Simple Ways To Improve DAW Workflow

Enhance your sessions with these simple tips.

Ultimate Guitar
Digital recording has grown rapidly, and pretty much everyone is working with a DAW now. Listed below are some simple tips to help your workflow.
  • Machine Streamlining. There are certain tweaks and settings modifications you can do to make your computer handle functionality of digital audio better. Try to see what gets you the best results.
  • Watch Your Levels. Even with floating-point bit depth pretty much a standard now, many are still recording too hot into the box. Watch your levels, because digital distortion is nasty.
  • Gain Staging. Proper gain staging is every bit as important in-the-box as when working with outboard gear. Plug-ins can distort just like any part of the signal chain.
  • Automation. The DAW has made automation a part of everything. A mix needs to breathe, and automation is a great way to get it there. Even plug-in parameters can be automated now.
  • Screen Views. Saving different screen views can make the editing and mixing process go much more smoothly. When a large amount of tracks are involved this can be a huge time saver.
  • Mute Mixing. Sometimes with huge track counts it's easier to mix by muting everything that's not needed. This is a great way to utilize automation.
  • Aux Returns. Instantiating time-based effects like reverb and delay directly on the channel is a drain to your computer's resources. Mix these in using auxiliary returns like you would in an analog setup.
  • Track Sequencing. Organize your session in a manner that makes sense to you. Group similar instruments (drums, guitars, horns, etc). Develop a color-coding system. Name all tracks and files appropriately.
  • Clip Gain. Clip gain is a very useful feature available in many DAWs. This is yet another part of gain staging, and can be used in a variety of ways. Very, very useful if you get a lot of sessions from others and the levels are all over the place.
  • Templates. Setting up a session can be arduous, so if there is a format you use often templates are a must.
  • FX Chains. Also falling under the template category are effects chains, which are great ways to easily insert effects in the order that you commonly use them.
  • Listen. Many get caught up in the visual aspect of the DAW. Always remember to listen first!
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