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ACCENT Special Edition - November 2010                                                                                                                 5

Planning your recording studio DAW                                                                                                Technology
Key considerations for your program

                                                          is a Mac is a Mac’ - BUT, you still must choose the of physical channels or inputs you can have and

                                                          right Mac and specifications for a DAW. Choosing hence how many simultaneous tracks you can

                                                          a PC can be more problematic as there is a myriad record (each from a separate source). To achieve

                                                          of brands, models and combinations of component the greatest control over your software functions it

                                                          options that can go into any given PC. But in           is worth considering an interface that also doubles

                                                          the end, provided you have received knowledge-          as a control surface. A control surface can give you

                                                          able advice about the computer requirements and         tactile control of input and playback mixing, moni-

                                                          specifications, you should have no concerns with        toring, EQ, effects/plugins, transport, routing and

                                                          either Mac or PC.                                       more. One of the most versatile and affordable so-

When setting up a digital audio worksta-                  Call Music EDnet... we can advise computer              lutions is the M-Audio ProjectMix I/O (and is Pro
             tion (DAW) it is important to first decide   requirements for your specific DAW.                     Tools M-Powered compatible). This is an all-in-one
             it’s main purpose. In an educational                                                                 MIDI/audio interface and control surface with an
environment this generally translates to ‘What
curriculum outcomes are to be achieved?’ Are you          Mac vs PC and IT support                                array of connectivity options (for an in-depth look
teaching the artistic and technical skills of record-     In a school or institutional environment, it is         at the ProjectMix see the August 2010 Edition of
ing? Are you using the recording facility to supple-                                                              Accent at
ment other learning?... such as recording student         strongly advised that you conform to the exist-
performances, school productions or completing
media or other projects requiring multi-channel           ing or preferred IT infrastructure. By definition,      If more comprehensive control is required, there is
                                                          conformity and the arts have a difficult time co-           the Avid C|24 Control Surface that
The Control Room
The Control Room is actually the business end of          existing, but if you can minimise                           connects to separate (usually rack
a recording studio. If you are intending this to be a
learning space, then the size and layout is more im-      the on-going demands and time                               mount) audio interfaces (such as
portant than if only used by one or two experienced
engineers/producers. The equipment requirements           investment on the technical side,                           the 003R).
however will be similar.
                                                          the time available for teaching and                         A more basic, but popular option is
Control Room design is quite often a necessary
compromise in a school environment due to avail-          artistic expression increases expo-                         a multi-channel audio interface (usually
able space, building limitations and cost. There                                                                      with 8 inputs) and an analogue mixer
will certainly be at least a modest level of acoustic     nentially. If you swim against the          Lexicon U82S    that has direct channel outputs.
treatment required, but the most important aspects        tide you may end up as the de facto        Audio Interface
(and potentially most costly) are related to sound        IT support person for your facility....or
isolation from the studio (performance space) and
the outside (noisy) world. We will look at Control        out sourced support is necessary (can be                Controller Keyboard
Room design for schools in a future article, but          expensive and inconvenient).                            With the computer and audio interface chosen, the
meanwhile please contact Music EDnet for advice
and practical design assistance.                          Software                                                final piece of hardware to consider is the controller
                                                          Software is all-important. Again, this decision will    keyboard. To a large extent, including a keyboard
  Music EDnet can assist with all design                  largely be guided by what the desired curriculum        in your DAW is optional, as the control surface will
  aspects and liaise with architects and/or               outcomes are. In most circumstances a DAW will          cover many of the functions the keyboard may be
  building contractors to ensure an effective             be used by upper secondary students studying            used for. But it will certainly come in handy if you
  and functional facility.                                music technology, audio design or VET pathway           intend to make use of the various powerful virtual
                                                          subjects... as well as tertiary students studying Cert  synths that are included in the software packages
Mac vs PC... a hard decision?                             III or IV in Music Industry Skills or Diploma and       discussed above.
This is certainly the first step in building your
DAW, and it can be challenging.…lots of hype,             Degree in Music Technology or Creative Produc-          A couple of excellent controller keyboards are the
anecdotes, “expert” opinion and emotion. But in           tion courses. It is highly desirable that students      Roland PCR series and the M-Audio Axiom series
reality it is quite straight forward. Firstly, there are  develop skills using software they are likely to        - both available in 25, 49 and 61-note models with
pros and cons either way, but correctly chosen and        encounter at the tertiary and/or professional level.    similar fader, slider and pad configurations.
configured either a Mac or PC should “just work!”         It may also be influenced by what hardware you

       Music EDnet uses and works                         have chosen.                                            For more information, be sure to check the new
           with both Mac and PC
                                                          [Note that curricula, courses and options vary by       Music EDnet website launching in early 2011 for
Music EDnet works with both Mac and PC in many            state and also by tertiary institution].                detailed tutorials and ‘How to’ guides for configur-
schools and tertiary institutions around the country.                                                             ing your DAW.
We also use BOTH internally, to ensure we are well
versed with all the relevant issues of software, oper-    Given the wide use of Pro Tools in tertiary and         Comprehensive advice for your studio setup...
ating systems and hardware.                               professional studios, its “industry standard” status,   including design, supply and training.
                                                          and its compatibility with both Mac OSX and Win-
A very real advantage of Mac computers is that the        dows, it’s at the top of the recommended list. Note                   Ph 1300 723 700
specifications of each model is consistent - ‘a Mac       however that Pro Tools (either LE or M-Powered)          
                                                          requires specific Avid or M-Audio audio interfaces

                                                          to operate.

                                                          Other popular and very capable DAW software in-                                Avid C|24
                                                          cludes Steinberg’s Cubase (Mac & PC), Cake-                             Control Surface
                                                          walk’s Sonar (PC) and Apple’s
                                                          Logic Studio (Mac). These
                                                          programs place a greater em-
                                                          phasis on MIDI editing features
                                                          and include a stunning array of
                                                          virtual instruments, which will be in
                                                          high demand by students of MIDI sequencing
                                                          in the upper secondary and tertiary level.

                                                          Audio Interface
                                                          This is the component that determines the number
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