New Computer

I am new to Audacity and so far so good…I am looking to upgrade my computer and need to know what I should have put in to the new system so I can do free lance voice work. I am also looking for information on mic’s and if a small mixer is a good idea.
Thanks for the help …


There are no special requirements for Audacity, though it is important that your sound card is fully supported by the operating system. Don’t expect a sound card to work properly on Windows 7 unless it explicitly says that it is fully supported by Windows 7.

One potential pitfall on Windows is that with good quality sound cards the manufacturers expect that you will be using ASIO drivers and the standard Windows drivers are thrown in as an afterthought. This is problematic because the licensing terms of ASIO prevent Audacity from being distributed with ASIO support, so it has to use the standard Windows drivers, and if they are barely functional then there are inevitably problems.

Macs have a good reputation for reliability and quality, but cost around 50 to 100% more than equivalent PC hardware.

Linux is becoming an increasingly attractive option, though there will be a bit of a learning curve compared with working with an operating system that you are familiar with.

Audacity does not require high power hardware, though plenty of ram for the operating system and plenty of free disk space for the recordings are quite important. Audacity runs very well on my old 500 MHz Pentium with Windows XP or Linux though if I tried using it with Vista or Win 7 it would grind to a halt.

It is important that the machine that you record onto is quiet, though it does not need to be a PC. There are many solid state recorders that can record high quality audio and run totally silently. Once the audio has been recorded, it can be transferred to the computer for editing.

The computer is just one link in the chain - for a good recording set-up it is also important to have a decent microphone, pre-amp/mixer, sound card, and something to listen on (PC speakers do not make good monitors).

You have asked a “how long is a piece of string” type question.

Yeah. That’s pretty open ended.

Are you wedded to one computing platform?

If you’re careful, you can do passable work with the mic inside the laptop. We have people doing all their voice work with an unprocessed Mac internal microphone.

Next up are all the various USB microphones and there are a wide variety. I’m stepping around all the analog “computer” microphones many of them are aggressively low-end and have problems.

The instant you go to long mic cables, two or more microphones, or high end work, you’re into preamplifiers or external mixers – or both. That’s also the jump in price.

USB is usually the way to go if you’re low budget. The company owns two Blue Snowballs and they work well.

I’ve been able to get reasonable performance out of my Logitech Desktop microphone…

You should talk about how you want to produce your voice. Somebody mails you a script and you read it into a mic and mail them back a sound file? Many people want to produce live podcasts and those can be insanely complex.

I’m concentrating on the hardware, but you would be surprised how noisy your apartment can be. More than one of the worker bees here have a closet jammed full of quilts for quiet recording. I totally lucked out. One of our corporate conference rooms is dead quiet.

I should ask who your client is? BBC America? El Segundo High School?

<<<Macs have a good reputation for reliability and quality, but cost around 50 to 100% more than equivalent PC hardware.>>>

On the other hand, the Mac people are getting the work out while the Windows people are posting on the forum for help. Can you tell who has which computer?