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How the PC and Music Software Has Made a Home Studio Available to All

Reaper

Just 30 years ago, the idea of having a music studio at your home was a mere dream for all but already successful artists and producers, with even a relatively basic setup costing thousands, but the home computer and music software changed all that for good.

Computer processing power back in the 80s meant that for an early sampler like the Fairlight CMI at $20,000 or the even more expensive Synclavier System which could cost as much as $200,000. And those systems would not let you move around and layer tracks to help you build up your composition.

Early sequencers like the Steinberg Pro 16 for the Commodore 64 appeared around 1984 and were some of the first to create applications using the then-new MIDI standard that we still know and love today. Whilst this did give electronic musicians a new way to record and arrange their compositions, we all know what the default MIDI sounds are like and audio support didn’t come to Cubase until 1992.

It was the Sound Blaster AWE32 soundcards and the SoundFont format that really brought computer music making to the mainstream and revolutionised the space in the mid-90s along with Windows 95. Everyone with a home computer could now have an inbuilt sampler for a minimal price of under £200.

Since the 90s the music technology market has exploded with Moore’s law on processing power meaning that what we can now do with a basic laptop and relatively cheap software outclasses anything that would have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds just a few years ago. Musicians no longer have to rely on hoping and checking the UK lotto results to be able to record the songs they’ve always wanted to make.

There’s a variety of free software available on these very pages that will help those on a really tight budget, but for under $60 you can grab fantastic sequencer/DAWs like Reaper or Renoise that offer more functionality than the vast majority of musicians could ever want. Computer musicians have never had it so good!

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