Burnstudio’s Audiotool, an online recording studio web app that includes hardware-style instruments and effects, might be the most powerful online digital audio workstation (DAW) we’ve tested, although it really depends on the user’s musical skill level, style, and level of experience with music hardware.
We certainly found Audiotool the most visually-attractive of the lot. When you open the program, a single master output box sits in the middle of the screen. A column on the right contains devices from synths to drum machines to effects that the user drags onto to this musical canvas, after which they can be wired up any way you like.
The nearly endless possibilities for playing around with this stuff are the best and worst thing about Audiotool.
For those willing to take the plunge, this graphic model is addictive, because you can quickly experiment with different routing and effects combinations on the fly to hear how they affect the track you’re working on.
On the downside, despite the attractive graphics, you need a little more musical experience to operate Audiotool effectively than with the other online DAWs we’ve profiled. (If you’ve ever played with Propellerhead’s Reason, though, you will quickly get the idea.)
A tracks window, familiar from other workstations, lets you drag and drop pre-recorded samples and MIDI parts where they can be edited, looped and automated with effects. You also get advanced functionality like side-chaining, where the signal from one musical device triggers an effect linked to a second device. This is particularly useful in generating what is sometimes called a ‘ducker’, where each kickdrum in a dance song attenuates a bass part, producing a powerful, pulsing beat.
This feature, along with starter reset configurations (“Techno,” “Dub-step” and “Drum and Bass”) reinforce the obvious: that Audiotool is most useful for those interested in producing electronic or dance music. Folkies musicians will find little to entertain them here.