ComputerNext to the microphone, the most important piece of equipment in the recording studio is the device used to process and store the audio information. Today audio recorders come in a variety of forms. For the music classroom and general consumer use, I strongly suggest using a computer with a good, high quality sound card...

{mosimage}Next to the microphone, the most important piece of equipment in the recording studio is the device used to process and store the audio information. Today audio recorders come in a variety of forms. For the music classroom and general consumer use, I strongly suggest using a computer with a good, high quality sound card. While there are other ways to record audio such as Digital Audio Tape (DAT) and MiniDisc, using a computer allows you to store large quantities of raw audio for later use. Using a computer also allows you to quickly output your finished mix directly to a CD or DVD.

 

If you take my recommendation and use a computer, make sure to purchase a high quality sound card for capturing the audio. Most home and school computers come with "on-board" audio, meaning that the sound card is integrated into the motherboard. These on-board systems generally have playback as their priority whereas in this case we need the recording end to be the priority. The industry standard for consumer brand sound cards is the Sound Blaster series. I have had great success with their Audigy line of cards. Depending on the model you also have the option of having a separate connector box or a panel connector that slips into an empty external drive bay on the front of your computer. These boxes allow you to connect your audio sources directly to the Sound Blaster card without the need for adapters. For example, you can take the 1/8 inch audio out signal from your mixer and plug it directly into the card allowing you to record directly from the source. Most of the Audigy line also provides connections for digital audio as well as optical, RCA, and MIDI connections.

In addition to the great hardware capabilities of the Audigy line you also get with the equipment a bundled set of recording software. Included in the bundle is a great sequencer program that you can use to record single instruments and then layer them together to create a completed ensemble recording. You can also use the bundled wave (WAV) editor to edit and adjust the audio that has been recorded using a ton of filters and other tools. Software bundles change frequently so be sure to check what is included before you purchase a new sound card.


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