Recording - February 2018 - 66

TWEAK YOUR OWN!
STUDIO COMPUTER, THAT IS...
f you read my article "Roll Your Own (studio computer, that is)" from December
2017, you'll remember I promised to talk later about setting up that computer
for optimal audio performance. Even if you haven't built your own machine
and you're using a store-bought PC, you'll still want to optimize audio performance,
BY AARON J. TRUMM
so this article is for you too.

I

Before we dive in, take note of a few things:
1. We're talking about Windows. Macs and Linux boxes
are different beasts.
2. Screenshots here are from Windows 8. My instructions
apply to both Windows 10 and Windows 7/8 machines, but
your screens may look a little different.
3. We're assuming you've got your hardware in hand. If
not, you can refer to "Roll Your Own" for some guidelines
about specs (even if you're not building it yourself). Most modern,
good machines will work. 8 GB RAM with a 2.5 GHz
multicore processor would do.
4. We're just covering the operating system's audio settings
here, not setting up our DAW or other audio software.
5. Finally, not everything derscribed here is
necessary, especially if your hardware is great,
so you can use your judgement and adjust your
settings to taste. Think of this as a list of things you
can do, some of which you probably should.
Without further ado, let's dive in!

1

Basic optimization

We'll start with the easiest stuff. First of all,
make sure all your drivers are up to date, as well
as your plug-ins and software (both audio
and other). Outdated drivers especially
can cause performance problems.
Next, uninstall unnecessary software. If
your computer is only for audio work, this
can include Office products, accounting
software, extra browsers-anything you
don't need. You can uninstall Windows
components that aren't necessary like
games, or apps like extra music players,
painting programs, etc. This really just saves
space and distraction, but it's a good start.
Next disable programs running in the
System Tray. These are the pesky items
shown by the red arrow in Figure 1.
Right-click on those items and you
should be able to find a Settings section
66

RECORDING February 2018

(you may have to actually open the program) where you can tell
it not to run on startup. You don't want to disable your virus
protection or system-critical applications, but you can trim the fat.
Next, defragment your hard drives, if they need it. The
easiest way to get to this is open the control panel and put
"defrag" in the search box. You should do this whenever that
utility says the drives need it.
Next up, tweak your screen saver. Fancy screen savers take
up resources. Disable it or set it to just turn off the screen.
Increase the time so it doesn't kick in while you're recording.
This can happen because Windows doesn't consider audio
activity "activity". So you could be singing your heart out
on that 10-minute rock opera, but if you're not
touching the mouse or keyboard, the screen saver
could come on, cause a glitch, and ruin your life.
Next, disable system sounds. You don't need
extra dinging and binging, but more importantly
these sounds can grab control of the sound
device. Search for "sounds" in the control panel and
click "change system sounds". Pick "no sounds"
from the system scheme dropdown, as shown in
Figure 2.
Next tackle visual effects. Windows has some cool
animations and transparencies which you
don't really need. They're actually not that
bad, but could make some difference in
performance on slower machines. Search
for "visual effects" in the Control Panel, and
choose "adjust the appearance and performance of Windows". It's easiest just to pick
"adjust for best performance", but you can
pick and choose which effects to keep.
Next, you could disable automatic Windows updates, or tell Windows to "check
for updates but let me choose whether to
download and install them", so that Windows updates aren't running when audio
should be prioritized. If you fully disable
automated updates, be sure you remember
to periodically check for updates manually.

2



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - February 2018

Contents
Recording - February 2018 - Intro
Recording - February 2018 - Cover1
Recording - February 2018 - Cover2
Recording - February 2018 - 1
Recording - February 2018 - 2
Recording - February 2018 - 3
Recording - February 2018 - 4
Recording - February 2018 - 5
Recording - February 2018 - 6
Recording - February 2018 - 7
Recording - February 2018 - Contents
Recording - February 2018 - 9
Recording - February 2018 - 10
Recording - February 2018 - 11
Recording - February 2018 - 12
Recording - February 2018 - 13
Recording - February 2018 - 14
Recording - February 2018 - 15
Recording - February 2018 - 16
Recording - February 2018 - 17
Recording - February 2018 - 18
Recording - February 2018 - 19
Recording - February 2018 - 20
Recording - February 2018 - 21
Recording - February 2018 - 22
Recording - February 2018 - 23
Recording - February 2018 - 24
Recording - February 2018 - 25
Recording - February 2018 - 26
Recording - February 2018 - 27
Recording - February 2018 - 28
Recording - February 2018 - 29
Recording - February 2018 - 30
Recording - February 2018 - 31
Recording - February 2018 - 32
Recording - February 2018 - 33
Recording - February 2018 - 34
Recording - February 2018 - 35
Recording - February 2018 - 36
Recording - February 2018 - 37
Recording - February 2018 - 38
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Recording - February 2018 - 40
Recording - February 2018 - 41
Recording - February 2018 - 42
Recording - February 2018 - 43
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Recording - February 2018 - 80
Recording - February 2018 - Cover3
Recording - February 2018 - Cover4
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