Computer Based Studio
With the advancements in computer design, and software, setting up a complete studio on your PC is exceptionally easy. These Home Studios can be obtained as freeware, or in more advanced versions that can range from 100 dollars to several thousand dollars and , as with everything else in life, you will get what you pay for. Planning on setting up a profesional studio? Audio/Video editing stations can be purchased, which will encompass virtually eveything you could imagine, accomplishing all the same tasks as your traditional studio equipment, and indeed many major studios have made the switch.
Pc based studios offer great versatility, with proper setup, practice, and the addition of a few plugins, (many of which are free), you can produce results that rival the big boys. Everything from multitracking to mixdown is right at your fingertips allowing you complete control over every aspect of the recording process. The following screenshots show some of the different available functions that are pretty much a standard on most software based studios today.
Stereo Editing Mode
Everything that could be done with traditional editing equipment can now be done right on your own PC. The software allows cue setting, cut and paste operations, EQ operations, a multitude of effects processing, and much more.
This type of setup has both advantages and disadvantages. One major advantage is the total lack of time vs. money constraints that plague most projects, after your initial software investment the only constraint will be your own time scale. One major disadvantage, unless you have a very good studio setup already, you will lose the well soundproofed studio environment needed for a clean recording, and the expertise of trained professionals.
Learning to use the software properly could be tedious and a little confusing, but with practice, proficiency will follow, which leaves only the studio environment to contend with, but once you have your initial tracks laid down noise won't be a problem.
Multitracking operations are a breeze and pretty much an identical process to traditional multitrack units. You can manipulate, bounce tracks, submix, and tweak just like any other type of unit available. Big advantage; you will not need to patch in effects bays, as all these effects are already available a the touch of a button.
Possible disadvantage; make sure you have enough computing power. A dedicated, fast machine, with a large storage capacity is a must, as files can get pretty big when dealing with a large band. Imagine the feeling of being almost at that perfect sound when your PC freezes, if your setting up a serious studio, dedicate a good PC for the job.
The mixing side of the PC based programs is virtually identical to the standard hardware right down to the ins and outs of mixing. The screens are set up to look like any hardware mixing equipment available, so if you've used a mixer before, you can use this software.
With the proper interfaces you can use these programs to run a live performance, and indeed many of your well know succesful bands do just that.
After you familiarize yourself with the setup you will be able to do anything that the more familiar hardware did, but as mentioned above make sure you have enough computing power.
Most of the more common effects you will need come with the software, and many more are available for free or at a small cost. There are sites all over the internet offering plugins for a wide variety of the PC based studio programs. Make sure the ones you obtain are compatible with your software, and shop around, effects plugins like everything else will vary in quality depending on who designed them.
Using plugins will be like using any effects processor without the need of a patch bay. Click on the one you want to add, and tweak the sound just like a conventional mixer.
The only disadvantage I can think of is that, without a lot of practice or key mapping, you will probably be doing nearly everything with one hand using the mouse as your only means of making adjustments to your project.
An interesting, and somewhat colorful feature of the software based studios is that you can view the music in a number of different ways. the screnshot at left shows the spectral imaging display of the music.
The typical VU meters and digital display bars are, of course, also available to aid in your sound manipulation process, but with spectral displays you can asign colors to the tracks and visualize them in ways that show a more graphic view of where the music sits in the stereo plane , and frequency spectrum which can at times be useful.
A possible disadvantage is getting mesmerized by the pretty colors, and forgetting what you were just about to do to that track.
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