Digital Audio Workstations have become powerful contenders in the audio production field. What once took several sound booths and a drum room in a top of the line audio production facility can now be replicated with a guitar interface and a laptop computer with a decent sound card. It is amazing how technology has evolved over the last few decades when it comes to audio capture and storage media. Quite a few older engineers have converted their once tube and solid state heavy studios into streamlined digital audio production suites. Using digital systems creates space, not only in the studio, but in the actual audio productions. Racks of equipment that were recently 6 foot tall are now replaced with a single high capacity hard drive. The cable connections are now done internally in the digital realm allowing the engineer to use digital routing systems for the audio signal.
Applications have surpassed hardware capabilities and are improved daily. These applications can recreate any audio space or effects that were formerly only available in expensive hardware form. Racks are replaced with external and internal drives. If you had several racks of audio processing equipment before you can now carry it all on a single USB drive. Technology has allowed engineers to travel with a laptop instead of a moving van. Advantages of the new technology available allows for quick set up and session times while keeping costs down to a minimum. In only 20 years the amount of advancement in audio technology alone has been astounding. It certainly isn’t like watching paint dry. If you blink you might miss something.
This is where the direct input against a miked input battle begins. Everything a traditional recording set up creates can be digitally recreated with a direct input and a series of effects in your effect chain. This can range from room sizes, microphone selection and distance, damping or stone walls. You can even prepare a room with wooden and cloth baffles in the digital world. It would cost a considerable amount to gather all of the materials and build each studio for size and reflection. Direct input is a good alternative to traditional recording methods because of cost, time and effective control over the environment. By using a digital system to process a direct input signal the performance can be executed anywhere without corrupting the original signal you wish to process. If you are in a situation where proper room treatment would be cost prohibitive or too time consuming use direct inputs when possible and miked inputs only when necessary.