Chapter Two: Studio Gear covers the essential equipment found in most electroacoustic music studios and the techniques required to use it well. Electronic composers should have excellent audio recording and editing skills in order to professionally capture materials for their works. To do so requires familiarity with the same tools used in professional recording studios. In addition to employing these tools during the creative process, they will also want to be able to skillfully record and master their completed compositions for public dissemination and performance. To this end, knowledge of microphone types and their characteristics, along with microphone placement and patterns, be they monaural, stereo or more is extremely helpful. In addition, fluidity with analog or digital mixing consoles and signal processing options for live or pre-recorded material is also an essential skill. Finally, many electronic composers are called upon to set up and run concerts and installations, so familiarity with cables, speaker placement, live sound reinforcement skills and other concert options can be extremely helpful.
Studio gear improves and changes rapidly. We rarely use old styles of cabling like BNC connectors and coax, and new options, such as digital snakes and fiber or Ethernet cables have been added to the audio setup. However, the basic principles behind most gear remain. A good example of this is the modern mixing console. While most consoles are now digital, whether they are physical or virtual, they are still modeled after the analog boards covered in this chapter, with input and output channels, internal signal routing and effects sends. They could instead be presented as the giant computer algorithm that they essentially are, but the human interface has to date, remained more or less the same as pre-digital days.