Hard disk recording

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The Fostex Foundation 2000 hard disk recording system

Hard disk recording , also known as “HD recording”, is digital sound recording on hard disk systems . Hard disk recording is the sound recording method commonly used in studio technology today . Hard disk recording differs from analog recording (e.g. on tape ) as well as from linear digital recording (e.g. on DAT cassettes ). The direct access to the recorded data, which was only made possible by hard disk systems, is the basis for the non-linear processing of the sound recordings in audio editors , which could fundamentally expand the possibilities of sound design .


The advent of hard disk recording systems can be understood as a further development of digital tape machines (e.g. DASH machines). Since audio signals were already available in digital form, it made sense to save them not only as a data stream on tape, but also as computer files on hard drives. The first systems were pure recording and playback devices that were supposed to replace the tape machines in the recording studios . One of the first hard disk recording systems on the market was Fairlight MFX from 1989.

The systems were gradually supplemented by editing functions. Since the audio files stored on hard drives can be accessed directly, non-linear cutting has become possible. The data stored in a Playlist playback commands set the order of playback audio data determined arbitrarily (z. B. with the program sound designer of Digidesign ). In this way of working, the actual audio files are no longer changed after recording.

In modern DAWs ( Digital Audio Workstation ), hard disk recording is combined with audio editors , virtual mixing consoles and effects units , so that all the functions of a recording studio can come together in one device. Often DAWs also include MIDI sequencers . The systems can be operated via a graphical user interface .


The audio quality of the analog copy is e.g. B. from an audio cassette always worse. With digitized music from HDD (Hard Disk Drive), the quality is always maintained. In contrast to the live mix, the individual tracks or music passages are put together using a program on the computer. The computer acts as a so-called sequencer . Parts of pieces of music, tones and samples are placed on the individual audio tracks of the sequencer. The finished mix is ​​created piece by piece.

The titles merge with one another. There is a seamless transition. Sometimes it is also cut and the transition from music title to music title is connected by means of samples.

Music production

Hard disk recording is also used in the production of electronic music. Analogous to a classical concert, the producer "conducts" each individual instrument so that all sound-generating instruments ("musicians") play at the same speed and use them at the right time. On the computer, the individual sound tracks are assigned instruments that then play music at the same time. Most of the time this is done via external devices, such as samplers (e.g. keyboards ), which are connected to the sequencer.

In order for all devices to be able to communicate with one another, it is not absolutely necessary for the internal control to function in the same way; the commands only have to be received, translated and standardized in one place. This is the job of the MIDI interface, also known as the MIDI interface. If a device is MIDI-capable, it means that it has a MIDI interface. Almost all modern synthesizers and samplers have a MIDI interface, in contrast to most computers: they often have to be made MIDI-compatible with a MIDI adapter. In the past this was done via PCI cards or devices on the serial or parallel interface , now often via USB adapter.


  • Roland Enders: The home recording manual. 3rd edition, Carstensen Verlag, Munich, 2003, ISBN 3-910098-25-8
  • Hubert Henle: The recording studio manual. 5th edition, GC Carstensen Verlag, Munich, 2001, ISBN 3-910098-19-3
  • Michael Dickreiter: Handbook of the recording studio technology . 6th improved edition. K. G. Sauer, 1997, ISBN 3-598-11322-6 .

Individual evidence

  1. Fairlight - The Whole Story