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Analogue into digital

The continuous analogue wave is sampled many times a second CD quality 44100 times a second this is the sample rate Each sample is a measurement of voltage and is given a binary number, the range of numbers determined by the bit rate with formula 2n , where n is the bit rate. The higher the bit rate the greater the accuracy of the measurement 8 bit = 256 increments, 16 bit, approx. 65000, and so on, it is exponential! However the greater the bit depth ( and sampling rate) the more memory and storage needed

Analogue to digital conversion

Originally computer memory and storage was very expensive so 8 bit was the norm, then 12 bit ( early samplers were 12 bit) In the 80s - 16 bit ( CD quality) Nowadays we use 20 or 24 bit as computer memory and storage is cheap The higher the bit rate the better the dynamic range

Sample Rate
It must be twice the frequency that is expected ( Nyquist Theorem) as human hearing goes up to 20kHz we use sample rates of at least 44.1kHz Also 48 kHz Nowadays we use 96kHz, or even 192kHz The greater the sample rate the greater the accuracy of the measurement of the original waveform takes up loads of computer memory and storage.

Digital Multi Tracking

Starting around 1995, another revolution in multi tracking began, with the arrival of cheap digital multitrack recorders, which recorded sound to
a digital audio tape format (such as ADAT) a computer hard drive, in some cases Minidiscs.

While hardware costs have fallen the power of the personal computer has increased, so that today, an average home computer is sufficiently powerful to serve as a complete multitrack recorder, using inexpensive hardware and software This is a far cry from the days when multitrack recorders cost thousands of dollars and few people could afford them. Some of the leading providers of multi trackers are Tascam (hard drive or cassette based), Alesis (ADAT digital tape based), Roland/Boss (hard drive based), Fostex (hard drive based),

Digital Multi track tape 1985

In 1972 Denon invented the first 8 track reel to reel digital recorder Digital Multi track tape was used from early 80s onwards but the machines were expensive 1980 a commercially available digital audio recording system called the "3M Digital Audio Mastering System" 3M later designed and manufactured several other commercially available models of digital audio recorders used throughout the early to mid-1980s.

Alesis Digital Audio Tape or ADAT is a tape format used for simultaneously recording eight tracks of digital audio at once, onto Super VHS magnetic tape - a format similar to that used by consumer VCRs.

The product was announced in January 1991 The first ADAT recorders shipped over a year later in February or March 1992. More audio tracks could be recorded by synchronizing up to 16 ADAT machines together, for a total of 128 tracks. While synchronization had been available in earlier machines, ADAT machines were the first to do so with sample-accurate timing - which in effect allowed a studio owner to purchase a 24-track tape machine eight tracks at a time. This capability and its comparatively low cost

ADAT is a professional format, and while it has been replaced by the computer-based digital audio workstation, it is still used by some in the recording industry

Tascam DA88 1993

The DA-88 was a digital multitrack recording device introduced by the TASCAM division of the in 1993. This modular, digital multitrack device uses tape as the recording medium and could record up to eight tracks simultaneously. It also allowed multiple DA-88 devices to be combined to record 16 or more tracks. However, the device only had 16-bit resolution. (TASCAM later introduced the DA-98, which had 24-bit resolution.)



Hard Disk Recorder

A hard disk recorder is a type of recording system that uses a high-capacity hard disk to record digital audio. Hard disk recording systems represent an alternative to more traditional reel-to-reel tape or cassette multitrack systems, and provide editing capabilities unavailable to tape recorders. The systems, which can be standalone or computer-based, typically include provisions for digital mixing and processing of the audio signal.

24 Track Digital
With the takeoff of the compact disc, digital recording became a major area of development by equipment makers. Several affordable solutions were released during the late 1980s and early 90s; many of these continued to use tape, either in reels, or in more manageable videocassettes. 1991, Fairlight ESP Pty Ltd developed the MFX2, the first 24 track disk recorder. 1993, iZ Technology Corporation developed RADAR designed to replace 24 track tape machines. By the middle 1990s, with the steady decline of hard disk prices and the corresponding increases in capacity and portability, the cost of hard disk recording systems had dropped to the point where they became affordable for even smaller studios. Though there are several other types of digital recorder still in use, hard disk systems are rapidly becoming the preferred method for studio recording.

One major advantage of recording audio to a hard disk is that it allows for non-linear editing. Audio data can be accessed randomly and therefore can be edited non-destructively, that is, the original material is not changed in any way. Hard disk recorders are often combined with a digital mixing console and are an inherent part of a digital audio workstation. In this form complex tasks can be automated, freeing the audio engineer from 'performing' a mix.

Computer-based HDR
A personal computer can be used as a hard disk recorder with appropriate software; nowadays this solution is often preferred, as it provides a more flexible interface to the studio engineer. Many studio-grade systems provide external hardware, particularly for the analog to digital conversion stages, while less expensive software systems can use the hardware included with any modern computer. The major constraints on any hard disk recording system are the disk size, transfer rate, and processor speed. Some systems use "lossy" digital audio compression to minimize the first two factors. This solution is becoming increasingly rare, thanks to rapid increases in hard disk capacity.

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic system designed solely or primarily for recording, editing and playing back of digital audio ( with nowadays some midi implementation) DAWs were originally tape-less, microprocessorbased systems such as the Synclavier and Fairlight CMI. Modern DAWs are software based and run on computers with audio interface hardware. Examples ProTools Sadie Logic 16

An integrated DAW consists of a mixing console, control surface, audio converter, and data storage in one device. Integrated DAWs were more popular before personal computers became powerful enough to run DAW software. As computer power increased and price decreased, the popularity of the costly integrated systems dropped.

Yamaha AW


A computer-based DAW has four basic components:
a computer, an ADC-DAC (also called a sound card, audio interface, etc.), a digital audio editor software, one input device for adding or modifying musical note data (this could be as simple as a mouse, and as sophisticated as a MIDI controller keyboard, or an automated fader board for mixing track volumes, etc.).

Integrated DAWS
Disadvantages/advantages over software based?


The computer acts as a host for the sound card and software and provides processing power for audio editing. The sound card (if used) or external audio interface typically converts analogue audio signals into digital form, and for playback converting digital to analogue audio; The software controls all related hardware components and provides a user interface to allow for recording, editing, and playback. Most computer-based DAWs have extensive MIDI recording, editing, and playback capabilities, and some even have minor video-related features like logic

As software systems, are based on a multitrack tape recorder metaphor, making it easier for recording engineers and musicians already familiar with using tape recorders to become familiar with the new systems. computer-based DAWs tend to have a standard layout which includes transport controls (play, rewind, record, etc.), track controls and/or a mixer, and a waveform display. Multitrack DAWs support operations on multiple tracks at once. Like a mixing console, each track typically has controls that allow the user to adjust the overall volume and stereo balance (pan) of the sound on each track. In a traditional recording studio additional processing is physically plugged in to the audio signal path, a DAW however can also route in software or uses software plugins to process the sound on a track.


DAWs are capable of many of the same functions as a traditional tape-based studio setup, and in recent years have almost completely replaced them. Perhaps the most significant feature available from a DAW that is not available in analogue recording is the ability to 'undo' a previous action. Undo makes it much easier to avoid accidentally permanently erasing or recording over a previous recording. If a mistake is made, the undo command is used to conveniently revert the changed data to a previous state. Cut, Copy, Paste, and Undo are familiar and common computer commands and usually available in DAWs in some form.

Commonly DAWs feature some form of automation, often performed through "envelopes". The lines and curves of the automation graph are joined by or comprise adjustable points. By creating and adjusting multiple points along a waveform or control events, the user can specify parameters of the output over time (e.g., volume or pan). Automation data may also be directly derived from human gestures recorded by a control surface or controller. MIDI is a common data protocol used for transferring such gestures to the DAW. MIDI recording, editing, and playback is increasingly incorporated into modern DAWs of all types, as is Synchronization with other audio and/or video tools.