Refers to DAW systems that rely mostly upon the host processor (CPU) of the machine they reside in to provide their processing power. In the years before computers were able to do much more than provide a graphics platform for digital audio work a lot of proprietary hardware was required. Early systems would stand on their own and just use the computer as the user interface. As computing power rose over the 1990′s, manufacturers began to design systems to take advantage of the additional capabilities to the point where now it is common to have an entire virtual studio inside of a typical desktop PC, complete with mixing, plug-in processors and synthesizers, and many tracks of recording just by running software. These systems are known as “host based,” which means they rely on the host CPU (and its related components) to do all the dirty work as dictated by the software. The only hardware involved is usually some kind of computer card and/or external box providing analog and digital connectivity to the outside world. Host based systems do still have to compromise in some areas of performance, but as computer technology continues to advance the differences between them and their dedicated hardware counterparts continues to blur.