Digital audio workstations, the centerpiece of most modern production studios, are maturing, and as such, the days of groundbreaking, earth-shattering improvements may be on the wane. Software is again leading hardware. Still, there have been plenty of improvements and new features added over the past 12 months, along with a move toward specialized markets, such as integrated live sound recording and new tools for VR.
Avid Pro Tools 2018
With the success of its subscription model and perpetual license service, Avid no longer issues earthshaking Pro Tools updates at trade shows, but rather on a monthly basis through its introduction of Pro Tools 2018 at the start of the year. Each month, bugs are fixed, tools are added and gifts from member partners are given out across the three tiers: Pro Tools First, Pro Tools, Pro Tools Ultimate. Plug-ins and updates from the likes of Nugen and Pro Sound Effects have already been released to Pro Tools and PT Ultimate subscribers. This month there is rumor of an release from Falcon UVI virtual instruments. Meanwhile, Avid Link was announced in public beta in September at IBC. Think of it as a simplified, social means of connecting content creators, a la LinkedIn. « Avid Pro Tools
Cakewalk by BandLab
SONAR users must have felt slightly abandoned late last year when Gibson let Cakewalk go, but in the spring Singapore-based BandLab picked up the assets and rebranded it as Cakewalk by BandLab. It is now free (!) and retains most critical features, such as the Skylight user interface, flexible ProChannel modules, and 64-bit mix engine. Users will no longer receive bundled third-party content, though purchased plug-ins or add-ons that worked with Sonar will integrate with Cakewalk by BandLab. The new version of the DAW will continue to run on Windows and users were told it will support pen, touch and Surface Dial throughout the user interface. « Cakewalk by BandLab
Related: DAWs Do It All—What's New in Workstations, by Strother Bullins, Nov. 6, 2017
Magix Sequoia 14.2
New for version 14.2, Tracks can now be copied across projects, making editing and production workflows more streamlined by using the checklist to choose which settings to transfer—whether VST plug-ins, AUX buses, submix buses or VSTi return tracks. Other features include an improved display in the mixer window, optimized scaling for the plug-in window, direct Melodyne integration into the docking system, and a new zplane élastique Pro 3.2.3 algorithm for premium sound quality during time stretching and pitch shifting. « Magix Sequoia 14
MOTU Digital Performer DP 9.5
DP9 has been out for years now, with the 9.5 update a year or two back. But there have been updates along the way, including the addition of ZTX Pro technology, developed by Zynaptiq for wherever audio time-stretching can be applied, and a new Effect Performance window that monitors processing loads, allowing users to identify and manage plug-ins’ demands on the CPU. « MOTU Digital Performer 9
PreSonus Studio One 4.1
PreSonus is now shipping Studio One version 4.1, a major update to its popular DAW for Mac and Windows. Pipeline XT, a plug-in lets users insert hardware processors into Studio One sessions with automatic latency compensation, has received a complete UI makeover and added several features and improvements, including measuring and compensating latency automatically with a single click, then allowing for manual adjustments. Tempo track editing is faster and more powerful, and now users can edit tempo with familiar automation tools for ramps, curves, and smoother adjustments.
Also, with version 4.1’s new AAF export options, compatibility with other DAWs has been vastly improved. You can now embed WAV or AIFF audio files, instead of referencing them; split stereo tracks (important for exporting to Pro Tools); and create copies of audio files in WAV or AIFF format, with a choice of resolution and sample rate. The update includes both Studio One 4 Artist and Studio One 4 Professional and is free to registered users. « PreSonus Studio One 4
Related: Digital Audio Workstation Choices—What's Out There in 2016, by Strother Bullins, Nov. 16, 2016
Prism Sound SADiE 6.1
Available as a 64-bit version of SADiE 6 for native operation and also for the SADiE BB2 Radio Editor system and LRX2 Flexible Location Recorder, SADiE v6.1.13 delivers an update to the system’s core so that all are fully compatible with Windows 10. Feature updates include support for playback and recording to RF64 format and 64-bit support for the Cedar Retouch, Declick, Decrackle, Dethump plug-ins. The new software is available as a free download to any existing SADiE 6 users. « Prism Sound SADiE 6
Steinberg Nuendo 8.3, Nuendo Live 2
A month before AES, Steinberg announced the immediate availability of Nuendo Live 2, offering intuitive ease of use, rock-solid stability with outstanding audio quality—32-bit floating-point processing and up to 192 kHz resolution. A new Meter View shows 32, 64, 96, 128 or 160 meters at once; the enhanced Track View feature now displays the meter bridge on the bottom of the screen, with up to 64 tracks. Users will no doubt appreciate the all-new Advanced Session Management, with auto-naming of recorded files, multiple folder creation, easy-to-use marker track, auto-save and notepad. Nuendo Live seamlessly integrates with Yamaha CL and QL Series digital mixing consoles, and can be controlled directly from the mix position.
Then, at AES in October, in a move that clearly establishes Steinberg as a leader in interactive audio production, the company announced Nuendo version 8.3, with a wealth of tools for composers, sound designers and mixers working in post-production, videogames, and VR/AR. The first and only professional DAW to integrate an entire audio production workflow for VR (with additional integration into the Wwyse game audio console), Nuendo 8.3 also supports a plethora of third-party VST 3 VR plug-ins, such as Facebook 360. Nuendo 8.3 is a free maintenance update for Nuendo 8 owners. « Steinberg Nuendo 8, Steinberg Nuendo Live