DAW! You really can’t do VO without it.

Art Bruder

What is a DAW? What does it do? Why do I need one for voice over? So many questions…

Well, stick around and read this article and you’ll learn the answers!

“DAW” is an acronym that stands for Digital Audio Workstation. Simply put, it is the software application you use to record audio on your computer. You’ll need a computer or smart device to use it; it’s software, like Microsoft Word, or an app, like twitter.

But it does a lot more than just capture your awesome voice.

DAWs are an essential part of your home recording studio. Your studio may consist of a closet, the corner of a room, or a full-blown VO booth. No matter your recording environment, you have to have some way of recording, editing, post producing, and exporting your voice over performance.

That’s where the DAW comes in.

There are many products on the market ranging from free and easy to use, to very expensive and you’ll need a degree to run it. The good news is no matter which one you chose, they all produce high quality recordings. All DAWs have mostly the same features like recording, editing out unwanted audio, the ability to move audio clips around in time, as well as post production features like EQ, Compression, Noise Reduction, Normalization, and the ability to export in many file formats to meet your customer’s needs. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular products.

Audacity

It’s free, and it works. Very well. Audacity is an open source DAW software application. You simply download it for your Mac or PC, install it and start recording. Literally. Just click on the record button and it starts recording.

I recommend it to all of my students mainly because it’s free and it works great. It’s not currently supported by the latest Mac version Catalina 10.15.3 but there is a work around that, well, works great. I cover this pretty extensively in my Audacity class.  If you are a PC user you’re all set.

Adobe Audition

Audition is a cloud-based subscription that is currently around $20.00 a month. You can use it for 30 days with a free trail and decide if it’s for you after that. I recommend it for those who want to do more post-production on their audio.

It’s a full featured, easy to use DAW that runs on Mac and PC.

It’s my personal favorite and I’ve been using it for years. Join my class and I’ll show you how to use it and why it’s my favorite!

Twisted Wave  

Twisted Wave is another full featured DAW that has a Masters Edition, Standard Edition for your computer, as well as an app for iPad called “WavePad.” Prices range from 5.50/month to 69.95 for the Masters edition. No need for that level in voice over as it’s geared toward music production.

Pro Tools

The OG. The grand-daddy of DAWs. Pro Tools is the original digital recording platform for wide- spread professional use in studios. There is a lite version and the regular edition. Many times when you purchase a AD/DA converter,  (Analog to digital, digital to analog) it will come with software and the Pro Tools lite version is the most common one. It can still be a bit difficult to use the lite version due to the way the software interacts with your computer and AD/DA interface.

All DAWs share some features, including cut, copy, paste, delete, insert, auto-trim, compression, pitch shifting, add silence, split, fade undo/redo, amplify, normalize, equalizer, envelope, reverb, echo, and reverse.

In summary, every home studio needs a DAW to record audio and making the right choice is important. For beginners who are new to the recording scene, stick with something simple and inexpensive. As you grow in your skill level and post production chops you can upgrade as you see fit. I’ll be teaching a few upcoming classes on Audacity, Adobe Audition, and Twisted Wave in the next few weeks and if you can attend, you’ll learn that all DAWs have many things in common and the verbiage for audio is consistent across the board, meaning if you migrate to another software you’ll be familiar with the menu items.