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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.

Live sound specialists will probably appreciate the Smaart DAWG, a 2U hardware solution for SIA Smaart Pro and Smaart Live software. The unit squeezes the entire computer, monitor and keyboard into a 2U space, giving sound reinforcement folks quick access to a totally portable, pre-wired solution for total show control. Another live sound option is DAWG’s Road Warrior, which puts a highly flexible control system into a compact 6U unit capable of adding several PCI slots, again pre-wired and custom case-protected.

However, don’t look for Pro Tools setups to come out of DAWG’s doors anytime soon. With their focus on PC-based packages, the Mac-biased Pro Tools will stay outside of the DAWG picture for the time being.

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DAWGster installing a sound card in a client’s computer.

Some of the best news about all of DAWG’s tinkering is its transparency to the end user. “These are computers, not much different from a laptop – you won’t notice that much difference,” Hickey says. “But with the ability to rack it up, you can have it pre-wired to eliminate cabling issues. So using it becomes a physical transportation issue, rather than a technology issue. Our approach also makes our systems much easier and less expensive to repair and upgrade.”

Especially in the case of sound reinforcement, Hickey sees his solutions as a way to move sound engineers smoothly into the next phase of show control. “The writing is on the wall that controlling audio levels, EQ, lighting – all parameters – a great deal of that will be done digitally,” he explains. “What we saw is that the path of audio, sound reinforcement, lighting and computer technology have already crossed and are now running parallel together. Most companies are buying our systems to do one function, but we’ve let them know that they’re going to be controlling a lot more.”

As he works to take some of the pain out of digital audio, Hickey claims to look forward to the day when DAWG’s services are no longer needed. “We’ll be very happy when we’re to the point overall in the industry where digital technology is as easy to design, implement and use as components have been in the analog world,” he says. “DAWG has benefited from the fact that there are so many problems with making digital technology work, but we’ll be glad when a lot of those problems are solved and we’re back in the plug and play atmosphere. Eventually, all the companies involved will get on the same page, and the digital world will be as friendly as analog used to be.”

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