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Gurudutt R.

Department of Telecommunication, Atria Institute of Technology


Abstract:-A Ô   Ô  

  (DAW) is an electronic $  c#
system designed to record, edit and play back digital audio. A key
feature of DAWs is the ability to freely manipulate recorded
Consist 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
 c   to run DAW software. As computer power increased and
price decreased, the popularity of the costly integrated
The term "DAW" simply refers to a general combination of systems dropped. However, systems such as the Orban
audio multitrack software and high-quality audio hardware Audicy once flourished in the radio and television markets.
² the latter being a specialized audio converter unit which Today, some systems still offer computerless arranging and
performs some variety of analog-to-digital (ADC) and/or recording features with a full graphical user interface, such
digital-to-analog (DAC) signal conversion. For example, a as the Roland MV-8000, Roland MV-8800 and recent
workstation could have eight discrete audio inputs, and two Mackie HDR-series hard disk recorders. The DAW also
or more audio outputs for playback monitoring or routing allows visual representation of console automation.
signal to other devices. Systems can have as few as two
mono inputs and outputs ² the discrete audio inputs and
%  &
outputs provide for simultaneous multitracking dual mono
sources or stereo recording. A professional DAC performs
the same function as a common sound card, but is generally The first digital audio workstation was developed by Bob
of higher quality and offers sonic or functional advantages Ingebretsen and Jim Youngberg at Soundstream in the late
when compared with its consumer cousin. 1970s, using a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-11
minicomputer running a custom software package called
"DAP" (for Digital Audio Processor) for digital audio
While almost any home computer with multitrack and editing and audio effects such as crossfades. A storage
editing software can function somewhat as a DAW, the term oscilloscope that was connected to the minicomputer acted
generally refers to computer systems which have high- as the audio waveform display. Edits were made by typing in
quality external ADC-DAC hardware, and some form of three-letter commands on a separate computer terminal,
audio software; some of which is commercial proprietary listening to digital-to-analog converted results on
software. Besides having high-end sound cards most DAWs loudspeakers, and using the waveform display on the storage
also require a large amount of RAM, fast CPU(s) and oscillioscope as a reference.
sufficient free hard drive space.
Audio on the system was stored on disk pack drives, with
    the audio transferred onto the drives from Soundstream's
proprietary digital audio tape recorders using a Unibus tape-
DAWs generally come in two varieties: to-disk interface also of the company's own design.
Soundstream also developed a digital-to-analog interface for
  !"# c# this system for interfacing to conventional analog tape
recorders as well.
Consist of three components: a computer, an ADC-DAC,
and digital audio editor software. The computer acts as a In 1981, recording engineer Roger Nichols built a digital
host for the sound card and software and provides processing audio workstation of his own design, using a S-100 bus-
power for audio editing. The sound card acts as an audio based computer with a Micropolis 8" form factor 32 MB
interface, typically converting analog audio signals into hard disk used for storage of digital audio data. It interfaced
digital form, and may also assist in processing audio. The digitally to a 3M multi-track digital audio tape recorder in
software controls the two hardware components and his studio, and was used to edit audio from the recorder.
provides a user interface to allow for recording and editing. Nichols' system was used during the recording and
Many radio stations in the U.S. prefer using computer-based production of Donald Fagen's 1982 album, Êhe Nightfly.
DAWs over integrated DAWs.
At the late 1980s, consumer level computers such as the
Apple Macintosh or the Commodore Amiga started to have
enough power to handle the task of digital audio editing.
Macromedia's Soundedit was the first audio editing software While DAWs are capable of mimicking the functions of a
to appear for the Macintosh in 1986, but the concept was traditional recording studio, there are areas where they excel,
made popular by a company called Digidesign, who in 1987 and in some cases they can do things that are impossible
introduced one of the first hardware & software packages for without a DAW.
the Apple personal computer for editing audio, Sound Tools.
The software was called Sound Designer II since it was Perhaps the most significant feature available on a DAW
essentially an update of the sample-editing "Sound that is not available in analogue recording (some other forms
Designer" software used with sampling keyboards like the of digital recording do have this) is the ability to 'undo' a
Emulator II and Akai S900. This was the predecessor to the previous action, which makes it much easier to avoid
still current Pro Tools system. Many major recording studios accidentally erasing or recording over a previous recording.
finally "went digital" because Digidesign had modelled its
Pro Tools software after the traditional method and signal
Commonly DAWs feature some form of automation,
flow present in almost all analog recording devices. At this
commonly performed through "envelope points." Each dot
time most of the DAWs were Apple Mac based (Pro Tools,
represents one envelope point. By creating and adjusting
Studer Dyaxis, Sonic Solutions Around 1992, the first
multiple points along a waveform or control events, the user
Windows based DAWs started to emerge from companies
can specify parameters of the output over time (e.g., volume
such as Soundscape Digital Technology later acquired by
or pan).
Mackie then by SSL, SADiE and Spectral Synthesis. All the
systems at this point utilized dedicated hardware for their
audio processing. ((   & ( 

In 1994 a company called OSC produced a 4 track editing- There are many DAW programs that provide recording and
recorder app called DECK ($399,95) for Digidesign, editing audio, recording and editing MIDI data, sound
employed in The Residents' "Freakshow" LP. The first processing and synthesis. Commercial systems are often
Windows based software-only product was Software Audio designed to run on Macintosh or Windows operating
Workshop (SAW) from IQS and it was able to record, edit systems and are usually developed for profit.
and mix 4 tracks of audio. It became heavily used
throughout US radio stations. Detailed information of commercially available programs is
available in other articles.
" $ +" $+, -, $+"# +
Musicians and composers long had a desire to integrate c' ) +. +'+  $+$+
stereos, turntables, recording equipment, MIDI keyboards ' #+ #$+ $#    + $*  c+
and even electric guitars with computers. Serious computer- /*$ - ' 
based composition tools began to appear with the Atari ST
and Amiga computer systems. Enthusiasts continued to seek Other professional DAWs that use a combination of
more integrated, easier-to-use and higher-performance tools hardware and software include;
for audio creation tasks. Many current DAWs even support
integration with video streams allowing full A/V production. $ + +.0+ $# +'* 1

 $)$$*)  !"# c# SADie and Sonic Studio offer both LPCM and DSD
production tools.
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 There are many free and open-source programs that can
recorders to become familiar with the new systems. facilitate a DAW. These are often designed to run on a
Therefore, computer-based DAWs tend to have a standard variety of operating systems and are usually developed non-
layout which includes transport controls (play, rewind, commercially. The LADSPA plugin architecture, the JACK
record, etc.), track controls and/or a mixer, and a waveform API and the ALSA soundcard driver represent the 'cutting-
display. In single-track DAWs, only one (mono or stereo edge' in free and open source DAW development for
form) sound is displayed at a time. professional audio production.

Multitrack DAWs support operations on multiple tracks at REFERENCES

once. Like a mixing console, each track typically has
controls that allow the user to adjust the overall volume and
1.Y Introduction to DAW by Mitch Gallagher at Sweetwater Sound.
stereo balance (pan) of the sound on each track. In a
2.Y "Workstation Blues", an article about DAW systems (circa 1990) by
traditional recording studio additional processing is Roger Nichols
physically plugged in to the audio signal path, a DAW, 3.Y Music Articles and Loops articles and audio for music producers. All
however, uses software plugins to process the sound on a free under either Creative Commons or Public Domain.
track. 4.Y WikiRecording's Guide to Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs).