Digital Audio Workstation

The Digital Audio Workstation or DAW can refer to either just the software or the entire system that includes the software, the computer and maybe even the audio interface. But for the sake of this discussion, we will stick with just the software.

I came up with a long list of software that students can use. Unfortunately, most of them are either expensive or have free versions that are severely crippled. So, it may be best to just do away with it. If you are already making use of a decent DAW, then it may be best for you to stick with it for the sake of this course. However, if you have no software on hand or any sort of experience in using them, then it might be a good idea to lead you a bit.

There are two applications which I will heartily recommend for use in this course.


Audacity is a cross-platform free open source software for audio editing and recording. For most of you in MMS 172, this will be all you need. It’s powerful and relatively easy to use. I use it for quick recording and editing and at times when I don’t want to fuss over too much with audio files. I also use it for mastering files rendered from other applications. I use something else for more complicated projects or if I need extensive use of third party audio plugins.


While not free, Reaper offers arguably the best value for money across all known DAW software. For starters, it can run both on Windows and OS X. It has a level of functionality and usability that can rival any competitors. It offers a generous 60-day trial period, which should be more than enough time for use in this course. But unlike its competition, the software will remain fully functional beyond that trial period. It will do a little nagging every time you start it. But otherwise, you can use this application practically indefinitely. But for the money that’s even less than what other software companies are asking for the crippled versions of their flagship applications, it is hard to argue against the assertion that Reaper is an application that is worth spending for, if you want to get into audio production.

Native Instruments Komplete Players

Komplete Players is a basic, but high quality bundle of virtual instruments, synthesizers and effects that you can use through your chosen DAW that supports third party plugins, like Reaper. It also includes the free version of Guitar Rig, which is a simulator of guitar and bass amplifiers and effects that can be applied over recorded dry guitar tracks. And as an added bonus, it’s free. Word of warning though – it’s a huge download (2.6GB). Welcome to the world of audio production.

Other Audio Plugins

Like a kid in a toy store, it’s easy to get lost while checking out all the available plugins you can use. A few specific ones might get mentioned along the way, but it will be best to keep such things at a minimum to minimize any distractions that playing with effects can make. MMS 172 is primarily about learning how to record cleanly and clearly. Effects will not really help you achieve that.