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]