Introduction to PARIS


PARIS stands for Pro Audio Recording Integrated System. By definition, PARIS is a digital audio workstation, or DAW. It was originally introduced in 1997 and was discontinued by 2001, victim of corporate restructuring and the demise of a chip foundry which manufactured a crucial component.

PARIS is a hardware/software tracking and mixing environment, normally including a hardware-based DSP "daughterboard" for onboard FX (the exception is the EDS500 cards; systems based on these cards do not have this additional DSP "daughterboard"). The "daughterboard" is based around six of Ensoniq's proprietary ESP2 processors, which are also used by Ensoniq in the DP series of effects processors. The PARIS software also has some rudimentary MIDI capabilities, generally disabled by users.


PARIS is an unusual platform because it remains to this day one of the only DAWS in its current price range (sometimes found under $300 for a full "Bundle 3" system) to combine the advantages of hardware with the flexibility of software, and to do so with extraordinary sonic quality. Viewed in comparison to a modern DAW, PARIS is sorely lacking in amenities. But viewed in a different light, PARIS snaps into better focus - as a great-sounding and extremely cost-effective alternative to a high-quality analog tape deck and analog mixer (yet with great editing advantages); as a high-grade summing bus; as a "real time" effects processing rack; as a mixer for live applications with additional recording capability included; as a "studio mainframe" that combines elements of several of the above elements and does away with the need for a bulky hardware mixer.

PARIS' advantages include:

1) the potential of true extreme-low-latency monitoring under nearly all circumstances
2) particularly well-designed AD/DA conversion, leading to audio quality that still stands up credibly by present-day standards.
3) integrated hardware-DSP-based effects which permit, for example, zero-latency monitoring through compression and reverb without external mixer
4) a high-throughput interleaved file format (.paf) which permitted high track-counts from hard drives (an advantage now largely nullified by advances in drive speeds).
5) dedicated hardware control surface that reacts with the immediacy of hardware
6) and above all, superior sonics and an analog-like response to "pushing into the red" or "spanking" PARIS. Some argue this to be due to 1) covert inclusion of analog-modelling technology and 2) extremely skilled and visionary implementation of gain structure.


PARIS' limitations include:

1) obsolescence: last official software release was Paris V3.0 in 2000; support discontinued and now solely user-driven; parts in increasingly short supply.
2) a resulting slippage in comparative features with modern DAWs, including such now-taken-for-granted-as-essentials as "grid support for multiple tempos"
3) a resulting lack of direct support for current operating systems (third party initiatives have met with both success - Win XP drivers - and failure - Mac OSX drivers)
4) a resulting lack of compatibility with newer filetypes: no support for filetypes beside mono .paf, 'wav and .sd2; minimal support for interleaved stereo files (limited to export and import); rudimentary OMF support; no REX file support.
5) a resulting lack of support for samplerates above 48k (this is argued by devotees to be offset by PARIS' inherent audio quality and today's most common destination formats).
6) a GUI that is non-compliant with modern standards - constrained-expansion windows that fit neither Apple or Windows guidelines; hard-coded key bindings; no contextual menus; lack of support for wheel mice



PARIS consists of four discrete components -








Various third-party initiatives specific to PARIS include:








Other initiatives related to the PARIS platform have been:





Key PARIS Figures


This is a partial and evolving list, and is sure to grow. If you notice a missing PARIS figure, please add them in!

Official Development
Stephen St. Croix (born Stephen Curtis Marshall; b. 1948 - d. 2006 - R.I.P. Stephen), Intelligent Devices - PARIS software, also responsible for the graphic design of Paris
Edmund Pirali, Intelligent Devices - PARIS software
Bill Mauchly - (Ensoniq designer) DP4 CPU design, PARIS mixer code; WAVEBOY plugins
John Senior - analog portions of PARIS
Michael Arnao (Ensoniq s/w engineer) Responsible for Ensoniq FX development, 1992-; symbolic assembler for ESP2 chip

Post-Official Development
Chuck Duffy - originator of the Paris Newsgroup and its community, WinXp drivers, PARIS Skunkworks Plug-ins
Matthew Craig - PARIS ASIO drivers
Chris Thoman - WinXP drivers
Mike Audet - Mike Audet PARIS Plugins; updates to Paris Studio Control Library and the functionality of the adat and SMPTE modules
Steve "steve the artguy" Della Maggiora - keeper of invaluable PARIS newsgroup archives
Doug Wellington - maintainer of the parisFAQs.com website; OSX driver development (status unknown)
Aaron Allen - PARIS "Brian Tankersly" tutorial DVD
Brian Tankersley - for many years a tireless advocate and resource for PARIS
John Bercik - keeper of the invaluable PARIS Notes repository

Power Users
Sakis Anastopoulos - pioneered the use of Paris as a mastering environment, wrote tutorial on Dithering
Derek Von Krogh (synthesist/producer/sound engineer) - pioneer Paris power user
Doug Joyce - for many years a tireless explorer of the outer fringes of Paris hardware

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