A digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic tool or set of electronic tools used for recording, editing and producing audio files. DAWs come in a wide variety of configurations from a single software program on a consumer laptop, to an integrated stand-alone unit, all the way to a highly complex configuration of numerous audio and midi components controlled by a central computer. Regardless of configuration, modern DAWs have a central interface that allows the user to alter and mix multiple recordings and tracks into a final produced piece.
A computer-based DAW has some basic components: a computer, a sound card or audio interface, a digital audio editing software, and an audio or midi source. This could be as simple as a mouse, or as sophisticated as a MIDI controller keyboard or an automated controller to control software. The computer acts as a host for the sound card and software and provides processing power for audio editing and the digital to analog/analog to digital processing that goes on under the hood. The computers built in sound card (if used) or external audio interface will convert analog audio signals into digital form, and for playback converts digital to analog audio; it may also assist in further processing the audio like effects and automations set in the software. The software controls all related hardware components and provides a user interface to allow for recording, editing, and playback.