Setting Up A Music Production And Performance Station

With music and technology becoming increasingly intertwined, the adventurous DJ may feel like venturing out into new, experimental ways of making music. Although it's possible for many DJs to handle a performance or mix their own music with a laptop or even a tablet computer, reaching out to unseen techniques may take the power of a dedicated computer to a new level as a new base of musical operations. If you're not exactly computer savvy or don't know where to start for computer design, take the time to understand what matters in a DJ's computer and what equipment could help.

What Makes A Computer "Musical"?

Before going too far into music production for computers, it's important to note that every specialized computer on the market is based on the same core computer design. The most powerful systems require the working space and customization of a desktop computer, and no matter what operating system you use, it's the hardware that makes or breaks the computer.

All desktop computers have a processor for performing the calculations for every action your perform (and the unseen work in the background) on your computer. They all have Random Access Memory (RAM) to feed information quickly to the processor, and they all have hard drives for storage space.

What sets any specialized computer apart from the standard, consumer electronics store computer is the specialized equipment. For gaming computers, that means a video card or a graphics card. For music production computers, the sound card is what matters. 

Sound is produced by turning computer data into a signal that speakers can understand. There are many ways of producing sound, from synthesized instruments to the analog conversion process. Analog conversion is when the computer records sound, changes it into something the computer can understand, then later changes the sound to something that the speaker can understand.

More complex sounds require more powerful sound systems to properly play. Basic computers have an integrated (soldered on or included with the motherboard) sound chip, but to get beautiful sound and to make sure that as much of your musical instrument's sound makes it into digital format, the sound card is necessary.

What Can A Sound Card Do?

Once your sound card is installed, you may notice an immediate increase of quality. Basic sound systems can cut off some sound ranges in order to play a decent quality sound without slowing down the system, but sound cards come with their own memory for taking bigger sound jobs. This means that higher quality audio doesn't need to be cut (or cut as much) to be played.

Sound cards are available in various levels and configurations depending on your investment. As a DJ, you'll want a good sound card that can play music that takes advantage of your speakers as well as the sound system of your venues, parties or other gigs. A versatile sound card can even lower its quality so you'll know what instruments and sounds will be missing on a weaker system, allowing you to plan accordingly.

If you play your own instruments or record voice, a good sound card is necessary for accepting high-quality sound. There will always be some unknown sound lost in the digital conversion--there's even a debate about what sounds may or may not be heard by the human ear--which means you'll want to capture as much of the true instrument as possible. Sound cards with input for mixers, electrical instruments and converters must be specifically selected.

To find sound cards and other equipment that can help build a powerful music base of operations, contact a DJ equipment professional such as Metro Sound & Lighting