So you've been playing guitar in your bedroom for years and have decided to purchase a Home Recording Studio Setup. There are so many audio Interfaces currently available that this seemingly simple task can easily become quite confusing. An audio interface or DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is a device that handles input and output of audio and MIDI to and from your computer. Some of the questions you're most likely to ask may sound a little like: 'Should I spend as little as possible?', 'Do I spend a little more in the hope that I may need some of the features on the more expensive unit?', 'Do I lash out and find myself sitting in front of a unit with little knowledge as to what 90% of its features actually do!?'. Sound familiar?
Before investing in a home recording studio setup for the first time, I would strongly consider some of the following:
How many inputs at any given time will I need?
Given that there can be so many different projects in a recording scenario, 2 Inputs may be all you need. With today's technologies, musicians can easily create 'Commercial' sounding recordings with drums, strings, keys, bass, guitars and vocals with only two audio inputs and a MIDI I/O. Or, do you wish to record a Live Band in which you'll need at least 16 tracks? That's not to say you can't record a band with only 8 tracks, or 2 for that matter... you will just have less control of each individual instrument. Do you need the inputs to support Line Level, Accept a Bass or Electric Guitar (DI) and power my microphone with 48V Phantom power? Do you want to utilise the Digital output of your Guitar Amp Simulator or synthesizer? If so, you'll be needing either a S/PDIF or optical input.
What programme is best for my needs?
Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Ableton Live, Sonar, Adobe Audition and Cubase are just a few of the many programmes users can choose from. But which one is best for you? Should you go with industry standard Pro Tools or, Logic Pro with better MIDI capabilities? Would Cubase suit your needs as you can use it with a broader range of Hardware? As you can guess, different programmes excel where others may not be as capable. Find out what programme suits the style of music you're most likely going to be recording.
Will the programme work with your computer and operating system? Does it support MAC and PC? Check online forums for compatibility issues with your computer. Does the particular unit you're thinking of buying require fire wire or USB? Does your computer have both of these inputs?
Does my studio have to be portable?
Some recording studios are used solely as editing suites where inputs are never needed. Thus, manufactures have invented USB styled portable hardware. Many of the units on today's market are, in fact, portable. It's only when you combine many other pieces of hardware where setups become difficult to transport. Do you want to have it placed in a rack so if down the track, you can add other pieces of gear?
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