Corey Bailey
Audio Engineering
When I refer to a Computer, I am referring to a desktop computer. However, most of the information here will apply to laptops as well. Whatever type of PC that you are using, 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, contains your Operating System (OS) 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 a disaster. If the drive can’t keep up with the audio and/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 OS and the software. I’m currently testing a SSD on my laptop as the boot drive and an external SSD for editing. I’m using a SATA, SSD and a USB drive adapter (toaster) for the editing. Although the data rate is a bit slow because of the USB interface. The jury is still out, but it looks good so far. For recording and playing audio, the type of hard 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 video, audio with high track counts or high sample rates and bit depths, then I would recommend using the latest SATA interface. IDE and SCSI interface drives may be hard to find new, since they are obsolete. Laptop owners may need to use an external drive because 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, USB 3.0 interface or higher, 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 (For example, 24/96) and/or 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 computer) 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 audio/video 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, 500MB 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 recording 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 or recording. If you run into problems and you are using an external device, try powering it up after you boot your computer. Also, if you are using an external device, make sure that it is the default recording device for the software that you are using. Some users go to the trouble of turning off the video backgrounds and the computer sounds while working on audio or video. Make sure that the only task at hand is the digitization or editing 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. Some editing/digitizing software will warn you of dropped frames. Return to TOP of page © Corey Bailey Audio Engineering
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