There are some home studio gear issues that crop up regularly, so here are some common problems and their fixes…
When you talk thousands of people every day about setting up home studios, as the guys at Dawsons do, you get a real sense of the common, reoccurring issues and obstacles that aspiring producers and engineers hit.
When you’re a beginner, these can cause puzzlement and frustration that ranges from ‘head-scratching’ to ‘aaaarggghhh-launch-my-computer-out-of-the-window’.
To help you to keep a full head of hair (and protect passers-by from being hit by flying computers…), we’re going to lend our knowledge and experience to the matter.
This page aims to answer questions concerning home studio issues, with solutions to common problems and other ‘fixes’.
We aim for this to be an ongoing project, with content updated and added to, as a resource for you to refer to, if you get stuck.
If there’s anything that you would like to see added here, or an issue that you’re experiencing, please post in the comments box below (not via Facebook comments- it may get missed if you do…)
We’ll endeavour to answer as many common issues as we can.
So, without further ado…
Q. Why isn’t my synth working via my MIDI interface? I’ve connected the ‘IN’ cable to the ‘in’ on the interface, and ‘out’ to the ‘out’…
A. This has been one of the most commonly made MIDI-related mistakes for decades- nearly everyone does it at some point. ‘In’ has to be connected to ‘out’ and vice versa. Think of if like the MIDI data is water flowing from a tap- it must come OUT of the synth, IN to the computer, and OUT of the computer, IN to the synth. Nowadays (thankfully), many interfaces say something along the lines of ‘connect this to MIDI in’ on the plugs.
Usually, you’ll have some sort of indicator (like a flashing light) on the interface itself, on the synth and in the software you’re using to show that MIDI data is being received.
Q. Why is there a delay on my controller keyboard when I press a key?
A. The first question I’d ask if this was an issue I’d been presented with would be ‘what sort of sound card/ audio interface are you using?’ This because this problem is caused by a problem known as ‘latency’ in the vast majority of circumstances.
Put simply, what is happening is this: when you press a key, it sends out a MIDI note to the computer. If you are controlling a virtual instrument (a software instrument within a music software package), this will get the message to play the note pressed. The computer, which is running the virtual instrument, has to calculate how the resulting note will sound, then send it back out through the outputs as audio.
The latency is caused by soundcards that aren’t designed for making music, as they can’t process the audio fast enough, and end up buffering data, causing the delay (you can read more about it here).
Thankfully, audio interfaces that are designed specifically for making music reduce this delay to milliseconds, so that the player won’t perceive it as a delay. You can find a full range of audio interfaces to fix your latency issues here.
Q. When I record on to my computer with a microphone, there’s a delay in my headphones- my performance seems to lag behind, and distracts me. How can I fix this?
A. Again, this is a latency issue, and is usually caused by using a soundcard that is designed for playing games, and general multimedia, and not for demanding music making duties. You can find more info about latency here.
The best way to fix this is to buy a good audio interface, such as those in our online store here. Many of these also have high quality microphone inputs, too, meaning that you’ll get a better quality recording into the bargain.
If you are having some home studio gear issues, post a question in our comments box. If it’s a commonly experienced problem (i.e. not something that’s specific to your computer or set-up), we’ll endeavour to answer it here.
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.