DAWs for Pro Audio Applications

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



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Currently at V. 6.2, BIAS Peak Pro offers advanced playlist editing and mastering for Macs (PPC or Intel based) running OS 10.4 or higher with a Classical Editing mode for creating seamless, customizable crossfades. Also featured is ultra-fast RAM-based editing, volume envelope control over entire regions (including fades and crossfades), improved high-resolution metering, advanced PQ sheet/text export with metadata support, modeling of popular dithering algorithms and a redesigned user interface. Also standard: a suite of production effects and 32 VST effects (delay, limiter, vocoder, de-ess, tone generator and more) from Maxim Digital Audio. The $499 street price also includes the Peak Pro Production Pack, with BIAS Reveal LE audio analysis tools, SoundSoap LE audio cleaning utility and more.

Announced a year ago, Cakewalk’s flagship SONAR 8.5 Producer software keeps expanding. Beyond the recording, composing, editing, mixing and mastering functionality with 64-bit audio capability, this PC-based application for Windows XP, Vista (32/64-bit) and Windows 7 (32/64-bit) offers multistage effect plug-ins and Integrated Arpeggiator for triggering arpeggiations on MIDI or instrument tracks with in-depth control over all arpeggiator parameters, and Session Drummer 3 for fast creation of virtual instrument drum tracks. Also included are stellar-sounding kits and patterns from top sound designers and drummers. The new V. 8.5.3 adds enhanced AudioSnap 2 audio timing/tempo manipulation, with improved rendering, new resolution settings (to set tempo changes on every beat, measure or clip) and an Auto-Stretch mode. Snap settings can now be used to snap both audio and MIDI events to audio transients in selected tracks.

Now four years old and at V. 3.672, Cockos’ Reaper is a low-cost, full-featured DAW program for PCs (Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7), Macs (OS 10.4 or higher) or Linux/WINE systems. Main tweaks in Reaper V. 3 include enhanced MIDI and automation functions, but Reaper maintains a strong fan base, especially with its low pricing ($150 for commercial users; $40 for non-commercial users), solid 24-bit/up to 192kHz performance, clean GUI and large collection of included 64-bit audio ReaPlugs, ranging from EQs and compressors to synths and delay/reverb ambience processors.

EnergyXT is cross-platform (PC/Mac/Unix) full-featured DAW that offers audio/MIDI recording/editing/mixing, virtual synths and effects, yet is small enough to reside on a USB thumb drive for true portability between CPUs. New in EnergyXT 2.5.3 are the ability to send and share music files online using SoundCloud, improved render/bounce for remixing and loop creation, and the addition of a playlist function for onstage playback use. Full VST support is also standard. Pricing via direct download is $75.


Video: Fairlight EVO

Designed for film, video, music production and post-production, Fairlight’s EVO is an integrated hardware/software package offering recording, editing, mixing and video functions with seamless workflows for SD and HD file formats. EVO combines Fairlight’s Crystal Core Processing, the SX range of I/O options and Xynergi self-labeling key technology, with an emphasis on providing quick access to mixing tools and 36-bit floating-point audio throughout the signal path. Rotary encoders and touchscreens deliver in-line controls with detailed, full-color displays for every fader. System pricing starts at $68,000.


Review: Harrison Mixbus

Harrison’s Mixbus integrates a modeled analog console—based on the company’s 32 Series and MR Series console designs—into a full-featured DAW. Now at version 1.3, Mixbus operates on the Macintosh (PPC or Intel) platform running OS X 10.4.11 or higher and supports AU plug-ins (with onboard plug-in delay compensation) and any Core Audio interface. The software focuses on the mix console, which offers EQ, filters, dynamics, and bus summing on every track along with analog tape saturation modeling for a vintage sound. Retail is an affordable $79.

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