Voice Over Blog

Home Studio Essentials - The EQ Spectrum - Video 4

Home Studio Essential - Video Series. Credit and thanks to:

Vocal Flair guest contributor, Kyle Shevlin (@kyleshevlin)

(click on the image; then click on the fourth tab from the left)


Home Studios Essentials - Creating an Audio Track - Video 1

Home Studio Essential - Video Series. Credit and thanks to:

Vocal Flair guest contributor, Kyle Shevlin (@kyleshevlin)

(click on the image)

Stand by for more distilled wisdom in the continuing video series.

Enjoy (and don't forget to share widely ;)


Home Studio Essentials - DAWs

In a previous blog, we briefly discussed DAWs (digital audio workstations) and their two primary functionalities: the sequencer (recording, editing, arranging) and the mixer. Today, we are going to go over a couple different DAWs and what they have to offer. 

The quality of your DAW will have a significant impact on your ability to make quality recordings, so it is well worth your time (and your wallet) to become familiar with a variety of DAWs and find out which one will best suit your needs. 

Before we go any further, it should be said that you can make quality recordings with ANY DAW. You do not need to spend a lot of money to produce good audio, but having one that has great tools for editing and mixing can make a big difference. With that in mind, let’s get in.


Type “free DAW” into Google and you will find a plethora of blogs linking to Audacity, a free, open-source DAW available on all platforms. A simple DAW, Audacity offers multi-track recording, basic editing and mixing features, and can work with almost any audio format. It can even extract audio from video files to edit and use in your productions (that is, if you have legal permission to do so).

Functionally, Audacity doesn’t come with too many bells or whistles. It’s sort of the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) of the audio world, but it might work perfectly for you. For instance, if you primarily will use your DAW for podcasting, Audacity could be a great option. You can record multiple vocal takes and then comp them together in the sequencer. You can do some basic edits like cut, copy, paste, fade in, fade out and others. It also gives you some basic EQ and compressor functionality.

There are a few downsides to Audacity as well. Audacity is not well suited for those who would want to produce music as well since it does not offer the user the ability to operate the sequencer using beats and bars for timing. It also utilizes destructive processing on its tracks. What this means is that if you apply compression to the track, you can not make adjustments to it on the fly. In other words, you have to live with your choices, or undo them.

Pro Tools

Jumping to the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Pro Tools by Avid has been the music and audio recording standard for years and have practically become a synonym for DAW. There is good reason for this. Pro Tools is a powerhouse of a DAW and the latest and greatest version, Pro Tools 10 HD, will run you over £400. While it may be a hefty price tag, there are smaller, lighter versions of Pro Tools and frankly, you can do almost anything you would like to be able to with audio using Pro Tools.

Want to remove background noise from a track? PT has a De-Noiser. Want to reverse a clip? Do it! Want to have 768 audio tracks in a mix? You can! Though, that would be a pretty big mix. The point is, PT has all the power you could want and then some (assuming your computer is also up to the task). PT is great for anyone working with audio and comes with a series of solid, great sounding stock plugins (some of which will be featured in future blog posts). The compressors and EQs that come with PT are top-notch, so you won’t be opening your wallet up again right away to buy another set of plug-ins.

Really, the only disadvantage to Pro Tools is the entry level price. Assuming you want any version other than their LE, you will have to shell out a few coins which might be a large portion of your budget if you’re just getting started. That being said, investing in your DAW is one of the best places to put your money. Better to have a DAW capable of handling all your needs than to have a £1000 microphone and have no ability to use it!

Other DAWs

There are many other DAWs out there and its well worth taking a look at them. To name a few: GarageBand, Steinberg Cubase, Logic, Reason, Ableton Live, PreSonus Studio One, Reaper, FL Studio. The list goes on and on. You might find that one of these DAWs has a workflow you enjoy more, or has better plugins, or is in a price range better suited to your budget. Just remember, almost anything on the market these days is capable of delivering quality sound, it comes down to what bells and whistles come with each DAW and how you, the user, can best learn to use it.

That being said, let me leave you with one last piece of advice. Sample a few DAWs, but then choose one and really learn it. Read the manual. Watch tutorials. Figure out all the ins and outs of it and then you’ll find it that much easier to use other DAWs. Good luck!