Digital Audio Workstation (DAW): Foundation for a Home Recording Studio
More important than what you're told goes into a home recording studio is what you're not told. You get to discover all kinds of things on your own and if you're new to this game, keeping a list of tech support numbers and email addresses tattooed on your arm is highly recommended.
Those in charge of the digital revolution want you to believe you can create, record, edit, mix and master a hit song in your underwear in the comfort of your own bedroom. And now, with a few apps downloaded to your smartphone, you can produce the next big hit using just your thumbs. “Building” a studio is a misnomer, unless you're actually building a studio with isolation booths, a control room, and enough space to handle a small orchestra in accordance with the latest in acoustic design specifications. “Home” is also a misnomer, especially if you're “building” a studio in your mansion in Beverly Hills.
So, the first place to go is head on over to Mix Magazine and Recordproduction.com. In fact, you can just do a Google search on recording studios and go the the Images section and see pictures of studios what will absolutely blow your mind. Recordproduction.com features dozens if not 100s of interviews with the top mix/master engineers on the planet. Now you have your measuring stick. In many of the photos of studios you'll see pix of consoles, like the SSL (Solid State Logic) or Neve consoles, which can cost 100s of 1000s of millions, depending on how rich your uncle is. You see, most articles about home studios assume you have no money. Well, the Indie musician today is managing to produce fully arranged and mastered recordings so somebody is picking up the tab for these unsigned artists. And whatever chores are not being done in a home studio are being handled in 3rd party studios, and I mean really nice studios. So, if you think you can produce a hit song using 2 thumbs on a smart phone using a couple of really cool apps, like Amplitude, Garageband, Nanostudio, or Soundcloud, more power to ya.
There are 100s, even 1000s of software programs used in recording audio. Most of these fall under the category of plug-ins used for such chores as FX (effects) processing and/or audio enhancement. The principal recording software—the foundation—for building a home studio is called a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). These programs capture (record), edit, mix and depending on the user's skill set, even master audio. But I ask, can iZotope's Ozone 5 or IK Multimedia's T-Racks 3 Deluxe really do what George Massenburg can do? Mastering is the most complex phase of audio production and will be covered in more in-depth articles.Continued on the next page