Chapter 2
Choosing Your Tools
Finding a digital studio setup that fits the way you work is as personal as
choosing a musical instrument. You need to identify your needs, figure out
which tools meet those needs, make sure they’re compatible with one another,
and think about your budget. In this chapter we’ll survey the available tools
in the order in which audio makes its way from live sound to digital form—
from recording and playback to the computer—so you’ll be ready to shop
for exactly what you need or desire.
Choosing Your Tools
You’ll need some or all of the following equip-
ment for digital audio, depending on your needs:
Microphones and cabling for recording, studio
monitors and headphones for playback
Computer audio interface to get high-quality
audio to and from your computer (essential),
mixer (optional but useful)
Controller inputs for easy access to software
Capable computer, which can be either a
general-purpose machine or specialized
audio hardware (key specs: fast CPU, fast/large
hard drive(s), RAM, generous I/O)
Software/hardware specific to your production
needs, for recording, songwriting, editing and
arrangement, mastering, playing instruments,
DJing, video scoring, and producing printed
Essential Terms
AD/DA conversion
Digital audio workstation (DAW)/sequencer
Hosts and plug-ins
Where to Start:
If you’re overwhelmed by choices and costs, consider getting up and running quickly with an entry-level
audio interface bundled with some basic software.

Get Real World Digital Audio now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.