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Digital Audio Workstations

Buyer's Guide

Ableton Live 7
Features: Mac/Windows-compatible; multitrack recording up to 32-bit/192kHz; nondestructive editing with unlimited undo; MIDI sequencing of software/hardware instruments; Real-time stretching/warping of AIFF, WAV, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, and MP3 files; effects (delays, filters, distortions, compressors, and EQs); instruments with Impulse for sampled drums; VST and AU effects/instrument support; REX file support; video import/export; full ReWire support; single screen GUI.
Price: $599
Contact: Ableton at 646-723-4586,

Ableton Live 7 LE
Features: Identical to Ableton Live 7 except it is limited to 2 simultaneous stereo audio inputs and outputs, 12-built-in audio effects, 8 built-in instruments, 2 AU/VST effects, and 2 AU/VST instruments per project.
Price: $199
Contact: Ableton at 646-723-4586,

ADK Lyve Tracker Hard-Disk Recorder/Editor
Features: 4U rack DAW interface/software; based on a Steinberg Nuendo or Cubase audio engine; provides digital consoles (Yamaha, DiGiCo, etc.) with recording of up to 192 simultaneous tracks; features Intel Core 2 Duo, RME MADI technologies; removable hard drives; DVD-RW for data backup.
Price: $10,799
Contact: ADK at 859-635-5762,

Adobe Audition 3
Features: VSTi virtual instrument support with piano roll editor; spectral editing; multitrack editing; Convolution Reverb; Analog Delay; mastering tool; tube-modeled compressor; radius time; pitch stretching from iZotope; Guitar Suite effects; top/tall views; noise reduction; phase correction tools; waveform editing tools; ASIO, VST, DirectX, ReWire support; Windows Vista.
Price: $349 (upgrade from $99)
Contact: Adobe at 800-585-0774,

Alesis HD24XR Hard-Disk Recorder/Editor
Features: 4U hard-disk recorder with simple editing features (cut, copy, paste, track-move with undo); 24 tracks of 24-bit/44.1/48kHz recording, 12 tracks of 24-bit/96kHz recording; Ethernet port; 24 analog inputs (TRS), 24 analog outputs (TRS); 24-channel ADAT optical I/O; MIDI I/O, MTC out; ADAT Sync I/O; word clock in; dual-bay low-cost IDE drive data storage; ADAT/FST file streaming technology; optional Fireport FireWire interface for file transfer to Mac/PC-based DAW.
Price: $1,999 ($1,499 24-bit/48kHz model)
Contact: Alesis at 401-658-5760,

Apple Garageband
Features: Mac OS only; 2 simultaneous stereo audio inputs and outputs; automation of effects, tempo, and levels; multi-take recording; Jam Pack voices; can use any Core Audio softsynth; built-in reverb, compression, etc., effects.
Price: $79 (part of iLife ’08 suite)
Contact: Apple at 800-275-2273,

Apple Logic Studio
Features: Mac-based audio applications suite including Logic Pro 8 digital audio workstation, MainStage, Soundtrack Pro 2, Studio Instruments, Studio Effects, Studio Sound Library, WaveBurner, Compressor 3, Impulse Response Utility and Apple Loops Utility
Price: $499; $299 (upgrade from Logic Express 8); $199 (upgrade from Logic Pro 7)
Contact: Apple at 800.692.7753,

Apple Logic Express
Features: Identical to Apple Logic Pro 8 DAW except for the absence of in-the-box surround mixing, TDM/DAE support, distributed audio processing (DAP), and support for “high-end” control surfaces; Mac OS only.
Price: $199
Contact: Apple at 800.692.7753,

Audacity 1.2.6
Features: Freeware for Mac, Windows, and GNU/Linux operating systems; record up to 16 channels at once (requires multichannel I/O); record and edit 16-, 24-, and 32-bit sampling rate; record at 96kHz; import/export WAV, AIFF, AU, Ogg Vorbis files; import MPEG audio; export MP3 audio; no WMA or AAC proprietary file format support; cut, copy, paste, delete and unlimited undo/redo editing; re-draw of individual sample points; comprehensive, simple effects and compression parameters.
Price: Free
Contact: The Audacity Team,

Bias Peak Pro XT 6
Features: Mac-only DAW suite featuring Peak Pro 6, SoundSoap 2, SoundSoap Pro, and BIAS Master Perfection Suite with 6 VST/AU plug-ins; support for up to 32-bit/10MHz, including 24-bit/96kHz and 192kHz; built-in support for Mac I/O and Core Audio hardware; new features include mastering and “classical editing” crossfade modes, pre/post roll audition; voiceover ducking DSP; Peak Pro Production Pack, a collection of analysis, EQ, and audio cleaning tools.
Price: $1,199 ($599 for Peak Pro 6, $129 for Peak 6 LE)
Contact: Bias at 707-782-1866,

Cakewalk SONAR 8 Producer
Features: PC-only DAW suite featuring unlimited audio or MIDI tracks, sends and busses, as well as simultaneous effects and virtual instruments (limited only by CPU); 42 included audio effects; 14 included virtual instruments; 24-bit/384kHz max. audio bit depth/sample rate; 64-bit audio engine; Lexicon Pantheon Reverb, full version; TS 64 Transient Shaper; TL-64 Tube Leveler.
Price: $619 ($369 SONAR 8 Studio version)
Contact: Cakewalk at 888-225-3925,

Cube-Tec AudioCube
Features: Rack-mount, multi-channel, up-to 24-bit/192kHz audio workstation featuring audio analysis, restoration, quality controlled automated archival, audio editing, mastering and DVD-A authoring; based on AudioCube software.
Price: POA
Contact: Cube-Tec International at 49 421 20 1440,

Digidesign Pro Tools
Features: Mac OS and Windows compatible; 24-bit/96kHz (Pro Tools LE and M-Powered) and 24-bit/192kHz capabilities (Pro Tools|HD); advanced audio and built-in MIDI sequencing; comprehensive mixing and automation environments; a plethora of bundled effects, virtual instruments, and compatible applications; support for RTAS, AudioSuite, TDM (PT|HD only) plug-ins; VST supported via optional third-party software.
Price: POA
Contact: Digidesign at 650-731-6300,

FL Studio (a.k.a. Fruity Loops)
Features: PC-based DAW (Intel Mac with Bootcamp) with fully automatable workspace centered on a pattern-based music sequencer; MIDI support; proprietary saves via .FLP file format; supports audio exported to .WAV, MP3, and OGG Vorbis; “free for life” software updates.
Price: $299/$399 (FL Studio XXL, download or boxed, respectively)
Contact: FL Studio at

iZ RADAR V Hard-Disk Recorder/Workstation
Features: 24-track hard-disk multitrack recorder/editor with built-in “world-class” converters; up to 192kHz to a single disk; dual removable disks with dual-disk recording; records to universal BWAV audio format; Gigabit Ethernet; Ultra-low jitter digital frequency synthesized clock; AES and SPDIF 2-channel Digital I/O; DVD-RAM/DVD-R/CDR Combo drive.
Price: from $14,995
Contact: iZ Technology Corporation at 800-776-1356,

Mackie Tracktion 3 Ultimate Bundle
Features: Mac or Windows OS compatible; 64-bit/192kHz mix engine; loop browser; single screen UI; no track count, virtual instrument, or plug-in limitations; IK Multimedia SampleTank, Amplitube LE, Submersible Music DrumCore TK library; and Garritan Personal Orchestra; much more.
Price: $249
Contact: Mackie Designs at 425-487-4333,

Magix Sequoia 10
Features: Windows-only DAW suited for recording, mixing, audio post, broadcasting, and mastering purposes; Red Book-compatible CD/DVD authoring up to 24-bit/192kHz; low-latency audio engine; VST and DirectX plug-ins; external room control; realtime room simulator with convolution.
Price: $3,499
Contact: Magix at 888-326-2449,

MOTU Digital Performer 6
Features: Mac-based DAW with MIDI sequencing; redesigned interface; streamlined operation; track comping; MasterWorks Leveler plug-in; ProVerb convolution reverb plug-in; Film scoring enhancements; Final Cut Pro integration via XML interchange; Broadcast Wave support; Floating point audio files; Pro Tools|HD support enhancements; Pre-rendered virtual instruments; AU support enhancements; Plug-in manager; Direct audio CD burning; much more.
Price: $795
Contact: MOTU at 617-576-2760,

SADiE Series V5.6
Features: Recording, editing, and post-production tasks; ultimate compatibility — integrated exchange via OMF, AAF, AES-31, Pro Tools; shares and networks with Apple or Windows-based computers and networks; open architecture, allowing third-party DirectX and VST plug-ins; CEDAR algorithms integrated into SADiE EDL.
Price: POA
Contact: Prism Media Products at 973-983-9588,

Sony SoundForge 9
Features: Windows-based professional digital audio production suite; includes tools for sound design and mastering; stereo and multichannel recording; precise audio editing; pristine sound quality; powerful effects processing via 40-plus studio effects; DirectX and VST effects are supported; Audio-For-Video; Dolby Digital AC-3 export.
Price: $399
Contact: Sony at 201-358-4109,

Steinberg Sequel
Features: affordable audio and MIDI production for Mac or PC; unlimited tracks; 32-bit floating point internal processing; nearly 5GB of included audio content — ships with 5,000-plus loops and 600 instrument sounds; intuitive design and operation.
Price: $129 list
Contact: Steinberg at 877-253-3900,

Steinberg Cubase 4.5
Features: Mac/PC DAW built on the Nuendo Audio Engine; incorporates key features of Nuendo for music production; new plug-ins and virtual instruments; Virtual Control Room; professional scoring and notation printing; four new software instruments; SoundFrame; MediaBay; full support for the upcoming Steinberg MR816 CSX/X Advanced Integration DSP Studios and the CC121 Advanced Integration Controller; VST Sound.
Price: $999 list
Contact: Steinberg North America at 877-253-3900,

Steinberg Nuendo 4
Features: Steinberg’s flagship DAW well suited for audio post work; re-engineered routing capabilities; Track Quick Control; Universal Binary and Vista-compatible; 32-bit audio engine with full surround; next-generation VST3 surround effect plug-ins; Network Collaboration;
Price: $2,340 list
Contact: Steinberg North America at 877-253-3900,

TASCAM X-48 Hard-Disk Recorder/Workstation
Features: 48-track digital recording at up to 24-bit/96kHz; 32-bit floating point audio file recording/playback; time-stamped Broadcast WAVE file format; built-in 80GB HD; built-in DVD+RW for backup, transfer, and restore; grid-style editing; 48-channel mixing; six stereo returns (60 inputs at mixdown); 12 stereo groups; full dynamic automation; dynamics and 4-band parametric EQ.
Price: $3995 list
Contact: TASCAM at 323-727-7617,