What you need. Recording 101
What stuff is. Recording 102
EQ Guide. Recording 103
Mic Positions. Recording 104
Mixing. Recording 105
Finishing. Recording 106

NOTE: These are guides and tips, they don't have to be done in any order (Except what you need and mic positioning of course) but don't take them as hard and fast rules because there are none.

If you're ever unsure, check the other threads or feel free to ask a question.

So what does all this do? Recording 102

I see many questions on what certain things are and what they do so here is a brief overview of some of the many pieces of gear found in studios.

This brings up the microphone to a useable volume. Usually has a gain control and a phantom power (+48v) switch as well as an indication of the volume (typically in dB)

A/D/A Converter: Aka A/D converter or AD Converter, pretty much converts an analogue signal into a digital signal and also vice versa (depending on the unit) so you can record onto a computer.

This is generally a cross between a preamp and A/D/A converter as basically what it does is gives you an all in one bundle to record into the computer. They typically have mic or line ins and a way to connect it to your computer. In short, instead of buying a preamp and an A/D converter, you can just buy an interface that does both. (Typically something that does one job does it better than one that does both though.)

Bit Depth and Sample Rate: Bit depth is basically how many bits that can be captured in a certain frame of time, sample rate is how many times the sound can be captured a second. Low bit depth and sample rates sound bad because if you look at the audio waveform (physics is fun) it will look like stares going up and down. The higher the bit depth and sample rate the smoother it gets and the more natural and higher quality your digital audio will sound. Cd's are 16bit 44.1... if you got a cd that was 24bit 192kb sample rate i guarantee you if you play that on a good stereo, you WILL hear a difference in quality.

EQ: There are many types of eqs i won't go into because it doesn't really matter to most people. An eq boosts or cuts a frequency or bunch of frequencies surrounding the core frequency. (more bass, treble or mids but a HELL of alot more detailed than on an amp)

In essence it does what its name suggests, it compresses... but not in a bad way, what a compressor does is lower the highest volume which is set by the threshold control typically so what it hits a certain volume the sound gets quieter depending on the ratio that is set (2:1 will halve the volume of any sound that goes past the threshold 4:1 will quarter it and anything past 20:1 effectively stops the volume dead) And then the lower sounds are brought up (so you can hear them better) with the gain control which also compensates for the volume loss that the compressor creates.

As soon as the sound hits the limiters threshold, stops dead and doesnt get louder. Simple as that.

Noise Gate:
Once a threshold is set, the gate will only let pass sounds that reach a volume above the threshold (great for kicks and snares to isolate them from the rest of a kit).

Condenser Microphone: Without getting technical, comes in Large Diaphragm (LDC) and Small Diaphragm (SDC, aka pencil mic) These need Phantom power to run and are generally much more detailed and sensitive than their dynamic cousins. Two of the most famous Condenser mics are the AKG c414 which can be used on anything and has a switchable polar pattern (I'll get into that later) and the Neumann KM84 (or the newer KM184) which is considered one of the best mics ever for recording Stringed instruments including acoustics as well as cymbals.

Dynamic Microphone: Doesn't need power to run, most commonly used in live situations or in recording situations where using a condenser would break because of the sound pressure levels (like in a kick drum) or where it would just pick up too much noise around it (like on a snare). The most famous dynamic mic is hands down the Shure sm57, which is the industry standard for guitar, snare and even toms, with uses expanding to cymbals, bass and vocals.

Ribbon Microphones:
These uses a delicate ribbon to pick up sounds and for most, phantom power WILL damage them. Ribbon mics have a very unique sound and not everybody likes them, good on guitars and sometimes on voice as well ribbon mics are often used as room mics for drum kits. One of the more famous ribbon mics is probably the royer r121 which is used by many bands including Matchbox 20 as a guitar cab mic.

Microphone Polar Patterns: AKA pickup pattern. This basically means where the mic picks up its sound from.
Unidirectional mics are
Cardioid ( the pickup pattern (where it picks the sound up from) looks like a mushroom without a stalk)
Super Cardioid looks like a mushroom with a stalk with a bit of the sides chopped off (but still rounded
Hyper Cardioid is similar to super cardioid but even less pickup response from the sides

They are called uni directional because the spot with the highest sound capture is in front of it, and as you go up it gets more and more directional (picks up less from the sides) but picks up from behind a bit as well

There is Figure 8 which like the name sugests has a polar pattern of an 8, and it picks up from opposite sides but not the adjacent ones (up and down but not left or right, or vice versa.

Then there is Omni Directional which picks up everywhere, mostly used for choirs or groups standing around the mic, HORRIBLE for live use yet school teachers who think, oh her this picks up from everywhere thats great! Think its great until they use a PA and wonder why its feedbacking like hell.

I won't go into FX because theyre all pretty much the same as guitar ones. I hope this helps people out and i don't think i've missed anything.
Last edited by doommaker at Feb 1, 2009,
How about Microphone Positions? Obscure angles, Different rooms...? Just interesting techniques in general?

And then for 104 you could do mixing, and how to bring clarity into your mixes.

Really good idea/thread by the way. Kudos to you!