Editing Setup Recommendations
The third scenario is the editing-centric studio - a description that overlaps a lot with the recording-centric studio, but deserves its own category. Applications of a setup like this include post-production for television, and creating and editing audio for video games, broadcast, movies, and voice-overs. Editing is just one of the many stages audio goes through, and compatibility with Pro Tools is very important. It is the industry standard, and unless you are working solo on a project - rarely the case - it is important to be able to easily share with others.
Digidesign offers their Mbox package for about $500. You get not only Pro Tools LE (which allows you to work with up to 32 tracks), but lots of bundled plugins and other useful software. The M-Box audio interface is a compact and powerful unit capable of recording 24-bit audio at 48 kHz. It comes with 2 microphone preamps that are great for recording voiceovers, and is all you need for an editing setup.
Two of the more affordable options are Adobe Audition and Ableton Live. Although they are a good deal more expensive, Steinberg Nuendo and Motu Digital Performer are also viable options.
In many instances, such as editing fine details, a wave editor is essential. These programs are single-track rather than multitrack, and are suitable for mastering a track or analyzing audio; they offer a more precise and detail-oriented approach than multitrack audio programs. These programs are also perfect for cleaning up a recording, or "digitizing" your old records or tapes. Some commonly used programs of this type are Sony SoundForge, Steinberg Wavelab, and Bias Peak (for Macs only.)
Whatever software you pick, make sure to contact the manufacturer and ask them about the compatibility of any 3rd party software or hardware you are considering purchasing. Do yourself a favor and do this BEFORE purchasing anything.
You'll notice that we haven't made any recommendations on the overall hardware yet.
Next week's article will be an in depth guide to purchasing the right hardware for your digital audio needs.