7. DAW Structure and Signal Flow
- Describe the components of a DAW and their functions
as a system
DAW structure vs. conventional structure
- Conventional analog structure is limited by hardwiring
of physical components.
- Virtual architecture of computers and software allow
for greater flexibility in a DAW system.
environment window allows mindboggling routing possibilities.
DAW components - "signal flow"
- Like any other audio system, a DAW has a series of functions, or components,
that work together in a signal flow.
- An understanding of these components and how they interact is necessary
for better understanding of the DAW.
- Different manufacturers use slightly different nomenclature
or schemes, but most can be categorized as follows:
Audio File (source audio, sound store, clip store)
- The digital representation of recorded or captured
- Actual audio that is recorded or replayed
- Nonlinear in nature - random-access
- Not associated with a given time - no recording has
to be 'before' or 'after' another
- Mono or stereo
- Stereo is an interleaving of two mono sources
- Stereo processed like mono, except there is
2x the data access
- Multichannel audio actually multiple mono files
- Once recorded or captured, typically isolated from
further processing by DAW
Audio Segment (region,
- Graphical representations of the actual audio - what
the user sees and works with
- Pointers, or addresses, of data within the audio file
- Segments are associated with, but separate from, the
actual audio file
- Segment editing allows for trimming, repositioning,
grouping of audio data
- Duplication of audio can occur without making actual
copies of the data
- Changes to the segment (including duplication or deletion)
do not become changes to the actual audio data
Take (playlist, EDL, virtual track)
- A collection of segments residing in a track
- One take can be active in a given track, while others
are inactive or 'hidden'
Track/Channel (track, strip, channel, path, mixer
- Container for audio segments
- Routes audio from inputs when recording to disk
- Routes recorded audio to chosen outputs for replay
- Viewable in arrange or
edit window as a "track" -
- Allows for editing and processing of audio
- Appears in mix window
as a mixer "channel"
- Allows for real-time processing of audio
- A path for processing, routing, and mixing the audio
contained in a track
- Computer resources required to record, play,
and process a track's audio
- Resources come from either the host or the DSP hardware of a DAW
- Number of available voices defined by system's configuration
and available hardware
Physical Inputs, Outputs
- Actual physical ports for audio
- Usually separated from a channel's software 'inputs'
- Number of inputs or outputs does not define number of tracks!
- Flexible assignment available
- Connections defined by audio interface and driver