August 08, 2009

How to Prepare Your Computer for Recording Music at Home

Here are tips to improve the reliability of your computer for use as a recording studio for your music. Working with Audio can place a high demand on your computer's capabilities from the CPU to storage and memory.Below are some tips that will increase the performance of your computer and make it less prone to crashes when you are recording or editing your music.



Before you install recording software check the following.CPU speed and memory-
Most modern computers that are only a couple of years old will have a processor that is equal to or exceeding the minimum CPU speed your editing software requires but it is still worth checking – particularly if you have machine that is earlier than this (be aware that processor speed, along with memory will determine how many tracks of audio you can record and the number of effects you can have running simultaneously.


Home studio computerThe same goes for required RAM (most good recording programs state a minimum of 512 megabytes) More is better- a gigabyte or higher (in fact increasing the memory of your computer can compensate for a slower processor to some degree and is probably the cheapest way to add more speed to your machine).

Storage space, In most cases you will have enough storage on your operating system hard drive to install the software and related effects – what I'm referring to is a second drive dedicated to storing your songs and all the files they are created from. This is a must, because having both your software and songs on the same drive will place a high demand both on your drive and CPU as it tries to find, read and write and execute a program all at the same time from one location.


Also note that music files are large so you'll need a lot of space – one five minute recording can easily be 250 megabytes or more – multiply that by eight for a song consisting of eight different instruments, (each on an individual track) such as drums, bass, guitar, keyboard and vocals and you begin to get the idea that a 40 gigabyte drive will fill up fairly quickly so go for something bigger (say 150 gigs or larger).
Choose a reliable brand and get an external drive to keep your files backed up.

While we are on the subject of hard drives – if you are planning on using an external drive and writing directly to it, choose a unit that has a cooling fan. Enclosed drives can generate and trap a lot of heat and if you are doing a long session without much ventilation you can cook your drive and cause it to fail prematurely. (internal drives are less prone to this because they usually receive cooling from the power supply fan and you can mount them in such a way that there is an air gap between each of them for circulation).

Removal or disabling of other programs.

The absolute best computer based recording studios in terms of speed and stability are those that are dedicated units – in other words they are set up to specifically record and edit music. This means they are not connected to the internet (except for updates and registering the software), they don't have anti virus running, screen savers or other widgets running in the background that use up memory and CPU.


The result is that dedicated computers are far more reliable and tend to have significantly less problems.Windows is particularly notorious for having many programs running in the background and can cause havoc with your audio work. Mac is less so.Consult an expert when disabling background programs – some are vital for the operation of your computer and should be left alone – others are ok to shut down (you just need to know what can and cannot be touched).


If you are financially able, and serious about recording – try to get yourself a computer just for audio work and keep your current machine for the internet and any other work you might be doing.If you can't do this and are stuck with just one machine – do the following.

Upgrade the RAM if you need to. Uninstall any programs you don't use and do a thorough clean up.

Disable background processes that are not essential to the running of your machine (This applies to Windows only) – again if in doubt get expert help.

Close your internet connection and disable automatic updates and anti virus etc while you are recording (you can re-enable them later when you are done).

Use a plain background as wallpaper. Defragment your hard drive and (make sure your operating system has no errors first and is up to date) before installing your recording software and any drivers you might be using for your sound card or external inputs.

You are now good to go – install your recording gear and enjoy less problems on a more stable computer.


Mark Spivey is a musician and recording artist with experience in operating his own home recording studio , live sound production and music promotion.He is also the author of , a website all about how you can create, record and promote your own music successfully.

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