Checklist for preparing a new project in a digital audio workstation

There is a wide range of technical specifications that need to be configured before we start working in digital audio workstation (DAW). These settings can be compiled into a preproduction checklist of things to remember when starting a new project.

For this blog post Studio One free edition is used as an example DAW. The order of configuration and where the settings can be found in DAW user interface may depend on specific hardware and DAW, but the general steps are the same.

Project name and location

Decide where to store project files. It is recommended to keep all project assets in one folder and never overlap with any other projects. It can be good idea to have one folder in your computer where you keep all music projects in separate subfolders.

NewSongSettings

Good names and folder structure make backups and projects sharing easier.

Remember to name tracks clearly before start recording.

Digital audio preferences

Setup sample rate and a bit depth. Depending on production environment, it can be done on the audio interface driver or/and in DAW.

Sample rate

Sampling rate is the number of samples per second, so it is related to frequency.

48,000 Hz is a suggested sample rate. It is a little bit higher than standard sample rate for CDs.

Bit depth

Bit depth is the number of bits of data in each sample. Longer word length allows to get wider dynamic range and enable recording more loudly and without clipping and distortion. Bit depth corresponds to the resolution of recording.

24 bit recording is a good option for bit depth. Again, it is higher than 16 bit word length in CD standard.

Recording file types

Format

Use lossless audio types like WAV or AIFF. Broadcast WAV format is preferable because it contains more metadata.

Interleaved vs. non-interleaved files

Depending on DAW and your needs you may need to decide whether to use interleaved or non-interleaved files. Interleaved files contain both right and left channels. It’s easier to work with. De-interleaved files save a separate audio file for left and a separate one for right channels.

Hardware settings

Make sure that DAW is configured to use audio interface for audio in and out. Setup your external devices and controllers, like MIDI keyboards.

Audio interface configuration   External devices

Buffer size

Buffer size is number of samples in the queue for digital-analog conversion. Lower buffer size allows to avoid delays. Higher buffer size allows to have more effects etc., but it increases latency.

In my case buffer size was configured in Asio4All driver settings.

Buffer size when recording

128 samples per buffer is suggested configuration when recording.

Buffer size when editing

Bring buffer size up when editing for better performance. 1024 samples sounds like a good option.

Tags: DAW, checklist

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