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Recording Essentials

Cubase SX 2 enables you to perform the entire process of music production with a computer—you can record, play, mix, process, add effects, and master audio in pretty much any way you can imagine. However, you will almost certainly need more than just the application and a computer to make music. Here is a list of equipment you may need for your Cubase studio:

  • Sound card or audio interface: To record audio, you need a way to get it into the computer. Most, but not all, PCs ship with some kind of SoundBlaster-style sound card, and most, but not all, Macs have at least 1/8-inch minijacks for audio output (and usually for input).The new Power Mac G5s and many PCs also offer digital inputs and outputs that employ S/PDIF using optical cable and TOSLINK connectors. Digital inputs and outputs can be very useful if you happen to have access to a good external digital-to-analog converter and need only stereo recording and playback. If you plan to record or monitor more than stereo tracks, though, you almost certainly will want to upgrade to a higher-quality audio interface. The upgrade may be an internal PCI card or an external converter that routes data to a FireWire or USB port on the computer (Figure 1.6).

    Figure 1.6. Some of the equipment you will likely use with your computer and Cubase.

  • MIDI interface: If you plan to do any work with external synthesizers, samplers, or controllers, or if you plan to record MIDI data to Cubase, you will need an interface to connect your MIDI hardware to your computer. Most MIDI interfaces these days use USB for the connection.

  • Monitoring setup: Audio people refer to listening to a track or a mix as monitoring, so speakers are referred to as monitors. Most monitoring is done with near-field monitors: two speakers located a few feet away and pointed right at the spot where you sit when you mix. Headphones are not great for monitoring mixes, but they are indispensable for use in recording live musicians, enabling the performers to hear individualized mixes of the arrangement.

  • External mixer: An external mixer will be handy if you plan to work with a large number of microphones or electric instruments or with external synths and samplers, all playing at the same time, or if you just want some extra inputs and convenience. Even small 12-input models that cost only a few hundred dollars can help a lot.


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