Application and Usage of DAW Controllers

A Digital Audio Workstation Controller, popularly known as DAW controller is a device powered by electricity or a computer software or application which is used in order to record, edit and create audio files.

DAWs come in various shapes and sizes. It can be a small application running as software on a smart phone device or a laptop computer or desktop computer, as well as an integrated, multi-ethnic standalone device, as well as a highly sophisticated and complex device which has a complicated configuration of a variety of components all of which are controlled by a centrally connected computer.

Implementation history of DAW:

DAWs were first started to be made available in the market by the 1970s which coincided with development of computer systems. These DAWs were expensive to buy as well as limited in quantity. Later, from 1980s, DAWs became more affordable as they were based on personal computers. From then till today, DAWs have continued to grow popular and cheaper and much more user friendly. DAWs combined the use of open source software licences along with consumer audio systems to make it an essential and non-disposable piece of weaponry in any up to date recording studio.

Knowing an Integrated DAW Controller:

An integrated DAW Controller consists of the following parts:

  • A mixing console
  • Audio converter
  • Control surface
  • Data storage

All of these are integrated into a single device, so the name, Integrated DAWs. These Integrated DAWs gained popularity during initial days when computer based programs had not yet been developed and were not available. With the advent of computers and computer based DAWs, the prices went down. The ones based on computers were much more convenient to use and were way cheaper. Thus Integrated DAWs gradually stated losing its grounds of popularity and eventually gave way to software based DAWs. Practice of using Integrated DAWs have not yet become extinct as some establishments still offer full Graphic User Interface (GUI) and without the usage of costly microprocessors.

Software DAWs or Music Sequencers:

The software DAW controller or those based on computers, have four basic components, viz:

  • Central computer which controls the entire system.
  • Sound card, which is also known as an audio interface or sound converter
  • Digital audio editor


At least one input device which can be anything starting from a simple device like a mouse or a highly sophisticated device like a MIDI controller key board or an automatically operating fader board, which essentially helps to modify data of musical notes and mix track volumes.

In this setup, central computer acts as a controller for utilising software and sound card and supplies power for processing and editing audio input. Work of the sound card is to convert analogue signals into digital ones and process audio.

Most of the available Software DAWs have facilities providing for MIDI playback, recording and editing – all in one.

Plug-ins for DAWs:

The modern day DAW controller has countless plug-ins available to be combined with them, each having unique and specific functions. Some plug-ins like equalisers, resonators, synthesizers, virtual amplifiers, distortion and limiters are very useful indeed and comes in handy while audio editing.

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