Fruity Loops, Cakewalk Deluxe 8 and a Casio MIDI controller were my first music production tools back when I started making beats. I was using Soundfont technology for my instrument sounds and drum samples that I bought from Ebay. I was running a Pentium 3 PC with Windows XP installed. As you can imagine I ran into many performance issues on this system and eventually got very frustrated.
My first solution to this issue was quite simple, I moved to a hardware based setup. Hardware instruments dominated the music production landscape at that time and all of the major Hip Hop and R&B records were being produced using hardware. I made a hefty investment in to my craft in order to solve my performance issues in the studio. I found a greater level of confidence with hardware instruments because I knew the limitations of the hardware from the specifications sheets and manuals. My keyboard had “64-voice polyphony” and “16-Part Multi-Timbral” listed as primary specifications and features. My groovebox had 32-MIDI channels, 64-tracks, and 32MB of sampling RAM, these were hardware limitations. There were never any surprises with this setup and I could easily work under the constraints and limitations of my hardware instruments.
Years later when I decided to move back into a software instruments setup, I ran into problems once again. I had a new computer by this time, however I still hit performance walls in my productions. I was running an Apple Powerbook at the time, which worked fine for recording audio, but not as well with virtual instruments. The inconsistency that I experienced in the studio was frustrating. Sometimes I could get a track done with this setup, other times I would have move out of my creative zone and go into a troubleshooting mode to free up system resources.
Over the years I’ve dedicated a lot of time to finding solutions for optimizing performance in my studio. One of the keys is to make sure that you have a computer that is up to the task of music production. Pay close attention to the manufacturer’s recommended system specifications for all software that you plan to run on your studio computer. Remember that minimum system requirements will provide you with the bare minimum performance. You want to make sure your computer is closer to the recommend system specifications when listed.
Also be cautious with the plugins you commit to purchase for your studio. Download demos of software instrument products and check their CPU usage on your computer thoroughly before you commit to a purchase. You’ll want to check more than just the sounds and presets during your trial. Try your best to push the plugin to the limit and see what it takes to max out your CPU. This due diligence will save you a lot of time in the studio and will help to keep you from being frustrated while you work.
Excellent article. Definitely something new and seasoned producers need to remember. That was one of the reasons I got Maschine, however integrating it with Logic was a whole different animal which did slow me down for a bit creatively. And I thought I was in the clear just by switching from PC to Mac. Never understood the importance of RAM until my software began to constantly crash and eventually upgraded my memory. It also forced me to pick the best workflow for my memory limitations. Do you have a custom built Mac/PC? What are you views on that vs store brought?
RAM is critical, it is a fundamental bottleneck for a computer. Custom built computers are ideal if you understand how to install components and are comfortable with troubleshooting. I was originally a PC user but went towards Mac because it offered a plug and play solution. My background is Computer Engineering, but in the studio I prefer to focus on creativity and not troubleshooting. I use a quad core Mac Pro, which still offers some level of customization that current Mac’s do not offer. I plan on writing an article more thoroughly expressing my thoughts on PC vs Mac which will also touch on this topic.
Proper article. I myself left the pc / Mac world and went back to analog when things were frustrating. I enjoyed my mc303, asr10, and mpc 1000 but I still hit pitfalls. That being to track every sound out manually before I could even afford mixers and multi i/0 interfaces.
But fast forward now, every knows my love / hate relationship with MASCHINE but I can say this…….. I can start her up and get to creating instantly before I reach a creative roadblock but that’s another story.
Anyways Just, continue writing and sharing your thoughts and I’ll continue reading and supporting. 1 big bro. Trakz.
Good article bruh. I need some advice from an artistic point of view. I have ideas in my head that need to be released but I find myself frustrated when in the studio and find challenges with music skill level. How did you begin building your musical talent? Did you take lessons to learn music composition or just play most of your ideas by ear? This is my current road block and frustration; not knowing how to make my ideas come to life musically.
Thanks for comments!The comment notification was broken on the site so please forgive the delay. I built my musical talent from the ground up while I was in college. I am a self taught musician, meaning I bought books, DVDs, attended online seminars and scoured the internet for any learning resources I could get my hands on to progress my musical abilities. Music is a marathon, not a sprint, so you have to come in with the idea that you will remain a student of your craft throughout your life. I play most of my music by ear, but it is backed by some solid fundamentals of music theory which help to guide me in my creativity. Music theory is a great place to get some ideas of how music can be organized, but they are not rules, they are just theories. Ultimately if you have a great ear for music, you need to follow that intuition and use your ear to your advantage. Also working with better musicians than yourself will help you get to the next level of musicianship more quickly. Its important that you don’t isolate yourself musically so that you can grow from your interactions with other musicians. I wish you much success in all of your musical endeavors.