Is The DAW Dead?

Is the DAW dead?

That’s the question raised by a post at Digital Music Doctor.

The Doctor argues that innovation has slowed in the world of digital audio workstations:

We recently updated our Digital Audio Workstation Shootout to incorporate the changes in Avid Pro Tools 9 and Cakewalk Sonar X1. These new versions mark the first time in almost a year that any major DAW has been upgraded. All of the DAW producers seem to have hunkered down, waiting for the economy to improve.

You might think that both Cakewalk and Avid would have packed their releases full of new tech toys to entice buyers back into the market. But that didn’t happen.

The most striking thing about both of these releases is that, although they incorporate major software changes, neither of them introduce any significant new user functionality.

The Doctor suggests that the slowdown in DAW development is because the DAW has plateaued as a technology:

Every technology, whether it’s telephones, computers, the internet, or whatever, has a life cycle. The most exciting time for a technology is in the introduction and growth phases. During that time new features create excitement and generate new sales. However, as a technology matures, the value of new features becomes marginal and interest wanes.

It is pretty clear that most DAW’s have reached to maturity phase in the Technology Life Cycle. There will always be the Sonar and Pro Tools and other DAW fan boys who lobby fervently for minor enhancements and go “whoo hoo” when the next release arrives. But DAW’s no longer drive significant advances in digital music, and there is a real question as to how far can current DAW technology be extended.

While we’re not ready to call the DAW “dead”, it’s been a long time since a vendor “wowed” us with an update to their digital audio workstation.

We raised this issue in our 10 Predictions For Electronic Music Making In The Next Decade – and tried to image what a future DAW might do:

But, by and large, DAW manufacturers are still making virtual versions of traditional hardware studios. Most soft synths still look and act like their hardware predecessors, and that’s what buyers are demanding.

At this point, imitating traditional studios is horseless carriage thinking – letting what we can imagine be defined by the past.

In the next decade, music software is going to get smarter and interfaces will make bolder leaps. You’ll tell your computer that you want to make an drum and bass track and your DAW will anticipate the way you’ll want your virtual studio configured. Ready get started? Say “gimme a beat!” You’ll interact with your DAW to “evolve” new sounds. You’ll hum the bassline and your DAW will notate it. You’ll build the track by saying that you want a 32 measure intro and a drop down to the bass and then bring the kick back in after 16 measures. You’ll draw a curve on a timeline to define the shape of your track, do a run through and improvise over the rhythm track. Then you’ll tell your DAW to add a middle eight and double the bassline and to master it with more “zazz” and it will be saved in the cloud for your fans to listen to.

The DAW isn’t dead – but it does seem like a lot of them are on life support.

What do you think vendors need to do to get you excited about upgrading again?

67 thoughts on “Is The DAW Dead?

  1. It stupid if they think we need to buy a new one every year.. I'm still using the one I bought 5 years ago. And its not like they give you any updates when you buy it.. They save all for the next version and try and charge you again.

  2. At this point many daws are probably moving into incremental maintenance with occasional features mode, much like photoshop, autocad, etc. I actually take it as a good sign that these products are now full fledged. Much like those other products its also the time in which now there are no extreme reasons to upgrade anymore, unless there is some giant nagging bug you want fixed or some obscure new feature the majority of people are probably content with whatever version of whatever software they have

  3. the problem with your suggestion as to where DAWs go is that a lot of musical innovation and inspirations comes about by accident, not by someone being able to hum exactly what they want and tell a computer how it should sound – if we did that everything would sound the same, and very soon, the machines will just do it for us. What makes humans so unpredictable (and thus so creative) is that we can recognise the value and degree of wrongness or randomness and unpredictability that appeals to other humans.

  4. I don't think the premise of your graph is really correct. I think the interest will always be there to have a comprehensive package that does many things well. I think the graph would make more sense if it it had a steep rising curve, then pretty much leveled off with a slight ongoing increase. I think a good parallel would be Photoshop…intensive interest during it's first decade, then acceptance and incorporation into the daily business-as-usual.

    So "life support"? I hardly think that. Maybe the days of massive leaps forward with every iteration might be gone, but I think that new iterations of the DAW will simply be refinements in workflow and functionality to make using one even more transparent.

    The two big areas I think for refinement would be incorporation for outboard gear and integration with notation. Since people seem to be moving back to some outboard gear it would be great to see some more attention paid to how to integrate this more simply. A lot has been lost since the days of Opcode Vision/Galaxy/OMS.

  5. of course its dead!! that chart proves it!

    people dont need to use computers to record music anymore, they have tape – which is much easier and more convienent

  6. Personally, I’m happy development has slowed down. I wish that would go for computers OS’s as well. I was all set up in the XP days, then had to buy a new computer with Win7, and already some software won’t run on it.

  7. That graph seems like it's valid in terms of technology that musicians are going to get excited about, but not in terms of what we actually use.

    My DAW's not going anywhere anytime soon – but I'm also not that excited about dropping $200 on another lame upgrade that ends up hosing my system for a couple of days until I can get the problems figured out.

    I liked some of your "Jetsons" ideas for DAWs – but something I could use right now is some intelligent iPad integration. Why are DAW makers leaving this up to third parties?

    I'd like a version of Ableton Live that would run on the iPad and do a subset of what the full-fledged Live can do. Even if it just did audio, it would be interesting for working with on the train or away from your computer. Then I'd want to be able to take the mobile project and sync it back to my computer and do heavy duty work. Live should let me continue using the iPad as a control surface for the computer, so it feels seemless.

    I like the idea of being able sit on my sofa and lay out an arrangement and to not be tied to my desktop setup.

  8. With all due respects, this is the kind of thing an outsider would think and I am really wonder WHY it is even posted on a site like this? Today a DAW can be anything with a synth, recorder and FX. Suggesting they are dead is ignorant. They are everywhere. Infact, I would turn it around and say we are in a time where people don't use anything else but DAWs.

  9. I think its a rather dumb remark. The same nonsense we have in the financial world: a company needs to have a /rising/ amount of profit otherwise the company is "under achieving" according to the standards..

    What's wrong with simply making a profit? Why can't a company simply maintain a steady profit amount without being called "under achieving" the moment it goes down a bit? Profit is /still/ an amount which is left after everyone (all employees) got their share of the donut..

    I think the same thing applies here as well…

    And the reason why I've also called it a dumb remark? You can't speculate like this without knowing the sale rates. For all we know they have a very steady income in sales and are using that to continue development, yet only release this when its – ready -. Not when its "marketing ready".

  10. Umm, the problem is that people's needs are too individualized anymore. Not everyone is looking for the same features. A rock musician (typically) doesn't care whether or not Logic has added a physical modeling synth to their Instrument list, but they do like time-stretching and auto-tune and take-recording. The problem is that it is impossible satisfy everyone's expectations with every release within a reasonable budget and reasonable timeframe.

    I think Ableton addressed this issue by incorporating Max for Live. Thus, if you need a 32 step sequencer that can randomize gate, pitch, and a filter envelope…well, freaking build it yourself, jerk. stop whining. besides, you're most likely just gonna steal it online, you cheap bastard. It was wise of them to construct a DAW that was open enough to need relatively few updates, but where new features could conceivably be constructed by the user himself, ad infinitum.

    THIS will be the daw of the future, not the one that writes your music for you, but the one where you build the DAW, the instruments, and the effects yourself. Essentially it will be a blank slate with a file-browser, some universal commands, and a graphical instrument editor / synth coding language infused. And I'll take 2 of those, please.

  11. "Is the DAW dead?" No, but some companies might be soon. The current DAW market is flooded with several pro quality applications. The creme will rise to the top and the fruit will sink to the bottom. The price wars have already started and will only get lower and lower to try and shuffle for position. You're seeing companies taking drastic measures and having 50% mark downs.

    It looks like some companies are trying to expand their "inventory" too. Even going as far as to stretch out into the toy market. Taking orders for figurines of cartoon characters and ideas of toy T-Pain microphones. I guess you can only sell so many $9 plugins before people figure you out.

  12. If you purchase Imageline’s FL Studio you will get a lifetime of updates for free. Some new plugins cost a little more but are usually introduced with a very reasonable price.
    As the desire to converge music production, video, lighting and animation environments becomes more prevalent the DAW will naturally undergo a level of attrition.
    In my opinion There will always be the desire for a simple to use, easy to understand, recording and scoring application for the less technically minded out there.

    1. "In my opinion There will always be the desire for a simple to use, easy to understand, recording and scoring application for the less technically minded out there."

      Ease of use doesn't go hand and hand with FL Studio, you're clearly mistaken. FL Studio is flooded with workarounds and limitations. You need an external plugin just to do audio editing and there is no audio comping feature. Have you ever tried to get your midi controller to simply mute or solo a channel? You can't. Simple? Not. Would you like to be able to see the current value you're adjusting, instead of looking up to the top left hand corner every time just for a read out? Limitations by Delphi and the way FL Studio was programmed back in the 1990's.

      For true simple use, like drag and drop and others you have Studio One, Record and Sonar X1. Doesn't get any easier to make music then that. FL Studio is old architecture on an old programming platform with old workarounds and limitations. Far from simple and easy to understand.

      I don't think all the pirated downloads help either. They might want to try real copy protection and not depend on the pirates buying $9 plugins. Why care about protecting something they give away free anyways. Not the company motto I'd personally follow.

  13. "Is the DAW dead?" No, but some companies might be soon. The current DAW market is flooded with several pro quality applications. The creme will rise to the top and the fruit will sink to the bottom. The price wars have already started and will only get lower as companies shuffle for position. You're seeing companies taking drastic measures and having 50% mark downs.

    It looks like some companies are trying to expand their "inventory" too. Even going as far as to stretch out into the toy market. Taking orders for cartoon figurines and ideas of toy T-Pain autotune knockoff microphones. It's hard to stay afloat with $9 plugins and free upgrades. How much "life" is left in that lifetime free updates?

    Not even taking into account that 32 bit o/s and apps won't be supported by Windows in about 6 years or less.

  14. Is the DAW dead? No. Mainly because you are asking the wrong question.

    The graph really says nothing about sales or usefulness, user acceptance, etc. It is merely talking about new features being added to DAWs.

    The DAW is, as a technology, mature. This is usually considered a good thing. Most of the features that users want have been developed and are well understood. Most features are stable. Good stuff.

    What is left? Improving workflow, flexibility, user-interface, integration with other technologies, and improving collaboration. And killing bugs and improving runtime performance.

  15. I'd rather see a company take it's time and get a DAW fully functional and stable rather than charging me to be a beta tester. Is that to much to ask?

  16. Is journalistic hyperbole and sensationalism dead? Hell no, but I sure as fuck wish it was. Of course then people might have to actually use their brains… so it seems like a doubtful proposition.

  17. BPK is right, and slapmo, there is a convergence that has started with Max for Live and we'll most likely be working with digital media workstations – DMWs in the future. If, and it's a big if, the software companies are willing head in that direction. I can see Adobe, among others, being a bit reluctant to see this market develop.

  18. Just because the ting doesn't need constant updating doesn't mean it's dead. All it means is that the value comes in re-sale rather than sale. Look at Stradivarius violins, for example. That said, my impression over the last five years or so has been a quantum leap from MIDI-based sequencing to pure audio sequencing. Flex-time in Logic along with Melodyne as a fully-fledged plug-in mark a point at which this becomes completely viable, conceptually. I now think primarily in terms of audio rather than MIDI input. In consequence, I'm developing a hardware studio with more enthusiasm because now this isn't a 'going out of time' technology into a 'synching beautifully right into it' one… hence a new-found enthusiasm for analogue toys and modulars and the like. Recording and sampling and processing and MIDI are all coalescing. And as far as I know, this has only happened at an amateur-affordable level in the last year or so.
    In terms of updates and sales and so on, the writer Jaron Lanier has much of use to say about the concept of very complex programmes sustained on the notion of 'lock-in': they've taken a long time to learn and so the price of the product has to be weighted against the price of the learning curve. And also the price of being incompatible with the latest operating systems and of others working in the field. Hence people everywhere pay way over the odds for Word and architects the world over pay way over the odds for keeping their AutoCAD up-to-date. Then again, the producers of this software face the immense task of trying to maintain vastly complex software systems compatible with everything else whilst avoiding bugs. I know from my brother that bug-weeding sophisticated programmes can be an endless, nightmare task. So, no more dead than a house is dead if you don't heat it or repaint the verges once in a while… Maybe no more 'cutting edge'. But if anything might die in the next decade or so, it's technology fetishism in lieu of real human experience.

  19. I would LOVE for DAWs as we know them to die… music genres have changed so much, with tech playing a larger role in composition. There needs to be an evolution of the DAW concept that rethinks how we make music.

    In the meantime… I don't want these silly "hype" updates that most DAW companies put out… a new reverb or two, some instruments, etc… What I want is for them to get coding and fix the issues they already have…. I don't know of one DAW that is 100% crash-free… wtf?

  20. i think what Ohm Studio is doing is a pretty significant advancement. real time online collaborative studio. I assume most DAWS will follow suite really quick. everything will be social.

  21. "I would LOVE for DAWs as we know them to die… music genres have changed so much, with tech playing a larger role in composition. There needs to be an evolution of the DAW concept that rethinks how we make music."

    Currently all the ipad stuff is pretty gimmicky at the moment. I'm sure you can do some cool minimal controlling with these types of technologies. But a real engineer knows the amount of work and detail that would have to go into being able to "cookie cutter" out something with a Xbox Kinects. Honestly we're still waiting for virtual reality games. So let's keep dreaming, but you're looking at a very long time from now. Roll up the sleeves and get to work.

  22. I was going to say something about how DAWs are not dead they just don't need to upgrade very much anymore, but it looks like about 20 people beat me to it. Instead I will say that in the future I would like to see cheaper DAWs and music programs that carefully choose their abilities and limitations to create interesting and fun programs.
    Look at the Korg DS10. That is a really fun program that makes really cool music. Could I make the same music using the MS20 software and ProTools? Technically, but it wouldn't be as fun or inspiring. Or what about Nanoloop? Or even Rebirth?
    Now that we have the Mac App store and even IOS devices, there is an easy market for that. We don't have to always think about making professional grade music to sell on albums. How about music we make for fun and share on online communities? What if making music felt like playing a video game? That's what I would like to see!

  23. Another thing I would like to add. I would also like to see programs that you can use to make quick demos that you can turn into full versions in other DAWs.

  24. The graph is dropping off too quickly, but something like this is going to happen at some point.

    Devices like the iPad are going to get more powerful very quickly and soon we'll be making completed tracks with mobile apps.

    Instead of having an insanely complex DAW that does everything, it makes more sense to have an app that's great for making the type of music that you want to make. Add a sampler to ReBirth and it would be good enough for a lot of things.

    Companies are figuring out, too, that they can sell a million copies of a $5 app vs 10,000 copies of a complex $400 app that takes a lot of resources to develop and support.

  25. The current fleet of applications for the ipad and other wireless controllers lack precision and detail that most serious artists demand. You might be able to make the next Mario Cart theme song, but it would be hard to do a full fledged multichannel recording, editing and mixing session on such a device.

    They are more of a gimmick and entertainment factor at this period of time. We are still waiting for that first virtual reality game to blow us away too. We are several years away from anything that would resemble the use and function of a "minority report" interaction with full fledged control.

    What you'll see is a bunch of DIY hacked Xbox Kinects with 33ms latency. And a cut down version of FL Studio Mobile, basically the blocks they're trying to remove from FL Studio and sold for a few bucks. The gimmick and fad factor wears off sooner then later. But what do you expect from a want to be toy store?

  26. And the "overall" winner of his shootout is – Sonar and Cubase – wait – what? Sonar in 2nd, Really? I'd buy this if the poll was in 2004 http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…. Now don't' get me wrong, if your using Sonar and it works for you fine. I used the hell out of it from 2002-2006. I'm just sayin' that shootout doesn't factor in market share, mind share, workflow, controllerism features or community support. Analyzing a feature list alone taken out of context of these other factors is giving a bad result. And Live coming in 5th for "Loops and Remix" behind Sonar is – well – wrong. Also, he missed some other candidates like Reason/Record, Reaper, Macschine…

    Regarding the question – is the DAW dead? The notion of "project studios" and DAWs proper seems dated. Things seem more organic these days and lines are blurring with mobile, controllers, middle ware, hardware integrating with software. Seems to me the company that gains the most mindshare with their workflow metaphor, community and format as a platform will be positioned well to get to the next 5 years. Especially if they can get their workflow to seamlessly across devices.

    I applaud the work of companies like Green Oak for supporting patch sharing across devices with Crystal on iPhone/iPad. My knowledge investment in Crystal is maintained across devices. This seems like a good direction that "DAW" developers should consider.

  27. And the "overall" winner of his shootout is – Sonar and Cubase – wait – what? Sonar in 2nd, Really? I'd buy this if the poll was in 2004 <a href="http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+cakewalk+sonar&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0&quot; target="_blank"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…. Now don't' get me wrong, if your using Sonar and it works for you fine. I used the hell out of it from 2002-2006. I'm just sayin' that shootout doesn't factor in market share, mind share, workflow, controllerism features or community support. Analyzing a feature list alone taken out of context of these other factors is giving a bad result. And Live coming in 5th for "Loops and Remix" behind Sonar is – well – wrong. Also, he missed some other candidates like Reason/Record, Reaper, Macschine…

    Regarding the question – is the DAW dead? The notion of "project studios" and DAWs proper seems dated. Things seem more organic these days and lines are blurring with mobile, controllers, middle ware, hardware integrating with software. Seems to me the company that gains the most mindshare with their workflow metaphor, community and format as a platform will be positioned well to get to the next 5 years. Especially if they can get the song files seamlessly across devices.

    I applaud the work of companies like Green Oak for supporting patch sharing across devices with Crystal on iPhone/iPad. My knowledge investment in Crystal is maintained across devices. This seems like a good direction that "DAW" developers should consider.

  28. And the "overall" winner of his shootout is – Sonar and Cubase – wait – what? Sonar in 2nd, Really? I'd buy this if the poll was in 2004 <a href="http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+cakewalk+sonar&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0&quot; target="_blank"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…. Now don't' get me wrong, if your using Sonar and it works for you fine. I used the hell out of it from 2002-2006. I'm just sayin' that shootout doesn't factor in market share, mind share, workflow, controllerism features or community support. Analyzing a feature list alone taken out of context of these other factors is giving a bad result. And Live coming in 5th for "Loops and Remix" behind Sonar is – well – wrong. Also, he missed some other candidates like Reason/Record, Reaper, Macschine…

    Regarding the question – is the DAW dead? The notion of "project studios" and DAWs proper seems dated. Things seem more organic these days and lines are blurring with mobile, controllers, middle ware, hardware integrating with software. Seems to me the company that gains the most mindshare with their workflow metaphor, community and format as a platform will be positioned well to get to the next 5 years. Especially if they can get the song files seamlessly across devices.

    I applaud the work of companies like Green Oak for supporting patch sharing across devices with Crystal on iPhone/iPad. My knowledge investment in Crystal is maintained across devices. This seems like a good direction that "DAW" developers should consider.

  29. And the "overall" winner of his shootout is – Sonar and Cubase – wait – what? Sonar in 2nd, Really? I'd buy this if the poll was in 2004 <a href="http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+cakewalk+sonar&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0&quot; target="_blank"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…. Now don't' get me wrong, if your using Sonar and it works for you fine. I used the hell out of it from 2002-2006. I'm just sayin' that shootout doesn't factor in market share, mind share, workflow, controllerism features or community support. Analyzing a feature list alone taken out of context of these other factors is giving a bad result. And Live coming in 5th for "Loops and Remix" behind Sonar is – well – wrong. Also, he missed some other candidates like Reason/Record, Reaper, Macschine…

    Regarding the question – is the DAW dead? The notion of "project studios" and DAWs proper seems dated. Things seem more organic these days and lines are blurring with mobile, controllers, middle ware, hardware integrating with software. Seems to me the company that gains the most mindshare with their workflow metaphor, community and format as a platform will be positioned well to get to the next 5 years. Especially if they can get the song files seamlessly across devices.

    I applaud the work of companies like Green Oak for supporting patch sharing across devices with Crystal on iPhone/iPad. My knowledge investment in Crystal is maintained across devices. This seems like a good direction that "DAW" developers should consider.

  30. And the "overall" winner of his shootout is – Sonar and Cubase – wait – what? Sonar in 2nd, Really? I'd buy this if the poll was in 2004 <a href="http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+cakewalk+sonar&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0&quot; target="_blank"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…. Now don't' get me wrong, if your using Sonar and it works for you fine. I used the hell out of it from 2002-2006. I'm just sayin' that shootout doesn't factor in market share, mind share, workflow, controllerism features or community support. Analyzing a feature list alone taken out of context of these other factors is giving a bad result. And Live coming in 5th for "Loops and Remix" behind Sonar is – well – wrong. Also, he missed some other candidates like Reason/Record, Reaper, Macschine…

    Regarding the question – is the DAW dead? The notion of "project studios" and DAWs proper seems dated. Things seem more organic these days and lines are blurring with mobile, controllers, middle ware, hardware integrating with software. Seems to me the company that gains the most mindshare with their workflow metaphor, community and format as a platform will be positioned well to get to the next 5 years. Especially if they can get the song files seamlessly across devices.

    I applaud the work of companies like Green Oak for supporting patch sharing across devices with Crystal on iPhone/iPad. My knowledge investment in Crystal is maintained across devices. This seems like a good direction that "DAW" developers should consider.

  31. And the "overall" winner of his shootout is – Sonar and Cubase – wait – what? Sonar in 2nd, Really? I'd buy this if the poll was in 2004 <a href="http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+cakewalk+sonar&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0&quot; target="_blank"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…. Now don't' get me wrong, if your using Sonar and it works for you fine. I used the hell out of it from 2002-2006. I'm just sayin' that shootout doesn't factor in market share, mind share, workflow, controllerism features or community support. Analyzing a feature list alone taken out of context of these other factors is giving a bad result. And Live coming in 5th for "Loops and Remix" behind Sonar is – well – wrong. Also, he missed some other candidates like Reason/Record, Reaper, Macschine…

    Regarding the question – is the DAW dead? The notion of "project studios" and DAWs proper seems dated. Things seem more organic these days and lines are blurring with mobile, controllers, middle ware, hardware integrating with software. Seems to me the company that gains the most mindshare with their workflow metaphor, community and format as a platform will be positioned well to get to the next 5 years. Especially if they can get the song files seamlessly across devices.

    I applaud the work of companies like Green Oak for supporting patch sharing across devices with Crystal on iPhone/iPad. My knowledge investment in Crystal is maintained across devices. This seems like a good direction that "DAW" developers should consider.

  32. And the "overall" winner of his shootout is – Sonar and Cubase – wait – what? Sonar in 2nd, Really? I'd buy this if the poll was in 2004 <a href="http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+cakewalk+sonar&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0&quot; target="_blank"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…. Now don't' get me wrong, if your using Sonar and it works for you fine. I used the hell out of it from 2002-2006. I'm just sayin' that shootout doesn't factor in market share, mind share, workflow, controllerism features or community support. Analyzing a feature list alone taken out of context of these other factors is giving a bad result. And Live coming in 5th for "Loops and Remix" behind Sonar is – well – wrong. Also, he missed some other candidates like Reason/Record, Reaper, Macschine…

    Regarding the question – is the DAW dead? The notion of "project studios" and DAWs proper seems dated. Things seem more organic these days and lines are blurring with mobile, controllers, middle ware, hardware integrating with software. Seems to me the company that gains the most mindshare with their workflow metaphor, community and format as a platform will be positioned well to get to the next 5 years. Especially if they can get the song files seamlessly across devices.

    I applaud the work of companies like Green Oak for supporting patch sharing across devices with Crystal on iPhone/iPad. My knowledge investment in Crystal is maintained across devices. This seems like a good direction that "DAW" developers should consider.

  33. And the "overall" winner of his shootout is – Sonar and Cubase – wait – what? Sonar in 2nd, Really? I'd buy this if the poll was in 2004 <a href="http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+cakewalk+sonar&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0&quot; target="_blank"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…. Now don't' get me wrong, if your using Sonar and it works for you fine. I used the hell out of it from 2002-2006. I'm just sayin' that shootout doesn't factor in market share, mind share, workflow, controllerism features or community support. Analyzing a feature list alone taken out of context of these other factors is giving a bad result. And Live coming in 5th for "Loops and Remix" behind Sonar is – well – wrong. Also, he missed some other candidates like Reason/Record, Reaper, Macschine…

    Regarding the question – is the DAW dead? The notion of "project studios" and DAWs proper seems dated. Things seem more organic these days and lines are blurring with mobile, controllers, middle ware, hardware integrating with software. Seems to me the company that gains the most mindshare with their workflow metaphor, community and format as a platform will be positioned well to get to the next 5 years. Especially if they can get the song files seamlessly across devices.

    I applaud the work of companies like Green Oak for supporting patch sharing across devices with Crystal on iPhone/iPad. My knowledge investment in Crystal is maintained across devices. This seems like a good direction that "DAW" developers should consider.

  34. And the "overall" winner of his shootout is – Sonar and Cubase – wait – what? Sonar in 2nd, Really? I'd buy this if the poll was in 2004 <a href="http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+cakewalk+sonar&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0&quot; target="_blank"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…. Now don't' get me wrong, if your using Sonar and it works for you fine. I used the hell out of it from 2002-2006. I'm just sayin' that shootout doesn't factor in market share, mind share, workflow, controllerism features or community support. Analyzing a feature list alone taken out of context of these other factors is giving a bad result. And Live coming in 5th for "Loops and Remix" behind Sonar is – well – wrong. Also, he missed some other candidates like Reason/Record, Reaper, Macschine…

    Regarding the question – is the DAW dead? The notion of "project studios" and DAWs proper seems dated. Things seem more organic these days and lines are blurring with mobile, controllers, middle ware, hardware integrating with software. Seems to me the company that gains the most mindshare with their workflow metaphor, community and format as a platform will be positioned well to get to the next 5 years. Especially if they can get the song files seamlessly across devices.

    I applaud the work of companies like Green Oak for supporting patch sharing across devices with Crystal on iPhone/iPad. My knowledge investment in Crystal is maintained across devices. This seems like a good direction that "DAW" developers should consider.

  35. And the "overall" winner of his shootout is – Sonar and Cubase – wait – what? Sonar in 2nd, Really? I'd buy this if the poll was in 2004 <a href="http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+cakewalk+sonar&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0&quot; target="_blank"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…. Now don't' get me wrong, if your using Sonar and it works for you fine. I used the hell out of it from 2002-2006. I'm just sayin' that shootout doesn't factor in market share, mind share, workflow, controllerism features or community support. Analyzing a feature list alone taken out of context of these other factors is giving a bad result. And Live coming in 5th for "Loops and Remix" behind Sonar is – well – wrong. Also, he missed some other candidates like Reason/Record, Reaper, Macschine…

    Regarding the question – is the DAW dead? The notion of "project studios" and DAWs proper seems dated. Things seem more organic these days and lines are blurring with mobile, controllers, middle ware, hardware integrating with software. Seems to me the company that gains the most mindshare with their workflow metaphor, community and format as a platform will be positioned well to get to the next 5 years. Especially if they can get the song files seamlessly across devices.

    I applaud the work of companies like Green Oak for supporting patch sharing across devices with Crystal on iPhone/iPad. My knowledge investment in Crystal is maintained across devices. This seems like a good direction that "DAW" developers should consider.

  36. And the "overall" winner of his shootout is – Sonar and Cubase – wait – what? Sonar in 2nd, Really? I'd buy this if the poll was in 2004 <a href="http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+cakewalk+sonar&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0&quot; target="_blank"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…. Now don't' get me wrong, if your using Sonar and it works for you fine. I used the hell out of it from 2002-2006. I'm just sayin' that shootout doesn't factor in market share, mind share, workflow, controllerism features or community support. Analyzing a feature list alone taken out of context of these other factors is giving a bad result. And Live coming in 5th for "Loops and Remix" behind Sonar is – well – wrong. Also, he missed some other candidates like Reason/Record, Reaper, Macschine…

    Regarding the question – is the DAW dead? The notion of "project studios" and DAWs proper seems dated. Things seem more organic these days and lines are blurring with mobile, controllers, middle ware, hardware integrating with software. Seems to me the company that gains the most mindshare with their workflow metaphor, community and format as a platform will be positioned well to get to the next 5 years. Especially if they can get the song files seamlessly across devices.

    I applaud the work of companies like Green Oak for supporting patch sharing across devices with Crystal on iPhone/iPad. My knowledge investment in Crystal is maintained across devices. This seems like a good direction that "DAW" developers should consider.

  37. And the "overall" winner of his shootout is – Sonar and Cubase – wait – what? Sonar in 2nd, Really? I'd buy this if the poll was in 2004 <a href="http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+cakewalk+sonar&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0&quot; target="_blank"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/trends?q=ableton+live%2C+ca…. Now don't' get me wrong, if your using Sonar and it works for you fine. I used the hell out of it from 2002-2006. I'm just sayin' that shootout doesn't factor in market share, mind share, workflow, controllerism features or community support. Analyzing a feature list alone taken out of context of these other factors is giving a bad result. And Live coming in 5th for "Loops and Remix" behind Sonar is – well – wrong. Also, he missed some other candidates like Reason/Record, Reaper, Macschine…

    Regarding the question – is the DAW dead? The notion of "project studios" and DAWs proper seems dated. Things seem more organic these days and lines are blurring with mobile, controllers, middle ware, hardware integrating with software. Seems to me the company that gains the most mindshare with their workflow metaphor, community and format as a platform will be positioned well to get to the next 5 years. Especially if they can get the song files seamlessly across devices.

    I applaud the work of companies like Green Oak for supporting patch sharing across devices with Crystal on iPhone/iPad. My knowledge investment in Crystal is maintained across devices. This seems like a good direction that "DAW" developers should consider.

  38. These DAW companies use hype to make it seem like they are truly improving their software, but in reality are just forcing minor paid upgrades on us (if you don't upgrade every year, your setup will eventually not work properly… wtf?)

    I understand that they need $ to stay in business, but they shouldn't charge for minor features that should have already been present. I wouldn't mind updating every 2 or 3 years…. but it seems like these people are trying to force our hands… and then they throw us a bone with some crappy new reverb and tell us that their product is "revolutionary".

    I gave up on that shit about a year ago. I now use Reaper. It works… minor updates are free, they genuinely listen to their customers, and they focus on the stability of their platform. Reaper does mostly everything that PT, Cubase, or Live does…. and is much more customizable. And now I don't have to worry about being "left behind" when I buy a new computer or an update comes out. Customers at the studio constantly ask me "what's that?" when I record them… they love the way their music turns out, and I get paid…. It got me focused on creativity rather than worrying about a software crash.

  39. I'm a happy customer of Propellerhead's Reason/Record combo, and in my experience their paid upgrades always include significant and worthwhile feature updates, including new instruments (the last upgrade added the terrific Kong drum composer among other things). Contrary to the trends described in the article I perceive a pretty aggressive DAW development strategy from Propellerhead Software.

  40. Mobile apps which could be considered to be a DAW on their own I think. So then the graph wouldn't drop anytime soon but will simply continue (I tend to consider a shift towards mobility merely another development in the DAW segment).

  41. ImpPlus – good points, but do you really think that better tools will make it harder to experiment or to find inspiration?

  42. Seems like a lot of people are getting hung up on the headline and missing the question:

    What would it take to get you excited about paying for the next $200 upgrade to your DAW?

  43. The DAW will be dead when there is something to replace it. There isn't. Things have just matured and stabilized and that is a really really good thing. Part of the problem is that when things progress too quick or they are still in the growth stage then you don't really have the time to fully learn all the details of a system before you're onto a new one or an updated one. We really need to get over this fetishism around needing to upgrade upgrade upgrade just for the sake of it.
    I agree that things like Max4Live are probably the next step for some people. I know it is for me. But overall things being stable and mature is great.

  44. For me; features which seem useful to me. Can't really say what stuff since I'm very happy with the environment I use now. Yet I'm sure people will eventually come up with new "exciting" stuff again.

  45. Music genres only die for some. I use Logic for through-composing and orchestral sketches. Having Live-like looping capabilities is irrelevant to me, but not to someone else.

  46. Some people like what comes with the upgrades, fixes, features, effects and instruments. Unless you buy into FL Studio and get nothing but demos and bug fixes that should have been done years ago.

    People don't mind upgrading as long as you get something for it. See what you're really getting for free and dollar for dollar on an upgrade without having to buy additional plugins. People don't mind investing in a company that has their customers' best interest in mind.

    Think about the concept of "free" upgrades for life. Something has to pay for this to happen. Where does that leave their priority list?

  47. If they didn't have a rising amount of profit, it would be better to just keep the money in the bank and collect interest. You also have inflation: if a company is *just* profitable, it's actually losing money in the long run.

  48. There have been such environments for decades, yet people still use DAWs that are at heart a replacement for a mixing desk, outboard gear, tape recorder(s), and instruments. Myself included. Most music is not about fiddling with stuff, it's about getting things done. Even the most technically involved productions have phases where you just need to mix something or apply some ordinary effects.

  49. Perhaps I’m the only one lusting for very specific features, but I have yet to see a proper and easy implementation of OSC in DAWs. I hope iPad apps will continue to push OSC development so that we will see more intelligent controlsurfaces also in ‘real’ hardware.
    I think people look to their old (analog) hardware partly because it works without having to assign (7-bit ! ) midicontrols to get a tangible experience away from the computerscreen.
    OSC (flexible 32-bit controls) and multitouch could make workflow even better and making music more fun when the operating of the DAWs takes less focus. – NOT that the DAW should try to make the music for you *cough*SongSmith*cough*

  50. "if anything might die in the next decade or so, it's technology fetishism in lieu of real human experience"

    Let's hope so!

    Wise words, Gordon…

  51. Excellent point. I use a PC with Cubase and a couple of interfaces, hardware and software synths, a range of mics…probably keep using that until the computer breaks down or my needs outgrow it. Let's face it – studios didn't run out and buy new multitrack tape machines every year or two. The gear doesn't have to wow me as long as it works and produces quality output.

  52. OH MY GOD THE DAW IS DEAD. LOOK AT THAT CHART. THAT SINGLE CURVED LINE SHOWS EVERY FACT NUMBER AND STATISTIC OF WHY THE DAW IS DEAD.

    Dude, if you’re going to make bogus claims please spare us the agony of looking at another bullshit propaganda chart with no factual evidence. Daws are bigger than ever i don’t know what rock you’ve been living under. They have so many complex features now that nobody can think of anything that’s missing yet and very few have “mastered” any daw to it’s limits. Certainy not people who say they are “dead.”

Leave a Reply