PC Recording Studios: Configuring Audio Application Hardware Settings

PC Recording Studios: Configuring Audio Application Hardware Settings

If you thought that after installing computer recording software you could start documenting your musical genius right away, think again. Before you can make any recording, you need to configure your hardware in your audio recording software. This includes several steps, including installing device drivers, choosing hardware settings, choosing I/O buffer settings, and defining I/O routing. You also need to adjust some settings in your audio app to get your system up and running and give you the best possible performance. For example, you need to set drivers and adjust buffer settings.

Set up your devices
If you are using an interface and audio recording software from different manufacturers, you need to set up your interface within the recording software in addition to setting it up in their own software.

Just to give one example, if you are using Logic Pro, follow these steps:
1. Double-click the Logic icon in your application folder (or wherever Logic is on your computer) to launch the application.
Logic opens with a new song file.
2. Choose Sound -> Audio Devices and Drivers.
The Audio Devices and Drivers panel opens in the Preferences dialog.
3. Select the check box for the type of driver your interface is using.
The driver type is expanded to show hardware options.
4. Select your audio interface from the driver dropdown list.
5. Click OK to accept the selection and close the Audio Devices and Drivers dialog box.

Adjust buffer settings
Audio recording software allows you to control to some extent the amount of stress you put on your computer. These settings are in the form of buffers, which store and segment data as necessary to help your system run more efficiently. Buffers come in several types, depending on the particular software you’re using.

Input and Output
In logic, this particular buffer is called an I/O buffer; In Pro Tools, it is referred to as the H/W buffer size. No matter what you call it, this setting lets you specify how many samples are placed in memory before they are written to disk.
The specifics for each recording program are different, but the bottom line here is that tweaking this setting determines how much latency (delay) you have from the audio coming into your system and the audio going out back to your headphones or speakers. This is an important setting because this response time can be noticeable when recording and can easily make it difficult for you to get into a groove.
Each audio recording software provides you with many settings to choose from. It can be as low as around 64 to 1024 or more. (These numbers refer to the number of sound samples that are put into the buffer at a time.) Here, lower numbers mean less latency—with the attendant more stress on the processor—while higher numbers mean more latency.
To adjust the device buffer size, follow these steps:
In Pro Tools:
1. Choose Settings -> Playback drive.
The Playback Engine dialog box opens.
2. Select the setting you want from the H/W Buffer Size drop-down list.
3. Click OK to accept the setting and close the dialog.
In Logic Pro:
1. Choose Sound -> Audio Devices and Drivers.
The Audio Devices and Drivers dialog box opens.
2. Select the setting you want from the I/O Buffer drop-down list.
3. Click OK to accept the setting and close the window.
Keep this setting as low as possible while recording (especially when you’re doing overdubs). How low the volume will be depends on how many tracks you’re recording simultaneously – and whether you want to use plug-ins like echo reverb while recording. Using a lot of paths and a lot of plugins requires a lot of memory, which may force you (mice!) to increase the hardware buffer size. Higher buffer sizes mean higher latency, which can make redundant dubbing of tracks more difficult, so keep higher buffer sizes even after all your tracks have been recorded.

When you’re ready to mix, go ahead and raise the buffer size – it doesn’t matter if there’s a delay inside your system because you’re not trying to record a new track for it. This puts less stress on your system and allows you to have more plugins at once before you experience performance issues.

Playback or disk/buffer operation
The playback buffer or disk/processor deals with the amount of memory the audio drive uses to manage the hard drive buffers. As with the hardware buffer, you want a setting as low as you can get it without sacrificing system performance. If the setting is too high, you will experience a delay between pressing the play command and the time the program starts playing the recording. On the other hand, a setting that is too low can cause issues such as audio dropping out when recording or playing tracks – the audio can drop out. Start with the default setting and make adjustments as needed. To set this buffer, follow these steps:

In Pro Tools:
1. Choose Settings -> Playback drive.
The Playback Engine dialog box opens.
2. Select the setting you want from the DAE playback buffer size drop-down list.
3. Click OK to accept the setting and close the window.

In Logic Pro:
1. Choose Sound -> Audio Devices and Drivers.
The Audio Devices and Drivers dialog box opens.
2. Select the buffer setting you want from the Operation buffer range drop-down list.
3. Click OK to accept the setting and close the window.
our end! Your system is ready to start recording.