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What is a digital audio workstation?

From: Ableton Live 9 Essential Training

Video: What is a digital audio workstation?

Computer based audio recording and editing systems are often referred to as digital audio work stations or DAS. DAS are made up of the following components. A computer running a music production program like Ableton Live. An external hard drive to store your library and audio files. A microphone, which can capture the sound from a singer or instrument, and convert it into an electrical signal. An audio interface, which converts the audio from an electrical signal to a digital signal. And then so we can listen to the audio signal coming out of the computer, converts it from a digital signal back to an electrical signal.

What is a digital audio workstation?

Computer based audio recording and editing systems are often referred to as digital audio work stations or DAS. DAS are made up of the following components. A computer running a music production program like Ableton Live. An external hard drive to store your library and audio files. A microphone, which can capture the sound from a singer or instrument, and convert it into an electrical signal. An audio interface, which converts the audio from an electrical signal to a digital signal. And then so we can listen to the audio signal coming out of the computer, converts it from a digital signal back to an electrical signal.

A MIDI keyboard controller, which will allow you to send MIDI signals that represents the notes and chords that you play to Ableton Live. And headphones or speakers which convert the electrical signal back to sound pressure waves, so that you can hear and evaluate your music. If you don't currently own some of these components and are considering purchasing one or more of them to complement your home setup, here are some things you should consider. Most of the processing required by a music production program like Ableton Live is handled by the computer, so the experience will be more enjoyable if you use a fast computer with at least 8 GB of RAM.

Also, your system will run more efficiently if you store your live projects and sets on a different hard drive than the drive that contains your operating system and programs. This additional drive could be an internal drive but you'll probably find it more convenient to use an external drive and I'd suggest using a drive that has at least a 7200 rpm spin rate. Ableton Live will run without an external audio interface instead using the computers built in converters. However, these converters are not nearly as good as those found on an audio interface and as a result your recordings will not be as good. The available interfaces have many options.

For example, some interfaces connect to the computer using a USB cable. Until recently, these devices connected via USB 1.0, which has a transfer rate of around 10 megabits per second. This is slow for audio, so most of these devices only allow for two simultaneous inputs and a maximum of a 48 kilohertz sampling rate. Both a USB 2 and Firewire interfaces are a better option in my opinion, and both offer sampling rates of up to 96 kilohertz, two to eight simultaneous inputs, and an overall more robust performance.

Also, look for an interface that offers instrument and line inputs in addition to microphone inputs. And you'll probably appreciate options like multiple headphone outputs, built-in MIDI interface, guitar tuner and effects. If you're looking to purchase a new MIDI controller, there are several controllers that are designed to work specifically with Ableton Live. A list is available on the Ableton website. These native controllers offer remote control to launch scenes and clips, instruments and effects as well as mixer controls. Most of the devices have knobs that map to Live Macros using instant mapping which will greatly enhance our automation and live performances.

And you'll also want to take a look at Abletons' new controller Push. Which is an innovative new controller designed specifically to work with Live. Purchasing a microphone can be a confusing experience. So it's best to focus on purchasing one for a specific need. For example, a small diaphragm condenser microphone is often the mike of choice for recording acoustic guitars or drum overheads. Dynamic microphones are typically used to record guitar amps. And large diaphragm condenser microphones are best for recording vocals. Before you purchase a microphone do some research, and if possible borrow or rent before buying. And if you're recording vocals, I'd suggest purchasing a pop filter. They help to knock down those nasty plosive consonants, and help protect the microphone.

Selecting speakers and headphones is very similar to selecting microphones. There are so many to choose from. In either case, you'll want to use reference headphones or speakers. They accurately reproduce sound without the coloration that you typically get from consumer devices. And again, research is important. And auditioning speakers with recordings you know well is critical. In the end, you want to be able to record and mix your projects knowing that what you're hearing will translate to other playback systems. Now that you understand the important issues in choosing equipment for a home recording studio, you can begin assembling the necessary devices.

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This video is part of

Image for Ableton Live 9 Essential Training
Ableton Live 9 Essential Training

80 video lessons · 11488 viewers

Rick Schmunk
Author

 
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  1. 2m 36s
    1. Welcome
      1m 6s
    2. Using the exercise files
      43s
    3. What you need to know
      47s
  2. 7m 44s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      4m 13s
    2. Choosing the right gear and setting up a system
      3m 31s
  3. 11m 8s
    1. Setting up audio preferences
      4m 0s
    2. Setting up MIDI preferences
      2m 44s
    3. Optimizing performance
      4m 24s
  4. 38m 55s
    1. Nonlinear sequencing with Session view
      3m 42s
    2. Understanding the Session view window
      5m 8s
    3. Exploring the Live browser
      5m 49s
    4. Loading and playing clips
      4m 35s
    5. Moving and copying clips
      2m 55s
    6. Working with clip properties
      8m 17s
    7. Working with scenes
      8m 29s
  5. 24m 15s
    1. Using the browser
      4m 56s
    2. Searching for and auditioning clips and devices
      4m 19s
    3. Working with Live sets and projects
      4m 16s
    4. Managing files in Live
      3m 12s
    5. Exporting clips and devices
      7m 32s
  6. 33m 0s
    1. What is a software instrument?
      6m 29s
    2. Preparing to record MIDI
      5m 0s
    3. Recording and overdubbing MIDI
      4m 47s
    4. Using a computer keyboard to enter MIDI
      5m 26s
    5. Utilizing the pencil to enter MIDI notes
      5m 45s
    6. Taking advantage of third-party and multi-output MIDI devices
      5m 33s
  7. 33m 22s
    1. Navigating and zooming in the MIDI Editor
      5m 29s
    2. Configuring the MIDI Editor grid
      5m 2s
    3. Selecting and quantizing MIDI
      5m 3s
    4. Quantizing with grooves
      7m 23s
    5. Editing pitch and note duration
      6m 1s
    6. Editing MIDI velocities
      4m 24s
  8. 10m 10s
    1. Preparing to record audio
      5m 43s
    2. Recording audio
      4m 27s
  9. 34m 22s
    1. Understanding Arrangement view
      4m 10s
    2. Zooming in and out and playing in Arrangement view
      4m 46s
    3. Recording in Arrangement view
      4m 4s
    4. Recording from Session view to Arrangement view
      5m 22s
    5. Adding and using locators
      3m 32s
    6. Copying, duplicating, and editing clips in Arrangement view
      5m 53s
    7. Reworking clips
      6m 35s
  10. 25m 35s
    1. Understanding the mixer
      7m 36s
    2. Using sends and returns
      6m 52s
    3. Building headphone cues
      4m 58s
    4. Grouping tracks
      6m 9s
  11. 41m 7s
    1. Working with effect devices
      5m 59s
    2. Understanding EQ and filters
      7m 30s
    3. Using compressors and dynamic processors
      6m 26s
    4. Building interesting effects with delay effect processing
      7m 20s
    5. Using reverb effectively
      8m 5s
    6. Setting up side chain effects easily
      5m 47s
  12. 11m 15s
    1. Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect
      6m 3s
    2. Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effects
      5m 12s
  13. 11m 44s
    1. Mapping keys with Keymap mode
      4m 12s
    2. Mapping device controls to the MIDI keyboard
      3m 16s
    3. Using the instant mapping feature
      4m 16s
  14. 31m 51s
    1. Recording real-time automation
      6m 24s
    2. Drawing automation manually
      7m 48s
    3. Automating clips in Session view
      8m 36s
    4. Editing existing automation information
      4m 57s
    5. Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
      4m 6s
  15. 20m 59s
    1. Understanding the basics of warping
      8m 43s
    2. Creating clips that loop smoothly
      6m 37s
    3. Using warp features to quantize audio
      5m 39s
  16. 10m 12s
    1. Exporting audio from Live
      6m 29s
    2. Freezing tracks
      3m 43s
  17. 42m 22s
    1. Exploring Impulse
      5m 5s
    2. Using Impulse as a multi-output instrument
      9m 15s
    3. Getting the most out of Impulse instrument parameters
      6m 23s
    4. Exploring Simpler
      7m 50s
    5. Smoothing sample start and end points in Simpler
      6m 32s
    6. Tweaking the parameters of Simpler
      7m 17s
  18. 36m 55s
    1. Unlocking the power of FX racks
      10m 48s
    2. Utilizing instrument racks
      10m 13s
    3. Creating drum racks
      9m 50s
    4. Working with rack macros
      6m 4s
  19. 10m 22s
    1. Introducing Max for Live
      4m 52s
    2. Exploring the Mono Sequencer in Max for Live
      5m 30s
  20. 5m 54s
    1. Working with video files
      5m 54s
  21. 24s
    1. Next steps
      24s

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