Why work in DAWs? Because Indaws is better than outdaws? No, haha, I could work in DAWs outdoors. This is about how to be rich from Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs), and why I started working in DAWs, which are definitely not the same thing.
1. How to Become a Millionaire Producer
DAWs remain a novelty to me, because even at the tender age of 19, when I first ever ventured into a pro recording studio, they didn't exist. The recording studio was in Milton Keynes, an hour North of London. It was 1979, back in the days when the earth had still not settled from the massive tractors bulldozing the building lots for an entire spanking new city. By the time I was in that recording studio, Milton Keynes had already grown around at least three of the little villages whose pubs we used to sneak out of school for a beer.
I sat with awe next to the massive mixing console in the studio den. Like nost of Milton Keynes those days, the recording room's plasterboard hadn't been painted over. Meekly we proferred the battered Maxell XL-2 audio cassette of some earlier music sessions. After playing back our tape through the 32-channel console, amazing quality for the analog times, our jaws dropped as the studio monitors made our tiny Casio mini-piano sound like a Steinberg. Then the studio owner offered to mix it down for free. After my gratitudes, he pulled out a tranny (portable FM radio) costing 20 quid--at worst--and plugged it in. Then he industriously starting setting fades and EQ shapes across the entire mixdesk for the tranny. "But why are you using that awful radio for mastering?" I asked in shock.
He grinned from ear to ear and replied "I haven't turned on the fan yet," He did so, and as it rumbled back and forth on its worn-our castors, he added "I use it because it sounds like a car motor."
We were still flummoxed. "It's got to sound best on a car radio, see?" He explained impatiently. "If it sounds good on the tranny, people will buy it. Then it will be on the radio more. Then more people buy it. Tada! you're a millionaire!"
If you doubt the truth of that, he already was a millionaire from it, and just playing around in Milton Keynes because he was bored.As for us, we didn't think at the time we would ever be millionaires, especially not from music. And we rather preferred the Steinberg version. Now it makes me laugh, 40 years later, I am STILL making DAWs for 3D virtualization from two speakers, simply to resolve exactly the same problem.
2. 3D Audio in Silicon Valley
This may appear irrelevant at first, but if you are a music producer, then there's a conclusion that I guarantee can rock your socks.
Initially due to interesting lectures at Oxford University on psycho-acoustics, I started in a sound processing technique called 'HRTF' (head-related transfer functions). It was in 1996, at a silicon-valley company called Aureal, where a NASA engineer explained how HRTFs are one of the few ways digital-signal processing (DSP) can actually improve on the human experience. "That's why they say HRTFs are better than sex!" he exclaimed with a laugh. I was so impressed by him I let all my contracts expire and joined his company as a full-time engineer as soon as I could, .They made me 'Senior Manager of Technical Communications.' The company grew from 40 to 200.
Although I learned more than you can imagine about digital audio technology, joining Aureal full time turned into a very bad idea over the next three years, and I really should have carried on working on the Pentium architecture for Intel. The root of the problem, frankly, is vast ignorance.
To give an idea of how few people in the world actually understand this technology, as April's fool I sent out a company message saying we had finally figured out how to emulate 3D sound from only one speaker! Of the number of respondents who asked for a technical seminar on 3D sound from one speaker, one notable inclusion was the company's legal counsel, who even asked if he should resign for his foolishness later. He wasn't very intelligent, but he was a really nice guy, and probably too nice for the cut-throat semiconductor audio business, and probably also why Aureal went bankrupt. That is to say, if you work in audio technology too, then it's a good idea to remember that even attorneys working in the specific field don't understand the first things about it. Then Creative Labs sued Aureal, which whether Aureal deserved it or not, made 3D audio tech too hot to touch--including for Creative Labs, as it could not infringe on Aureal's intellectual property either--after Aureal's entire executive staff resigned simultaneously. Not that they had much reason to complain, their 6/7-figure salaries had made them millionaires in the interim.
But 3D audio technology sank into the nether depths of oblivion. We don't talk much about the real facts of it. How many nice attorneys are there in the world? But whatever one might think of that, at least the Aureal's executives were not outright crooks, as they sometimes are in the digital TV business. Which is another story; and quite a number of the Aureal engineers are now running a company you may know called nVidia, and far too busy in 3D video to think about 3D audio currently.
3. 3D Audio from Then to Now
Somehow, 3D virtualization lost the limelight in the last decade, when most ironically, it has become even more powerful, due to the pervasive increase in youngsters using headphones to listen to MP3s from their phones. MP3 compression, also used on digital TV, is actually the OTHER case where DSP can definitively improve on the human experience of sound. But for some strange reason, MP3 has become so taken for granted, less people now know why it sounds so good then decades ago, when it was still a new marvel.
3D virtualization is even more effective on the awful speakers in the headphones kids wear these days than it was when people listened on trannies. Actually, HRTFs work at their best on headphones, because then we know the precise distance to the ear from the transducer. Thus we can even optimize the algorithms for that specific set of filter and delay coefficients.
And that's why I decided to work in DAWs. The ignorance I learned people don't like long articles like they used to, so I'll stop here.
In response to the communist cynics, t's actually taken me years to make this, so I am charging something for some software. But I do not make this because I want to be rich. No good product ever happened in the audio industry because someone wanted to be rich. A consolation to us all, almost. The money is to keep some very rare knowledge alive. Too many sites like this vanish. And if you would like to learn some more about how 3D audio works, and how to make it, I give very frank answers on theRemixQuad3D Baby DAW Download Page.
Thank you for your interest, and I hope you enjoy Yofiel. - Ernest ,Meyer