Digital Performer has long been one of the most comprehensive and reliable DAWs, both for music production and for film and TV scoring—for which it has a feature set unmatched in any other program. DP is also a highly customizable application that gives users the ability to shape its look and functionality to fit individual workflows.
Ever since MOTU’s NAMM announcement of Digital Performer 10 and its imminent release, I've been excited at the prospect of getting the new version and checking it out because it appears to be a significant update with some major new features. The biggest headline is the new Clips Window, which will give DP users the ability to trigger audio in real time, providing Ableton-like functionality.
With the addition of the Clips Window and its ability to time-stretch audio on the fly, it's not surprising to see MOTU implementing time-stretching improvements throughout the program. These include a new Stretch layer on every audio track, where you can make manual adjustments to audio tempo. A new beat detection engine (Beat Detection 2.0) will make the process of conforming audio to a song's tempo a matter of simple drag and drop, which would definitely be a significant convenience improvement over DP9.
Another new feature that I'm pleased to see is VCA Faders, something that's been missing from DP's Mixing Board window. VCAs can be really useful in a mix. Also of note, a complete revamp of the Waveform Editor window, making it a more efficient environment for the various types of audio, beat, pitch and time editing that DP offers.
DP10 adds a significant new customization option: a scalable GUI. Now you can conform it to the size of your display or change its size to fit specific workflow needs.
New DP users and those upgrading will both appreciate the new 5GB library of MOTU instruments and loops that's included in DP10. It contains a whopping 300 unique, multi-sampled instruments—everything from guitars and keyboards to ethnic instruments and sound effects, and 500 loops.
MOTU has also added quite a few new tools and features to help with productivity. These include Programmable Skip Buttons that let you move the transport forward and back by a user-specified rhythmic value. The company also added an Alternate Tool, which gives you a second tool that you can quickly switch to without having to go to the Tool Palette constantly.
Improved options for displaying MIDI notes have been added, and Grid Snapping has been beefed up with the introduction of absolute and relative snap options.
I asked Jim Cooper, MOTU's Director of Marketing, what the company was aiming for with the additions in DP10.
"Our goal for this release," he said, "was to provide major new features that will appeal to new users looking at Digital Performer for the first time, while at the same time addressing many feature requests for current users. I feel that DP10 hits a home run on both counts."
I haven't used DP10 yet, and that's always the ultimate test, but based on the lineup of new features and enhancements, and DPs history of quality, I think Jim's got a point.