Test Drive: SAWStudioBasic from RML Labs

by Steve Cunningham

Bob Lentini’s Software Audio Workshop, or SAW, has been a player in the PC multitrack audio field since the early 1990’s. Its loyal users rave about its speed and capabilities, thanks to an audio engine constructed entirely in assembly language to squeeze the maximum performance from a Wintel CPU. But SAW was expensive and its learning curve was steep, and during the downturn of 2001 Lentini was forced to shut down his company, IQS.

While that company may be no more, Bob and his products are very much alive, thank you, under the flag of RML Labs. RML has released a new version of SAW, dubbed SAWStudioBasic, that features the same fast assembly-language engine as its more expensive siblings, but at a radio-friendly price of $300.

SAWStudioBasic (hereafter referred to as simply SAW) is a 24-track recorder/editor, with a full mixer and effects. The 24 input tracks can be mono or stereo, and SAW supports multiple sound cards for up to 16 separate outputs. Sample rates up to 192kHz are supported, as are 16-, 20-, and 24-bit resolutions. Low-latency ASIO sound drivers are well supported, although the program will also run quite happily using standard Windows audio drivers and sound cards. You can use any of your DX or VST plug-in effects in SAW, as well as the company’s proprietary IQS format effects. There are also quite a few third-party plugs out there that are designed especially for SAW.

The program’s requirements are not stiff — a Pentium II-450 or higher machine running Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows XP will do. Of course, the faster the CPU, the more tracks and effects you’ll get, but SAW’s performance is snappy even on the 1GHz P3 machine I used to evaluate it. You’ll need a minimum of 256 MB of RAM (384 MB or more is recommended), and a monitor that will display at 1024 x 768 or higher resolution and 65,000 colors. Installation is simple, since the program is sold, delivered, and authorized through www.sawstudio.com. Once you’ve purchased the software, RML emails you a link and a pass code that allows you to download the program, and no further authorization is necessary.

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