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A digital audio workstation (often stylized as DAW) is a digital user interface that is typically used for audio recording and/or editing, and can consist of software and hardware elements. The software often features virtual mixers, filters, graphic timelines, and file-management and organization tools usually found in typical media-editing programs.
The first digital audio workstations, which were introduced to the mainstream around the late 1970s, were very hardware-oriented. This is due to computers’ lack of processing power back then as opposed to today, where the graphic user interface is now central to the DAW experience and operability. While many modern DAWs are completely software-based, others consist of integrated hardware and software assets that work together to streamline audio editing and production.
Popular digital audio workstations today include Pro-Tools, Ableton Live and Adobe Audition. Maschine is an example of an interface that integrates both proprietary software and hardware elements. In contrast, an open-source DAW called Audacity consists only of software.