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Keeping your DAW Recording Computer Stable

Troubleshooting your system
Much of the helpful information in this section can be applied to any digital recording software aavailable. From stability issues to complex connection methods, if you're having difficulty getting your software or hardware to do what you want, read on. Recording mulitple audio tracks into your computer can put an extra load on it's resources. The tips and tricks that follow will help your workstation run smoother. Visit us in the forum for additional help.

Stabilize It
  • If your PC isn't stable before you install recording software, it won't be stable after. It's important to understand that digital recording places a high amount of stress on both hardware and software. Tweaking a PC for digital recording is often necessary in order to achive decent performance. These tweaks involve a number of things, but the first step is making sure that the foundation of Windows, processor, and RAM is stable. Often, instabilities can be traced to orphaned registry entries. RegClean is a freebie from Microsoft that scans and repairs your registry. Run RegClean, Fix Errors, Reboot. Repeat the process until no more errors are found.

  • Generally, the amount of RAM you have determines how many plugins you can run at once. Adding more RAM is a great way to improve performance. But heads-up; using mis-matched sticks of RAM can lead to problems. Timing can differ from brand to brand, so using matched sticks is recommended. If you're having stability issues, run Prime95 using a single RAM stick. Once that stick is proven good, swap it with another. If all sticks prove good independently, then start testing them together.

  • Is your DAW crashing or freezing? Check first to make sure you have the latest sound card drivers and video drivers. A PIII-800 with 256 mgs of RAM should easily run 15 tracks with a few effects and zero crashes/freezes. If yours doesn't, something's wrong. Check that your hard disks have DMA enabled. DMA (direct memory access) allows Windows to access your disks without involving the processor. DMA speeds up disk access 10 fold. Windows 2000 and XP activate DMA by default. In Win9x, DMA must be enabled manually. If you need further help, ask us in the forum.

  • Are you using the best driver for your sound card? Most cards support MME (high latency, good stability) and WDM (lower latency, good stability) driver support. Some also support ASIO (lowest latency, fair stability). Which to use? Try them all to find which works best for you. Tweak Headz Lab has a good write up about getting your PC ready for recording.

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