DAWs for Pro Audio Applications

Sep 22, 2010 12:43 PM, By George Petersen



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From functional freeware to high-end apps, the current crop of DAW software represents an exceedingly wide range of offerings for the PC or Mac user. And it’s a rare user who can get by working on only a single title, so sometimes a second or third DAW program—reflecting different specialties—is a must. With continual updates to existing programs and new players entering the market, we looked into what’s new in the world of software-based DAWs, with late-breaking, pre-AES show news that savvy producers need to know.

Now at Version 8.1.5, Ableton Live combines a nonlinear flow with powerful real-time editing and flexible performance features. New functions and improvements in Live 8 include a new Groove Engine, revamped warping, live looping, new effects, real-time crossfades in the Arrangement view, an expanded groove library (with vintage Akai MPC and E-mu SP-1200 beats), the ability to extract grooves from audio or MIDI files, and real-time groove quantization. In addition to an updated Beats Warp mode and new Complex Warp mode, users can now slice audio files to MIDI tracks based on transients, and a Looper offers classic sound-on-sound looping without the limitations of a hardware device. Other tweaks include new effects (vocoder, multiband dynamics, overdrive, limiter and frequency shifter) and workflow enhancements.

The upcoming version of Adobe Audition is a cross-platform app supporting either PC or Mac platforms. Designed specifically to take advantage of Apple’s Intel-based Macs, Adobe Audition for Mac is a ground-up development effort (not a simple porting from the PC version) that will feature familiar tools for stereo or multitrack mixing/editing/recording and advanced audio restoration capabilities. New features in Adobe Audition for Mac include powerful audio editing and multitrack mixing views; advanced noise-reduction capability; Native 5.1 surround support; multichannel effects; other new effects; high-performance multithreaded processing; and flexible, parallel workflows optimized for fast-paced audio post-production. Release is scheduled for late this year. Adobe plans to allow users of Audition 1.5, 2 and 3 to upgrade to the cross-platform version of Audition regardless of OS.

A year ago, Apple began shipping its updated Logic Studio bundle for the Macintosh, combining its Logic Pro DAW/MIDI platform with the MainStage live performance app; Soundtrack 2 audio post software; 80 studio effects plug-ins; 40 virtual studio instruments; the Studio Sound Library (18,000 loops, 5,000 SFX); and production utilities including WaveBurner CD mastering; Compressor surround encoding; and more than 200 new features, which include Amp Designer and Pedalboard guitar-sound modeling, Flex Time timing/tempo manipulation, Drum Replacer and Quick Swipe Comping vocal/solo track compositing. Aside from the extras, Logic Pro V. 9.1 offers a 64-bit mode, where application memory is not limited, so any RAM amount not needed by the OS is available for use by Logic Pro or the included plug-ins. Therefore, users can run far more instances of memory-intensive plug-ins such as sample-based software instruments.

There’s been a lot of activity in the Avid (avid.com) camp lately. Just out, Pro Tools HD V. 8.1 is a free update for Pro Tools HD 8 users for Mac OS X 6.2 (or higher), Win XP and (unofficially) Windows 7. Note: Pro Tools LE and M-Powered remain at V. 8.0.4. Pro Tools HD 8.1 adds a few minor I/O and session setup tweaks, and support for the new HEAT (Harmonically Enhanced Algorithm Technology) software add-on. Developed with Crane Song’s Dave Hill, HEAT adds color and analog warmth to a mix. But the hyperjump here is 8.1’s support of Avid’s HD Series interfaces—HD I/O, HD Omni and HD MADI.

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