Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

This subject requires all students to purchase (or have regular access to) a software digital audio workstation (DAW). The recommended DAW for Mac and Windows users is Ableton Live Intro, version 8 or better.

The following DAWs may also be used, though only limited support and instruction will be provided: ProTools, Logic (Pro or Express), Cubase, Reaper, Digital Performer, Sonar, or FL Studio. You must consult with the instructor before using any other software.

Other Software Tools (Free or Open-Source)

This course uses the following free audio and music software tools.

Audacity® Waveform editing software
Pd-extended Pure Data (PD) is a real-time graphical programming environment for audio, video, and graphical processing. It is the third major branch of the family of patcher programming languages known as Max. Pd-extended is an easy-to-install Pure Data package of libraries, extensions, and documentation.
Martingale Collection of pedagogical computer music tools (abstractions) in Pure Data.

flexatone h.f.p. is the front of composer and sound designer Christopher Ariza. This site provides free downloads of complete, un-cut, high-quality mp3 and ogg audio files of experimental concert, computer, and electro-acoustic music, as well as information about the music, music research, algorithmic music software, and on-line tools for music analysis and creation. Music on this site is distributed for free, without cost or registration; software on this site is either free or open source.


Photo of two large road cases, one with with rack-mounted electronics and a laptop computer, and the other containing several smaller cases with microphones, cables, etc.

The MObile Sound System (MOSS).

In-class activites and recording workshops use the MObile Sound System (MOSS). MOSS is essentially a professional recording studio without a room. It consists of two road cases on casters: one is for storing a laptop computer, audio equipment, and the patching interface, and the other is for storing microphones, headphones, microphone stands, speaker stands, power strips, cables and a snake.

Schematics of MOSS (PDF)

This system can record, mix, or process 16 analog inputs and provide 16 analog outputs, all at 24 bit/96 kHz. The laptop currently runs Logic Studio®, Peak, and Max/MSP. 16 channels of high quality preamps are provided (8 channels of True Precision, 4 channels of full channel-strip functionality with EQ and compression, and two different types of high-quality two-channel preamps). The system can record up to 16 channels to the computer, and simultaneously or independently record 2 channels to a flash-based recorder. For overdubs, remote recording, or sending click tracks, 8-channel monitor mixes can be sent over CAT-5 cable to any of four personal mixing units. All I/O is available via front-mounted patch bays and panels, making custom setups as fast and convenient as possible.

The setup includes 6 small diaphragm cardioid microphones (AT4041), 4 large diaphragm multi-pattern microphones (AKG-414), 4 dynamic microphones (2 Shure SM57, 2 Sennheiser MD421), 1 ribbon (Royer R-101), 1 large diaphragm tube mic (Mojave MA200), 2 omnidirectional microphones (Earthworks TC20mp), and 8 stereo direct boxes. There are 16 microphones stands, a 16 channel, 100 foot snake, and plenty of microphone cables. For output, the setup includes 8 Yamaha MSR100s, 4 speaker stands, and a Mackie HD1501 600W powered sub.

Applications include recording in small and large spaces, with or without overdubs; multi-channel sound reinforcement and sound installations; interactive audio works and performances requiring a computer and audio I/O; and teaching recording techniques or providing sound reinforcement for a live-electronics ensemble of up to 16 performers.