Sunday, January 29, 2006

Everybody needs a DAW

The new year is out and basically DAWs are here to stay. I've been looking for an upgrade from my US-428 which has been serving me faithfully for the last few of years from the time I remembered getting it when it first came out. Frontier designs have done a great job in thinking up really niffy products. Most recently, the wireless tranzport.

So which new DAW will I be spending my hard earned money. Magazines like future music and computer music used to have issues for buying studios under a budget and home studio makeovers with limited cash. We probably wouldn't see that much of those articles anymore as home studios are more popular and the choices of products are ridulous. Any studio makeover is bound to be sponsored by the product's company.

So where do we start? I normally try to look at products that not going to be discontinued or I'm sure will have a long running support (for my intended use lifespan). Even if there may be a product that has kick ass specs, if no one uses it, I wouldn't. Companies that have stood the test of time like tascam, yamaha, m-audio, alesis and mackie would be the first places to look for a DAW.

For most of the products out now, I will put them into 2 categories.

* Mixers pretending to be audio interfaces: e.g. Yamaha, alesis and mackie
* Audio interfaces failing to be mixers: e.g. Tascam, m-audio

I actually like the mixer/daw products, because these things work even if you rip them from your computers. However in this instance, if I'm looking at a US-428 replacement and an upgrade as well to deal with the ordeals of modern home productions.

Requirement 1: Compatibility with all/most software sequencers. This comes in useful when you realise you need to do a project which came in a different format. Pro tools is really being "elite" on only working with its own hardware. M-audio has m-powered pro tools and tascam only allows control over pro tools, but not use the actual interface.

Requirement 2: Enough Ins/outs that also include phantom power. Great when you realise that phantom powers your DI box.

Requirement 3: Motorised faders. Got to have them for automation, its a great incentive to watch sliders move on their own. I wouldn't bother otherwise.


Options:

1) Tascam FW-1884 with the digi 002 rack, hmmm. yes, but how much is that going to cost?

2) M-audio projectmix I/O. Its new and I dont know much about it yet, but can you really have your cake and eat it too?

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