Building and Maintaining a state of the art music computer for your home recording studio
Your computer doesn’t have to be used solely for music production, but you’ll want to understand how you can rig it up intelligently to optimize your computer for home recording. Obviously you want the most powerful machine you can afford, and where it really counts is in the RAM (memory) and processor. I’ll try not to geek out on you too much, and just keep it as simple and straightforward as possible.
Optimize Your DAW Computer for Home Recording
For mac it should be mentioned that most any new apple computer you buy off the shelf will be a more than fine starting point. Macs are designed to be optimized for use as a music computer. I have no affiliations with apple, other than a satisfied user of several apple computers over the last 7 years.
There are 3 ways you can choose to go when buying your DAW computer, or music computer, or whatever you want to call a computer’s whose main purpose is to produce music.
-Build It yourself – Pick out, order, assemble all the components exactly the way you want it. This will require a bit more than basic level of technical expertise.
-Buy one off the shelf – Right out of the box, i can vouch for a new mac as being very well optimized. Im sure there are PC’s where this would be applicable too.
-Buy a specialty computer pre-assembled – Their are a few of these types of boutique computers on the market, music XPC has been in business for a while, and thus makes a good example. Im sure you pay a bit more.
—>**-Buy one off the shelf, and swap out parts. With mac for example, the problem is that the parts and upgrades direct through apple costs an arm and a leg. The trick to getting all your specs AND saving money is to purchase your apple computer for its processing power, operating system, stability, and ease of use, and then buy third party memory and hard drive upgrades, installation is not too tough, and even if you pay someone to install it, you’ll save money.
Optimized Home Recording Studio Computer
Hard Disk – Dual Internal Hard Drives – 7200 RPM
A best practice is to have two drives. One dedicated to recoding and storing your digital audio and project session files. The idea is to have a “Read from” and a “write to” drive. Drives are always a mixed bag of reviews and opinions, do your research, and try to make sure you have everything backed up into TWO places at least.
Memory – At least 2 Gigs of RAM – preferably as much as you can afford. I have 9 Gigs of RAM in my mac pro Quad, and when i upgrade to a new mac i’ll probably get twice that much. Research and get good solid RAM, because yes you can get bad, cheap RAM, if you are not careful.
More RAM = Better performance with VI’s, plugins, and better streaming of multi-track audio sessions.
CPU – Your computers processor, you want that to be as fast you can afford.
Quiet Efficient Fans – This plays a role, because you want to keep your system cool with all the heavy lifting you are going to be asking of it. Ideally you want something that keeps your system regulated and prevents over-heating, but also is as quiet and unnoticeable as possible so it isn’t picked up on your recordings. This is of course, given you are doing your recording in relatively close proximity to your computer.
Motherboard – Another piece, this piece is not swappable and is expensive to replace. Do your research.
Home Studio Backup System
You’ll always want to keep all of your files in at least two places. Setup time machine, and an online backup and storage service like MOZY pro, which is one i’ve used.
Home Studio Computer Maintenance
Always keep 20% HD space free.
Always keep backups fresh, setup time machine.
Run disk utility every week and verify all volumes.
Dust off your computer and all electronics in your studio, every week.