Early DAWs, such as those developed in the 1970s and 1990s, were hardware units that included a mixing console, data storage device, and an analog to digital converter (ADC). They could be used to record, edit, and play back digital audio. These devices, called "integrated DAWs," are still used today, but they have largely been replaced by computer systems with digital audio software.
Today, a computer system is the central user interface of most DAWs. Most professional recording studios include one or more large mixing boards connected to a desktop computer. Home studios and portable studios may simply include a laptop with audio software and a recording interface.
Since computers have replaced most integrated DAWs, audio editing and post-production is now performed primarily with software rather than hardware. Several audio production programs, commonly called DAW software, are available for both Macintosh and Windows systems. Some common crossplatform titles include Avid Pro Tools, Steinberg Cubase, and Abelton Live. Other platform-specific DAW programs include Cakewalk SONAR for Windows and MOTU Digital Performer for Mac OS X.
Updated: July 16, 2012