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Why won't my computer record music very well?


I'd appreciate some help from anyone. I know nothing about computers.

I'm trying to record music from my casio keyboard to my computer using ableton live version 6, but it won't record very well. it skips and has a delay of about half a second to a second.

I have the following computer:

Acer Extensa 4210
Intel Celeron CPU 1.86 GHz
32-bit operating system
2 hard drives - 40GB each
Windows Vista

I'm pretty bad with computers but I'm guessing my computer is inadequate in some way.

If this computer is not good enough, should I for example buy more memory, more hard drives, remove vista, or should I just get another computer?

I would appreciate any advice, because I don't want to spend money upgrading this thing if it still won't work well.



Guitarfreak Sat, 06/13/2009 - 05:53

massivenoob wrote: CPU 1.86 GHz
Windows Vista

Well your computer is certainly nothing to write home about. There's three things that I would change right there^. But the fact of the matter is that you are getting audio dropouts. This happens when your computer is running so fast that it trips over its own feet. There are things you can do to make your computer run better but I'd recommend you do this...

1. Get an audio interface - it takes the weight off of the computer's onboard soundcard while giving you the processing power of a soundcard 100x better than what comes with yours.

2. Record to an external HD - it takes the weight off of your internal HD, allowing for faster processing of incoming signal.

3. Close all other programs while recording

4. Close all internet connections while recording.

5. Increase buffer size to above 256, higher is recommended.

Space Sat, 06/13/2009 - 07:29

"I would appreciate any advice, because I don't want to spend money upgrading this thing if it still won't work well. "

No experience at recording + Computer that can record...might make a good pair. Your computer should be qualified to run the little that you ask of it. The issue with recording and sound is that quality audio input/output is not part of what an onboard sound card does.

It doesn't help that Windows Vista does not seem to play well so it requires some tinkering. And if you are no good at tinkering, then Vista is not where you want to be ;)

You do require a good audio interface in order to produce audio recordings with your computer as the brain and storage area.

Which one should you look into and which format from USB, Firewire or Pci would you choose?

As mentioned above, it helps to set the recording software to use a different drive other then the drive that your operating system is on. The OS has need for access to the OS drive for read/write operations, swapping, etc. and these things are all priority based from the OS logic....your stuff is secondary and will wait in line until the resource is available for use.

It doesn't have to be external so it can be inside the computer desktop enclosure, preferable on a separate sata / ide cable.

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TheJackAttack Sat, 06/13/2009 - 08:03

OK. Here is the scoop.

Will your computer work? Yes. But...

Your computer is not ideal for recording for several reasons. 1) Celeron are not good for intensive applications. 2) 2 gigs of ram for Vista is REQUIRED no matter what Microsoft says on the box. 4 gigs would be highly advised. Ram is dirt cheap these days. 3) Vista is adequate to the task despite it's bad press but unlike XP Pro or Win7 requires significant tweaking. 4) I have never liked the mobos Acer puts in its machines. They have weird spikes in latency for no good reason whatsoever.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest.

Your biggest problem with recording the little bit you have described is this: you don't have an interface. Bravo for having a secondary hard drive but you need a firewire 2-8 channel interface of some sort to run those keyboards into. For two channels you could go with a USB interface but firewire is better even at that level.

The best 2-4 channel interface on the market right now in my honest opinion is the TC Electronics Konnekt 24D. It has a buck toothed step brother called the Konnekt 8 that is still decent enough but the 24D is better and where you should start.

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Codemonkey Sat, 06/13/2009 - 09:29

"allowing for faster processing of incoming signal."

FWIW, the 2nd drive doesn't process faster, it has less alternative demand causing the head to pointless move, read, move back, write more - and that time is where the dropouts occur - when data gets backed up waiting on a program dealing with it.

massivenoob Wed, 06/17/2009 - 03:22

Guys I really really appreciate all your advice, thankyou so much.

So, basically my main problem is I need an interface. So, if I get one of those, get 4GB of RAM, increase buffer size and record to a different drive, my computer should record absoultely smoothly?

I don't know how fast 1.86 GHz is these days, but will the speed pose a problem for me if I upgrade other aspects of the computer?

Also, with this tweaking of Windows Vista....what kind of tweaking do we mean here? Vista's own "Improve your computer's performance" feature? or something more technical...I'm bad with computers but I reckon I could tweak, unless it involves programming etc...


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TheJackAttack Wed, 06/17/2009 - 08:03

There is really nothing wrong with Vista for recording unless you need the fastest of fastest machines. Do I think it's a little loge? Sure. Most PC users still can't use the OS to even half it's capabilities. SP1 fixed most of the initial problems and SP2 has been released now as well.

Unless you have a spare XP license/COA floating around it would not be legal to install XP on your machine.

Mostly folks need to stop bitching about Vista and start learning how to use it. It isn't hard to do. Make sure if you need super fast then suck it up and load Win7 RC or go find one of the few legal XP copies left for sale on the web.

You still won't have better recordings without actually.....gasp.....practicing recording.

Guitarfreak Wed, 06/17/2009 - 08:38

TheJackAttack wrote: Nice. Coming from a Mac owner of course.

You know it :D

Hey I used XP for many years before I went mac, and it wasn't half bad except for all the crashes and hang ups and overall system instability... Then vista came along and it had all the negatives of XP without all the tweaking and user maintenance that made it run better. It's just a step in the wrong direction if you ask me.

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TheJackAttack Wed, 06/17/2009 - 09:27

Well, I've never had any of the crashes and hangs and instability of which you speak with XP or Vista or Win 7.

As to the durablility of a Mac, I have a good friend who has managed to destroy five Macs in six years and he is neither a power user nor particularly computer literate. He is a Californian and a Starbucks fan.

My point being that neither system is perfect and people should use what they want without jumping on some bandwagon about how brand X is SOOOOOO superior to brand Y.

It's a tool. Be a Steve and not a Stu. The Dude must abide and all that.

Space Wed, 06/17/2009 - 20:22

...and when you install windows xp, make it a multiboot install.

It remedies some of the configuration woes and keeps you honest in that it is for audio only, no internet no games, no whatever else people put on machines that bog them down.

Like, say, Vista ;)

Space Tue, 06/23/2009 - 15:32

A friend of mine has an Aspire and the max according to the handbook is 2 gig.

In fact I shoved 4gig in it and it did not all.

2 gig or less worked. It also has a Celeron processor.

Is this a limitation of the Celeron or a configuration of specfic budget parts that just by chance happens to include Celeron?

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TheJackAttack Tue, 06/23/2009 - 22:38

I dislike Acer. A lot of my employees show up with them in the summer and they are always slow as s#$@. They still have all taken at least 3 gigs of ram to date but I always update the bios and drivers first. The first startup will be quite slow until the POST. Eventually you hit F1 and proceed in a normal fashion.

The Windows update I linked above is a rare additional step.