My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

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My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Post by Forum Admin »

Thought I'd start a new topic to let everyone who uses a DAW to post their Top 5 Functions/Features of their own fave DAW software, be it Cubase, Studio One, Pro Tools, Samplitude, Logic Pro, Digital Performer, Live, Reason, FL Studio or whatever you prefer to use.

I know it's asking a lot, but I'm hoping between us we can highlight the coolest practical functions you simply would not wish to be without.

Please try to number them 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 so we have some consistency. As much detail as you like...

Oh yeah: edit the Topic Reply title please and put your DAW name at the front, eg. Studio One: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Post by ConcertinaChap »

I'll have to be honest and say I'm having trouble with this one. To me it's a bit like asking me to name my top feature for a hammer from B&Q. Answer, I can hit things with it. Likewise with a DAW; I can record things with it, I can do non-destructive editing, I can pan tracks, I can vary volumes, I can tweak the EQ on a track and so on. But all DAWs do this, don't they?

I must be missing something :(

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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Post by Eddy Deegan »

I am going to throw my oar in here soon. Truth is, I'm more of a performer than an engineer and as such I use the DAW as a glorified tape recorder with the ability to mess around with things after the fact.

There are definitely things I really like about DAWs in general and which I'll reference in Reaper-specific terms but at present I'm enough of a noob to Reaper that I didn't even realise that you could filter the mixer view so as not to show the FX inserts, which confused me when someone kindly sent me some chord sequences in response to my request for experimental input in the lounge and I ended up copy-pasting the MIDI to a new project as a result as the project they sent me had that option enabled.

I know exactly 3 keyboard shortcuts in Reaper! I'd really like to respond on a considered manner coming from my perspective but it's not a 10 minute job to do so as I can't reel things off the top of my head, so I'll feed back more in a day or two :)
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Post by muzines »

ConcertinaChap wrote:I'll have to be honest and say I'm having trouble with this one.

Me too, but not in the way you describe - I'll have to put some thought into it to provide some meaningful answers, I think...

Eddy Deegan wrote:I'd really like to respond on a considered manner coming from my perspective but it's not a 10 minute job to do so as I can't reel things off the top of my head, so more in a day or two :)

Exactly the same for me...
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Post by ConcertinaChap »

Maybe I can draw another comparison, but this time with a word processor. Like a DAW a WP has a complex but pretty well understood set of tasks to fulfil but it can perform those tasks in a number of ways, like, say the differences between Wordstar and Word Perfect (for people with long memories). Is the question, then, the top five implementations of the basic task set? Or is it your five favourite features that other DAWs don't do? Or something else.

I remain Confused of Bradford on Avon, but I'm beginning to get used to that. I'll wait and see what you two say and find out what I'm missing :)

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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Post by Eddy Deegan »

ConcertinaChap wrote:Wordstar and Word Perfect (for people with long memories).

I was a Write On! man myself :)

ConcertinaChap wrote: Is the question, then, the top five implementations of the basic task set? Or is it your five favourite features that other DAWs don't do? Or something else.

Absolutely this. The top 5 features of Reaper for me would by default contain the ability to drag in audio files, slice them, move them around in the timeline etc. which seems all rather generic.

Maybe you could elaborate on the objective of the article (if indeed that's the goal) such that we can tailor the responses accordingly? Perhaps a short list of things not to include as they are taken as read.

I doubt there's much shortage of willingness here to provide input :)
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Reaper: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Post by James Perrett »

I've been having a think about this and so far only come up with 4. These may not be the sort of thing you are thinking of but they are the things that matter to me.

1. Reliability. It is no good having a flashy fancy DAW if you don't know whether that performance of a lifetime is going to be captured or not - especially when the performer is paying you to record them. The first software we had at the studio was Voyetra's Sequencer Plus which never crashed in something like 5 years of almost daily use. Since then I've expected that level of reliability from any software that I use but have often been disappointed. I started evaluating Reaper over 10 years ago when Adobe decided to completely rewrite Audition and then rushed out a very unreliable version. Reaper turned out to be far more reliable than anything I'd used in the years since Sequencer Plus. Last weekend I took a bit of a risk by hooking Reaper up to an X32 for the first time on a computer that I had never used for anything more than stereo before. It worked all afternoon and evening with no problems.

2. Performance. Gone are the days when a DAW programmer had to hand code everything in assembler to achieve native multitrack recording on a PC. But that shouldn't mean that we should ignore performance - especially now that some plug-ins require astonishing amounts of processing power to accurately emulate hardware. The DAW is a platform that should stay out of the way as much as possible and should allow you to run hundreds of tracks if that's what the production needs. The Reaper download has only recently reached 10MB in size and it runs well on ancient systems as well as modern ones.

3. Accommodating. Nowadays I really appreciate being able to drag almost any media file into Reaper's timeline and have it handled sensibly. It will handle audio or video with almost any bit depth, sample rate and data rate with decent conversion quality if needed. The same goes for plug-ins as I can use my old Direct X plug-ins just as easily as I can use VST's (not to mention the great range of JS effects that you can modify yourself or even create new ones from scratch).

4. Updates (or not). As the business changes our software needs to move on. I'm fairly late to the delights of stretching audio and shifting pitch but when something needed it I was pleased to see that the algorithms included with Reaper were very good. I found the addition of DDP export to be extremely useful and it is now one of my main output formats. It is rare that a month goes by without and update. However, there is no compulsion to upgrade and old versions are still available from the Reaper website.

Edited to add:

5. Approachability - the Reaper developers encourage participation in their forums and in the development process through the Pre-release section of the forum. They seem far more approachable than many other audio software companies that I've had dealings with.
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Re: Reaper: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Post by Eddy Deegan »

James Perrett wrote: 3. Accommodating. Nowadays I really appreciate being able to drag almost any media file into Reaper's timeline and have it handled sensibly.

I alluded to it, you confirmed it in detail, I'll be re-enforcing it :)
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Post by Bob Bickerton »

I'm with CC and Eddie on this.........

If I had to respond it would be so generic as to be meaningless (but seeing as I specialise in meaninglessness here goes):

1/ It records multitrack audio.

2/ I don't have to have a doctorate in writing code to operate the thing.

3/ Absolute reliability.

4/ Painless updates

5/ Must be Mac based.

I happen to use Logic, but I'm sure the above would apply to almost all DAWs......

Point of the thread being?

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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Post by muzines »

I don't think the post is "name 5 things that make a DAW a DAW". I think we can all take features such as importing audio, playing back multiple tracks, handling plugins and virtual instruments, editing audio etc as given for pretty much all DAWs.

From what I can see it's about posting five features that are something that's important to you and your workflow in your DAW of choice.

So for example, you might be a ProTools guy, and one of the features you use all the time and couldn't do without might be Beat Detective. Or maybe there's some small key command function that you love, such as "Set rounded locations by selection, cycle and Play". Or may you love Logic's automatic Drummer feature for writing, to get you realistic sounding drums, with some control and development over time, without having to program them yourself, or be stuck to prefabbed loops. Or maybe you do something slick in Reaper with the scripting ability that's impossible to do anywhere else.

I think the idea is to give some inspiration and suggestions to people using these DAWs to find and explore new cool things that others are using that they might have missed. For sure, very few people have actively explored Logic's key commands, for example - there's a lot of stuff in there that aren't available from menus or any other way.

I'm sure that 90% of people are using basic, front interface facing features only, using the mouse to open menus, and generally using these tools in a fairly simplistic way. (The amount of people who start every project from a stock, blank Logic template still astounds me.) There is something to be said from watching other (skilled) people working, when you get that "wait... *what* did you just do there?!" and have a "that's *awesome*, I didn't know you could do that" moment, as you add a new trick to your vocabulary...

Just my thoughts, anyway... (it will take me some time to boil down five of my most significant things... it's kind of as hard as listing what are your five all-time favourite songs/pieces of music...)
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Post by Forum Admin »

desmond wrote:From what I can see it's about posting five features that are something that's important to you and your workflow in your DAW of choice.

So for example, you might be a ProTools guy, and one of the features you use all the time and couldn't do without might be Beat Detective. Or maybe there's some small key command function that you love, such as "Set rounded locations by selection, cycle and Play". Or may you love Logic's automatic Drummer feature for writing, to get you realistic sounding drums, with some control and development over time, without having to program them yourself, or be stuck to prefabbed loops. Or maybe you do something slick in Reaper with the scripting ability that's impossible to do anywhere else.

I think the idea is to give some inspiration and suggestions to people using these DAWs to find and explore new cool things that others are using that they might have missed. )

You struck the nail on the proverbial head there, desmond. Thanks for clarifying my intentions.

I'm looking for members to highlight functions they couldn't live without and, I guess, reveal why they stick with their DAW(s) of choice.

I'm a PreSonus Studio One Professional user (not implying I am 'professional' just happens to be the name of their flagship DAW). I'll post my Top 5 soon... haven't upgraded to v4.5 yet (still on 4.1) and I just know that some of the new features and improvements will make it into my Top 5 ! eg. pre-fade metering, improved Grouping, retaining side chain routing when plug-ins are copied...
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Re: My Top 5 DAW Features & Functions

Post by Bob Bickerton »

I think we probably got that - but what you appear to be wanting to find out is what particular, new, or unique features are deemed essential relative to other DAWs and that can only be answered if you have knowledge of what is, or isn't on offer in other DAWs.

As a Logic user, I'm probably only using 10% of its usability - which is exactly all I need!

Is it plugged in? Is it switched on? :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:

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