Introduction to Music Production 11 – Studio Hardware
Even if you’re just starting out, you’ll need to know what some common studio hardware is to know what gear you’ll need to have a solid home studio. Microphones will be covered in a separate post.
Though the post on audio discussed audio interfaces briefly, we’ll go a bit more in depth here.
Audio interfaces, at a basic level, are intermediate devices that handle connections between instruments (audio and MIDI), microphones, computer software, listening devices (speakers or headphones). Audio interfaces, as mentioned in the audio post, usually have higher quality ADCs and DACs than the built in sound cards in most computers. The interfaces can also usually handle lower latency playback, and even real-time playback for recording. Interfaces also usually have built-in preamplifiers (preamps) necessary for placing audio signals in a usable volume. Preamps may also be separate devices.
Speakers will provide a means of listening in a studio. Many speakers will have a ‘colored’ response, meaning that they will boost or cut certain frequency ranges to appease casual listeners. Studio specific monitor speakers will have a more flat response to give a more accurate frequency response. Another major factor in frequency response and accurate listening is the room the studio is placed in (and any acoustic treatment used).
The Yamaha HS5 speakers are a great beginning pair.
Headphones can be a great alternative or addition to studio monitors. Just like with speakers, you’ll want headphones to have as flat a response as possible. It’s good to have multiple forms of listening to check your mixes and masters on. You may find that your mix sounds great on headphones, but awful on speakers. Usually this means the mix needs some more work.
A pair I really like are the Sennheiser HD280 headphones.
Effect Processors can include various outboard (usually rackmount) pieces of gear that you can run audio through. This can include reverbs, delays, compressors, EQs, distortions, and many other units. These aren’t necessities in the studio. A lot of modern producers are able to achieve professional quality music with a pair of headphones and a laptop. This isn’t to say that outboard gear does not have its place! Good hardware effect processors can get very expensive, so software may be a better start.