Computer Accessories

Which Computer Accessories make the handling of a Digital Audio Workstation easier?

Can you use some of the gimmicks you've seen in the computer shops for your digital Audio Workstation?

Infrared mice, joysticks, wireless keyboards, scrolling and driving wheels, touch-pads, accelerator and break pedals, graphic pads and whatever else catches the eye.

But not all of the computer accessories make sense when it comes to recording on an Computer Workstation. Of course. Some of them are build for gaming some for making graphics, but we were crazy enough to test them for audio and midi recording.

Here is what we found useful after using it for quite a while.

  • Mouse:  Keyboard and mouse are of course the "standard" computer accessories. Therefore it is really important to get them in good quality. Look out for these features!
    • Optical: If you can, take an optical mouse because then you can skip cleaning and also the hours of miserable response that come before. :-)
    • Scroll Wheel: This little helper can change a lot regarding speed and convenience. It makes it easy to follow even the most complex arrangements. Some mice let you scroll in both directions vertical and horizontal. This is done either by a second scroll by pushing the scroll wheel left or right or by a button that changes the function.
    • Wireless: If you like wireless, go for RF controlled (Radio Frequency controlled) This is far more reliable than those with infrared.

      Infrared mice are somehow like vampires. They have problems with the sunlight and draw power. They also cannot send trough any object that comes into their light beam. You won't have any of this problems with a radio frequency controlled mouse.

      The only little drawback of going wireless is the need for batteries. But with rechargeables and a charging cradle life becomes beautiful again (At least as long as you don't forget to put the mouse in the cradle after work).
    • Programmable Buttons: Yes, definitely a good feature. If you use a Macro Keypad you might not need it, but if you like to have the most important functions at your fingertips go for it. A special goodie you might want is also the ability to automatically change the functions of some or all of the buttons depending of the program you are working with.

      Short sidebar: You probably don't need more than 4 buttons because it's hard to remember what they are for (at least for me).

  • Macro Keypads: I always wonder why so few people use them. Once I have discovered them, I don't know how I could live without them.

    They make life so much easier. You can record any combination of keystrokes and assign it to any button of the Keypad. Then you make a nice little label, put it under the cup of this button and here it is. Your completely customized remote control.

  • Switch-box for Keyboard and Mouse: If you want to drive 2 or more computers from the same place with only one keyboard and one mouse.

    Let's say you have your sequencer program on one computer and a software-synthesizer or GigaSampler on another one. Now you want to operate both systems from the same place with the same mouse, keyboard and monitor.

    The solution is a KVM (Keyboard-Video-Mouse) switch. Don't take passive switching boxes. The monitor signal gets horribly distorted and system lockups are very common.

    Spend a little extra money for an electrical Switch-box with on board keyboard and mouse emulation.

    Which Switch-box you take depends upon how many computers you need to operate and which resolution you drive your monitor.

  • CD Storage: Tired of searching which jewel case fits to what CD? After trying a lot of storage systems I have no doubt about which one I prefer. In my opinion, this is by far the best way to store CDs : Case Logic