Digital audio workstation - Intro
Digital audio workstation OR DAW is a term used to identify the software that are capable to record, edit, create and manage audio files.
Basic Componants of a DAW
The most basic and essential componants of a DAW are :
- A playlist (also known as sequencer/ sound list / song editor/ or arrangement window) Is a place which lists all the track/ sounds/instruments of the song.
You can create different number of tracks and place sounds on the tracks. It is also called a timeline as you can preview and arrange
- 1 < this is the transport bar - it is used to play all the tracks in the playlist
- 2 < Is the list of instruments. You can set recording parameters (in some daws) mute the track or solo listen here.
- 3 These are the waveforms of the audio track.
- 4 time line > shows the time in minutes and seconds
- 5 is a midi track - a midi track contains note data of the vsti
Playlist of > LMMS < a midi centric DAW
On the top it has play, stop buttons
On the bottom you can see the tracks with volume and pan controls.
Pattern sequencer (Beat baseline editor)
This is small brother of playlist. It is a tool using which we can create small loops and patterns. These patterns are then put on the main playlist where we want them in the song.
helps us in managing sound effects on the song as well as individual sounds that weare using in the playlist.
MIDI Piano roll editor
The DAW that support midi function can help us in editing the musical notes to play the synthesizer or the virtual instrument.
Adding new features in your DAW:
you can extend your DAW's features and sound capabilities by installing third party plugins and instruments:
There are many types of DAW available in the market. There are some DAW on the linux platform that are even available for free, some of these software also work under windows.
When it comes to choosing a platform and DAW for music production is one of the most confusing and intimidating task for new recording engineers.
There are comparisons all over the internet on which DAW is better than the other. There are always people supporting one DAW and there is a word fight going on in the forum on which DAW is better.
The best way to choose a DAW is try it first. It will be a time consuming process but it is the best way if you have limited budget and want the best out of your efforts.
A brief history on how the DAW's evolved in the market
In older days, DAWs were use to be small programs focusing on one aspect of music production. For example, FL studio when just started out focused to be a MIDI drum machine. Cool edit pro (now Adobe audition) could only edit audio in earlier days.
But every year new versions of these software came out with new features and DAWs which only have MIDI capability started offering audio editing features and vice versa.
Today, most DAWs are capable of doing most of the stuff right from recording to working with Virtual instruments and MIDI. But still, they do best what they originally started out as.
Even today, people use Pro tools for audio editing and Fruity Loops to create drum beats and bass lines and cubase to mix the final song.
MIDI centric DAWs - These DAWs are
Audio Centric DAWs
DAWs that can do both audio and midi well
Unique propositions of each DAW
Positioning is the marketing term which describes how a DAW marketed and what's its unique proposition over others.
Reason - if you don't have lot of musical instruments and you only want to make music from virtual instruments. Has good collection of samples and sounds with it.
Fl studio - started out as a simple drum machine and evolved into a complete monstrous for music production. Can do everything right from MIDI to Audio. But it is mainly geared towards MIDI so if you do a lot of audio recording then look elsewhere.
Logic pro - one stop solution, very expensive does everything related to music production under the sun.
Adobe audition - one of the lesser used DAWs out there, MIDI support is minimal. Good for creating loops and podcasting type of stuff. Not so great for other things.
Reaper a small and robust DAW that can do everything but does not comes with lots of samples or presets. Is comparatively cheaper and bang for the buck.
Ardour is developed by School of Audio Engineering as an open source DAW to rival pro-tools. It is still in developmental stages and has to go a long way.
Energy XT - is one of the best cheap MIDI capable DAW.
The VSTi technology - plug ins
Plug-in technology like VSTi etc help to add bells and whistles in your DAW.
You can add lot of instruments and sounds using sample, soundfonts. This topic will be covered in detailed in LMMS tutorial.
Patches and Banks
Patches and banks are preset files that can be saved in a virtual instrument. Most of these come with VSTi and other music programs. These help in saving your time for
Best DAWs to start your learning with.. (if you are new!)
- Wavepad is most easy and probably the easiest one to start with. It is goodfor simple linear audio editing and recording audio tasks.
- Audacity for multi track audio recording and editing.
- LMMS FREE to understand workflow of MIDI centric DAWs (Highly recommended for learners)
- FL studio a good example of a DAW that can do both MIDI and Audio
- Reaper (a good all round software that beats the giants)
- Reason (another good DAW, but not capable of doing audio. Good for every MIDI need)