The engine of a digital recording studio is the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). It is the software that allows you to record, edit and mix on your computer.
DAWs are very complete programs and provide the necessary tools to make music productions (or audio post-production for video). They are available for Mac and PC, and work in conjunction with the Interface and the computer.
To make a musical production, different types of tools are needed for each creative stage. A DAW has what it takes to record, edit, mix and even master a song.
- Audio recording in digital format
- Graphic editing of audio regions
- MIDI sequencing
- Digital Signal Processing (Plug-ins)
- Virtual Instruments
- Mixing and automation tools
These features allow you to do anything you can imagine – in a matter of moments you can start producing your own music! The most important thing is to choose the right program and learn how to use it well.
Which DAW to choose
There are different brands of DAWs such as Avid Pro Tools or Ableton Live and depending on the manufacturer the features may vary. Competition for products is fierce and new updates are constantly available, new versions are released and new features are added to their products.
It is important to choose the program that helps us the most in our recording studio and that fits our way of working, and not the one that has more tools.
These are the most popular programs:
Pro Tools: They call it “the industry standard” and that’s right: most professional studios are equipped with Pro Tools.
Although it may seem complicated, it is actually a very easy program to use. It has fantastic editing tools and a very powerful mixing window. It allows you to do any signal routing you can imagine in a few seconds, thanks to its internal routing buses. It includes interesting virtual instruments and the ability to manipulate sounds as if they were MIDI events with Elastic Time.
I think the downside of Pro Tools is that it is quite heavy software and consumes too many system resources. It is common to receive occasional error messages (I am not sure if all this has been fixed in version 9), even on computers with better features.
Reason Studios: Propellerhead Reason is a powerful music production software.
It focuses on being simple to use and not complicate the creation with technical details. It is equipped with a large collection of plug-ins, amp emulators and legendary guitar pedals. It also has great mixing capabilities and has a very nice graphic interface.
Ableton Live: This is the program I use to make electronic music in my studio. Live is totally different from traditional DAWs. It is designed to produce music but also to play live. I have always found it to be very fascinating and modern software
It has the traditional track window (like Pro Tools ) but has another window, which sets it apart from other DAWs, made to launch live audio clips. Live synchronizes clips in real time, making it ideal for live performances.