PC Recording Studios: 3 Tips for Improving Performance - dummies

PC Recording Studios: 3 Tips for Improving Performance

By Jeff Strong

Part of PC Recording Studios For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Computer-based recording systems can be finicky, whether Mac- or Windows-based. Be diligent about taking basic precautions in your studio so your PC recording system doesn’t become sluggish and, eventually, unstable. This gradual slow-down doesn’t have to happen, however. With three simple housekeeping tasks, you can keep your computer running smoother.

Keep your hard drive free of unnecessary applications

Using your computer for tasks other than recording and adjusting audio can clutter up your hard drives and slow down your system. This saps resources that could go toward an extra plug-in or audio track. Some particularly sneaky software programs, such as appointment calendars, run in the background and drain power even when they’re not launched.

If you do use a computer with other programs on it, put all the data from the other programs on a separate hard drive from your audio files and try to avoid installing programs such as calendars, Internet programs (both browsers and e-mail — getting a virus is as easy as clicking a Download button), or any program that constantly runs in the background.

You basically have two solutions for this dilemma:

  • Get a computer and use it only for audio.

  • Get a super powerful computer and accept the hit you’ll take by having these applications on your system.

Keep an eye on buffer settings

Low buffer settings put a huge burden on your computer — especially if you use a lot of plug-ins. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • When you record, use as few plug-ins as possible so that you can keep your buffer settings as low as you can. Using a low buffer setting minimizes your latency when tracking, making it easier to play along with previously recorded tracks and have everything line up within your single file.

  • When you mix, raise the buffer setting so that your processor doesn’t have to work as hard. Changing your buffer setting from 128 samples (common for recording) to 512 or 1,024 samples when you mix might even allow you to add a couple extra plug-ins when mixing.

Adjusting your buffer settings depending on your needs can make your recording process go much smoother.

Clean up your tracks

As you cut up your takes and assemble them together, your computer plays your assembled data from the original files. This means that it often reads from various parts of the hard drive at the same time (well, not exactly the same time — it can’t multitask). This puts extra stress on your hard drive and, if you have tracks with lots of chopped-up parts, it can slow your system down or limit the number of tracks you can play back before causing drop-outs, clicks, or pops.

Consolidate your parts into one continuous audio file after you finish making your edits to the individual tracks. This way your hard drive has all the data for your track in one place, making it easier to play back.