Electronics in Music Production: Key Equipment and Components
February 18, 2019
There’s a Keystone in every great invention.
When computer instruments like the Fairlight and Synclavier first became commercially available and hit the market, they were quite expensive. Just one of these instruments could easily run anywhere from $25,000 to $250,000.
The advent of musical instrument device interfaces (MIDIs) eventually led to the production of music on general-purpose computers. Over time, a greater variety of computer-based music equipment – such as analog synthesizers - was created and became available to all.
Today, computers are absolute essentials in music production. Recording, mixing, and production processes rely heavily on computers – especially laptops, whose on-the-go convenience is an advantage for artists constantly on the road or planes.
Electronic components make up the backbone of a computer and, ultimately, the music production process. Some of these components include
- Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs)
Circuit boards(notably, the motherboard) can be thought of as computers’ nervous systems. They connect the various smaller-scale components that make up the device and create acohesive machine. Music production equipment relies on PCBs developed specifically for high quality media.
- Dedicated PCIeSound Cards
Sound cards make all the difference when it comes to exceptional audio quality. Motherboards offer built-in sound components, but PCIe sound cards allow users to ensure maximum audio quality when paired with professional recording equipment like headphones and speakers.
- A High-QualityPower Supply
A great power supply ensures that a computer uses energy efficiently when managing tasks and also determines the extent to which a computer can handle multiple input devices successfully. High quality power supplies run more coolly and quietly than their cheap or inefficient counterparts. This means less noise interference and a lower chance of interruption due to power problems.
Audio interfaces serve to widen and improve upon a computer's music production capabilities. The audio interface is often seen as the heart of a music studio. It creates many additional connections to microphones and instruments and serves as a conduit for signals that enable the recording and top-quality reproduction of sounds.
Professional music production setups that require multiple microphones, instruments, and other types of devices and signals benefit greatly from the use of audio interfaces. One advantage of audio interfaces is that they make routing these devices into and out of computers a relatively simple task.
Audio interfaces simultaneously act as the computer's sound card and a digital clock with superior analog circuitry. Those looking to get the most out of an interface system would do well to invest in high quality parts like three-pin XLR cables for audio connections and superior pins and plugs to build a strong foundation for the XLR cable.
Audio Amplifiers & Preamplifiers
When looking to create the highest quality audio to project over a speaker system, amplifiers and preamplifiers are a great way to do so. Both serve to boost weaker signals from connected components like microphones or instruments by processing their sound and ensuring its clarity before pushing that sound to a speaker.
Preamplifiers elevate weak signals to a normal sound level – also known as a line level – that matches any other connected signals, creating a balanced sound for all inputs. For example: microphones are often the source of weak signals. A preamplifier would raise the microphone's signal until it matched the others and then send that cleaned-up signal to an amplifier.
Amplifiers also boost signals, but they also raise the line level itself to increase volume. This clear, louder sound can then be sent on to speakers, and it will have significantly less distortion. Several electronic components are central to amplifiers and preamplifiers:
- Integrated circuits come in a variety of sizes to meet various cost, quality, and size needs. These circuits are tailored to provide ideal voltages, gains, and volume ranges.
- Additional components like colored LED meters provide the status of inputs and outputs in an easily understood, visual way.
Used together, amplifiers and preamplifiers create a greater level of sound clarity at higher volumes for any signals and devices that are connected to a computer.
Music Production Electronic Components at Keystone Electronics
High-end electronic setups using computers and specialized hardware will make the difference between underwhelming and awesome, professional music production. With so many components and parts going into the process of creating clear, quality music, it's easy to see how reliant the music industry is on top-notch equipment.
The many electronic components in music production equipment will impact their lifespan, functions, and audio capabilities. Keystone Electronics supports the music industry with high-quality components like plugs, pins, jacks, and sockets, PCB hardware, and LED caps & spacers. To learn more about our services and capabilities for music production equipment or other applications, contact us today.