Computer Recording Basics
Live the dream! Never before has it been this easy and affordable for you to record, produce, and distribute your own music. Don’t let anything intimidate you or slow down your passion for making music. If you have talent, a willingness to learn, and a desire to create, then all you need are a few key components, and you can build and use a recording studio.
What Do I Need?
Computer. Most modern studios rely on Mac® or Windows® computers. In general, Macs and Windows PCs are equally capable of recording and editing audio and MIDI. Your choice should depend on the operating system you prefer and the audio interface and software you plan to use. Keep in mind that if you’re planning to use a FireWire interface, you’ll need a computer that has, or can add, a FireWire port. Almost all modern computers have USB ports.
We have provided the minimum system requirements for PreSonus Studio One™ version 2 and higher. If you want to use other software, please check its minimum system requirements with the developer. (Note: PreSonus hardware and software does not support the Linux operating system at this time.)
Studio One Computer System Requirements
Studio One® is a modern, cross-platform DAW that is capable of operating as a 32-bit or 64-bit application. While we make every effort to ensure Studio One will run well on the widest variety of computers possible, please read these specifications carefully to determine compatibility with your system.
Below are the minimum computer-system requirements for Studio One.
- Mac® OS X 10.7.2 or later
- Intel® Core™ Duo processor (Intel Core 2 Duo or Core i3 or better recommended)
- 2 GB RAM (4 GB or more recommended)
- Windows® 7 x64/x86 SP1, Windows 8 x64/x86
- Intel Core Duo or AMD Athlon™ X2 processor (Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X4 or better recommended)
- 2 GB RAM (4 GB or more recommended)
Mac and Windows systems
- Internet connection (not required on machine where Studio One is installed but needed for activation)
- DVD-ROM drive
- Monitor with 1280x768 resolution
- 20 GB hard-drive space
Here's a video about optimizing Mac OS X for Studio One.
Note that the speed of your processor, amount of RAM and size and speed of your hard drive will greatly affect the overall performance of your recording system. Also, a more powerful system (faster processor with more RAM) will allow for lower latency (signal delay) than you might experience while monitoring audio or MIDI signals. Monitor resolution for both PC and Macintosh should be no lower than 1024x768 pixels.
Audio interface. This essential device converts analog audio to digital audio and vice versa, so you can record to and play back from a computer. In many cases, the interface also includes MIDI input and output. PreSonus makes a wide variety of USB and FireWire interfaces; the AudioBox™ USB, AudioBox 22VSL, and FireStudio™ Mobile (discussed below) are great choices for small studios and mobile musicians but if you need more channels and features, be sure to check out the rest of the PreSonus FireStudio family, including the StudioLive™ digital mixers, which feature built-in FireWire interfaces.
All currently available PreSonus interfaces are compatible with Mac OS X 10.6.8 and later, including 10.7 (Lion), and with Windows XP SP2 and later, including Windows 7. If you are using Lion or Windows 7, make sure you have the latest drivers for your interface.
- PreSonus AudioBox USB. A great choice for mobile musicians and podcasters, the two-in, two-out AudioBox USB is bus-powered, compact, ruggedly built, and works with virtually any PC or Mac recording software. It connects to your computer via USB 1.1 and boasts high-performance Class A XMAX™ mic preamplifiers and professional-quality, 24-bit converters. And like all PreSonus interfaces, it works with almost any modern recording application and comes with PreSonus Studio One Artist DAW software for Mac and Windows.
- PreSonus AudioBox 22VSL. This amazing bus-powered USB 2.0 interface gives you the same basic features and I/O as the AudioBox USB but it employs our higher-end XMAX preamp. The biggest difference, however, is that the AudioBox 22VSL comes with tightly integrated VSL software that provides a mixer and the same dynamics processing and semi-parametric EQ found in the PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 digital mixer, plus stereo reverb and delay effects on dedicated buses. These effects operate with such low latency that you can monitor with all of this processing in real time—something that cannot be done with DAW plug-ins! Like all PreSonus interfaces, the AudioBox 22VSL comes with Studio One Artist DAW software, which can run simultaneously with the VSL mixer and effects.
- PreSonus FireStudio Mobile. Just 4.5 lbs., the bus-powered FireStudio Mobile connects to your computer via FireWire 400 and is built to travel. It features 10 input and 6 outputs, including 6 line inputs and 2 mic/instrument inputs with Class A XMAX preamps, plus S/PDIF digital-audio I/O, and a stereo headphone output. You also get MIDI I/O. The FireStudio Mobile is the only bus-powered interface that delivers true 48V phantom power. And of course, it comes with PreSonus Studio One Artist DAW software for Mac and Windows.
Recording software. When you are just getting started or your needs are simple, you should choose software that is easy to learn but has the features to let you grow. We recommend PreSonus Studio One Artist, which lets you work quickly and stay focused on your inspiration. Incredibly easy to learn, it offers unlimited tracks and plug-ins and delivers features not normally found in entry-level DAWs. Access powerful editing tools without wading through menus. Load and save audio clips, MIDI files, effects, and virtual instruments by drag-and-drop—Studio One makes it easy.
For those who want more advanced features, including video sync, mastering, CD/DVD burning, digital release, and support for VST, Audio Units, and ReWire, we recommend Studio One Professional, which adds professional features while remaining streamlined and easy to use.
Speakers and headphones. If you want to record quality sound, you need to hear what you are doing. Quality speakers and headphones are amazingly affordable, so invest in the good stuff. Normally you should mix on speakers but you’ll need headphones for tracking, especially if your studio is packed into a small room. And of course your neighbors will appreciate you using headphones on those late night sessions!
Microphones and instruments. You need to generate and capture sound somehow! A few good mics, properly placed, can make the difference between a good-sounding recording and an obviously amateur effort.
MIDI controller. Most studios have at least one MIDI keyboard controller for playing synthesizers and virtual instruments. Some keyboards also include knobs and faders for controlling effects and other features in your recording software. MIDI control surfaces are a convenient way to adjust levels and effects parameters and control your software’s recording transport (Record, Play, Pause, and so on). The PreSonus FaderPort™ control surface connects via USB and provides a touch-sensitive, motorized, 100 mm Alps fader for writing fades and automation in real-time. It also controls your DAW’s recording transport, solo, window selection, and much more. And it is very affordable!
Stands and cables. Cheap cables can cause audible pops, clicks, buzz, and hum, so get the good stuff. If you are sending digital audio, be sure to use cables designed for digital.
Typical Computer Recording Setups (Hookup Diagrams)
AudioBox USB Hookup Diagram
FireStudio Mobile Hookup Diagram
Computer Recording Resources
Read Recording Magazines
Participate in Online Recording Forums
Visit Your Local Music Store
Ask questions. Check our list of dealers for a PreSonus dealer in your area.
Modern Recording Techniques by David Miles Huber
Home Recording for Musician's by Craig Anderton