Review: MOTU Digital Performer 9

February 17, 2016

MOTU Digital Performer 8 brought enormous changes to the already deep feature set of the DAW. Prominent among these was the release of a Windows version and concomitant support for VST plug-ins to ensure plug-in compatibility across both platforms, as well as 64-bit operation. Along with these came a variety of effects plug-ins that re-created classic stompboxes.

Among the many new features in Digital Performer 9 (DP9) are a new look for the GUI, major workflow improvements, additions to its already refined MIDIediting tools, and subtractive-synth-styled audio plugins. For this review, I tested version 9.0.1 on my dual 2.83GHz, quad-core Mac Pro, and later, on my 4GHz, quad-core iMac Retina 5k with 40GB RAM.

The A/V Squad

Fig. 1: Digital Performer 9’s new spectrogram display sits atop its respective audio track, providing graphic information regarding the track’s frequency content.
If you’re looking for visual assistance in sorting out your audio track’s frequency content, try DP9’s new spectrogram view. You have the option of viewing spectrograms alone or in tandem with the waveform view. The display carries with it a number of color schemes and provides a terrific visual aid toward revealing a track’s frequency content (see Figure 1).

The visually arresting Spectrogram view is especially impressive on my Mac’s retina display, as DP9 now supports full-resolution retina displays.

Another important addition in version 9 is the implementation of separate lanes for automation. This gives you an uncluttered view of audio and MIDI data, modulation, and other continuous data streams.

Fig. 2: The Create Tracks command lets you set up, assign, and route all of your tracks at once in a single window.
Although the new Create Tracks command sounds like a strictly utilitarian feature, anything that minimizes repetitive routines is welcome. Selecting the New command from the Project menu brings up a small window in which you can set up all of the tracks you may need, of any type (audio, instrument, MIDI) in any number and all in one pass (see Figure 2). This proved to be a great time-saver, and it beats building a project track-by-track, hands down.

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