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The Computer

Computer Audio Recording
by Ron Tongue

True or false: With computer audio recording you need the fastest most up-to-date computer in your studio for great sounding audio. Seek and ye shall find.

Even though you'll spend most of your recording time at a computer, we decided to save this topic until after our discussion on recording interfaces and software. As you may already know, your computer is really just a tool that ties everything in your studio together.

What type or computer
do you use in your
home recording studio?
Mac or PC?

Tell us all about it here!

My recording career actually started long before I owned a computer (it's amazing what you can accomplish with a cheap mixer and a boombox).

I finally started making computer audio recordings during my sophomore year in college. The Internet was just beginning to gain momentum and I was excited to jump in. It was a Pentium 120 PC running Windows 95.

Being a music major in college it was only natural for me to find ways to make music with my new computer. In fact, having a computer at my disposal completely changed my mindset of recording. I was running a version of Cakewalk Pro Audio (now called Sonar) and learned it inside and out. I spent every spare minute I had writing and recording music.

For years I was a PC snob. While most of my classmates were Mac users and the music labs were filled with Macs, I insisted that PCs were better.

Side note!! Want to know why I eventually switched to Mac but still own a PC? I'll tell you, but I'm going to have to save that for a future article.

So do you need that fastest most up-to-date computer for your home recording studio?

If you've got the money, then I say go for it, and max out your RAM while you're at it. But if you can't afford the best computer out there, don't fret.

I did some research and compared the system requirements to many of the major home recording computer audio hardware and software developers. If you are wondering if your current computer is adequate for home recording, or if you are in the market for a new one, this will give you a good starting point.

Windows Based PC

  • Windows XP SP2
  • Pentium 4 1.6 Ghz or equivalent
  • 1GB RAM
  • Firewire 400 (IEEE 1394)
  • USB 2.0
  • DVD Drive

Apple Macintosh

  • OS X 10.4.x
  • 1.25 Ghz
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Firewire 400 (IEEE 1394)
  • USB 2.0
  • DVD Drive

As I said, this is just a starting point (minimum requirements) in case you're hoping to get some more mileage out of your current computer or trying to save some money.

Tip!! If you can afford it, I do recommend a faster processor, 2 GB of RAM, and a 7200 RPM hard drive. This will allow you to play back more tracks, apply more plug ins and filters, and use plenty of virtual instrument tracks if you so choose.

Lastly, make sure you maintain your computer on a regular basis. Keep your hard drives defragmented (PC) or run disk utility (MAC), use virus protection, install updates regularly, save often, backup your files, use a surge protector, AND...

... don't install every free program off the web you can find.

Oh, and did I mention save often?

What type or computer
do you use in your
home recording studio?
Mac or PC?

Tell us all about it here!

Do you have a Tip, Trick, or Tweak you'd like to share? Email us. We'd like to hear from you.

The Power of a Mac Mini for Computer Audio Recording
See how Joe helped a friend get his Pro-Tools rig up and running on a Mac Mini. Click Here.

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