MOTU Digital Performer 6 Review

Digital Performer is Mark of the Unicorn’s flagship digital audio workstation/MIDI sequencing software. A by-product of one of the first audio applications ever made for Mac, Digital Performer has a long, rich history on the Apple platform.

Digital Performer began as a MIDI-only sequencer and, over the course of two decades, evolved into a powerful digital audio workstation. Digital Performer 6 is the latest version of MOTU’s DAW.

Best of What’s New in MOTU Digital Performer 6

A favorite with film composers for years, this new version of Digital Performer offers the expected scoring-to-picture enhancements but there are a host of new features that will appeal to all Digital Performer users.

For example, the new version of Digital Performer works very well as a software front end for Digidesign Pro Tools|HD systems. Furthermore, DP6 sessions can now be exported as OMF, AAF and XML files making them compatible with applications like Final Cut Pro, Pro Tools and Logic Pro.

Notwithstanding these changes and the improvements to the user interface, there are two major highlights in version 6: the ProVerb convolution reverb plug-in and the revolutionary concept of ‘instrument pre-generation’.

MOTU’s Virtual Instrument Pre-Generation

One the most groundbreaking developments in DP6 is MOTU’s ‘instrument pre-generation’. Before DP6, working with many softsynths in a single session commonly caused slower session performance and even CPU-overloading. With ‘pre-gen’ in DP6, whenever a virtual instrument’s plug-in window is closed, Digital Performer renders the instrument track’s output into the computer’s RAM. This feature dramatically lowers virtual instrument CPU usage and thus allows for more instances of commonly-used virtual instruments.

A similar feature for pre-processing plug-ins was added in version 5.1 but the extension of this to virtual instruments has huge implications for DP6 users as it substantially increases the amount of softsynths that can be run at a given time on a single Mac computer. Digital Performer is currently the only major DAW with this amazing CPU-saving feature.

ProVerb Convolution Reverb in Digital Performer 6

ProVerb is MOTU’s answer to convolution reverb. This CPU-efficient plug-in is comparable to other convolution reverbs in that it offers a selection of impulse responses aimed at recreating realistic acoustic environments.

But ProVerb has an unique feature called ‘Dynamic Mix’. This feature is meant to simulate a mix engineer “riding” the wet/dry mix control of a reverb unit during playback with the purpose in mind of a “wetter” mix while retaining the intelligibility of the original input signal. ProVerb also supports drag and drop impulse responses.

Final Thoughts on Digital Performer 6

Digital Performer 6 does have some drawbacks. Like Logic Pro, it is a Mac-only DAW, thus effectively excluding PC users from enjoying the benefits of working in the DP6 environment. There have also been reports of some problems with the initial version of DP6 such as long loading and saving times for larger sessions and incompatibility issues with certain third-party plug-ins and sample libraries.

These issues aside, Digital Performer 6 is clearly a major step forward for MOTU’s professional DAW software. The improved user interface and convolution reverb are definitely highlights but the new virtual instrument ‘pre-gen’ is revolutionary. This feature alone should cause users of other DAWs to consider the switch to Digital Performer 6.

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