Chapter 2. The Right System for the Job

Just about any PC or Mac produced since the year 2000 will be more than powerful enough to create and manage your digital music library. But if you have an older computer, how can you tell if it’s good enough for digital audio?

The first section of this chapter covers the basic hardware and software requirements for digital audio applications, along with the pros and cons of upgrading individual components versus purchasing a new computer.

The remaining sections of this chapter cover key functions of the components that have the greatest effect on performance, including CPUs, memory, and hard disk drives. We also cover the details of common computer interfaces, CD and DVD drives, sound cards, and computer speakers.

If you are just interested in having a computer that does what you want and you don’t want to learn the nitty-gritty of how and why, we have some good news: you can skip the technical details in the last half of this chapter.

System Requirements for Digital Audio

Does your computer have what it takes to play, record, or edit digital audio? How good is good enough? The answers will be different for everyone. Simply put, you need enough power to process the audio without hesitation or skips, while running any other programs you need to use at the same time (such as an email client, web browser, or personal organizer).

Beyond the minimum requirements, the issue boils down to how much it costs to increase performance to a certain level. If ...

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