Hello and welcome to all the first time readers here. Now that you’re here and have begun reading this post you are probably getting into music production for the first time and don’t really have an idea what is what? Today I will be answering the question “What is a DAW?
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW for short)
To start, a DAW is a software application that lets you create, mix, and master audio files. Whether it being for podcasts, television shows, or in this case music production. DAWs will make your journey a lot easier once you get the hang of navigating them.
A DAW is kind of like a fancy tape recorder, it is necessary when you want a high quality audio file to generate great sounds. With technology in the music industry advancing every single day, it has become even easier to start your journey in music production.
So what’s left to know? You will be able to do virtually anything and create virtually any unique sound that pops into your head.
So what makes a DAW, a DAW?
Well there are four basic components to a DAW and you will need all four to start making music.
- A Computer
- A Sound Card
- Digital Audio Editor Software (Fl Studio, Ableton, Logic, Pro Tools)
- An Input Device (Mouse in your case)
The computer is kind of like the house that keeps everything together and acts as a host for the sound card. Without the computer then it would be impossible for sounds to be generated.
The sound card, is an audio interface that communicates with the speakers or audio output to produce the sound that is desired, whether it be for playing music on YouTube or watching your favorite Netflix shows.
Every computer or laptop that has a speaker generally has one installed so no need to worry about that as long as you have a basic computer.
Next is the DAW Software (#3). There are many Audio Editor Software’s on the market today. Many of which are sold from a varied range in prices, as low as being completely free to hundreds of dollars for increased features and plugins.
As an example I will mention FL Studio, because it has got to be the most beginner friendly software on the market.
Within FL Studio there are a variety of features and plugins that will allow you to make your audio file more exciting and colorful. Whether it be making your drums hit harder or even give a vocal sample a kind of long hallway effect (reverb).
There is no limit to what you can do on these programs. If you can think of it, it can probably be done.
Finally, an Input Device. Now that you are here and are just starting its very likely the only input device you have at the moment is a mouse/track pad which comes with your computer. So at this moment in time you really don’t need anything else to start producing away.
As there are many, (and I mean MANY) input devices on the market today including things like a MIDI Keyboard, Synthesizers, Drum Machines, thelist goes on indefinitely.
With these devices you will be able to set up your music in any way you desire. In this case you will be able to use your mouse to add notes and sounds within your Audio Editing Software to create a track that speaks to you. As with something like a MIDI Keyboard, you will be able to play notes and have those notes sent directly to your software without having to task away at clicking through a virtual piano roll.
Pretty cool right?
Why is a DAW so Necessary in Today’s Industry?
This has got to be one of the biggest questions I have received over the course of my journey in Music Production.
To state it simply, you have lemons (creativity) but what are you gonna do with a lemon? Suck on it till it makes your face scrunch up? No, you’re going to want to squeeze it into a cup (DAW) and add some sugar (features and plugins within the DAW).
The metaphor above explains that, sure you can have some great audio samples or ideas for songs but how are you gonna put them all together to make that sweet lemonade?
All in all, having a DAW is an industry standard and without one it will be very unlikely to get the high quality sounds and songs that a lot of great producers have today.
If you ask anyone who produces songs, podcasts, television shows, its guaranteed that they have either used a DAW or have some basic knowledge on why they are valuable in the production process.
My Personal Recommendation
There are countless DAWs on the market today, but which one is the right one? Well that all depends on which ones you’ve heard about or have had some sort of experience with. You are never gonna know until you try one. So on that note, I recommend trying out the FL Studio 12 demo
I have used FL Studio for years and it has been my right-hand man when it comes to quality music production (see what I did there?).
There are a lot of features in this specific DAW and if you are truly confused about how all of this works then stop! Download the FL Studio Demo and give it a try.
There are many features and options that will make things complicated at first but once you get the hang of it, there’s nothing that will be able to stop you from making great audio tracks.
For more info on free DAWs take a look at my post on How To Make Music For Free.
What are you waiting for? Go get out there!
You now know the basics to answering the question of What is a DAW? So there’s only one thing left to do, and that is find one that suits you and get accustomed to using it. The only way a DAW will become less complicated is if you put the time in learning how it works, and I mean firsthand.
There’s no greater teacher than firsthand experience, and I believe each one of you who reads this post will take the initiative to becoming a great producer. I wish you all the best of luck in your music production endeavors.
Best of Luck,