The digital audio workstation or DAW can take over the job of dozens or hundreds of pieces of analog equipment. Matt explains how using a DAW enables nonlinear recording, by using a random-access hard drive or SSD to store sound instead of sequential tape, and nondestructive editing, by manipulating a map that points to audio files. Digital processing is also much more convenient than analog, because software can be duplicated easily and doesn't require storage and care like analog processors.
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- A Digital Audio Workstation, or DAW: D-A-W,…is a piece of computer software that can take over the job…of almost any piece of analog equipment…you might find in a recording studio,…or almost every piece if you choose.…A DAW can function as a mixing console, tape recorder,…MIDI sequencer, synthesizer, drum machine, guitar amplifier,…reverb chamber, plus an entire rack full of effects units…like compressors, equalizers, chorus, tape delay,…pretty much any audio equipment you can imagine…except for microphones and speakers.…
Let's talk about some of the practical differences…between a DAW and a studio of analog equipment.…The most obvious difference is that now we're doing…almost everything on the computer instead of routing audio…through a mixing console and moving physical faders,…we're using images of faders in the software…to mix tracks together.…Instead of plugging in patch cables…to route audio to effects,…we're choosing where to set it within the software.…And instead of tweaking real buttons and knobs…
The course starts with explanations of what sound really is and how we hear it, including discussions on frequency, amplitude, phase, and psychoacoustics. Matt explores analog audio signal path, explaining connections, gain staging, and metering. Next, he brings the audio signal into the digital domain, discussing analog to digital conversion, digital gain staging, file formats and compression, and dither.
Then the course digs into digital audio workstations (DAWs), explaining the concepts and misconceptions involved in digital recording systems. Matt describes how memory, CPU speed, and storage affect your DAW's performance, as well as how to manage computer resources and understand the plethora of file formats associated with digital recording. He follows with an overview of MIDI: how to generate, store, process, and communicate MIDI data. He wraps up with the audio processors that are often used for mixing in a DAW—including EQ, compressors, reverb, delay, and many others.
- What is sound?
- The three domains of sound: acoustic, analog, and digital
- The analog vs. digital signal paths
- Converting analog audio to digital
- Digital formats and data compression
- Understanding the five types of DAWs
- Recording performances with MIDI
- Mixing and processing audio with EQ, compression, and other effects