The Linux-Based Recording Studio
As you can imagine, your choices are endless. You conceivably could choose any combination, such as converting analog to digital with the sound card while converting digital to analog outside, or vice versa. It's a bit easier, though, to pick one place to do all your conversions, either in the sound card or somewhere else. If you simplify it this way, your decision comes down to whether to have an external mixer.
In the simplest configuration, say if you were using a consumer sound card with only one stereo output, you'd mix entirely in the computer and not think much about the ADC and DAC being done in the sound card. You would then have no external mixer (see the Preamps section below).
If you do have an external mixer, you're either using an analog mixer or a digital mixer. In either case, you need a professional sound card that can separate channels, as opposed to a consumer card that outputs only one stereo mix, requiring you to mix inside the computer.
If using an analog mixer, your DAC and ADC happen in your sound card. Therefore, you need a sound card or sound card/breakout box that has analog inputs and outputs, such as RME's PCI cardbus and Multiface combination card. There is a nice primer on this card on the LJ Web site (see the on-line Resources).
If you choose a digital mixer, your DAC and ADC happens in the mixer itself. You therefore need a sound card that has digital inputs and outputs that are compatible with your mixer. In my case, this is RME's HDSP 9652.
Many digital mixers have built-in effects and processing, including reverb, compression and noise gates, as do many software packages. Few analog mixers offer such features, so if you're doing traditional analog mixing, you might spend more on outboard effects and processing. There still are plenty of reasons to use these tools if you've got the money, but on a budget, I recommend a digital mixer.
A few questions to ask about potential sound cards:
Is it noisy?
Does it have the ability to record while playing back (duplex mode)?
How many channels can it play back at once?
How many channels can it record at once?
What kind of physical I/O ports does it have?
Does it have built-in MIDI?
Is there a Linux driver for it?
If you're recording acoustic sources, such as voice or drums, you need microphones. Your budget and what you're recording influence your decisions here. For example, if you have a medium to large budget and need to record an acoustic guitar and singer, I might recommend two AKG 414s (about $1,000 US each). If you need to record pristine vocal tracks and have a large budget, I might recommend one Neumann U87 (about $3,000 US). Or, maybe you have a small budget but still need to record vocals and an electric guitar amp. Then I might go with a pair of Shure SM58s, about $100 US each. Of course, if you never record acoustic sources and only use synths plugged in directly, you don't need microphones or preamps.
The signal from a microphone needs to be amplified before it is loud enough to record or broadcast properly. If you plug a computer microphone in to the microphone input of a consumer sound card, you're using a preamp, and you should get a loud enough signal. If you try plugging in to the line input, you barely get anything. Professional sound cards don't have 1/8" microphone inputs and assume you have outboard preamps.
The question is whether to use standalone preamps or the preamps built into a mixer. For most, the preamps in almost any mixer are sufficient. The only reasons not to use the mixer's preamps are if you don't have a mixer, you need more at once than your mixer has or you have aesthetic reasons to use a standalone.
The need for preamps is a good case for having an external mixer, because having a professional sound card with multiple analog inputs, no mixer and a bunch of outboard preamps usually is more costly and less flexible than having a mixer.
To listen, you can use anything you please, from computer speakers to headphones to a home stereo speaker/amp combination to studio reference monitors. There is, however, a distinction between speakers and monitors. A speaker is designed to enhance the sound of a recording, and a monitor is designed to give an accurate, uncolored representation. If you want to do accurate work, you need monitors.
Studio monitors come in a variety of flavors. The major thing you need to know is whether a set is powered. If it isn't, you need a power amp, just as if you were using a set of home stereo speakers. Replacing your regular speakers with studio monitors and connecting to your existing amp is easy.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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- Stunnel Security for Oracle
- The Firebird Project's Firebird Relational Database
- SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager
- Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)
- Managing Linux Using Puppet
- My +1 Sword of Productivity
- Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!
- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
- Google's SwiftShader Released
- SuperTuxKart 0.9.2 Released
With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide