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Performance issues

From: Digital Audio Principles

Video: Performance issues

So, let's take a look at a few other things that come into play when we are talking about computer performance and how it affects working with digital audio. The first few things I want to talk about are Processor Speed and RAM, or Random Access Memory. The processor speed essentially is how fast your computer works, how much math it can do in what amount of time. The faster the processor, the better, it's just more powerful. A RAM, or memory, is how much data you can have kind of floating at the ready to access at any time, it's Random Access Memory.

Performance issues

So, let's take a look at a few other things that come into play when we are talking about computer performance and how it affects working with digital audio. The first few things I want to talk about are Processor Speed and RAM, or Random Access Memory. The processor speed essentially is how fast your computer works, how much math it can do in what amount of time. The faster the processor, the better, it's just more powerful. A RAM, or memory, is how much data you can have kind of floating at the ready to access at any time, it's Random Access Memory.

So, these two things have a huge impact on every kind of digital audio software you're working with. As I mentioned, they'll have a big impact on the number of tracks you can use, the rates you can record at, and the intensity of the some of the different processors. Now, most digital audio software tends to be Scalable, which means that the number of tracks or plug-ins you can have isn't necessarily limited by the software, but it's dependent upon the CPU power. So, you might have a multi-track program that let's you do up to, say, 32 tracks, but if you have a processor that can only give you 16 tracks of data at a time because it's slower, then that's the limitation.

But some software you can have an unlimited number of tracks and an unlimited number of plug-ins, and it's this scalability that kind of reveals how important performance is. The other thing to keep in mind is what you're asking your computer to do with digital audio, and that brings us to two different kinds of systems, there's kind of a native digital audio system, which is native or host, which means that the computer is doing all the work. If you have plug-ins with reverb effects and delays, your computer processor is handling all that work. The other option is to use a DSP or External system, which means that you'll probably have something along lines of the PCI card or some external piece of hardware that has a little bit of a processor or some memory on it, that'll do some of the computation for you and do some of the heavier lifting when it comes to signal processing with things like reverb and delay.

Playback is pretty much always going to be on the shoulders of your processor and how fast and agile moving around the environment and making edits and moving regions, that will be determined by your processor speed and RAM. Finally, I want to talk about Latency, which is a delay that can happen in playback due to data buffering. The way your system works basically is it's going out to find audio files on your hard drive. As it finds them, when you ask for them, it throws them into a buffer. That buffer fills up and allows the data to come out in an even stream so that playback is uninterrupted.

Sometimes, you need to use a bigger buffer because you have a slower system. But if that buffer is bigger, this can create a delay in the amount of time between when you hit the play button, and when playback actually starts, and it can cause a delay between what you're actually seeing on screen and what you're actually hearing. Now, when you are listening back and mixing latency isn't that big a deal, because you don't mind if it's a little off. But if you're trying to record another track on top of some existing tracks, this offset or this latency can be a problem, because you you're hearing yourself in real time when strum the guitar, but you're hearing the playback offset slightly by a little bit of latency.

So, having low latency is great if you're recording multiple tracks and multiple overdubs. If you're just recording in single files and then doing edits, a little bit more latency is okay, but it's something to keep in mind. So, having low latency is really helpful if you're working with multiple tracks and doing multiple overdubs. Now, if you are just working with one track at a time and recording one track at a time, a little bit more latency is okay, it's not great, but it won't kill you. But in general it's always nice to try and set up a system that has as little latency as possible.

The things that affect that are how your audio device hooks up to your computer via USB, FireWire, et cetera, and the overall performance of your computer which is a result of the combination of RAM and processing speed you have and also the speed of the hard drives. So in conclusion, when we are talking about digital audio and computers, the faster your computer works, the better. That performance is made up of a combination of hard drive, speed, RAM, and processing power. Ultimately, this greater performance will enable you to work more efficiently with digital audio, which will also make it a little bit more of an enjoyable process as well.

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This video is part of

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Digital Audio Principles

110 video lessons · 28008 viewers

Dave Schroeder
Author

 
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  1. 50s
    1. Welcome
      50s
  2. 39m 10s
    1. What is sound?
      4m 15s
    2. Hertz and frequency response
      5m 34s
    3. Phase
      2m 39s
    4. Capturing audio
      3m 39s
    5. Sample rate
      6m 16s
    6. Bit depth
      9m 47s
    7. The waveform
      5m 3s
    8. Audio file formats
      1m 57s
  3. 7m 25s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      2m 59s
    2. Typical DAW signal flow
      4m 26s
  4. 50m 33s
    1. What microphones do
      1m 57s
    2. Element types
      5m 0s
    3. Pickup patterns
      6m 51s
    4. Axis
      2m 52s
    5. Frequency response and the proximity effect
      5m 10s
    6. Phase issues
      1m 41s
    7. Microphone types
      8m 44s
    8. Miking vocals
      5m 39s
    9. Miking amplifiers
      2m 17s
    10. Miking drums
      10m 22s
  5. 16m 39s
    1. Cables and connectors overview
      2m 42s
    2. Balanced and unbalanced cables
      3m 19s
    3. Common cable types
      7m 13s
    4. Cable tips
      3m 25s
  6. 12m 16s
    1. What is an I/O device?
      1m 41s
    2. Analog to digital conversion
      3m 10s
    3. Tour of an audio interface
      4m 49s
    4. Interface considerations
      2m 36s
  7. 21m 5s
    1. What is a preamp?
      3m 21s
    2. Input levels
      5m 29s
    3. Padding
      2m 18s
    4. Phantom power
      2m 37s
    5. Phase reverse
      3m 4s
    6. Preamp demo
      4m 16s
  8. 12m 56s
    1. What is a mixer?
      5m 55s
    2. Input section
      1m 17s
    3. Channel strips
      3m 16s
    4. Master section
      2m 28s
  9. 18m 21s
    1. What is monitoring?
      2m 11s
    2. Speakers
      4m 47s
    3. Room considerations
      5m 43s
    4. Headphone types
      3m 50s
    5. Monitoring levels
      1m 50s
  10. 15m 23s
    1. What role do computers play?
      1m 36s
    2. Performance issues
      4m 11s
    3. Hard drives
      4m 38s
    4. Mechanical noise
      2m 10s
    5. Authorization
      2m 48s
  11. 6m 54s
    1. Planning for recording
      54s
    2. Doing a system check
      1m 26s
    3. Planning your inputs
      1m 42s
    4. The recording environment
      2m 52s
  12. 25m 52s
    1. Types of digital audio software
      38s
    2. Multi-track recorders/sequencers
      4m 56s
    3. Two-track recorders/waveform editors
      4m 55s
    4. Loop-based music production software
      5m 44s
    5. Plug-ins
      6m 56s
    6. Other varieties
      2m 43s
  13. 18m 59s
    1. Common components
      46s
    2. The transport
      2m 4s
    3. The toolbar
      3m 19s
    4. The Edit/Arrange window
      4m 42s
    5. The mixer
      5m 8s
    6. The file list
      3m 0s
  14. 19m 17s
    1. Setting up a session
      3m 30s
    2. Assigning inputs and getting signals
      3m 19s
    3. Input modes
      3m 28s
    4. Overdubbing and punching
      5m 14s
    5. Bouncing down
      3m 46s
  15. 19m 42s
    1. What is editing?
      1m 21s
    2. Waveforms
      2m 53s
    3. Making silent cuts and trims
      7m 1s
    4. Fades and automation
      8m 27s
  16. 1h 23m
    1. What are plug-ins?
      3m 0s
    2. Using plug-ins
      6m 11s
    3. EQs
      7m 4s
    4. Dynamics pt. 1: Compressors, limiters, expanders, and gates
      5m 40s
    5. Dynamics pt 2: Applying dynamic effects
      7m 2s
    6. Pitch shifting
      6m 14s
    7. Reverb
      9m 28s
    8. Echo and delay
      6m 23s
    9. Modulation effects: Phaser, flanger, and chorus
      9m 39s
    10. Sound tools pt. 1: About, gain, normalize
      7m 39s
    11. Sound tools pt. 2: Reverse and time compression/expansion
      6m 29s
    12. Sound tools pt. 3: Noise reducers, dither
      8m 11s
  17. 23m 43s
    1. What is MIDI?
      3m 6s
    2. Keyboard controllers
      1m 23s
    3. Computer-based virtual instruments
      1m 6s
    4. Control surfaces
      1m 6s
    5. Recording and editing MIDI
      12m 4s
    6. Virtual instruments
      4m 58s
  18. 27m 29s
    1. What is mixing?
      1m 54s
    2. Some common objectives
      3m 4s
    3. Some useful techniques
      5m 59s
    4. A quick mixing demo
      16m 32s
  19. 18m 48s
    1. What is mastering?
      2m 24s
    2. Sonic maximization
      9m 43s
    3. Final preparations and exporting
      6m 41s
  20. 13m 34s
    1. What is audio compression?
      2m 16s
    2. Popular formats
      2m 9s
    3. Bit rate, sample rate, and channels
      5m 42s
    4. Other adjustments and considerations
      3m 27s
  21. 15m 6s
    1. Essential gear
      7m 36s
    2. Voice recording setups
      1m 43s
    3. The voice production process
      5m 47s
  22. 10m 4s
    1. Analog vs. digital
      2m 48s
    2. Tube vs. solid state
      5m 6s
    3. The continual upgrade
      2m 10s
  23. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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