Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Typical DAW signal flow

From: Digital Audio Principles

Video: Typical DAW signal flow

So in this segment I want to show you kind of the typical signal flow in a Digital Audio Workstation. It's good to understand the signal flow of the workstation in terms of kind of how things are set up, how they get hooked together, and what devices do what things. So let's start over here kind of on the left, we have Sound Sources. This reference is kind of an acoustic sound like a voice and acoustic guitar that we needed to pick up with a microphone, which we then feed into our Digital Audio Interface. Or you can have a Line Level Device, like a drum machine or a synthesizer, that you just plug on a regular guitar chord or instrument line level cord into, and connect directly to your Audio Interface.

Typical DAW signal flow

So in this segment I want to show you kind of the typical signal flow in a Digital Audio Workstation. It's good to understand the signal flow of the workstation in terms of kind of how things are set up, how they get hooked together, and what devices do what things. So let's start over here kind of on the left, we have Sound Sources. This reference is kind of an acoustic sound like a voice and acoustic guitar that we needed to pick up with a microphone, which we then feed into our Digital Audio Interface. Or you can have a Line Level Device, like a drum machine or a synthesizer, that you just plug on a regular guitar chord or instrument line level cord into, and connect directly to your Audio Interface.

In the Audio Interface, it does a couple of things. Most of them you'll see will come with microphone preamps which is why we can hook the mike right in. That's supposed to look like a microphone input jack. This is a helpful thing to have it. It'll also have outputs that let you feed monitors and headphones. But most importantly, your Audio Interface will convert your analog signals, which is what we have coming from our two sources into digital information A-to-D conversion. This is probably one of the most important things that happen in digital audio.

Once we convert these analog signals into digital, we can send them to our computer, and our computer can deal with them. We can record that digital information, those ones and zeros to the hard drive. Then via our DAW software, we can record, edit, manipulate, create big pieces of music, create podcasts, change the volume, the scope, the scale of all the things in there. We can really, it's nonlinear. We can really do anything we want to that sound once we have it in there, really only limited by how crazy your software is and what it's capable of.

So that's what we're going to do, a lot of the work. You can be staring at a screen most of the time in terms of kind of working with digital audio. Once we have it in there, and it is digital, we want to hear back it. We send it back to the Audio Interface, which, by the way, the interface is usually connected these days by USB 2 or by FireWire. We'll get into that more in a different section. So we feed the digital sound back to our Audio Interface, which then feeds our monitors, and allows us to hear our new musical masterpiece in the room, and play it for our mom.

So this is a good set up if you're just working with yourself, or just doing a few tracks at a time, because a lot of times your Audio Interface will come with usually just two microphone inputs. There might be more line inputs than that, and some do come with eight inputs. But if you're doing a lot of work with more tracks or full bands, you might want to look into a mixer, which we've got here in the next slide. The advantage of the mixer is that it will have more channels, and more microphone preamps, and individual control over each one of those inputs that you can do a lot of the level setting and game staging, and start to get your sounds together before you get them into the Audio Interface.

Sometimes you can run outputs to inputs. There will be inputs on your Audio Interface, and you can run right out. Sometimes there will just be a couple, and you want to bounce down a whole mix like you might use eight tracks on a drum. But only be able to bounce that down to two tracks in your software. So a Mixer can help you kind of do that. It's good for routing. Also, if you're working with a lot of people, you can also use it to develop headphone mixes on the way back out so that everybody who is recording can have different mixes, or you can have a different mix of what people are hearing while they're trying to play the music, and record it live, as opposed to the levels you've set going into actually be recorded.

I know that sounds confusing. We'll explain how you would do that in a different section. But anyway, the point is this, if you're working with a lot of microphones or a lot of inputs, mixers are a good way to help you kind of manage all those inputs. The reason I wanted to explain this to you is that understanding the signal flow of the Digital Audio Workstation will help you both get the pieces of the puzzle that you need, and pieces that work well together that will also help you troubleshoot things, and hook things up when the time comes. Sometimes, it's pretty inevitable that things kind of breakdown.

I don't want to say breakdown, but it'll be a cable that comes unplugged or something like that. The quickest way to solve those problems when all of a sudden you hit the button and nothing happens is to start to trace the signal flow. It's kind of like when you retrace your steps where I was I last, that's kind of what you're doing when you trace the signal flow to troubleshoot things. So it's worth knowing about. We'll get into all these different devices in-depth in different sections. So don't worry too much about that for now. But thinking about how things are flowing through all the components is good to know.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Digital Audio Principles
Digital Audio Principles

110 video lessons · 28283 viewers

Dave Schroeder
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 50s
    1. Welcome
      50s
  2. 39m 10s
    1. What is sound?
      4m 15s
    2. Hertz and frequency response
      5m 34s
    3. Phase
      2m 39s
    4. Capturing audio
      3m 39s
    5. Sample rate
      6m 16s
    6. Bit depth
      9m 47s
    7. The waveform
      5m 3s
    8. Audio file formats
      1m 57s
  3. 7m 25s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      2m 59s
    2. Typical DAW signal flow
      4m 26s
  4. 50m 33s
    1. What microphones do
      1m 57s
    2. Element types
      5m 0s
    3. Pickup patterns
      6m 51s
    4. Axis
      2m 52s
    5. Frequency response and the proximity effect
      5m 10s
    6. Phase issues
      1m 41s
    7. Microphone types
      8m 44s
    8. Miking vocals
      5m 39s
    9. Miking amplifiers
      2m 17s
    10. Miking drums
      10m 22s
  5. 16m 39s
    1. Cables and connectors overview
      2m 42s
    2. Balanced and unbalanced cables
      3m 19s
    3. Common cable types
      7m 13s
    4. Cable tips
      3m 25s
  6. 12m 16s
    1. What is an I/O device?
      1m 41s
    2. Analog to digital conversion
      3m 10s
    3. Tour of an audio interface
      4m 49s
    4. Interface considerations
      2m 36s
  7. 21m 5s
    1. What is a preamp?
      3m 21s
    2. Input levels
      5m 29s
    3. Padding
      2m 18s
    4. Phantom power
      2m 37s
    5. Phase reverse
      3m 4s
    6. Preamp demo
      4m 16s
  8. 12m 56s
    1. What is a mixer?
      5m 55s
    2. Input section
      1m 17s
    3. Channel strips
      3m 16s
    4. Master section
      2m 28s
  9. 18m 21s
    1. What is monitoring?
      2m 11s
    2. Speakers
      4m 47s
    3. Room considerations
      5m 43s
    4. Headphone types
      3m 50s
    5. Monitoring levels
      1m 50s
  10. 15m 23s
    1. What role do computers play?
      1m 36s
    2. Performance issues
      4m 11s
    3. Hard drives
      4m 38s
    4. Mechanical noise
      2m 10s
    5. Authorization
      2m 48s
  11. 6m 54s
    1. Planning for recording
      54s
    2. Doing a system check
      1m 26s
    3. Planning your inputs
      1m 42s
    4. The recording environment
      2m 52s
  12. 25m 52s
    1. Types of digital audio software
      38s
    2. Multi-track recorders/sequencers
      4m 56s
    3. Two-track recorders/waveform editors
      4m 55s
    4. Loop-based music production software
      5m 44s
    5. Plug-ins
      6m 56s
    6. Other varieties
      2m 43s
  13. 18m 59s
    1. Common components
      46s
    2. The transport
      2m 4s
    3. The toolbar
      3m 19s
    4. The Edit/Arrange window
      4m 42s
    5. The mixer
      5m 8s
    6. The file list
      3m 0s
  14. 19m 17s
    1. Setting up a session
      3m 30s
    2. Assigning inputs and getting signals
      3m 19s
    3. Input modes
      3m 28s
    4. Overdubbing and punching
      5m 14s
    5. Bouncing down
      3m 46s
  15. 19m 42s
    1. What is editing?
      1m 21s
    2. Waveforms
      2m 53s
    3. Making silent cuts and trims
      7m 1s
    4. Fades and automation
      8m 27s
  16. 1h 23m
    1. What are plug-ins?
      3m 0s
    2. Using plug-ins
      6m 11s
    3. EQs
      7m 4s
    4. Dynamics pt. 1: Compressors, limiters, expanders, and gates
      5m 40s
    5. Dynamics pt 2: Applying dynamic effects
      7m 2s
    6. Pitch shifting
      6m 14s
    7. Reverb
      9m 28s
    8. Echo and delay
      6m 23s
    9. Modulation effects: Phaser, flanger, and chorus
      9m 39s
    10. Sound tools pt. 1: About, gain, normalize
      7m 39s
    11. Sound tools pt. 2: Reverse and time compression/expansion
      6m 29s
    12. Sound tools pt. 3: Noise reducers, dither
      8m 11s
  17. 23m 43s
    1. What is MIDI?
      3m 6s
    2. Keyboard controllers
      1m 23s
    3. Computer-based virtual instruments
      1m 6s
    4. Control surfaces
      1m 6s
    5. Recording and editing MIDI
      12m 4s
    6. Virtual instruments
      4m 58s
  18. 27m 29s
    1. What is mixing?
      1m 54s
    2. Some common objectives
      3m 4s
    3. Some useful techniques
      5m 59s
    4. A quick mixing demo
      16m 32s
  19. 18m 48s
    1. What is mastering?
      2m 24s
    2. Sonic maximization
      9m 43s
    3. Final preparations and exporting
      6m 41s
  20. 13m 34s
    1. What is audio compression?
      2m 16s
    2. Popular formats
      2m 9s
    3. Bit rate, sample rate, and channels
      5m 42s
    4. Other adjustments and considerations
      3m 27s
  21. 15m 6s
    1. Essential gear
      7m 36s
    2. Voice recording setups
      1m 43s
    3. The voice production process
      5m 47s
  22. 10m 4s
    1. Analog vs. digital
      2m 48s
    2. Tube vs. solid state
      5m 6s
    3. The continual upgrade
      2m 10s
  23. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Digital Audio Principles.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your lynda.com subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.