I make cool stuff with blender, where it is more realistic and can do way cooler things, but, it takes a long time to render. Is there any daw that can render strange hyper-realistic sounds instead of faking everything in realtime? Or is the faking everything in real time good enough?

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    not sure what you mean by faking everything in real time. Audio processing has less processing overhead than rendering video, as you are working with actual sound data. Even sequencers and synthesizers are working in real time, so it is possible to effect live performance. envelope filters and effects work on real time audio source. So i guess the answer is "all of them"? Mar 2, 2017 at 4:33
  • Playing a live performance backwards from end to start simultaneously with the live performance is probably an example of something that cannot be done "in real time." I think this illustrates what sorts of effects will require rendering latency in order to fully realize them.
    – Yorik
    Mar 2, 2017 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


Audio processing requires less processing than video, allowing digital audio to be rendered in real time (well, nano seconds of delay, but close enough).

The ability to render audio in real time is limited by the processing power of the system you are using. There is specific audio processing hardware that may be used in a system to processes more audio and applied effects in real time (as opposed to using just your DAW computer's processor only). The more powerful the hardware, the more tracks and audio you can process in real time.

If a system does not have enough processing power to render an audio track in real time, some software will allow the track to be pre-processed (rendered) and saved as a rendered version of the track.

Individual tracks may also be "bounced" to a separate audio file with the effects added, creating a new file with the effects included, taking away the processing necessary for that track.

Processing the audio in real time has the benefit of allowing all the variables of the mix to be changed as you produce the mix.

To change the mix of rendered audio files they would have to be changed and then re-rendered, creating a significant gap in the work flow, which could make it a less desirable process than processing in real time using adequate hardware for the project.

So yes, if the system you are using is incapable of rendering the audio you want in real time, most software will be able to render the audio out of real time for playback.

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    Nanoseconds is quite a bit exaggerated. The theoretical minimum latency is determined by the sampling frequency, i.e. 1 / 96000 Hz ≈ 10 μs would be an extremely good value. In practice, working with single samples is infeasible due to processor cache performance; a more typical latency value is 1 ms. — This is notwithstanding the “real time” claim though – real time (soft real time, at least) only means that the delay is constant, i.e. that processing speed averaged over a large time is equal to playback speed. Mar 3, 2017 at 10:55
  • True. Nanosecond sounded better though, thus my parenthetical remark being hyperbolic. The point being that rendering audio compared to rendering a video product is somewhat an apples and oranges comparison. Video games are rendered "real time" too, but Hi Def movie scenes still take time to process. I remember rendering video on an Amiga, with some frames taking a day to render that could now be rendered "on the fly" with my PC. Mar 3, 2017 at 19:55

Most DAWs do have the ability to render audio in a non-realtime mode - often it's called 'render offline' or similar.

You often don't have to take an 'either/or' approach though, because you can often 'bounce' your rendered tracks to audio tracks while you're not working on them, making the effort of producing them in real-time very low indeed. If you want to make changes, you can go back and unmute the original instrument tracks.

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