Autor: Robert F. Kellner

More Digital Audio Workstations

Steinberg, Nuendo, Sequoia and more in a short

Audio Editors and Sound Design

File-based working, digital editing and digital delivery have existed in the audio production environment for far longer than the television sector. Audio editing takes place on high-end computers equipped with high quality sound cards and capture devices. These computers are often referred to as Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs).
However, when comparing the differences in DAWs from different providers, one should consider their similarities first. Historically, before the move to digital audio editing, the analog devices used were incredibly expensive, and complex. It took a number of devices such as a multi-track recorder, suitable for a film mixing console and plenty of sound processing devices that could be incorporated into the mixer. All of these were extremely expensive devices and the technology largely remained unchanged for decades. Digidesign (now Avid) first recognised that if you want to offer something new, it should function as if it were still operating in the analog world. As a result we now find, in practically all existing DAWs, a nearly identical structure in the user interface of these tools.

What you have is the equivalent of the "tape recorder" which is the Edit window with its tracks stacked on top of each other. There is the "mixer", with its meticulously modeled mixer surfaces. And there are numerous "outboard processors", now in the form of software plug-ins, which are integrated into the "mixer" and offer endless sound manipulation possibilities. So now you have everything there was previously as a virtualised system on the screen.

Pro Tools was one of the first audio editing tools, and to many was seen as the industry standard. Digidesign developed the system first and foremost as software with supporting hardware that provided a graphical user interface and this offered Apple Macs a real time processing function. This kick started the beginning of the DAW age.

With today's high-performance computers, real time processing is no longer a problem. As the technology evolved, so did the hardware to complement it. New hardware controllers were developed, then came the next stage with haptic control of full digital audio. A Harrison console or a Neve DFC was a sound mixer, but you can now work with faders on a Euphonix 5-MC or Avid S6M40. The simulation is perfect, because these controllers can easily reach the dimensions of their analog predecessors, including the number of channels supported and the routing options. Hardware controllers are compatible with a number of different digital tools.

Some of the digital audio tools are highlighted below. It is a fast changing market, with new players entering, delivering apps onto new recording devices like the Apple iPad – which itself has hardware controllers.

●    Steinberg Nuendo Cubase is an application developed for the music recording industry. Steinberg developed their own plug-in interfaces with ASIO and VST, which enabled extensions to the capabilities of their software. Nuendo Cubase core now includes functions and features for audio post-production. These include multichannel mixing, loudness control, ADR and Foley Recording. In addition, Nuendo supports a variety of high-quality hardware controllers. It is fully integrated into most Avid controllers which are included in the Avid flagship S6. Nuendo can also deliver a Dolby Atmos mix.

●    Sequoia Magix is another quality post production solution from Germany. Video support and AAF / OMF import options allow connection to professional post production systems. This tool also includes ADR features. One of it’s core features is audio restoration. Sequoia support the  EUCON protocol and other hardware contollers.

●    AVID Audio Pro Tools is one of the original digital audio editing packages, designed for multitrack sound design and post production, the tools includes extensive effects, hardware accessories and intergration into the AVID video editing platform. It is one of the most used audio editing applications for television production.

●    Although more DAWs like Motus Digital Performer, Cakewalk Sonar or Apple Logic Pro have the ability to deliver a film mix, they are more commonly used in music production and feature high quality MIDI integration. Adobe’s DAW solution, Audition, offers the advantage of being able to work directly within a Premiere Pro project,  however post production sound designers often use other tools, so the software is more popular with Premiere Pro editors with experience in the audio field who want to produce an project directly within the workplace, and finish their programme in one tool. Adobe Audition offers a full set of multitrack editing and sound processing tools.
When choosing DAW software, one should always bear in mind, that a large number of features demands an intensive training period for the operator. Today hardware controllers are essential in delivering a captivating sound mix. This can restrict the choice of DAW software for a certain project size. However, all that matters in the end is what the programme sounds like. Let your ears be the judge.

Related Articles: