PDF Digital Audio Editing: Correcting and Enhancing Audio in Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase, and Studio One

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Some programs are even free. You can create as many instances of effects plug-ins as you want, including spot-on emulations of compressors that cost several thousand dollars each, and attach them to as many mixer channels as you want. It's all nearly unlimited and "in the box" now. From the standpoint of someone recording 20 or 30 years ago, a DAW today is like a giant candy store; it's as if you can do almost anything.

For the newcomer, though, it may seem almost hopelessly complex. Choosing the right audio software can be quite difficult. Most of the famous packages like Pro Tools and Logic have been around for decades. They've grown incredibly powerful, and as a result have user interfaces that are as complex as…well, professional mix consoles. So how to decide?

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To help with this task, we went out and tested the most popular DAWs. Numerous venerable and excellent recording magazines have reviewed these applications many times over the years. That's great for the existing user base of each DAW, but maybe not always quite as clear for newcomers.

In each of our reviews, we did our best to approach each product as a whole, rather than devoting the majority of the space to just the latest features that were added in the most recent point update. Before we get to the specifics, the simplest program for audio editing is a two-track editor; probably the most famous example here is the free Audacity. While Audacity aspires to some extremely basic multitrack recording with overdubs, its real use is as a solid stereo editor. If you're recording a podcast or editing a clip of your kid's piano recital that you recorded on your phone, Audacity is an excellent choice; you can probably start and stop there.

If you need something more sophisticated, read on. It helps to think about the kinds of projects you want to create. Are you planning on producing beats for hip-hop or fully electronic compositions? Do you want to record multiple musicians playing live instruments at once? Will you be using your setup to score for picture , or creating sound effects and dialogue for TV and video games? Do you need to produce fully polished, printed scores, or otherwise prefer to work with musical notes and staves?

Do you plan on tuning the pitch of vocal performances? Working out the answers to these kinds of questions up front will help you narrow down your choices. The good news is all of the packages can we tested can more or less do all of the above tasks, with a few notable exceptions. The trick is that each program has strengths in different areas, and some tasks may be a bit more complicated in one than they are in another. One overarching rule to decide faster is to look at what your colleagues or friends are using, and then choose the same package. That makes it easier to share tips or even projects between each other, rather than being the lone person using a particular product and then introducing session import issues.

Another is to look at what's bundled with each program. Would you prefer a DAW that comes with a ton of virtual instrument sounds, such as synthesizers, sampled violins, guitars, and electric basses? You may want to look at something like Logic Pro X, Cubase Pro, or Studio One, all of which include many gigabytes of sounds and loops. Do you have or plan to buy your own instrument plug-ins you want to use?

It's also great if you're recording a band full of live instruments and don't need much in the way of virtual ones. Do your tastes lean toward the electronic and synthesized realm? FL Studio, Reason, and Ableton Live are inspired choices with plenty of built-in synths, though you can produce electronic music with just about any of these programs. Often, it comes down to the details and the editing philosophies. Do you prefer pattern-based recording for electronic music? FL Studio is going to have plenty to offer.

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Would you rather have a "do-it-all" DAW with a large built-in sound library at a low price? PreSonus Studio One beckons. Do you want to not just be able to bring projects into major studios, but collaborate online and also open sessions directly as you work on them with others? It's impossible to top Avid's Pro Tools for this. Is the music already done, and you work in post-production and want to produce more professional podcasts or videos?

Adobe Audition is a prime contender for these tasks. And if you've got a Mac, it's worth giving the free GarageBand a spin, if only because it's more powerful than it ever was and you already own it. Closely correlated to the bundled instruments and effects is price, and that's a factor that can cloud the issue a bit. Many of the top-tier packages also have less expensive or even free , feature-limited editions available. What do you lose?

What do you gain? We try and touch on this as much as possible within each review. In short, read our reviews linked below and try some demos where you can. But otherwise, don't sweat it too much. We spent countless hours testing these products and putting together both the reviews and this guide. Despite the complexity of the software here, we've found it's honestly tough to go wrong.

It's not like computers or cameras, where you can clearly see that of the latest crop of products, a few perform well and a few don't perform as well as the leaders. These are all mature, well-established products, each with thousands of fans. As a result, more than half of the packages in this roundup score at least four out of five stars.

You can get professional-level results with all of them. Each has some specific workflows that work really, really well for some people—hence the endless "X is the best and Y is garbage" arguments on the internet—but they all can work for just about anyone.


Even so, we single out two DAWs, one on the Mac and one on the PC, for Editors' Choice awards: Apple Logic Pro X, for its absolutely unbeatable value with its built-in instruments and effects plug-ins, and Avid Pro Tools, for its seamless audio editing and suitability up and down the pro studio chain. Sonar also comes with a vast selection of integrated instruments and sound kits as standard, including Session Drummer 3, DropZone, Roland GrooveSynth, and even special edition kits, such as the TruePianos Amber.

You can work in the traditional way using a piano roll layout, or you can select any clip you like from your file explorer and paint it into your track however and whenever you want. However, the MIDI pattern tool and customizable VocalSync feature all give you more control and options when you need it.

Easily one of the best, and perhaps most surprising, features Cakewalk has to offer is the mixing options. You can activate this from the Control Bar which then enables you to manage different versions of a mix, including sliders, effects, and EQ; all from one place. This is ideal if you plan on creating different versions of the same track.

Simply open the Mix Recall setting, and then make your changes. Finally, you can export all the unique versions at the same time, making your producing process effortless. The recommended graphics cards and RAM may be a little more than usual, suggesting a 2. The Skylight system built into the Sonar Platinum platform is easily one of the best features. While super-powerful, Cakewalk has always been renowned for being not so user-friendly, which is why it fell behind some of the other leading platforms.

The Pro Tools line has always been a popular DAW choice among all kinds of musicians within any area of the industry, so it should come as no surprise that the 12 edition of the software range is one of the most anticipated yet. Kicking off the features list with a bang, one of the most sought-after features of Pro Tools is the collaboration suite.

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This, of course, opens a whole new world of possibilities up to creators and producers, providing so many more opportunities to produce the best results possible. This is backed up by the fact Pro Tools has experience in pretty much any audio industry. Out of the box, the platform can record audio, edit and record MIDI effects, and contains a fully-featured editing suite.

You can even remote control the software from your iPhone or iPad! Going back to the recording features, Pro Tools enables you to record a sound file in real-time, or you can record and instantly convert these recordings into loops or organize into individual track playlists. You can run the software on either a Mac or Windows computer that has a minimum of an Intel i5 processor, or something similar, and at least 4GB of RAM to run it.

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You can upload directly to the internet or your favorite social media platform for your listeners to enjoy in the best quality. Overall, Pro Tools 12 is a complete, one-stop shop for all your recording, editing, and producing needs, all in one convenient, easy-to-use, and affordable package. Coveted as a next-generation DAW platform by many, Cubase is one of the longest-standing platforms in the industry, and for many great reasons.

These include the unique approach Cubase takes to make the music recording and creation process more inspiring than it is already. There are dozens of features included in this platform that help it achieve this ambitious goal. Regarding recording audio, one of the key features here is the Sampler Track. Using this, you can take any sample of audio or any clip and manipulate it using the onboard features and filters to create anything you want.

While supporting VSTs and plugins, there are hundreds of built-in plugins, including the remarkable Caleidoscope, to get you started. To run Cubase 10, you can either a Mac or Windows computer with over 21GB of space to install everything. From the dedicated recording Control Room window to the advanced metronome click control and Retrospective Record mode, you really do have everything you need.

Choosing the Right DAW

Another wildly popular DAW option that musicians and producers have taken advantage of for other 30 years is Reason. Now on its 10th version, Reason is a preferred choice for hundreds of professional musicians and studios around the world, and now it can be yours. From recording your sounds to editing, mastering, mixing, exporting, and everything else in between, Reason has got it all. The basics are easy to master, the layout is simple and intuitive, and everything from managing your tracks and clips on the rack and within the browser, installing and utilizing plugins, and of course mixing, is all easily accessible whenever you need it.

Taking a bit of a dive into the features made available to you, Reason comes jam-packed with an arsenal of instruments at your disposal, including premium packages such as Europa Drums, Grain a sample manipulator , Kong drum synthesiser , Dr. Octo Rex a loop sampler , and many, many more. Combine these together, and you get infinite possibilities to create and edit whatever you want.

You only need a minimum of 4GB of space, and roughly 8GB for other downloadable content. The more core processors your computer has, the better it will run. He treats corrective, creating, and restorative editing separately, including cutting, copying, pasting, comping, and fades; time-stretching, beat-mapping and recycling, drum replacement, and pitch manipulation; and spectral editing, audio restoration, and demixing. Each chapter discusses concepts and ideas, then hands-on applications in each of the digital audio workstations. Feedback For webmasters.

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