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Setting Up Your Computer for Music Production

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When you’re done with this chapter, you’ll have transformed your ordinary computer into a complete Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) capable of recording great-sounding music.
This chapter is from the book

IN THIS CHAPTER

  • Determining your minimum requirements for processing, memory, and storage
  • Choosing your audio input/output interface (your computer audio interface)
  • Assembling your audio monitoring system

In this chapter, we move into an area that doesn’t have to be nearly as confusing or intimidating as many of us tend to believe it is. Here’s where we’ll talk about your computer and what you need to do to it to turn it into an audio-production powerhouse. When you’re done with this chapter, you’ll have transformed your ordinary computer into a complete Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) capable of recording great-sounding music. And it’s a lot easier to do than you might think. This is an important chapter because a lack of understanding of this topic prevents far too many musicians from getting work done. That’s a shame. And you’re about to learn why it doesn’t have to be that way.

Your Computer: Command Central

Your computer is obviously a critical component in your recording setup. As you’ll see in the remainder of this book, it serves as your multitrack recorder, your storage medium, your mixer, your source for most (if not all) of your digital signal processing (DSP) work, your playback machine, your editing station, and your CD burning station. And it can even do email and your taxes! It’s a wonderful thing.

Let’s get down to the important details of how to make your computer serve all these important functions. The younger musicians among us have probably been using computers for most of their lives. You’re most likely completely at home with the computer in general and might be tempted to skip over some of the preliminary topics in this chapter. I’d suggest you resist that urge at least enough to skim through everything to make sure you don’t miss something audio specific that you haven’t worked with before.

Others may very well have relatively little experience with computers in their daily lives. If that’s the case, don’t worry that you don’t consider yourself a whiz on the computer; you can learn your way around. And, the truth is, you don’t need to be a computer genius to make it all work for you.

In fact, computers these days are really quite reliable. Considering the complexity of what goes on inside the computer every time you push a key or click the mouse, it’s amazing they work as reliably and seamlessly as they do.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t run into problems with your machine, but hopefully you’ll get comfortable enough working with it that you’ll be able to overcome these issues, or more importantly, avoid them in the first place.

We discussed the Mac versus PC argument back in Chapter 1, “Laying the Groundwork for Recording,” and we all agreed to put that argument to rest, so let’s not rehash it here. As I mentioned, I work on the PC platform, so my examples are given on the PC. But remember, even if you use a Mac, most of what this chapter discusses applies equally to your platform too, so don’t give in to the temptation to skip it.

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