Digital Performer

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Digital Performer
Developer(s) MOTU
Stable release 9 / June 2015
Operating system Mac OS X
Microsoft Windows
Type MIDI sequencer + Digital Audio Workstation

Digital Performer is a full-featured Digital Audio Workstation/Sequencer software package published by Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) of Cambridge, Massachusetts for the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows platforms.


In 1984, Mark of the Unicorn released Professional Composer, one of the first application programs for the Apple Macintosh. The program used the Macintosh's high-resolution graphics and printing to allow the user to print professional quality music scores.

In 1985, the company released a music sequencer named Performer, also based on the Macintosh platform, for arranging and performing with synthesizers and other devices which recognized the then-newly developed MIDI standard. Sending a series of numerical values, such a sequencer could direct many instruments, commanding which notes to play, at what loudness, and for how long to sustain them. There are many deep features in the MIDI protocol; MOTU developed extended capabilities in Digital Performer for handling these controllers and other actions (including remote operation of the software itself) through user-customizable graphical consoles, allowing the operator direct access to deeper features of instruments, stage lighting and various types of machines, all via MIDI interfaces and custom graphic buttons and sliders.

Native Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) arrives[edit]

In 1990, MOTU added the ability to synchronise audio (digital audio) to Performer and released it as "Digital Performer," months after Opcode added this capability to Vision. Digital Performer was originally designed as a front-end to Digidesign's Audiomedia hard disk recording system, which later became Pro Tools. Digital Performer's specific appeal was its MIDI environment, which was fitted into the same transport system as the audio environment. This enabled users to record their MIDI instruments and mix the results with other live audio recorded in the studio (or vice versa). Personal computers of this time were too slow to handle high quality recording via their own CPU, so the addition of DSP co-processor cards was necessary to create a functioning audio recording studio. As the Mac's CPU became powerful enough to record the digitized audio directly to hard disk, the DSP cards were gradually rendered unnecessary. Foreseeing this, MOTU created its own Motu Audio System (MAS) which helped Digital Performer to tap the Macintosh's native power to record music directly to its own hard drive without the need for external co-processing and dedicated drives. By 2000, Digital Performer allowed users to record, mix, and master audio for commercial releases.

Mac OS X[edit]

Present day[edit]

Version 3 of Digital Performer was the last to run on Mac OS 9, the Classic Macintosh operating system. After a complete rewrite, MOTU released Digital Performer 4.0 in May 2003, which ran exclusively on Mac OS X.

Beginning with version 4.5, MOTU introduced a number of important new features to Digital Performer. The two most important of these are built in pitch correction capability, and a Masterworks EQ plugin that rivals high end 3rd party EQ plugins in terms of quality. Beginning with version 5.0, MOTU also introduced a set of virtual instruments. The software was updated to version 5.13 on 19 November 2007 to provide compatibility with Mac OS X v10.5. and available in Universal Binary.

Version 7.2 was introduced in 2010. Digital Performer remains one of the popular audio workstations on the Macintosh. Faster Apple CPUs continue to increase its capacity and performance. Chief among its competition on the Macintosh platform are Pro Tools and Apple's Logic.[citation needed]

In October 2012, MOTU released Digital Performer 8 for OSX. Digital Performer 8 is currently available on Windows as well.[1]

Version 9 of Digital Performer was released in June 2015 for Mac OS X and Windows. This version contains workflow enhancements, some new effect plugins, including emulations of the 1176 and Craig Anderton's MultiFuzz. MOTU also included a 64 bit version of its software syth MX4 which previously was sold as a stand-alone product.[2]

Awards and recognition[edit]

2001 Electronic Musician Editors Choice Awards

  • Best Digital Audio Workstation/Audio Interface[3]

2002 Electronic Musician Editors Choice Awards

  • Best Digital Audio Workstation/Audio Interface[4]

2004 Electronic Musician Editors Choice Awards

  • Best Digital Audio Workstation/Audio Interface[5]

2010 Electronic Musician Editors Choice Awards

  • Best Digital Audio Workstation/Audio Interface[6]

Notable users[edit]

Some notable users include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ 2001 Editors Choice Awards
  4. ^ Editor's Choice Awards 2002
  5. ^ Electronic Musician 2004 Editors Choice Awards
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "John Adams on his Violin Concerto". Earbox. Retrieved 2007-12-31. 
  8. ^ "Digital Performer for Film Scoring". MOTU. Archived from the original on 12 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-19. 
  9. ^ "Danny Elfman: Building Music for the Movies". Apple Inc. Retrieved 2007-05-19. 
  10. ^ "Digital Performer Scores the Impossible". MOTU. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  11. ^ "Scott Gibbons of Orbitronik, Lilith and Strawberry". Last Sigh. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  12. ^ "DPUser Update: Elliot Goldenthal". Digital Performer Users. Retrieved 2007-05-19. 
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ "DPUser Update: David Lawrence". Digital Performer Users. Retrieved 2007-05-19. 
  15. ^ "First Look: Pat Metheny". MOTU. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  16. ^ Renzetti.html "DPUser Update: Joe Renzetti" Check |url= scheme (help). Digital Performer Users. Retrieved 2007-05-19. 
  17. ^ "'62 Strat, '86 Fernandes Brad Gillis Model, a Gibson Moderne and More". Gearwire. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  18. ^ "DPUser Update: David Bryan". Digital Performer Users. Retrieved 2007-05-19. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Matmos". Sound on Sound. Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  21. ^ "Conversing With Giants". Electronic Musician. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  22. ^ Musical Talk podcast 15/01/08
  23. ^ [3]
  24. ^ "Used on demos for Disintegration (The Cure album)". Fiction Records. 
  25. ^ Used as Synthesizer Sequencer
  26. ^ Howard Shore
  27. ^ [4]
  28. ^ [5]

External links[edit]