And The Best Sounding DAW Is…..

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Not sure what’s causing it, but in the last few weeks I’ve been getting a lot of people sending me emails about my Live versus Logic Sound Quality post from a couple years ago.  Figured it was time to maybe update my views on the topic.  Or maybe clarify my views my be a better term.

So no, I’m not really going to pick the best sounding DAW, sorry.  🙂

For years I was the guy arguing that (everything being equal) all DAWs sounded the same, or the differences were beyond the range of our playback equipment and hearing. Every test I’ve run or tried has shown the same thing, people can’t accurately hear the differences.

Then I became a full-time mastering engineer and spent a LOT of time talking to other musicians about how things SOUND. And I realized that everyone hears things differently, none of us hears things exactly the same way. Over and over I’ve been amazed at how different people focus on different areas of music, in how they approach conveying and describing it to others. In how they internalize and interpret what reaches their ears.

I’ve met people who could hear the tiniest changes to the most background parts in a song, but miss the fact that they had muted the vocal track in one section accidentally. Or people who swore two identical copies of the exact same song sounded completely different. Usually the differences are more subtle, but I’ve been surprised at what the human brain can honestly believe it is hearing.

Now, I’m not so sure all DAWs sound the same to people.

Personally, I think everyone uses a lot of other external sensory inputs when determining how things sound. Maybe one DAW is slightly brighter in it’s color palette, and for some reason that triggers something where that person hears things as slightly brighter. I don’t know, I have no idea how it works or what is happening. But I do think that for whatever reason, people can legitimately hear differences where others can not.

The question of are those differences really there in the first place is the thorny bit though, and for that I still turn to the cold hard science of digital audio. Maybe one day we’ll have a better way of describing and measuring sound.

Ultimately though, it’s a dumb fucking thing to argue about no matter what. If you can’t make a great professional sounding track in ANY modern DAW, it’s not the tool’s fault.

 

🙂

  1. Papertiger08-27-2013

    THIS:

    “Ultimately though, it’s a dumb fucking thing to argue about no matter what. If you can’t make a great professional sounding track in ANY modern DAW, it’s not the tool’s fault.”

    So true. Going to nail this to the wall in the studio!

  2. Tarekith08-27-2013

    🙂 Sometimes I can be blunt.

  3. Andy Gabrys08-27-2013

    absolutely. so true – “Ultimately though, it’s a dumb fucking thing to argue about no matter what. If you can’t make a great professional sounding track in ANY modern DAW, it’s not the tool’s fault.”

  4. RonnieO08-27-2013

    Ultimately what you are using to convert electrical energy into acoustic energy has always been one of, if not the most important. The environment in which electrical transducers are placed/set up has to come in to play when producing a professional sounding track.
    I have today completed mastering 2 tracks (Electronic Dance) originally composed and arranged using Logic by the composers.
    Like you I use Event Opals which I have placed in an acoustic environment (room) where a lot of time and effort has gone into placement of the speakers and associated acoustic treatment.
    I had the opportunity to have both composers present to play their tracks raw through my system, and was delighted when they both smiled and immediately felt they needed to adjust things just a little.
    My point here and I agree totally with your summation –

    “Ultimately though, it’s a dumb fucking thing to argue about no matter what. If you can’t make a great professional sounding track in ANY modern DAW, it’s not the tool’s fault.”

    is to always where possible create the environment to obtain the best out of whatever DAW you use.
    In my case Studio One 2 Pro.

    All the best Tarekith, I always look forward to and enjoy your editorials .

  5. Kenny08-27-2013

    Thanks for you well considered posts and your bluntness ;-), on the subject Tarekith!

    FYI, here’s my guiding principle(s):

    – Our ears and brain can (and will) regularly trick us into mistaking subjective judgments for objective ones. This can be applied to all aspects of life and awareness ;-)!

    – Nothing sounds “perfect”.

    – We’re all conditioned by the current state of audio technology and the type of music or genre that we’re listening to on a regular basis.

    – Strive to make everything sound really, really good, and great. There’s a saying: “the better is the enemy of the good”. I modify it: “trying to make it sound perfect is the enemy of the knowing when it sounds great!”

    – There are many types of “really, really good” and “great”.

    Most important of all:

    Music is a form of communication. I always try to focus on what the music is trying to communicate: the feeling, mood, idea, etc. (there are infinite dimensions to all of this). EVERYTHING, including technical considerations are secondary to the above. I’ve heard countless technically lacking, even horrible, recordings that have moved me to my depths. Sure they might have moved me even more if they had been been better recordings, but in the moment it’s always the content that matters the most.

  6. Tarekith08-27-2013

    Well said!

  7. Nomar08-27-2013

    I would only add one little line at the end of this……….

    “ it’s not the tool’s fault, it’s the tool who’s using it.”

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