Digital audio workstations
A DAW or Digital Audio Workstation is a music production software that gives you the ability to record audio and produce music on your computer. Designed for those in the recording industry, the digital audio workstation’s user interfaces replicated many of the same features of a multi-track tape recorder. Play, record, and other controls such as waveform, track controls, a mixer, and so on. In fact, many of the most popular DAWs have very similar interfaces.
DAWs also have the functionality of a computer. Engineers, sound designers, and producers can use many of the standard computer features – copy, paste, undo, etc. – when working with their tracks. That ability just wasn’t available with analog recording, a fact bemoaned by many of today’s audio and music professionals. Where music production once only had analog, now digital (or a hybrid of the two) is the dominant production setup.
A big part of what makes the DAW so powerful is the number of available add-ons with new options popping up all the time. VST plugins give the DAW even more versatility, sample packs expand audio file libraries, and recording software programs are constantly being improved.
While digital audio workstations often have the same functionality and similar interfaces, if you find a DAW you like, stick with it until you learn it well. Then take a crack at the other ones on the market. Audio engineers who can seamlessly flow from the latest version of Ableton Live to Pro Tools, FL Studio to Pro Tools are often in-demand.