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MOTU Digital Peformer 7.2 (Mac, $499)

MOTU Digital Performer 7.2

Digital Performer is a DAW with a long-held reputation for combining quality, breadth of features, and ease of use. In Version 7.2, MOTU concentrated on workflow enhancements that make Digital Performer an even more intuitive and productive work environment. Some of the highlights include the new Themes feature, which lets you choose from a variety of different looks and color schemes. While that might not sound so important, when you consider how long you stare at a DAW every day, choosing a Theme that suits your taste really helps.

Beyond the cosmetic, V. 7.2 introduced contextual menus that offer relevant data for the specific object you''re working with (for instance, a mixer channel or a track in the Tracks window), eliminating the need to search through the main menus and thus speeding up workflow. Some of the other enhancements include search boxes for the Soundbites and Key Commands windows, saving of plug-in chains from mixer channels, and mini-graphic displays that show up in the Mixer window. When added together with Digital Performer''s legacy features, the amp-and-effects modeling plug-ins added in V. 7, and the rock-solid performance of this latest incarnation, you''ve got yourself a winner.

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