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The computer-based DAW route is a bit more complex than the stand-alone option because you have to combine several components that have to function together seamlessly in order for the recording experience to be fruitful and enjoyable. The last thing you need when trying to be creative is hardware or software compatibility. problems. Having said that, the industry is definitely moving towards music production PC’s as the flexibility, expandability (via plug-ins) and upgradability offered versus stand-alone DAW’s is unmatched. MusicXPC and Rain offer computers specifically designed for audio production with choices of operating system, hard drive capacity, audio interface and DAW software.. Taking this option can go a long way to avoiding compatibility issues but is usually quite expensive.

      Building your own music production computer is something to consider because putting together a desktop computer is one of the easiest things in the world to do. You can definitely save a good bit of money and have some pride in your handicraft. One important thing is use highly rated motherboards and components as they seem to have fewer compatibility problems. I have a computer I built myself with an Intel motherboard and processor that has functioned nearly flawlessly for a couple of years now. In any case, please do your homework and if something doesn’t feel right, make sure you get all your questions answered—it can save you tons of heartache and buyer’s remorse later. There are several articles in the articles section concerning just this subject. One other important consideration is your computer monitor. Buy the largest screen size you can with your budget, it will reward you later with fewer trips to the eye doctor.

      Other than the computer, the next most important thing to consider is recording software. There are several companies that specialize in this type of product and they all have very similar basic features such as recording audio, editing audio, applying effects, etc. The real difference in the packages is how much they integrate with other software packages such as synthesizes and samplers and how easily they integrate with other hardware via MIDI. I have been very loyal to Cakewalk products since starting with their MIDI-only products and then migrating ultimately to their Sonar 4 product (I’ll upgrade to latest version when I build a machine to run it). Sonar includes unlimited midi recording, unlimited audio tracks (dependent on your computer’s capabilities), built-n software synths, video sync capabilities, a whole range of midi and audio effects and mix-down options including .wav, .wma, .mp3, etc. Do your homework and determine what your needs are before you buy a software package, you’re going to be using it quite a bit and if you’re not happy with it, you can get frustrated quickly. Most software companies have entry level programs that are upgradable to the full featured version and that way you can play around with something relatively inexpensive before jumping in with both feet.

      After the software issues have been solved, the audio interface is the next item on the menu. There are easily as many audio interfaces out there as there are stand-alone DAWs and they come in 3 different flavors, Firewire, USB 2.0 and PCI. Firewire and USB 2.0 allow you to use either desktops or notebooks whereas PCI audio interfaces are installed inside your desktop computer. Firewire seems to be the industry darling but USB 2.0 has some fans as well. These interfaces will allow you to record from 2 –24 channels at a time and have a multitude of input and output configurations such as AES/EBU, SPDIF, TOSlink, ADAT, TRS and XLR. Some even include mixing stations such as Tascam’s FW-1884 (list $1,599.00). This can eliminate the need for an external mixer. The FW-1884 also has a 8 channel expander that brings the total number of inputs to 26 (analog and digital). Entry level audio interfaces such as M-audio’s MobilePre USB (list $179.95) offer 2 microphone preamps, and true portability.

        Again, determine you current and future needs and don’t skimp here—invest in the products that will grow with you. You’ll be much happier and more productive if you don’t have to constantly change your working pace to accommodate your gear

 

Click Here to Go to Microphones 101

MusicXPC Professional P2 Music Production Computer MusicXPC
TASCAM FW-1884 FireWire Audio/MIDI Interface and DAW Control Surface TASCAM's FW-1884
M-Audio MobilePre USB Portable Audio Interface M-Audio's MobilePre USB Portable Audio Interface

COMPUTER RECORDING GEAR

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