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MOTU Digital Performer 5 Review

It’s always a big deal when one of the premier DAW manufacturers unleashes a major upgrade on the world. So no surprise there’s been big buzz about Digital Performer 5 from MOTU. I (along with hordes of other DP lovers) was really looking forward to seeing what MOTU had in store for us.

I installed DP5 on my Mac, and got down to business. The biggest news is probably that the program comes bundled with six new virtual instruments. These include Modulo (2-oscillator digital waveform synth with phase modulation), Model 12 (12-part virtual drum module), Proton (2-operator FM synth), Nanosampler (a mono or stereo sample player), BassLine (analog modeled bass synth), and PolySynth (inspired by the Roland Juno 6).

I was especially enamored of Model 12 for putting together MIDI drum tracks, and Modulo, which is capable of some very inspiring sounds. Nanosampler is quick and easy, when you don’t need complex sample editing power. BassLine has that thick analog drive, and Proton and PolySynth provide useful sounds for realizing arrangements. All in all, MOTU has delivered a powerful collection of useful instruments for your productions.

The new track folders feature is something I’ve been longing for in DP; now you can collect various tracks into a folder, which is great for organization. I often end up with tons of MIDI drum tracks in my songs; track folders make everything so much cleaner!

DP5’s new Meter Bridge is a window that lets you monitor levels for all signal paths in one place. You can easily select what’s displayed: inputs, outputs, busses, whatever you want to see. You can customize the window layout and the meter behavior, and resize the meters for visibility across the room. I love the new Meter Bridge!

There are four new edit tools in DP5: Roll (adjusts the border between two adjacent regions), Slip (adjusts the waveform within a clip), Slide (adjusts the clip position without moving the waveform), and Trim (drags the edges of a region). Slip and Slide are tough to explain, but make certain types of audio edits much easier.

There’s so much more in DP5: powerful film scoring features, new click and count-off options, clip-based volume automation (stays with the audio clip if you move it), live input monitoring without the track being in record, MIDI keys (turns your QWERTY keyboard into a MIDI keyboard), support for Pro Tools 7 (there’s a long list of new PT features recently added to DP; suffice it to say, DP offers the most comprehensive support for Pro Tools of any third-party DAW), and the proverbial “so much more.”

In short, Digital Performer 5 rocks – I’ve just barely scratched the surface of what this upgrade provides, on top of all the features already in DP! If you’re a DP user, don’t miss this upgrade. If you’re thinking of switching, it looks like MOTU just sealed the deal.

Mitch Gallagher

About Mitch Gallagher

Sweetwater Editorial Director, Mitch Gallagher, is one of the leading music/pro audio/audio recording authorities in the world. The former senior technical editor of Keyboard magazine and former editor-in-chief of EQ magazine, Gallagher has published thousands of articles, is the author of seven books and one instructional DVD, and appears in well over 500 videos on YouTube. He teaches audio recording and music business at Purdue University/Indiana University, and has appeared at festivals, conventions, and conferences around the world.
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