Turn your PC into a digital al audio workstation
WE HAVE ALAN TURING to thank for music’s long and fruitful relationship with computers. In 1951, he built a device that occupied an entire room at the Computing Machine Laboratory in Manchester, UK, and was capable of playing contemporary favorites “God Save The King,” “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep,” and “In The Mood.” The acetate disc recording was recently restored, and the giggles of the celebrated scientist’s colleagues can be heard between the violin-like notes of his device.
Sixty-seven years later, the technology required to write, record, produce, and master an industry-standard banger fits within a PC case. Recording software and hardware has never been cheaper or more accessible, and the Internet has birthed an inexhaustible information resource for budding musicians and producers. In other words, you have little excuse for not trying music production. Mr. Turing’s watching, and he doesn’t take “Just another round of Fortnite” for an answer.
For some, it’s a hobby. For others, it’s a full-time job. That means the price and quality of equipment and software scales almost infinitely. But the vast majority of us don’t need that $10,000 rack compressor, or a vintage German microphone of the same design that was used on a Beach Boys record. All we need is an audio interface to plug mics and instruments into, a digital audio workstation (DAW) to arrange the recordings within, a good pair of studio monitors, and some software for mixing and mastering. That doesn’t have to represent a huge outlay, nor does it have to entail a huge amount of study to get things working.
There is complexity in music production for those who want it, but it’s best to lay a solid foundation around the basics, which you can build upon. We’ll cover recording techniques, MIDI programing, software choices, and hardware requirements, without the empty jargon or “Peter Gabriel once told me…” anecdotes. This is music production for PC enthusiasts, not former Nickleback roadies.