What is a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)?- The Ultimate Guide.


What is a DAW? You may have asked.

A DAW is a tool used to record, edit and manipulate digital audio signals.

I have worked personally with several Audio workstation software over the past 15 years.

So, here I will present an in-depth overview of DAWs based on my own experience.

In this article, we shall look at the following:

5 functions of a Digital Audio Workstation

 DAWs play a central role in every modern studio, and understanding its functionalities will determine efficiency in creating music.

Below are 5 essential functions of a DAW:

Record audio:  

This needs little or no explanation as DAWs function at the very core of the recording process. The Audio workstation software has basic functionalities to capture audio and present it as digital wave signals. The signals are captured using an audio interface. These wave signals can then be further manipulated as desired.

Edit audio

After the audio capture, there will be a need to make adjustments and corrections. This process is known as “audio editing.” As part of the basic functionalities of the Audio workstation software, it provides tools to make such adjustments and corrections easy. The corrections are mostly done visually within the DAW’s interface.

Manipulate audio

Audio manipulation techniques come in handy, especially for sound designers. Sound bending, filtering, warping, etc., are but part of the many manipulation functions of an audio workstation software. Virtual instruments and plugins run within the Audio workstation environment to make the task of audio manipulation possible.

Mix and master music

Daw in music is like a paintbrush to a painter. It’s like a canvas where musical ideas are painted. Mixing and mastering are the final processes in the music production chain. It’s all made possible using DAWs.

Music Production

The entire process of getting a basic musical idea, recording it, and processing it into a finished song relies on the functionalities of a DAW.

2 main layouts of a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

A typical Digital audio workstation comprises two central interface panels. Some Audio workstation software may have more panels. An example is the “Harrison mixbus 32C v 7, which has three panels.

Mixbus 32C Edit panel
Mixbus 32C Mixer panel

Timeline interface

This interface shows the playback state and the tracks (channels) outlay of the project. This is usually where most operations take place.

Mixer interface

The mixer interface shows the fader controls and channel strips for each channel. It usually resembles a hardware mixing console. It typically has different track control, buses, and output monitoring sections.

5 steps on How to use a Digital Audio Workstation

  • Choose a Workstation that is compatible with your operating system and system configuration.
  •  Install it. Most Audio workstation software comes with instructional materials on installation procedures. Generally, it’s straightforward.
  • Configure the system settings Some audio workstation software requires optimizing your system settings to improve their performance. Refer to the necessary instructional materials for that.
  • Connect hardware audio workstation software relies on input signals from hardware devices. Such devices may include a microphone, electric guitar, or midi keyboard; connection is done with specialized audio cables and routed through an interface.
  • Start recording On the timeline interface of typical audio workstation software, there is transport control for play, record, stop, etc. This is where the recording operation is activated. Digital audio is recorded and stored on the hard disk. 
  • Edit and manipulate your recording. Here, you can use the enormous functionalities inherent in the audio workstation software to manipulate recorded audio as required. 
  • Bounce out your recording. You can export or “bounce” out the edited audio into an eternal device. You can also upload them to social media platforms for your fans and 


Some DAWs are only usable within specific operating systems. Others are cross-platform. It would be best to decide on your audio workstation software of choice based on that.

Top DAWs for windows ONLY

FL Studio

FL Studio Interface

This DAW is very popular among EDM music producers. It was initially created as a “pattern-based” software but has become a full-fledged professional audio workstation software.

Cakewalk by bandlab

Cakewalk by Bandlab Interface

Cakewalk was initially known as “Sonar.” It is currently known as “Cakewalk by bandlab.” The software has, over the years, grown with music creators as a DAW of choice. I use it for most of my midi compositions. The most exciting thing about this audio workstation software is that it’s free. Many professionals still stick to it despite the changes in names and ownership. Find out more on Cakewalk by Bandlab.

Top DAWs for Mac ONLY

Logic pro

Logic Pro Interface

Logic Pro is a professional music creation DAW used by top producers worldwide. Generally speaking, this is the DAW of choice in the Mac world. It is armed with an arsenal of tools to record, edit, mix audio, and make outstanding records.


Garageband Interface

. Garage band is a very excellent app that gives us extraordinary results.

Top Cross-platform DAWs

Cockos Reaper

Cockos Reaper Interface

Reaper is arguably the most customizable DAW on the market today. 

Its strong point is its many options to customize the DAW to your liking. It is very regularly updated and has a large and active community. This DAW has gradually warmed itself into the hearts of many top professionals in the audio industry. It is also one of the cheapest DAWs out there.. Find out more on Cockos Reaper.

Steinberg Cubase

Steinberg Cubase Interface

Known as one of the oldest names in the game, it has become the main audio workstation software at many studios across the world. Steinberg is famous for creating the VST standard plugin format, now the standard format for most DAWs. If you are interested in checking out some cool VST plugins which you can use right away in any DAW of your choice, then check out Modern Producer’s VSTs.

Harrison mixbus 32C

Harrison Mixbus 32 C interface

This is the newest audio workstation software on this list. That, however, does not undermine its unique place in the industry. Harrison Mixbus 32C DAW is a product from Harrison Mixbus console’s creators. They claim it offers the same analog vibe synonymous with its hardware consoles.

Pro Tools

Pro Tools Interface

For decades, this has been officially known as the industry standard and holy grail of audio recording. It has also evolved over the years to maintain its place as the industry standard. Avid, owners of Pro Tools, have gone to great lengths in ensuring they did just that. Today the software is still the DAW of choice to so many industry pros globally and is used in many large studio facilities.

In Wrapping up.

We have been able to look at what a DAW is and answered the question, “what is a DAW used for”?. See more on DAWs.

Go and try out an audio workstation software today.


One response to “What is a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)?- The Ultimate Guide.”

  1. Paul Avatar

    This is a good work. Keep it up

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