Today there are many reliable Digital Audio Workstations, (or DAW’s) to choose from. If you are new to making music, or are looking to learn another Workstation, this article should help narrow down your options.
What it comes down to, is Digital Audio Workstations should sound Digital. This means they really shouldn’t have a sound at all. Physically all DAW’s are different. They are created using different Designs, Coding, and Algorithms. But at the end of the day, the point of using a Digital Audio Workstation should be Having Control. This means you want a completely Transparent Workspace. However, with improper technique one may suggest that the Workstation has destroyed their Music. The truth is, all Professional DAW’s have already been used to make countless Hit Records. At the end of the day, if the Song sounds good, chances are listeners aren’t going to care what was used.
Ultimately, the choice is up to YOU as the Engineer. While, some Workstations are clearly different than others in terms of abilities, and menus, the principles are the same. If used correctly, you shouldn’t notice a difference, even after Exporting.
(If you bypass exporting and Record your output, (Printing), it becomes virtually impossible to tell which DAW was used.)
Arguably, you should learn to attain the textures desired by utilizing processors, rather than rely on a constant colouring of your sound. While it’s true before DAW’s this was not an option and every hit record made before the 90’s was passed thru some kind of circuit. (Which means they were not transparent.) However, in today’s Modern day and age, we want the Transparency Digital Audio Workstations can provide us, we just don’t want to forget to replace that void with some type of Controlled Virtual Analog Saturation, in one way or another.
Now that we understand the Similarities between Digital Audio Workstations, let’s look at the Differences.
The most common differences to care about are:
1 ) What is your Operating System?
2) How much RAM does your Computer have?
3) Do you use VST’s?
4) Do you want something New or Popular?
Operating System is important because if you are planning on working on Sessions with other people remotely, you want to make sure they have the same Software. Note that some DAW’s are Operating System Specific.
RAM will dictate the amount of memory that can be used by the Plug-ins and the Host.
The upside to using 64 bit Plug-ins and Hosts is that you will have more available RAM than working in 32 bit Plug-ins/Hosts (Limited to 2GB – 4GB of RAM). 64 bit Plug-ins are not helpful if your computer does not have more than 4GB of RAM.
(On Windows Computers, 32 bit folders are called x86)
VST’s cannot be used in Logic.
Do you use VST’s? Are any of your Third-Party Plug-ins specifically only VST’s?
Popular DAW’s will give you more options for collaborations. There will also be more resources available for learning new techniques.
New DAW’s have new abilities beyond many older DAW’s, however also are more susceptible to have bugs and hiccups. In addition, not as many resources are available and it may be harder to collaborate with others who aren’t using the same Workstation.
Here is a Chart Comparing the Basic Qualities of 3 Modern DAW’s
As you can see one isn’t better than the other. It’s more about what works for your setup.
There are Plenty options to choose from out there.
I would recommend something that also comes with awesome Native Plug-ins (Included Plug-ins). This means you won’t have to be buying extra Third-Party Plug-ins. All workstations come with some kind of effect processors, and synthesizers. The benefit to using these is continuity when collaborating or switching Studios, as well as reduced CPU usage. Native Plug-ins help because you know they are always there, once you learn them.
Bitwig’s Native Plug-Ins
Hopefully this gives you some more insight into the differences between different DAW’s, or Digital Audio Workstations. Try Downloading the Demo before-hand to ensure that the software fits your Studio needs.
Remember – It doesn’t hurt to learn more than one DAW!