On DAW Audio Quality

by Clint on December 6th 2011

Erik from InnerPortal Studio recently did some testing comparing the summing bus of Ableton Live with Logic Pro.

The subsequent discussions about this test on various forums (net is that he didn't find there was a difference...) remind me of when people debate the relative merits of recording at bit depths higher than 16 bits (normally 24) and a sample rates higher than 44.1 kHz. (technical info)


To me, proper use of simple tools like compressors and eqs have a far greater effect on the resulting sound quality, than wether or not someone uses ABC software or XYZ software, or 16, 24 or some other bit depth. It's not that there aren't technical reasons why a particular application or setting is better than another, but so many people who ask about these things seem to operate under a fundamentally flawed idea that this really matters if you haven't already mastered the basics.

I have heard production on releases that still to this day sound amazing that were produced long before there was digital recording at all, much less audio interfaces that support high bit depths and sample rates. A highly skilled producer can use even the cheapest or freeware EQ to a better result than a newbie can get with the most expensive wizbang protools plugin.

Some tools are better than others, but really any of the commercial DAWs work just fine. You've heard more CDs in your life at 44.1/16 that have blown you away with amazing production than you can count. If you haven't gotten that far, then you've got some ground to cover before wasting disk space with larger files.

If you really want to improve your mixes learn to use compression and eq and forget the rest.

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