Digital audio recording has progressed to the point that it is extremely affordable for anyone with a decent computer to build a home studio. However, with the number of gadgets, interfaces, and software programs out there, the potential home studio owner can easily become overwhelmed when looking for equipment. For years, the company Digidesign has led the digital audio recording revolution and remains at the top of the pack today. Other manufacturers may be gaining some popularity ground on Digidesign but no system is as commonly used by both professional and amateur recording engineers as Pro Tools. Therefore it remains an excellent choice.
Home studio owners often start with the “m-Box” system. It includes both the basic hardware and some pretty advanced software for getting microphone, instrument, and line-level signals recorded into a computer. The m-Box mini is Digidesign’s cheapest interface box for use with Pro Tools LE and it goes up from there. The DIGI 003 is a very popular and quite powerful interface for home studios looking to record a small band at one time while the m-Box series is wonderful for the studio owner who only needs to record one or two musicians simultaneously. The Pro Tools LE software allows up to 48 tracks of recorded audio.
With all of these Pro Tools LE-based units, much of the studio’s capabilities depends on the host computer. Macs have always been popular and the Intel-based Macs now run these programs much better than their ancestors. Many Windows-based machines also handle Pro Tools extremely well. However, one should check the Digidesign support website in order to make sure that their Windows machine is compatible with Pro Tools.
Another very important factor is the RAM in the studio computer. Even for mild Pro Tools use such as recording only a few tracks, a gig of RAM is necessary. Windows XP users and some Mac users can squeak by with this but for later operating systems, more RAM is required, usually 4 gigs or so to do a decent job with Pro Tools LE. One reason is that Pro Tools LE is dependent on the computer and not the audio hardware to process many of its functions, including the operation of effects plug-ins like reverb and compression.
While the beginning studio owner could record a few audio tracks onto the computer’s one system hard drive, this is not advisable. Digidesign heavily recommends against this and so do other audio recording hardware and software manufacturers. One reason is that the system drive needs to be busy running the program and not have the extra chore of simultaneously processing digital audio files. This can cause excessive heat and/or wear on the system drive. Another problem is that audio files are huge and will rapidly fill up the hard drive. Therefore when building a home studio, a second drive for audio files should absolutely be in one’s plans.
Most studio owners choose an external Firewire-interfaced hard drive as their designated audio drive. This is because Pro Tools does not write audio files to a USB drive. When choosing a Firewire drive, it is a good idea to check Digidesign’s support site for their list of compatible hard drives. Otherwise, the Firewire drive may not operate reliably with this program. An option for home studio owners with a desktop is a second IDE or SATA-connected internal drive as well. Any drive chosen for audio file use should be fairly large in size and must operate at a speed of 7,200 RPM’s or higher.
Once the second drive is connected, the software is installed, and the computer is ready to go, it is a great idea to turn off any processes or programs running on the computer that you absolutely do not need. This includes screen savers and constant scanning programs running in the background.
With a low-powered processor such as a Celeron, a lower-end AMD model, or an old Macintosh processor, you may be able to record and mix (using very few plug-ins) around eight to twelve tracks of audio. However, one should go with at least a Core 2 Duo or equivalent processor when choosing a studio computer. Otherwise the computer will likely be unable to adequately run Pro Tools.
It is often humorous to hear the Mac versus PC zealots argue their points. The truth is, newer Macs are more universally compatible with Pro Tools because there are not various models made by different manufacturers. However, the proper Digidesign-approved PC with a fast processor and plenty of RAM will do the job just as well, especially when running Windows XP.
Essential Training For Pro Tools Audio
ProTools LE: Essential Training: Ten hours of instructor led training to guide you through every aspect of ProTools LE. An added feature is a section where you can see musicians creating tracks using ProTools LE. Watching and emulating will help you to understand how the professionals use and configure ProTools LE. Get up and running almost instantly with the quick start, or investigate the comprehensive chapter tutorials for step-by-step instructions on achieving professional results.
Pro Tools Bundle contains ProTools LE: Essential Training ProTools LE provides everything you need to create music inexpensively with professional results. ProTools is an industry standard and widely used by professionals in music production and post-production, and TV and film scoring.
What’s New In ProTools 7.4: This upgrade to ProTools 7.4 offers some cool improvements but at the top is the amazing featuring of time-manipulation called Elastic Time or Elastic Audio as it is sometimes referred to.