Corey Bailey
Audio Engineering
When I refer to Computer, I am referring to a desktop computer. However, most of the information here will apply to laptops as well. Weather you are using a PC or Mac, there are some things that can be done to insure that you will have a reliable system for day-in, day-out use. The first important step is to make sure you have a separate, dedicated, hard drive for recording audio and video and adequate memory (RAM). A dedicated hard drive for recording Nearly all audio/video software manufacturers recommend using a separate drive for recording and editing. In my opinion, using a dedicated record drive goes beyond desirable…it’s absolutely essential! Your boot drive, which contains your Operating System and installed software, has plenty to do without the added burden of trying to record audio or video files. Using your boot drive to record and playback media files is asking for disaster. If the drive can’t keep up with the audio or video data rates while performing the regular call-ups from the OS and editing software, the result will be dropped frames. If you are recording audio, the frame drops will sound like ticks or snaps where the file was joined at the missing frame(s). If you are recording video, the frame drops will look like a bad splice. Partitioning your boot drive doesn’t change anything. The drive will still be just as busy working with the operating system and software in use. For recording and playing audio, the type of internal drive interface really doesn’t matter. It can be IDE, SATA or SCSI, whichever is most convenient to connect to the computer’s motherboard. SATA drives have the fastest data rates but any of the interfaces are fast enough for audio production. If you are recording and playing high definition video, then I would recommend using the latest SATA drive. Laptop owners may need to use an external drive as very few laptops allow for more than one internal drive. If you are thinking about using an external drive, then select one that connects to your computer via an eSATA, Thunderbolt, or USB 3.0 interface, if at all possible. USB 2.0 or earlier would not be my first choice for this application because of the way data is transmitted over a USB interface. It can result in possible data loss. RAM RAM (Random Access Memory) is used by some editing software for buffering the audio or video in use. Higher audio sample rates and bit depths (IE: 24/96) and high track counts may require plenty of available RAM to work seamlessly with audio files. This is especially important for recording. A good rule of thumb for the minimum amount of RAM needed is to find out the basic requirements of the operating system and the audio/video software you are using, add them up, and quadruple it. Even better is to install the maximum amount of RAM that the operating system (or hardware) will recognize. It’s best to use the same brand and type for all of the RAM in your computer to insure that the operating parameters are the same. Check out the AV software you are using. Some software is processor intensive and others are memory intensive. I would also recommend the use of a dedicated video card with, at least, 256MB of on-board video RAM. Using the video processor that is installed on your motherboard means sharing system RAM, and thus, less will be available for recording and processing. Run lean! It is especially important to only be running your editing software while digitizing audio or video. All other software should be closed. The one exception to this may be anti-virus software but, it depends on the brand. Some anti-virus software is intrusive and can slow your system down. If you are unsure about your anti-virus software, disable it while working (and don’t connect to the Internet!). You may want to disable the sounds made by your computer if you are using them. The reason is that your computer sounds may be at a different sample rate than the file you are working on and could cause a conflict, particularly if you are using an external device for listening. If you run into problems and you are using an external device for digitizing, try powering it up after you boot your computer. Also, if you are using an external device, make sure that it is the default device for the software that you are using. Some users go to the trouble of turning off the video backgrounds as well while working on audio or video. Make sure that the only task at hand is the digitization process. Your computer should be doing nothing else while you are ingesting audio or video and manipulating the files in any manner. This includes routine file saves or ‘save as.’ Having your computer do multi-tasking operations while ingesting or manipulating audio or video files is asking for dropped frames. If you are recording audio, the frame drops will sound like ticks or snaps where the file was joined at the missing frame. Dropped frames with video files simply look like a bad splice or a ‘jump’ cut. Some editing/digitizing software will warn you of dropped frames. Return to TOP of page © Corey Bailey Audio Engineering
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