What is DAW- Digital audio workstation?

Making music is lot tougher than it looks. It involves a number of stages like recording, editing, producing, mixing, etc, before you get to the final product. This is where a DAW or Digital Audio Workstation comes in – unlike older times, you don’t need to buy expensive equipment and a huge space to set up a studio for the various steps of music productions, because a DAW will take care of that for you on a computer screen. From recording audios and instruments to sharing it with the world, an average DAW has all the tools you need to create music.

Basic features of a DAW:


About Live audio and instruments:

One of the most basic functions of a DAW is to allow you to digitally record audio directly into the software. This may also include live instruments that you plug into your device and play. With a Digital audio workstation now you don’t have to worry about making errors or spending hours in physically cutting and joining tapes to create one coherent audio.

Virtual Instruments: One of the most charming features of a DAW is the ability to play and record virtual instruments which saves you tonnes of money and hassle that comes with real instruments. For all the instruments that you do not own, you can just use the plug in to record a tune. There are a number of ways in which virtual instruments are recorded:


Musical Typing: With musical typing you can use the keyboard of your computer for input. The keys on your keyboard correspond to the different notes of the virtual instrument, which you can play to get the different sounds of the instrument.

Common Professional Features in a DAW:

MIDI controller: A MIDI controller is an external keyboard with more specialised key arrangement that also corresponds to the notes on an instrument. You can connect the controller to your computer and then use the keys to play the instrument virtually

Using the mouse: Though the least popular and generally a little inconvenient, you can also use your mouse to select and add and drag the notes of a virtual instrument on the screen to add audio, in proxy of playing it.


Audio Looping: Loops are short audio snippets that you can repeat infinitely and add to your audio to give it more depth and volume. You can either record a chord progression that fits your track and directly loop it by copy pasting it as many times as you need, or you can edit it and make changes to refine it before you use it. Some DAWs like GarageBand come with an inbuilt library of thousands of loops including drums, strings, horns, etc, that you can choose from and use for your own project.

Audio editing: After recording, Digital Audio workstations also take care of the second stage of music production. With a DAW you can easily perform tasks like slicing audio items, rearranging , snapping, crossfading, etc. Unlike analogue audio editing, you have much more room to make mistakes or change your mind while trying out different things. T’s also extremely time efficient as most tasks require not more than a few clicks.

Mixing: Once you’re done with recording, arranging and editing your audio, you can polish your track to make them sound more finished and polished, on your DAW. Most Digital audio workstations take care of mixing by providing plugins for a few of the basic mixing techniques including EQ and the compressor.

Audio effects: Beyond basic mixing like EQ and compressor, DAWs also offer a number of audio effect plugins that you can add to make your audio more full, ambient and professional. Most common effects plugins include delays, reverbs, autotune, chorus, etc.

Lessons: Though not a very common feature, some established DAWs, like GarageBand offer lessons that teach you how to play instruments, by professional musicians in the industry. These lessons range from beginner tutorials for those who are just starting out to more advanced stuff for serious musicians.

What are the available DAWs?

Settling on a suitable DAW can cause you a lot of headaches. Some might be better to mix and mastering and the other better for electronic music production. Your PC setup for music creation matters as well. There are numerous DAW available, some more costly than others.

Free DAW software-

More often, a free DAW will have restricted plugins and does not have the 3rd party plugins support. Sometimes they additionally accompany restricted track limits and lessened help for high-level editing procedures. Yet they can at present be extremely competent software, especially for the beginners,to deliver multi-track digital audio recording. Few of the free or open source DAW software include:

  • Reaper (OS X/Windows/Linux (using WINE)
  • Ardour (OS X / Linux)
  • DarkWave Studio (Windows)
  • MuLab Free (OS X / Windows)

Paid DAW software-

As things become serious you ought to put resources into a superior paid DAW version. There are paid DAWs that give their clients boundless, lifetime user access. You will just pay once and the following updates will be allowed to download freely. Even though you’re simply taking up music-production as a hobby or a beginner, putting resources into a paid DAW won’t be a regret. Your audio will be magnificent with the paid software and you would be able to showcase your talent effortlessly. Few of the paid DAW software are:

  • Avid Pro Tools 12
  • Samplitude Pro X
  • Steinberg Nuendo 7
  • Presonus Studio One 3


Deciding on a DAW software for your home studio is a critical choice to make, as it will be the core of your entire studio setup. However, don’t stall out when endeavoring to settle on a decision – it primarily depends on your own particular trends and choices and what you feel simpler to explore and utilize. In case you don’t know which program will be an ideal choice to use for longer time period, numerous DAW software offers free 30-day trials, so you can attempt some of these out to choose a right one for you.

In a nutshell, a DAW will take care of all the steps of music production, and it will cost you a lot less space and money while it’s at it. Not only are DAWs more convenient and efficient, they’re also the future of the music industry and are already extremely popular among artists. We hope this was helpful for you, for further information you should checkout our article on our Top Recommended Digital Audio Workstations!

Now, for our OG readers, here is your dose of visual learning:

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