Computer-based DAWs consist of three components: a computer, an ADC-DAC, and digital audio editor software. The computer acts as a host for the sound card and software and provides processing power for audio editing. The sound card acts as an audio interface, typically converting analog audio signals into digital form, and may also assist in processing audio. The software controls the two hardware components and provides a user interface to allow for recording and editing. Many radio stations in the U.S. prefer using computer-based DAWs over integrated DAWs.
Integrated DAWs consist of a mixing console, control surface, and digital interface in one device. Integrated DAWs were more popular before personal computers became powerful enough to run DAW software. As computer power increased and price decreased, the popularity of the costly integrated systems dropped. However, systems such as the Orban Audicy once flourished in the radio and television markets. Today, some systems still offer computerless arranging and recording features with a full graphical user interface.