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What Is DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) -Myth Solved

Jun 17, 2020• Proven solutions

If you’re just starting in the field of music production, you must have heard about DAW. Every YouTube tutorial on music production talks about choosing the right DAW software before everything else.

So, what does DAW mean, and more importantly, why do you need DAW for music production? If you’re also struggling to find answers to these questions, let us help. In this guide, we’re going to explain what DAW is and how it can help a music producer in his career.

Part 1: What is DAW

DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation. It is a dedicated software that’s designed to handle various tasks associated with music production, including instrument recording, audio editing, audio mixing, looping, etc.

While many people compare DAW to audio editors, that’s not true. Audio editors are only used to edit an audio file. A DAW, on the other hand, can be used to record different audio tracks and mix them to compile a full song.

Digital Audio Workstations are used by the most popular DJs and music producers in the world, mainly for composing hip-hop and EDM tracks. Today, the market is stacked with dozens of Digital Audio Workstations, ranging from novice to professional level.

And, these tools are available for Windows as well as Mac operating systems. It means that regardless of your PC’s operating system, you have the liberty to choose the right DAW from a wide variety of options.

Part 2: Types of DAW

Now that you know what a DAW is in music let’s take a look at how DAW software first came into the picture and why they ended up becoming a vital tool for every music producer.

In the earlier years, there wasn’t a dedicated software for compiling the entire track. Usually, four different types of tools were used to perform different operations on a single music track. These four programs included:

  • Digital Audio Processor (Used to record, edit, and mix audio files)
  • MIDI Sequencer (Used to Record, edit, and mix MIDI information)
  • Music Notation Editor (Used to put different notes on the digital audio sheet)
  • Virtual Instrument (Used to record sounds from different virtual instruments by decoding the MIDI information)

For any music composer, these four tools were essential to compile a single track. However, with time tech-giants decided to compile these four different programs into a unique software and name it DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).

As a result, DAW became a one-stop-solution to create, edit, mix, record different audio tracks without having to manage four different stand-alone tools. Over the years, several companies have released their DAW tools, boasting an extensive range of features to help creators compile a full audio track with minimal efforts.

Part 3: How to Choose DAW

Since there are too many options to choose from, it is most likely to get confusing while choosing the right DAW for composing music. So, here are a couple of golden rules that you should always remember while choosing a Digital Audio Workstation from such full availability.

  • First of all, it’s imperative to understand that every DAW will do the same thing at the end, i.e., produce music tracks. What separates these tools from each other is their set of features and the workflow. While some of these tools have a straightforward workflow, others have a steep learning curve. So, it’s better to familiarize yourself with the workflow and features of different DAWs and then make the right decision accordingly.
  • For beginners, ease of use will also be one of the significant factors while deciding what DAW software that’ll help them compose tracks without going through too much hassle is. If you’re a beginner, it’s better to choose a DAW that offers a user-friendly interface and a smooth workflow.
  • If you’re not sure, it’s better to use the free demo to decide if a particular DAW will be suitable for your requirements or not.

Part 4: Which One is the Best DAW?

Again, deciding which is the best DAW will depend on your objectives. Anyhow, here are the top three Digital Audio Workstations that offers an easy-to-use interface and a hassle-free workflow.

Free DAW Software

If you’re a beginner, it’s better to choose a free DAW software and get familiar with the features and work process of composing music. While these free tools don’t have advanced features, they’re perfect for people who want to compose music for hobby or want to learn the basics first. Since free software won’t have clutter like an advanced DAW, it would become easier to implement different functions and compile a 3-minute long track.

Some of the best free DAW software include:

  • Garageband
  • Cakewalk by BandLab
  • Cubase LE
  • Ableton 9 Lite
  • Pro Tools First

1. Logic Pro X

Logic Pro X is one of the most popular DAWs, designed by Apple, which is exclusively available for Mac. If you’re a Mac user, there’s nothing that comes closer to the features of Logic Pro X.

With this software, Apple has focused on boosting the idea of automation, and that’s why the tech giant has added hundreds of built-in plug-ins. You can add these plug-ins to your audio tracks and directly add different sound effects.

Moreover, Logic Pro X offers a seamless workflow, thanks to its intuitive design, which makes it extremely easy for the user to work with different modules at the same time.

Logic

2. Avid Pro Tools

Avid Pro Tools is one of the earliest commercialized DAWs in the market. However, even after a long life-span, the tool remains a popular choice, especially in the world of hip-hop. From Dr. Dre to Kanye West, many iconic music producers use Pro Tools to place their beats and compose heart-touching audio tracks.

If you’re looking to enter the professional world and want to give your songs a professional-touch, there’s nothing more suitable than Avid Pro Tools.

Avid Pro Tools

Conclusion

We hope that the above guide helped you understand what does DAW mean. Although it’s important to understand that music production isn’t a piece of cake. It takes dedication, hard work, and creativity to compose an iconic music track. Of course, having the best DAW software will ease-out the process of compiling the entire track. So, analyze your requirements and choose the most appropriate DAW accordingly.

Benjamin Arango
Benjamin Arango is a writer and a lover of all things video.