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Racking Up Computers for Digital Audio

DAWG, builder of PC-based digital audio systems, wants to give their users more creativity, not crashes.

Just because audio is transforming from an analog to a digital world doesn’t mean that it’s totally comfortable with The Computer Age. At least, that’s how they see it at DAWG USA, a relatively new company on the scene that sees a lot of room for improving how audio pros get PCs into their workflow.

Operating out of Jefferson City, MO since 1998, DAWG went straight to work on assembling PC-based digital audio systems that help their users spend their time being creative, instead of crashing. “One of the biggest problems for people who work with audio technology,” says John Hickey, President of DAWG, “is keeping up with the rapid turnover, growth and continual changes of the components involved in building workstations.

“In the marriage of the computer and audio industries, the computer is moving at about 1,000,000 MPH, and audio is moving at 100,000 MPH. That’s a great disparity, and keeping pace has been a great challenge.”

Combining a strong entrepreneurial spirit with a musical background that took him through the worlds of a player, live sound engineer and recording studio manager, Hickey and DAWG co-founder George Pfenenger became aware of a need for computer assembly expertise geared specifically towards audio. “There is a growing need to solve some of the issues that exist within what I call ‘The Triangle’ of the computer operating system (OS), card I/O device and audio software,” Hickey points out. “The marriage between those three points is not as easily put into play as things in the analog world.

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DAWG system safely locked away in a rack.

“There are companies like Gateway and Dell that make great computers for word processing and the Internet, but those are ‘daily drivers.’ If you want to do audio or video professionally, you need a Ferrari. We build the custom race cars of the computer audio world by engineering, designing, assembling and testing systems that are specifically designed for that function.”

Essential to that mission was weeding out the most troublesome aspects of everyone’s favorite PC OS. “What really causes a lot of the problems is Windows,” Hickey says. “It’s so big and has to account for so many different things, but only a small part of Windows is required to run these audio programs. So we strip away the rest of the OS and install the other hardware and software.”

Through constant testing, DAWG engineers have found the best combinations of OS, software packages like emagic, Cakewalk and Steinberg, and cards from the likes of Frontier Design, Midiman, Yamaha and Lynx for optimum stability. In essence: troubleshooting and weeding out crash-prone combinations in advance to create either custom packages or pre-planned systems that can run smoothly and predictably.

Examples of DAWG combos that are ready to go include their DAW line that culminates in The Pinnacle, a Pentium 4-based 32 track recording system (also available in 8, 24 or 16 tracks). Ensconced in a 4U steel rack mount chassis, the unit comes equipped with flat panel display monitors, wireless keyboard and mouse and a choice of card/software configurations, depending on the buyer’s needs and preference.

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