DP’s clever channel strip integrates quite a lot of functionality in every view.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note another significant DAW release: DP7 is shipping this week. The Mac-only Digital Performer still has a loyal following, especially among the scoring crowd, some of whom have stuck with DP since the Performer days – one of the Mac’s first sequencers. I have to say, this particular update seems to focus more on bundled effects than core functionality – and, in fairness, because it’s tough to change core features without upsetting the stuff that keeps your users loyal, this isn’t uncommon. But DP has uncommonly rich support for being a Pro Tools HD front end, it’s Mac-savvy and Snow Leopard compatible, and given its popularity in scoring, a little touch like the Marker Counter could be huge news for its major following.

Full disclosure: I haven’t found much reason to touch DP lately, with plenty of other tools to keep my attention, so if there is a loyal DP user who would like to send in their dispatch, I’d love to run it on CDM.

In the meantime, I’ll keep this compact to give you a birds-eye view. First, the effects stuff:

  • Stompboxes: For the first time, you get a suite of guitar pedal effects, including emulations of Ibanez, BOSS, RXT, and Electro-Harmonix.
  • Modeled amps: Simulations of the Fender Bassman, Marshall JTM45, and Marshall JCM800. So, sure, other suites offer more options – but these are three top picks.
  • Physically-modeled guitar miking: The Live Room | G simulates a speaker cabinet and mic placement. Unlike the Logic 9 take on the same idea, you get a built-in EQ and four channels – but also unlike Logic, you get close / near / far rather rather free-form mic placement. That’s too bad, given the clever top-down view, though I suspect the default placements are typically all you need.
  • Smarter strips: Access channel strips from a floating window, and see EQ and dynamics in-line on the mixing board. (Usually you get EQ, but not dynamics.) Plus, finally – unlike most other programs – your virtual rack of synths appears right on the mixing board. Mixer controls are also available in any edit window, not just the usual arrangement view.
  • Better counters: A Large Counter resizes the counter to an arbitrary size – ideal for when you’ve rented an orchestra and are projecting counts (literally). And a Marker Counter displays markers and jumps to specific spots, which could be fantastic for backing tracks, recording, and scoring. It’s a simple thing – obvious, really – and yet I haven’t seen it done before.
  • Real-time crossfades promise to speed editing.
  • Automation by range.


The DP mixer. Look closer, and you’ll see virtual instrument racks and even compressor instances integrated with the view.

There are also various notation improvements, including lead sheet generation – though I still think it’s touch to beat a dedicated scoring tool, or the recent inclusion of Sibelius in Pro Tools. More interesting, you get full support for running Pro Tools 8 on the back end, which is ideal for people who prefer DP (and that Marker Counter) as their front end. And there are also tweaks under the hood, including Wave64 support for massive broadcast files, side-chaining AU plug-ins, and a new sample rate conversion engine.

Guitar effects in this tool have to go up against Apple’s Logic Studio. I’d have to generally give the edge there to Apple, though, because the range of tools remains wider, and Apple also includes MainStage for rigging their effects into a performance-ready setup.

Guitar effects are nice, but I think enhancing the Counter, cleverly integrating some of the mixing controls, and making cross-fade editing faster could actually be more important. If you’re a DP user, do let us know what you think of the update.

New in DP7 [MOTU]

  • Guitar amp modeling seems to be the flavor of the year in the world of DAWs, and everybody seems to think they can do it better than anyone else. Truth is, they probably all use more or less the same ideas and math.

    Someday, I'd really like to sit down with all of these modelers and really give each one a run for its money. That's not likely to ever happen, though.

  • Actually, I will say – I do think they do sound different, and they indeed use most of the same math. I think it's more the art than the science that would make you choose one or another.

  • Indeed, implementations details, different ideas for arriving at transfer functions, different choices in modeling methods (black-box vs. component/physical, or somewhere in-between), all lead to different final results. In the end, I guess you just have to decide what you like. My preference so far is for the most expensive and most locked-down of the options, the SofTube Amp Room, which based upon the papers I've read seems to be a perceptual model (that would lean towards black-box).

  • Well, and Apple told me they found people perceived different results when the interface looked different! And, hey, that's not to be underestimated — if it *feels* different, and you play differently, that matters.

  • You know, I've been trying to tell the Linux people for a long time now that pretty interfaces really do matter. They have this Utopian fantasy that software will only ever be judged on its merits, but that's just not how the real world works. 😉

  • Chad

    No, it is certainly not. Quite the opposite, actually.

    – c

  • RayFlower

    I have never tried DP myself but i would like to, one thing about apples guitar amp designer that this(dp) seems to do better is using different mics one mic position just isn't enough always.

    To me Guitar amp pro vs guitar amp designer is more about quantity than quality, i end up bus routing the raw amp signal into TH1 triode if i want better cab sims.

    Don't get me wrong guitar amp designer is a very welcome asset to logic but it do lack some features that seemed to be the case in guitar amp pro as well although there you where limited to two micing positions.

  • gzap

    This seems like a solid, but not breathtaking update. I use DP daily, works for what I do, and see it as smart workflow updates that look like they came from user requests and a few bells and whistles to attempt to try to keep up with Logic. I like the program, its laid out well and easy to work on.

  • s ford

    Digital Performer is a great DAW. Well for Audio anyway!

    It would have been good to have seen them iron out the bugs from V6, as crikey that was a buggy release. Now again V6 would provide a error report which would come and go.

    As for the new effects, I am sure many already have an amp simulation of IK Multimedia Amplitube or Guitar Rig.

    DP is also quite CPU intensive too. The Channel Strip looks like a nice addition though.

    Doesn't look an essential update tbh all in all though.

  • @Ray: I think you're thinking of the previous Guitar Amp Pro in Logic. The Guitar Amp Designer they've just introduced allows free-form mic placement. It has two positions instead of four. Personally, I'd rather have more control over two mics than four mic positions. But then again, I think you can do reasonably well with any of these guitar amp simulations… pretty spoiled for choice these days.

  • UTM

    I'm a long time DP user and think it's great for MIDI and audio tracking. It has some nice instruments and effects that come with it too – I wish they had prioritized simplifying MIDI mapping for some of them over the amp simulations but I'll probably upgrade soon enough… The updated mixer UI is smart looking. If it has real-time waveform display superimposed on the EQ that would be even better!

  • I expect they probably saved resources and left the real-time waveform off of the EQ in mixer mode. But then, if you wanted to get that specific you'd probably open up that EQ instance and look at it that way, big enough you can see.

    Otherwise, I think this new view is quite clever, and DP deserves some real credit here for making those channel strips so accessible, more so, I think, than in other tools.

  • RayFlower


    Perhaps i was a bit unclear,sorry ,I was comparing guitar amp pro with guitar amp designer and saying that apart from mic placement, its still limited to one mic opposed to other guitar modeling software that does this much better, such as th1 or the new dp7 where you can use multiple mics with free mic placement opsed to guitar amp designers free mic placement but you're limited to one mic pr cab.

    Then again this might be a limitation in logic express that I was not aware of, if it is then sorry for the confusion.

  • jeez, it seems like yesterday that i just upgraded to 6.

    i agree that the good tweaks are mostly below the fold and the benefit afforded by the effects/room/amp simulations will have to be judged after i have a chance to listen at home.

    I wish they'd address Chunks/Songs in an upgrade and make them queue-able in realtime and then really bring DP's power into the live set.

    In my opinion, Apple (through garageband and their retail chain) has done an excellent job of bringing people under the Logic umbrella, and their stores are basically the only place you can try a DAW before you buy (try finding knowledgeable staff at Guitar Center or Best Buy). The upgrades of v.6 (interface) and v.7 (guitar-band VIs) seem to be MOTUs efforts to break out of the "DP is loved for its film scoring features" meme that is ingrained in the minds of DAW users.

  • lematt

    is that me or there is no demo ?

  • Alexander

    I am in the process og going with DP or PT. I am leaning more towards DP simply because I think it is crazy for a company to have hardware only for that software not to mention a company knowning they have a common problem on one of their hardware and then turn around and charge you a $150.00 fee to fix a common problem. And last a company that will charge you a one time fee plus you have to buy a ilok to upload and download a mp3 file. Are you serious? Are you serious? Pro tools may be the industry standard and I might still have to get it because a lot of people have it in the music business but if I do it will be done under protest.

  • Fear can paralyze, driving us to rationalize inaction. ,

  • Peter

    I have recently ordered the upgrade from DP5 to 7. I was really contemplating switching to Logic,as I was playing around with Logic Express 8 and really like all of the extra features that Logic brings to the table, much more bang for the buck as far as plugins, instruments etc. (I am not impressed by DP's VI's except for maybe Modulo)

    It seems however that Apple is not supporting the older G5's at all with Logic 9 (The website only mentions Intel in the requirements and the forums say it does run on G5's, but how well and for how long?), and I also have read that even Logic Studio 8 does not perform as well on PPC's as it does on intels. The general consensus at least from what I have read is that Logic from v.8 on was designed for the intel Macs.

    I get the impression that since MOTU is not trying to sell computers, they seem to be placing more importance on making sure their software will run well on both platforms in order to not lose some of their older customers who can't afford to upgrade their whole system.

    Both of them are great programs IMO, and both of them have features I wish the other had. I would have given Logic the upper-hand for it's bang for the buck. It comes with a lot of usable extra stuff whereas with DP, you pretty much have to invest in other VI's, loops etc. I also like the way it works with loops better (click & drag Acid style) DP of course has the edge with it's film score features which is why I bought it originally.

    Ultimately, it comes down to which one will work better on my current system and not force me to buy a whole new computer, and I have concluded (perhaps incorrectly) that DP will perform better overall than either Logic 8 which I would now have to buy used or Logic 9 which may not even work correctly on it after a few updates. At least now DP has amp modeling and a good reverb. (E-Verb? Ugggh)

    Would anyone like to comment on this? Do you

    agree (or disagree) that DP is better overall for an older system? I have a G5, 2.3Ghz Dual processor, 8Gig RAM. Ironically, I purchased this & less than 6 months later, Apple came out with the first Intel Macs. Still,I love my computer and would rather buy more software, plugs and RAM for it than buy a whole new system, even if that's inevitable in the long run.

    Please comment with your own impressions and experiences.

  • Hi guys, Logic user here.

    Out of curiosity, how many virtual instruments are inside DP7 ? Can't find a reliable list.

  • Peter

    DP has 6 VI's all but 2 of which are IMHO pretty lousy, unfortunately. Modulo is pretty cool, and so is Bassline, though very limited. I really don't care for the others.

    I guess in a pinch if you don't have something else, the Model 12 drum sample player is OK; I'm a bit biased against it because it used to crash my older version of DP5 all the time and because the samples included with it were again IMO, not very good. But it does a decent job if you don't have another drum instrument you like better. So maybe 3 of the 6. But with Logic you get how many including the Garageband instruments? A whole slew more and I think they all sound better too.

    Therein lies my biggest personal problem with the whole Logic vs. DP thing. Overall I think DP is great & there are things I like about it more than Logic, but Logic gives you a whole lot more for the same $, and I think that this will hurt MOTU a lot unless they come up with something really spectacular the next time around.

    I upgraded to DP7 mostly because at least MOTU still support the older Macs. According to them, you can run DP7 on a G4! Though I imagine it will be really really slow, but at least it's supported.

    Logic 9 only supports intel Macs at least officially. I've heard it will run on G5's. But I'm not going to take the chance. I already purchased a Native Instruments plug that won't even install, so no more new software for me until I can upgrade the computer.

  • Wow. That perceived issue about music and GUI

    is very disturbing: as an OSX newcomer I just

    can't understand MAC elitism. Just give

    Harrison Mix Bus a try… kindly provided to

    you by Ardour and the Linux Community.

  • I don't think that amp sims cut it, fine in pre prod but I'd never use one in the final mix. Although what I read here http://bit.ly/4tLT1p it would be fun to play with the various pedals and settings.

  • jgraz

    Peter hit the nail on the head. I too have been with DP5 for a few years and just now made the jump to DP7.12 but I was on the verge of switching to PT because my band mates use it. However, my old G4 (don't laugh) running Tiger OS 10.4.11) would not support the jump to PT – I would have to buy a new MAC for that. DP7 will run with my older operating system – and it's working just fine. I'd rather spend the money on mics and preamps, etc. I love MAC and started out with PC run Logic before they moved to MAC only. Digital Performer sometimes drives me mad but their customer support is excellent, their product works great and if you need to rely on outrageous plug-ins for effects there are other ways to go besides using whatever comes bundled with your DAW software. I'm sticking with DP7 because they are not selling their own hardware needed to run their programs. You have to point the finger at MAC for doing this – it is the one thing they do that reminds me of the other guy.