*Digital Audio Workstation

There are so many DAW’s out there nowadays. Some are free, some are not. Some are more convenient than others, some not so much but have unique features. How does one make a choice about the DAW they use in the end? In this article, we will explore how we can choose our DAW effectively and why have Ι been using Steinberg’s Cubase as my DAW of choice for many years now.

Disclaimer: This is not a DAW comparison article.

Chapter 1: Definition of a DAW

As mentioned above, DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation. The key word here is “Digital”. DAWs were meant to copy the functions of any possible equipment an analogue music studio could have into the digital world and offer us endless possibilities in sound recording, editing, mixing and any other type of audio processing, just by having a desktop or laptop computer with the correct tools. Studio life made easy basically!

As you might have already guessed, a DAW needs a few components in order to be fully taken advantage of.
– A desktop/laptop computer – This is the “heart” of your actual workstation
– The DAW itself – This is the “mind” of your workstation, and
– An audio interface – This is the “ears and mouth” of your workstation (We will discuss more about audio interfaces in future posts)

All of the DAW’s out there have common basic functions.

They will allow you to record single or multiple sources of audio, lay them out in a project window, have equivalent channel strip audio controls as an analogue desk would have, allow you to record MIDI events via a MIDI/USB device and then make that data sound as any instrument by the use of sound banks. They will also allow you to use other types of “virtual instruments/effects/processors as plugins under your DAW which will be acting as a host, and many more functions like automating changes to settings and, to make things easier, there is an “Undo” button as well! Sounds brilliant, doesn’t it?

So what is that key factor that distinguishes a DAW from the rest? “Workflow” is the word you are looking for. Creative and efficient workflow is the number one factor for picking your DAW of choice. Sometimes, we get used to the workflow of the software we first work with but some other times we are looking for a change. Essentially, the easier a DAW will make things for you, the less time you are going to spend looking at the screen and being unproductive, and Cubase, is perfect for that!

Cubase comes with many powerful tools already implemented in their DAW software, and you can bind almost everything to a handy shortcut with the built-in intuitive shortcut editor. Here’s some of the most interesting tools and features Cubase can offer:

  • Powerful pitch correction with VariAudio (currently Version 3)
  • Snapshots of the MixConsole so you can recall any previous setting configuration of your mixer or even compare them
  • Integrated Audio Alignment which allows you to align audio with a click
  • Revamped side-chaining function
  • MIDI Polyphonic Expression support
  • Retrospective MIDI record
  • Hermode Tuning, especially handy for music composers
  • An excellent granular Synth called Padshop

Cubase can offer a variety of tools for any aspect of music production; From recording to composing and from editing to mixing and mastering and that is why I do always strongly recommend it.

We’ll be creating some Cubase specific tutorials in the future where we will be exploring most of the features this DAW has to offer but if you want to have a taste, you can find a very detailed list by clicking here.

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