Computer Tweaks for Glitch-Free Recording
Is your recording software plagued by pops, clicks, and dropouts? Try these tips. They will speed up a PC to work efficiently with digital audio. Some of these tips apply to Mac, too.
* Use a fast hard drive: 7200 rpm or higher.
* Use one hard drive for applications and Windows files, and another for audio data. That way the audio drive head does not waste time looking for system files. Put the Windows drive on the Primary channel as a master, and put the audio drive on the Secondary channel as a master. Or use an external hard drive just for audio. Tell your recording software to store audio files on that separate drive.
* Defragment the audio-file drive often.
* Remove unneeded programs and services.
* Your audio computer should not be connected to the Internet. Then you don't need anti-virus, which slows computers down.
* If you are using a FireWire card, be sure it has a Texas Instruments (TI) chipset.
* Install lots of RAM, at least 2 GB.
* If your computer allows, select Start > Settings > Control panel > System > Performance > File system > Hard disk. Set Read-ahead optimization to minimum. Set Typical Role to Network Server because it gives higher priority to disk use, and will provide more RAM to open programs faster.
* Set graphic acceleration to off or minimum.
* Maybe too many real-time effects are running. Select a track that has real-time effects, bounce that track with effects to an open track, and delete and archive the original track Also, delete or archive (save) tracks that are muted. Muted audio tracks put a load on the CPU.
* Increase the buffer size in your recording software. This also increases latency (monitoring delay), so ideally you’d increase the buffer only during mixdown.
* Suppose you want to put reverb on several tracks. Do not insert the reverb plug-in on all those tracks. Instead, set up an aux bus with reverb. In each track that you want to have reverb on, insert an aux-send to that aux bus.Use the aux-send control in each track to adjust the amount of reverb on each track. This reduces the number of effects processes that are running and reduces CPU loading.
* Disable the computer's internal sound card. Use only your audio interface.
* Download the latest drivers for your motherboard, video card, hard-drive controller, CD burner, recording software, and audio interface. Also download the Windows updates.
By applying these tweaks to your computer, you should be able to play lots of tracks and effects without glitches and drop-outs. Good luck!
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Bruce Bartlett is a recording engineer, audio journalist, and microphone engineer (www.bartlettmics.com). His latest books are "Practical Recording Techniques 5th Ed." and "Recording Music On Location."