Signal flow is something everyone who wants to have a home music studio must wrap there heads around. The creative process that goes on in your mind leaves your head then starts flowing through your home recording equipment in the form of electrons running through wires. If you can understand signal flow, the inputs and outputs of your equipment and how all the pieces are connected together you will be in great control of your home music studio. In the case of trouble shooting and understanding what is happening at different stages of the signal flow you can diagnose and improve your studios efficiency, making it easier to transfer your ideas into recordings easily.
Taking a look at an example of signal flow involving a computer, audio interface, speakers and one microphone, you can see how to train yourself when thinking about the signal flow in your home music studio. It’s all about Inputs and Outputs, Yes, it really is that simple, knowing how inputs and outputs work in all aspects of your recording gives you the freedom to add, subtract and give you greater ability to experiment with any type of recording gear.
music starts with a sound source, the sound comes OUT of the instrument then goes into the microphone, the electrons move along the microphone and OUT the cable and then goes IN the audio interface or microphone preamp. So, you will connect your microphone to the input of your audio interface. Now the electrons are swimming inside your audio interface and they need to go OUT to your speakers, now your speakers are connected to the output of your audio interface. Remember that most audio equipment have both inputs and outputs available, an audio interface is an example of this.
the audio interface is the link between analogue and digital recording, making it possible to record analogue audio signal and make it digital so you can mix, edit and master in your computer.
Once the digital signal has entered your computer the audio interface needs to playback the analogue signal through your speakers. The bonus of an audio interface is the sample rates and quality of conversion from analogue to digital and digital to analogue.
The two outputs of an audio interface makes it possible to playback audio from your recording software as well as being able to connect the output of the audio interface to the USB or firewire input of your computer
I realize this is a very simplistic example but if you learn to move around your studio thinking about the IN and OUT concept you can add to your home music studio, set up and experiment connecting the inputs and outputs of all types of gear together and putting you in control
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