are used) or as sophisticated as a piano-style MIDI controller keyboard or automated fader board for mixing track volumes.
There are countless software plugins for DAW software, each one coming with its own unique functionality, thus expanding the overall variety of sounds and manipulations that are possible. Some of the functions of these plugins include digital effects units which can modify a signal with distortion, resonators, equalizers, synthesizers, compressors, chorus, virtual amp, limiter, phaser, and flangers. Each have their own form of manipulating the soundwaves, tone, pitch, and speed of a simple sound and transform it into something different. To achieve an even more distinctive sound, multiple plugins can be used in layers, and further automated to manipulate the original sounds and mold it into a completely new sample.
List of notable commercial DAWs
- Ableton Live
- ACID Pro
- Adobe Audition
- Bitwig Studio
- Digital Performer
- FL Studio
- Logic Pro
- Pro Tools
- Sound Forge
- Studio One