Computers For Music Production
The music industry, specifically music production, is one of the largest and fastest growing industries around the world. In saying that, it is extremely easy now days to produce amazing, studio quality sounds from the comfort of your own home, which is directly due to the advancement of modern day technology.
Whether your desire is to record as an artist, compose electronic music or even engineer and master existing tracks, you can do it directly from your computer. There are hundreds of different computer programs available, some of which you may already own, that are made for professional and home recording, mixing and production use. However, in order to fully take advantage of the power that these programs have to offer you need to own and make use of the right hardware, whether it be computers, mixing desks or recording devices.
What You Need To Know
Your average computer may be perfect for word processing or watching your favourite movie, however it may not sit well when it comes to the production of music. Of course that is only a generalisation and depends heavily on the type of music production you plan on undertaking. For example, simple production of electronic music via the use of software such as Ableton Live or Fl Studio can, to an extent, by completed via your average computer. This also goes for simple recording of vocals or instrumental based work; however you must note that a computer without the installation of dedicated production hardware can severely decrease quality.
Due to the high requirements of strenuous production work, many companies have taken the need to create music production based computers. Obviously these types of computers can attract a relatively high price tag, so in order to combat this, many hardware companies have specifically released individual parts that can be purchased individually and installed on your current machines. These parts range from music production optimised sound cards and motherboards through to high powered CPU’s (central processing unit).
Computer Specs for Music Production
As touched on above, the type of computer used for music production will vary due to the type of work being undertaken. Based on this variation the specifications required for production usage will also vary quite greatly. There is not set-in-stone requirements for music production, however there are strong guidelines, recommendations and optimal set-ups.
One particular, and important, specification that requires a lot of thought or consideration is the type of sound card that is either in the new computer you are purchasing, or that you are looking at purchasing for your current computer. There are many reasons for this, the first being the quality of sound. The type of soundcard you use will greatly affect the quality, clearness and crispness of the sounds you are producing, which is obviously one of the most important parts of music production. Another reason that soundcards are so important is due to their support for multiple inputs/outputs. Some, for example, may only support 2 concurrent connections such as a microphone input and speaker output, however you may require 4 microphone connections with the same quality plus your speaker output and also you’re monitoring on top of that. Not all sound cards can handle that type of use with ease.
Another important computer part that comes into play with music production is your RAM (Random Access Memory). Some programs and VST’s (Virtual Studio Technology) can be very resource intensive due to the constant background processes that they must run. Due to this, the larger amount of RAM you have, the better.
Laptops or Desktops for Music Production
One of the most common questions that is asked in relation to the type of computer used for production is whether a laptop or desktop is better. In most cases you may see that the answer is a desktop, however it is not always the truth. Much like points mentioned above, this question is completely based on the type of production work you are doing, or plan on doing.
For serious production work, including the use of multiple recording mediums and software requirements, a desktop would be much better suited, due to their ability to house a much higher collection of resources.
On the other hand, if you only plan on working on smaller projects, a laptop can fill the part with ease. However, it is worth noting that with the constant updates in technology, many laptops can be designed and built to pack the same sort of power that a desktop contains. Although price my play more of a factor in this, it may be well worth it if you have a preference towards the use of laptops rather than desktops.
What Operating System? Apple OS X or Windows?
Another often asked question is that of what operating system is better for music production, audio engineering and recording. In all honesty there isn’t really a best or worst operating system when it comes to music production, it predominately comes down to personal preference. There was a time where Apple OS X was the primary candidate due to their solid support for the popular Pro-Tools software, along with many other production based programs. However, now days both of these primary operating systems are pretty much on par with each other and don’t show much difference.
When I was studying Audio Engineering a few years ago, there was a high emphasis on the use of Apple OS X; there wasn’t actually a Windows powered machine on site. I have since revisited the music college I had attended (due to the commercial recording studio available for use there ) and have taken note of the fact that they do now house Windows powered machines alongside the Apple machines.
So in saying that, and as mentioned previously, it is all about what your personal preference is. Go with the operating system that you are more comfortable using.
Compatibility of Recording and Production Equipment with Computers
If you are looking at buying a brand new computer for music production or audio engineering based use, you won’t need to bother much about making sure it is compatible with the various types of external equipment available. For most pieces of equipment you won’t need any specific or special accessories in order to connect them. Most equipment, such as audio interfaces, channel controllers and microphones connect and power via simple USB connections or in some cases AC adaptors as well.
For the large types of external equipment such as full sized mixing desks you may require additional connection accessories or interfaces.
You can read more about specific music production details on Wikipedia.