Digital Performer and DAWs

Unlike stereo audio editors (Audacity, Peak, Audition), Digital Performer is an example of a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Digital Performer relies (mostly) on non-destructive processing and mixing. The program allows for multiple sounds to be used at once by reading from the multiple sound files, applying gain changes as indicated by mix commands, and applying processing through plugins. When you have completed a mix (or at any stage along the way), you “bounce” your project to stereo, which mixes and applies all processing to the individual tracks.

Since a DAW project has a more complex organization of files than a stereo audio editor, and a more complex set of preferences and setup, it is important to understand setup and file organization for a DAW project.

First Step – Starting a New Project

Launch Digital Performer. The default setting is to open a project or create a new project. Create a new project, and name it according to the assignment instructions (or whatever you want to call it). Creating a Digital Performer project creates a new folder, with a data file and audio files folder within. Other folders will get created as needed. For simplicity, you should plan on creating other folders to store your original and edited audio source files.

Studio Setup and Program Preferences

Once you have a project open, you should check your program preferences. There are a lot of sub-menus in the preferences window. Choose General | Audio Files. Here you set your file format for new projects, and the file format for the current project. My default choices are shown below. I recommend Broadcast WAVE, Interleaved (check box), and 16 Bit Integer sample format. The other important setting is in the Audio File Locations section. You should choose to “Always copy imported audio to project audio folder.” The other choice for processed files will be made for you.



Once you have set your preferences, move to the Setup menu, scroll down the Configure Audio System -> Configure Hardware Driver….



This choice will bring up the window that lets you set your audio interface. You can choose to use built-in output (with 1/8″ headphone jack) or the Digidesign mBox (with 1/4″ headphone jack and better audio quality). Make sure the sample rate matches your project.




Digital Performer has two main windows: the control panel and the consolidated window. The control panel contains the transport controls and the counter. The consolidated window has tabs for switching between windows, or drag spots to create multiple window panes. The default opening tab selects “Tracks.” Before going any further delete all the MIDI tracks. MIDI tracks have a note icon in front of the track name. Select all the track names, and choose Delete Tracks from the Project menu.

My preferred window pane layout is to select the Sequence tab as my top pane. The Sequence pane allows you to place audio into tracks, move the audio regions around, and add mix automation. The Sequence pane is your primary workspace. I usually drag a new pane up from the bottom and select the Mixing Board for that pane. I also drag a narrow pane over from the right and choose Soundbites from the small drop down menu on the tab.

Importing Audio

You can drag and drop audio files directly from the desktop to the Soundbites window.

more to come


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