Home Add to Favorite Contact Submit  
             19 January, 2021

Category:  Articles » Internet » Audio Streaming


Audio Recording Computers: How Much Power Do You Need?

         Views: 1800
2006-11-12 21:23:37     
Article by Brandon Drury

So, How Powerful Should My Recording Computer Be?

Well, this depends greatly on your needs. I started out in 2001 with a Pentium 3 550Mhz computer running Windows 98. Compared to my modern computer (which is still fairly modest) that computer was like something from the Flinstone's with a little bird running on a treadmill to power it.

What Are Your Needs?

The power of your computer requirements for your recording computer are directly dependent on what you intend to do with it. Are you recording mostly live rock bands? Are you planning producing solo artists using samples to replace the entire band? How much of your work revolves around using VST Instruments?

For well over four years I recorded using Sonic Foundry Vegas 3.0. I used it like a tape machine with a little better editing features. I didn't have much reason to switch. I was recording mostly rock and metal bands all in house. I was really quite pleased with Vegas. I could do pretty much everything I wanted to do. It turned out that Vegas was very efficient and never really maxed my computer out. Playing back high track counts in Vegas put most of the load on the hard drive and not so much on the CPU or RAM. I had several mixes that had well over 60 tracks. Vegas had no trouble with those.

I decided that I wanted to get back into midi again. I wanted to take advantage of the powers of samples, VST instruments, and the tremendous editing powers of midi sequencing. I switched to Cubase SX3. Now that I realize just how powerful Cubase SX3 is for a producer (I'm not just engineering anymore), I'm completely blown away. There is no going back to Vegas for me anymore. (Of course, I hear now that the latest version of Vegas has a sequencer, but I've never used it).

Cubase SX3 uses WAY MORE CPU power. WAY MORE! Every track I add, uses a little more CPU power. Most of this has to do with the tremendous direct monitoring capabilities that Steinberg's Cubase SX3 utilizes. It's very common for Cubase SX3 to run out of power and essentially lock up if I'm expecting too much from Cubase with a latency set super low. Cranking up the latency pulls the CPU load down drastically and then I find Cubase SX3 to be very reliable..

Sonic Foundry Vegas was extremely RAM friendly. I could open up 5 finished mixes at the same time and I probably wouldn't even use 300 MB of RAM. Cubase SX3 is the exact opposite. It uses RAM like I go through coffee on a late night session. When I start firing up samples such as Toontrack's DFH Superior (amazing drum samples), it's clear that I need as much RAM as I can cram into my recording computer. One instance of DFH can provide you with the most natural sounding drums on the planet, but it can also use up 2GB of RAM without thinking about it. OUCH!! Luckily they have a “light” mode which I use when tracking and arranging. When the track is done, I convert the drums to wav files and they become much more computer friendly.

So if you are using samples, you had better have 2GB of RAM. Not all applications are as taxing as DFH Superior, but in general samples like to chew through the RAM without a conscience. So if you are producing songs for other people using s multitrack recorder / midi sequencer like Cubase SX3 or Sonar, you should get the most powerful computer you can afford. It will save you time, effort, and a few headaches. This means get the fastest processor you can afford and the most RAM your machine will hold. (Note: There is a point of diminishing return in Windows XP where adding more RAM doesn't seam to do much good. Generally, 2 GB is considered about right by today's standards). You will also want to check out the dual core processors that are out there now.

Powerful Computers Don't Always Mean Better Recordings

There are many factors that make a recording great. A talented artist who happens to deliver a tremendous performance of a great song is what makes a recording great. There is no direct correlation between Ghz and goosebumps. (I consider goosebumps to be the ultimate musical accomplishment. If I get goosebumps, the song is amazing!) Having a more powerful computer means you can render a mixdown a little quicker. A faster computer means you can use more effects or effects that put higher CPU load. However, just keep in mind that it's much more important to work with better artists and better songs.

The computer is just a tool. Just because a carpenter uses a drill that operates at a higher voltage doesn't mean his construction is going to be any better than the next guy. It just means his drill have operates at a higher voltage. It's important to realize that the computer is just a tool that you use to make recordings. It, in and of itself, has no direect artistic value.

I was attending a funeral a few months ago. One of the very first songs I had ever recorded in my life happened to be played. The power of that song was mind blowing! The entire crowd burst into tears with that one. This song was done on my Pentium 3 550Mhz computer years ago. I wish I could capture that kind of emotion and energy now with my Athlon 64 2800!!!

Latency, Monitoring, and CPU Power.

I've noticed in Cubase that it's CPU load is directly related to the latency I've set in my M-Audio control panel. With latency on the fastest setting, Cubase SX3 will get tired pretty quickly. However, when I pump the latency up to 384ms, I find that I have much, much more CPU power left.

The only reason I would keep the latency turned down super low would be due to direct monitoring within Cubase. If I was to use an external mixer and split the recorded signal off before it even ran into my soundcard, I would be able to keep the latency set much higher, and therefor reduce my CPU load tremendously.


Most of the top home recording programs with the most intense features typically use the most CPU power and RAM. If you recording methods require less features than a program such as Sony Vegas will perform extremely well with a moderate amount of CPU power.

Specialized in: Recording Studio - Audio - Recording Software - Recording School - Home Recording - Music Recording - Home Recording Studio - Audio Recording - Recording Equipment - Blog - Glossary - Audio Mixing - Preparing For Recording - Songwriting
URL: http://www.recordingreview.com
Print article      Bookmark this page
Related Articles 
Add Personality and Music to Your Website (Popularity: ): One of the biggest appeals of internet use today is the expressionism that is so readily available these days. Blogging is one such form, yet another form (and one that can easily be combined with the blogging experience) is the experience of adding free music to your website. There are many choices as far as this goes, whether you have a MySpace account, a WordPress blog or a website of ...
Internet Radio Networks - The Gold Pass To Better Entertainment! (Popularity: ): Some things in life never really go out of style. Well, they change forms and take on new looks, but they remain. One of such time defying inventions is the radio. No matter what skeptics would have you believe, the radio is very much alive and kicking even in this era of digital entertainment. Of course, the persistent existence of the radio has subjected it to some changes. Bulky radios ...
Free Web Conferencing (Popularity: ): Although web conferencing is a necessity in the business world today, it is often the case that companies feel as if they don't necessarily have to pay for it. Because of this, a lot of people are trying to find out if getting free web conferencing is a viable option for them. Of course, in order to do this, people need to weigh the advantages of getting the free types ...
The Fight Continues Between Internet Radio and the Copyright Royalty Board (Popularity: ): Shortly after March 2nd, 2007 webcasters began voicing their concern that the new performance royalty rates would essentially put them offline and out of business. In a very short time the internet radio community launched a grass roots campaign to draw public attention to this issue. By utilizing the listener reach internet stations currently have and the use of prerecorded public service announcements the outcry was heard. Very quickly websites ...
Internet Broadcasting a More Professional Approach (Popularity: ): As mentioned in a previous article there are free tools available to broadcast on the internet. In this article we will address some other available tools that will produce a more automated and professional broadcast as well as some basics you need to offer an online radio station.My research has shown that Sam Broadcaster, an internet broadcasting software, appears to be the favored way to to broadcast internet radio. Another ...

Related Business 
Pro Audio DAW Computer PC (Popularity: ): Reyniers Audio builds specialized turnkey Recording Computers, Pro Audio DAW Computer PC's and Digital Audio Workstations. All of us at Reyniers Audio are musicians and geeks. Collectively, we have years of experience in the studio, as both musicians and engineers.
Singularity Enterprises, Inc. (Popularity: ): Technical audio consulting and engineering services to music recording studios, audio post-production facilities, producers, artists, recording engineers and others in the professional audio industry.
Audio Recording Technology Institute (Popularity: ): Students become engineers in the audio production industry, including music sequencing, hard disk recording, editing sound for video, film, radio and TV audio. The school is nationally accredited by ACCSCT.
Number 9 Audio Group (Popularity: ): Full Service Audio Recording Studios,CD Duplication and DVD Duplication, Recording Courses and Pro Audio Equipment Rentals all under one roof in Toronto, Canada.
PC Mus (Popularity: ): Custom built DAWs (digital audio workstations) and computer upgrades for music recording studios. Also contains many tips on recording audio at home.
Stuk Sound (Popularity: ): Sound design and recording for audio, visual and computers.
JL Rrecording Studios (Popularity: ): JL Recording Studios is a professional audio recording, editing, mixing and mastering studio specializing in Music Production, Voice Overs, and Multimedia recording services. We also provide a Voice Over Talent roster of professional Non-Union voice artists. Our audio techniques and digital audio deliver a musical 'signature' sound. The studio was designed utilizing Primacoustic panelling for superior insulation to create a neutral listening environment.
Genex Audio (Popularity: ): Genex Research Limited, Advanced MO disk recording technology, and DSD and High bit rate audio recording.
The Pan Galactic Recording Company (Popularity: ): Offers audio consultation for sound improvement. Specializes in location recording, web audio, surround sound, DTS and CD mastering, and project management.
US Recording Media. (Popularity: ): Distributors of Quantegy audio and video recording media and accessories for broadcasting, governmental, recording studios, and home use.