lunes, 29 de agosto de 2011


Here, some options to choose the audio interface. These are the simplest, yet not so bad, the difference with more expensive is the number of inputs and outputs and a few additional features. I personally use an M-Audio FastTrackPro. The recording quality depends on a good choice for this device.

Behringer UCA202

This audio interface allows you to connect your instruments, mixer and other audio equipment to your computer for simple recording and playback. High-resolution 48kHz converters ensure quality sound. Behringer U-CONTROL Ultralow-Latency 2-In/2-Out USB/Audio Interface
From our expanded online assortment; not available in all Best Buy stores
Allows you to connect most instruments, mixers and other audio equipment
To your computer for easy recording and playback. PC and Mac compatible for wide-ranging use.
High-resolution 48kHz converters
Ensure high-end sound quality.
Stereo headphone output
With dedicated level control lets you easily monitor the input and the output.
S/PDIF optical output
Allows direct analog-to-digital conversion.
Powered via USB
For use without an additional external power supply.

Cakewalk UA-25EX

This audio interface is designed to give you low-noise and high-sensitivity recording and features USB connectivity for compatibility with most major DAWs and portable use. Direct-box functionality allows noise-free live stage use.
Compatible with most major DAWs
For wide-ranging use with both PC and Mac systems.
Analog compressor
Features variable attack time and threshold control for smooth vocal and instrumental recording. Analog limiter prevents input clipping for clear, crisp audio.
Direct-box functionality
Allows noise-free live stage use.
USB interface
For simple connectivity.
Aluminum chassis
Provides durability and shields against high-frequency interference.
Compact size
For easy portability.
96kHz/24-bit audio capture
For rich sound.
Production Plus Pack software
Includes SONAR LE, Project 5 LE and Dimension LE for PC-based recording. ASIO, WDM and MME drivers included for Windows XP and Vista (32-bit). Also includes CoreAudio for Mac OS X recording.
2 premium XLR/TRS jacks
With professional-grade microphone amps and 48V phantom power for clear audio recordings.
MIDI in/out ports
For MIDI recording, sequencing, control and playback.

M-Audio MobilePre

Turn your PC or Mac into a recording studio with this USB audio interface that includes ProTools SE software with more than 100 virtual instruments for creative sounds. Four top-panel knobs let you adjust input and output levels and headphone volume.
Compatible with PC and Mac
Also compatible with select drivers, including ASIO 2, WDM and Mac OS X Core Audio for wide-ranging use.
ProTools SE software
Features more than 100 virtual instruments for creative sounds.
Built-in composing features
Including MIDI sequencing and score editing. Integrated learning tools make it easy to create music.
Powerful effects
Include reverb, EQ and guitar amplifier/distortion. Features 3GB of built-in audio loops to quickly construct songs.
48V phantom power switch
To power studio-quality condenser microphones (not included).
4 top-panel knobs
Let you adjust input and output levels and headphone volume. The direct monitor button lets you monitor your recording without distracting latency.
USB port
For smooth connection.
Include 2 rear-panel line for recording line-level sources, such as keyboards, drum machines and synthesizers.
Include rear-panel line for connecting studio monitors and 2 front-panel XLR/TS combination jacks for recording microphones and instruments simultaneously.

M-Audio FastTrackPro

Now you can be the band all by yourself. This instrument hub lets you connect your instruments and MIDI devices to your computer to work with audio creation applications.
24-bit/96kHz audio interface
2 front-panel microphone/instrument preamp inputs with gain controls and signal/peak lights
2 balanced 1/4" TRS outputs and 4 unbalanced outputs
Input/playback mix control for near zero-latency hardware direct monitoring
USB connectivity for plug-and-play operation
MIDI input/output with activity LEDs
Powered by USB
System requirements: PC: Intel® Pentium® 3 800MHz processor, Windows XP SP1 or SP2, 256MB RAM, DirectX 9.0c
System requirements: Mac: Macintosh G3 800/G4 733MHz (G3/G4 accelerator cards not supported), OS X 10.3.9 or higher, native FireWire ports, 256MB RAM

Focusrite - Saffire Pro 24

This FireWire interface features a VST/AU plug-in suite that includes reverb, gating and EQ plug-ins for easy connectivity. The Xcite+ software bundle features loops and samples, soft synth and Abelton Live Lite 8 software to customize your sound.
Compatible with PC and Mac
For use with your existing computer.
Metal case
Provides durability.
24-bit/96kHz FireWire interface
Features enhanced A-D/D-A conversion and JetPLL jitter elimination technology for clear audio and reliable synchronization.
MixControl ultralow-latency DSP mixer/router
For routing flexibility and one-touch mixing configurations.
Dedicated front-panel headphone bus
Provides a customizable monitor mix with tactile level control for simple operation.
5-LED metering
Located on the front panel for monitoring the level of each analog input.
Xcite+ software bundle
Features loops and samples, soft synth and Abelton Live Lite 8 software to customize your sound.
2 Focusrite preamps
For a high-quality sounding interface.
VST/AU plug-in suite
Includes compression, reverb, gating and EQ VST/AU plug-ins.
16 inputs and 8 outputs
Allow easy connectivity. Loopback facility allows for routing audio from the software to the interface.

viernes, 26 de agosto de 2011


FL Studio

FL Studio (formerly known as FruityLoops) is a digital audio workstation developed by the Belgian company Image-Line Software. FL Studio features a graphical user interface based on a pattern-based music sequencer. The program is available in four different editions for Microsoft Windows, including FL Studio Express, Fruity Edition, Producer Edition, and the Signature Bundle. Image-Line differentiates FL Studio from competing software by offering lifetime free updates to the program, meaning customers receive all future updates of the version they purchase for free. Image-Line released FL Studio Mobile on June 21, 2011 so the program can be used on iPods, iPhones, and iPads.

FL Studio can be used as an instrument in other audio workstation programs such as Cubase, Sonic Solutions, and Sonar, and is also compatible with dozens of Image-Line and third-party plugins such as the DJ mixing program Deckadance and the synthesizer Sytrus. FL Studio is used by electronic musicians and DJs such as Afrojack, deadmau5, Lex Luger, 9th Wonder, and Basshunter.

Cakewalk SONAR

Cakewalk SONAR is a digital audio workstation made by Cakewalk for recording, editing, mixing, mastering and outputting audio. The latest versions of the software are SONAR Home Studio 7, SONAR Home Studio 7 XL, SONAR X1 Producer Edition, SONAR X1 Studio Edition, SONAR X1 Essential Edition, and SONAR LE. SONAR LE is an OEM version bundled with hardware; all the other versions can be purchased separately.

SONAR's features include:

Record and manipulate an unlimited amount of multitrack digital audio (only limited by hardware) Comprehensively record and manipulate MIDI data Apply any DirectX special effects, such as reverb and delay, many versions bundled with included effects
 Automate the process of mixing audio
Utilize virtual instruments, such as software synthesizers, software samplers, software drum machines Connect to other multimedia applications with sample accuracy via Rewire
SONAR Producer Edition includes a complete industry-standard 64-bit MASTERING suite
Video and Audio Formats

Sonar provides limited facilities for video, and more complete surround sound capability (5.1 and 7.1), and supports .avi, .mpeg, .wmv and .mov files. SONAR has the ability to show video as thumbnails contained within a separate track. With appropriate hardware, it is also possible to output the video to an external monitor screen via Firewire. All the common SMPTE formats, frame sizes and frame rates are supported. It is possible to transfer audio loop files from other compatible software into sonar and complete a final mixdown.

Various audio export options (including 64-bit MASTERS) are AIFF, AU, CAF, FLAC, RAW, SD2, W64 (Sony Wave-64), WAV (Microsoft)

Active Controller Technology

Also called ACT, this is a feature that assists in the process of remapping parameters of MIDI controllers or surfaces. Having the ability to control effects and virtual instruments (See Software synthesizer), the controller/surface mappings for a particular plug-in work the same on each instance of that plug-in, whenever that instance has focus. SONAR now fully supports the integrated SONAR V-Studio 700 automation suite, which is a complete SONAR-dedicated automation console built by Cakewalk/Roland. (ref. Cakewalk (company))

SONAR also supports other dedicated special-purpose controllers/surfaces such as the CM Labs MotorMix, Sonar includes a general purpose plug-in, called ACT MIDI Controller, that can be configured to support any generic MIDI controller (controllers/surface), such as the JL Cooper FaderMaster, Peavey PC-1600, and Kenton Control Freak. Generic controllers/surfaces typically have 8–16 strips of faders/knobs/buttons, are non-motorized, and can often be configured to transmit MIDI messages (continuous controllers, NRPNs, Sysx, etc.).


AudioSnap is a tool that makes it possible to fix audio timing without slicing up or destructively editing audio tracks. It is possible to quantize one part at a time or an entire project. Instead of quantizing a whole clip, it is possible to split the clip into smaller pieces, or into beat-length pieces by using the Split Beats Into Clips command. If the succeeding beats in a clip do not line up with the grid, the clip can be quantized by using the AudioSnap Beats command, which will line up the beats in the clip with the grid.

Computer Configurations

Beginning with version 6, SONAR is able to fully take advantage of full beginning to end 64-bit internal processing, a 64-bit audio engine, and a 64-bit mixer on 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7.


Cubase is a music software product developed by Steinberg for music recording, arranging and editing as part of a Digital Audio Workstation. Its first version, which ran on the Atari ST computer and recorded via MIDI only, was released in 1989.

On January 17, 2011, Steinberg announced that the new version, Cubase 6, was ready and officially shipping. The many new features include: multitrack drum editing and quantizing, multitake comping, advanced tempo detection, drum replacement and VST instruments such as Halion Sonic SE and LoopMash 2. This version also supports 64-bit technology under Mac OS X and Windows 7.

Cubase creates projects which allow the operator to edit MIDI files, raw audio tracks, and other associated information like lyrics, and to present them in a range of formats including musical scores, editing console, event lists, etc. The operator can also mix the various tracks down into a stereo .wav file ready to be burned onto a CD in Red Book format or .mp3 burnt to CD or DVD as files or to be published on the Web.

While MIDI is a fairly ubiquitous standard for representation of digital music, there is no broadly accepted standard for the interchange of complete projects containing both MIDI and audio between Cubase and other competing recording/editing software (e.g. Logic Pro, Pro Tools, Digital Performer, or Cakewalk), so while actual pure recorded audio information can be exchanged, it is hard to import a whole project (with specific edits, instrument information and automation) in its native format from Cubase to another application and vice versa. The cross-platform OMFI format (which is supported by Cubase SX and newer version) resolves this issue to some extent.

Cubase has existed in three main incarnations - initially Cubase, which featured only MIDI, and which was available on the Atari ST, Macintosh and Windows.

After a brief period with audio integration, the next version, Cubase VST, featured fully-integrated audio recording and mixing along with effects, added VST support, a standard for audio plug-ins which has led to a plethora of third-party effects, both freeware and commercial. Cubase VST was only for Macintosh and Windows - Atari support had been effectively dropped by this time, despite such hardware still being a mainstay in many studios. Cubase VST was offering a tremendous amount of power to the home user, but computer hardware took some time to catch up. By the time it did, VST's audio editing capability was found to be lacking when compared with competitors such as Pro Tools DAE and Digital Performer MAS.

To address this, a totally new version of the program, Cubase SX (based on Steinberg's flagship post-production software Nuendo) was introduced, which dramatically altered the way the program ran. This version required a steep learning curve for users of older Cubase versions. However, once the new methods of working were learned, the improvements in handling of audio and automation made for a more professional sequencer and audio editor.

A notable improvement with the introduction of Cubase SX was the advanced audio editing, especially the ability to 'undo' audio edits. Early versions of Cubase VST did not have this capability. Cubase SX also featured real-time time-stretching and adjustment of audio tempo, much like Sonic Foundry's ground-breaking ACID.

In September 2006 Steinberg announced Cubase 4 - the successor to Cubase SX3. Notable new features include 'control room', a feature designed to ease the creation of monitor mixes, and a new set of VST3 plug-ins and instruments.

There are also lighter economic alternatives by Steinberg, originally named Cubasis, later becoming Cubase SE and then Cubase Essential at version 4.

Logic Pro

Logic Pro is a hybrid 32 / 64 bit digital audio workstation and MIDI sequencer software application for the Mac OS X platform. Originally created by German software developer Emagic, Logic Pro became an Apple product when Apple bought Emagic in 2002. Logic Pro is part of Apple's Logic Studio bundle of professional music applications.

A consumer-level version based on the same interface and audio engine but with reduced features, called Logic Express, is also available at a reduced cost. Apple's GarageBand, another application using Logic’s audio engine, is bundled in iLife, a suite of software which comes included on any new Macintosh computer.

In the mid-to-late 1980s, Gerhard Lengeling and Chris Adam developed a MIDI sequencer program for the Atari ST platform called Creator. When musical notation capabilities were added, this became Notator, and later Notator SL. For simplicity these three are collectively referred to as Notator.

Its main rivals at the time included Performer, Vision & Steinberg 16. Most MIDI sequencers presented a song as a linear set of tracks; however, Notator and Vision were pattern-based sequencers: songs were built by recording patterns (which might represent for example Intro, Verse, Chorus, Middle-8, Outro) with up to 16 tracks each, and then assembling an Arrangement of these patterns, with up to 4 patterns playing simultaneously at any one point in the song. This more closely resembled the way that hardware sequencers of the 1970s and 1980s worked.

In its time, Notator was widely regarded (by musicians and the musical press of the time e.g. International Musician) as one of the most powerful and intuitive sequencing and notation programs available on any platform, but subsequently the popularity of Steinberg's Cubase increased and track-based sequencing prevailed over pattern-based, resulting in the eventual greater integration and hybridization of the two methods in later versions of both Cubase and Logic.

The C-Lab programmers left that company to form Emagic, and in 1993 released a brand new program, Notator Logic, which attempted to fuse both track- and pattern-based operation (but looked much more similar to track-based sequencers than to Notator). While rich in features, early versions of Logic on the Atari lacked the intuitiveness and immediacy of either Cubase or Notator, and never achieved the same degree of success. However, by this time the Atari was becoming obsolete, and part of the reason why it had been written from scratch with an object oriented GUI (though it shared the same nomenclature as its predecessor) was to make it easier to port to other platforms. The Notator preface was dropped from the product name and the software became known as simply Logic.

As subsequent versions of the software became available for Mac OS and Windows platforms, and acquired ever more sophisticated functionality (especially in audio processing) to take advantage of increased computing power, Logic, in conjunction with the rise of the PC, gained popularity again.

Pro Tools

Pro Tools is a digital audio workstation platform for Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows operating systems, developed and manufactured by Avid Technology. It is widely used by professionals throughout the audio industries for recording and editing in music production, film scoring, film, and television post production. Pro Tools can run as standalone software, or operate using a range of external A/D converters and internal PCI or PCIe audio cards with onboard DSP.

Fundamentally, Pro Tools, like all Digital Audio Workstation software, is similar to a multi-track tape recorder and mixer, with additional features that can only be performed in the digital domain. It supports 24-bit audio at sample rates of up to 192 kHz, and can handle WAV, AIFF, mp3, SDII audio files and QuickTime video files. It features time code, tempo maps, automation and surround sound capabilities.

The Pro Tools mix engine has traditionally employed 48-bit fixed point arithmetic, but floating point is also used in some cases, such as with Pro Tools HD Native.

One of the first albums to be recorded, edited and mixed entirely on Pro Tools was Summer in Paradise by The Beach Boys.

Ricky Martin’s "Livin La Vida Loca" was the first No. 1 single to be recorded, edited, and mixed completely within the Pro Tools environment by Charles Dye and Desmond Child. Garbage's Version 2.0 was the first album to be nominated with Grammy for Album of the Year that had been entirely recorded and edited through Pro Tools.

Miami is widely believed to be the first city to broadly adopt Pro Tools in professional recording studios, and is often referred to as the 'Ground Zero' for Pro Tools.

Bob Clearmountain once expressed concern that people would acquire Pro Tools system with little understanding of the editing process.

Some artists are now making a point of recording without Pro Tools. Jack White of The White Stripes argues that "I think Pro Tools is highly inappropriate to record music... It's too easy to correct mistakes, it's too easy to fix things. We hear this sort of clean, plastic perfection that's been applied to all the tracks. That is not the kind of music we grew up loving and listening to and wanting to be a part of.

Rapper GZA named his 2008 album after the program.[citation needed]

Pro Tools was used for creating the audio for the games DJ Hero and Guitar Hero, using the modeling plug-in Eleven for the guitar sounds.

Imogen Heap is also known to use Pro Tools; Heap created her entire Ellipse Album with Pro Tools.

Most of Pro Tools' basic functions can be controlled within Edit or Mix windows. The Edit window displays audio and MIDI tracks, and provides graphical representation of the information recorded or imported. Here, audio can be edited in a non-linear, non-destructive fashion. MIDI information can also be manipulated. The Mix window displays each track's fader channel and allows for the adjustment of a channel's volume and pan, as well as being the usual place to insert plug-in effects and route audio to and from different outputs and inputs.

The creation of Pro Tools 8 added a MIDI edit window which enables the user to manipulate MIDI data in either piano-roll or score windows. It also includes MIDI edit lanes so that the user can see note, velocity and other CC data in the same window. These additions took Pro Tools from the long standard 2 edit window approach to having 3 edit windows.

Real-time effects processing and virtual instruments in Pro Tools are achieved through the use of plug-ins, which are either processed by the DSP chips as TDM plug-ins, or the host computer as RTAS (Real Time AudioSuite) plug-ins. Additionally, out-of-time processing is available in the form of AudioSuite plug-ins, which also enables time-domain processing.

Ableton Live

Ableton Live is a loop-based software music sequencer and DAW for Mac OS and Windows by Ableton. The latest major release of Live, Version 8, was released in April 2009. In contrast to many other software sequencers, Live is designed to be an instrument for live performances as well as a tool for composing and arranging. It is also used for mixing of tracks by DJs, as it offers a suite of controls for beatmatching, crossfading, and other effects used by turntablists, and was one of the first music applications to automatically beat match songs. It does not support traditional musical notation.Much of Live's interface comes from being designed for use in live performance as well as for production. As such the interface is more compact than most sequencers and clearly designed for use on a single screen. There are few pop up messages or dialogs. Portions of the interface are hidden and shown based on arrows which may be clicked to show or hide a certain segment (e.g. to hide the instrument/effect list or to show or hide the help box)


Nuendo is a music software product developed by Steinberg for music recording, arranging, editing and post-production as part of a Digital Audio Workstation. The package is aimed at audio and video post-production market segments, but it also contains optional modules that can be used for multimedia creation and audio sequencing.


Sony ACID Pro is a professional digital audio workstation (DAW) software program. It was originally called "ACID pH1" and published by Sonic Foundry, but is now developed and sold by Sony Creative Software.

ACID Pro uses Acid Loops (meaning they contain tempo and key information for proper pitch transposition) painted out across the screen to create music tracks. Acidized loop sample CDs are available from Sony, as well as third party companies.

As with most sophisticated software packages, ACID is not a single software product but defines a family of products spanning a significant range of features.In a related-marketing effort, Sony has continued to support ACIDplanet, a content web site originally launched by Sonic Foundry which is aimed at current ACID users, prospective ACID users and the general public. It describes itself as "the Internet's premier site for music, video and unique artists".


Multi-platform, fully portable and complete music production suite with ReWire-Energizer function.

Quick and flexible track export function delivers audio tracks to any professional environment such as Logic or ProTools

Neatly hosts and controls ReWire compatible applications such as Reason or Ableton Live - Perfect for DJs, producers and musicians of all styles

The complete "Studio On The Go" on the included USB flash drive - take the fully-portable energyXT and all your songs with you everywhere you go

Minimal loading time, no need to install. Start up and record your inspiration right there on the spur of the moment


Orion Pro is the is the affordable edition of Orion, for beginners and experienced users alike. It provides all the essential tools to get you started making music with your computer: sequencer and playlist for arranging the parts of your song, a selection of Generators with preset sounds, a range of Effects to process and modify those sounds, and a Mixer with everything you need to to bring it all together. With an ASIO compatible soundcard, Orion Pro can achieve latency as low as 2 milliseconds. VSTi and DXi standard instrument plug-ins are supported, giving you access to a wide market of instrument plugins. The Sampler comes with an integrated Groove Slicer, which automatically chops up beats and grooves, which you can then rearrange in the sequencer. If you're ready to begin composing original music yourself, Orion Pro is for you. It provides you with the tools you need to create your own unique sound, and compose your music from the ground up - at a fraction of the price of even a humble home studio.Realtime and exported 44.1 and 48 kHz playback rates are possible - suitable for recording to CD, or for post-production of your exported music in a third-party sample editor. Orion Pro comes with a selection of 20 internal effects. Additionally, there is full support for third-party VST and DirectX software effects, which integrate seamlessly into the working environmentOrion Pro comes with the following generators: •Tomcat - Versatile drum sound synthesizer •Sampler - Multisample player with two LFOs and three envelopes. Supports reading many industry standard formats such as SoundFont (SF2), Akai S5000/6000 and many more •Wasp - Virtual Analog synthesizer with two oscillators + subosc, two LFOs and three envelopes, integrated effect unit and six different filter modes. From the beautiful to the plain weird, from lush pads and strings to harsh leads and basses - the WASP does it all, and with conviction


Reason is a music software program developed by Swedish software developers Propellerhead Software. It emulates a rack of hardware synthesizers, samplers, signal processors, sequencers and mixers, all of which can be freely interconnected in an arbitrary manner. Reason can be used either as a complete virtual music studio, or as a collection of virtual instruments to be played live or used with Reason 1.0 was released in November 2000 and is currently the second most popular music making software in the industry (Pro Tools being the first). The program's design mimics a studio rack into which users can insert virtual devices such as instruments, effects processors and mixers. These modules can be controlled from Reason's built-in MIDI sequencer or from other sequencing applications such as Pro Tools, Logic, FL Studio, Digital Performer, Cubase, Sonar and GarageBand via Propellerhead's ReWire protocol in the 32-bit versions of these software. There's currently no support for ReWire with 64-bit hosts until Reason 6 comes out in September 2011.

Reason's interface includes a Toggle Rack command, which turns the 'rack' around to display the devices from the rear. Here the user can route virtual audio and CV cables from one piece of equipment to another. This cable layout enables the creation of complex effects chains and allows devices to modulate one another. This offers flexibility in the way that is familiar to users of physical electronic music hardware. For example, you could connect Redrum's main outputs to a single channel of the mixing desk, or you could instead route each of its drum sounds to a separate EQ before sending them to separate channels in the mixer. The user can always choose where to draw the line between simplicity and precision, allowing the software to remain useful at various levels of knowledge on the user's part.

Reason can not record external audio, although this will be possible in Reason 6, turning it into a digital audio workstation. It does not support third-party plug-ins, being one of the few software sequencers to lack VST support. This has been a frequent cause of criticism, although it also contributes to the product's stability.

A stripped-down version of Reason known as Reason Adapted, which restricts the user to a limited number of devices, is packaged as bonus software with other audio software such as Pro Tools LE and ReCycle.

Reason 4 was released on September 26, 2007. Improvements to Reason include Thor, a modular synth; RPG-8, a real-time programmable arpeggiator; ReGroove, a detimer/dequantizer; and a complete change to Reason's sequencer that includes tempo and meter changes as well as support for complex meters. Also included is vector automation (in-track automation/envelope curves), a new pattern lane for editing patterns in arrange view, foldable tracks (mimicking Logic's folder functionality), beat/bar count-in, and support for multiple takes.

On 11 May 2009, Propellerhead Software announced Record. Designed for recording, arrangement and mixing, it answers common criticisms of missing features in Reason(Version 6 will have support for external audio recording). It was released in September 2009. Although it is a separate product, it integrates all Reason devices if a registered version of Reason is present on the system, and all existing Reason song files can be opened in Record.


A digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic system designed solely or primarily for recording, editing and playing back digital audio. DAWs were originally tape-less, microprocessor-based systems such as the Synclavier and Fairlight CMI. Modern DAWs are software running on computers with audio interface hardware.

An integrated DAW consists of a mixing console, control surface, audio converter, and data storage in one device. Integrated DAWs were more popular before personal computers became powerful enough to run DAW software. As computer power increased and price decreased, the popularity of the costly integrated systems with console automation dropped. However, systems such as the Orban Audicy once flourished at radio stations and television station. Today, some systems still offer computerless arranging and recording features with a full graphical user interface (GUI).


A computer-based DAW has four basic components: a computer, an ADC-DAC (also called a sound card, audio interface, etc.), a digital audio editor software, and at least one input device for adding or modifying musical note data (this could be as simple as a mouse, and as sophisticated as a MIDI controller keyboard, or an automated fader board for mixing track volumes, etc.). The computer acts as a host for the sound card and software and provides processing power for audio editing. The sound card (if used) or external audio interface typically converts analog audio signals into digital form, and for playback converting digital to analog audio; it may also assist in further processing the audio. The software controls all related hardware components and provides a user interface to allow for recording, editing, and playback. Most computer-based DAWs have extensive MIDI recording, editing, and playback capabilities, and some even have minor video-related features.

Simple smartphone-based DAWs, called Mobile Audio Workstation (MAWs), are also available, used for example by journalists for recording and editing on location.

Common functionality

As software systems, DAWs could be designed with any user interface, but generally they are based on a multitrack tape recorder metaphor, making it easier for recording engineers and musicians already familiar with using tape recorders to become familiar with the new systems. Therefore, computer-based DAWs tend to have a standard layout which includes transport controls (play, rewind, record, etc.), track controls and/or a mixer, and a waveform display. In single-track DAWs, only one (mono or stereo form) sound is displayed at a time.

Multitrack DAWs support operations on multiple tracks at once. Like a mixing console, each track typically has controls that allow the user to adjust the overall volume and stereo balance (pan) of the sound on each track. In a traditional recording studio additional processing is physically plugged in to the audio signal path, a DAW however can also route in software or uses software plugins to process the sound on a track.

DAWs are capable of many of the same functions as a traditional tape-based studio setup, and in recent years have almost completely replaced them. Modern advanced recording studios may have multiple types of DAWs in them and it is not uncommon for a sound engineer and/or musician to travel with a portable laptop-based DAW, although interoperability between different DAWs is poor.

Perhaps the most significant feature available from a DAW that is not available in analogue recording is the ability to 'undo' a previous action. Undo makes it much easier to avoid accidentally permanently erasing or recording over a previous recording. If a mistake is made, the undo command is used to conveniently revert the changed data to a previous state. Cut, Copy, Paste, and Undo are familiar and common computer commands and usually available in DAWs in some form.

Commonly DAWs feature some form of automation, often performed through "envelopes". Envelopes are procedural line segment-based or curve-based interactive graphs. The lines and curves of the automation graph are joined by or comprise adjustable points. By creating and adjusting multiple points along a waveform or control events, the user can specify parameters of the output over time (e.g., volume or pan). Automation data may also be directly derived from human gestures recorded by a control surface or controller. MIDI is a common data protocol used for transferring such gestures to the DAW.

MIDI recording, editing, and playback is increasingly incorporated into modern DAWs of all types, as is Synchronization with other audio and/or video tools.