An Introduction To Home Recording

Basic understanding of what you need and what it takes to start recording your own music from your home.

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Music It soothes you on a hot, bothered day and mellows you out when you need to relax. Its your best friend when the world seems to be against you and rises to the occasion when you need it--it's music and you want a part of it. Whether you like Rock and Roll, Hard Rock, Alternative, Jazz, R & B, Hip Hop or whatever, it moves and inspires. In fact, you've probably learned and practiced some awesome rips on your recently purchased electric guitar and you're ready to move onto the next step which is writing and, more specifically, home recording. Becoming An Artist Becoming a musician is, as you know, an honor. Many men and women have sacrificed having a normal life in the name of music, especially modern music. Becoming a musician can mean becoming a part of history. After all, mastering an art is very enriching to a life. Therefore, besides education yourself and practicing to keep your art alive, you must really ask yourself if you have the patience, drive and dedication that it takes to become an independent musician and home recording artist. Once you can honestly say that you are ready for the frustrations, the let downs and the rewards of home recording, you can move onto the first step. Your Studio The most obvious part of starting your own home recording studio, especially when you're a beginner on the subject, is an empty room. Creating your own private work space is incredibly important to basic creative flow, regardless of how messy or clean you keep it. Once you have your empty space, insulate it with soundproofing batting which is available online through a good google search. If you're on a budget, make do with inexpensive polyester batting from the craft store and some store brand bed comforters. You can get away with using a staple or nail gun to tack them to the walls. Lastly, bring your equipment in. Set it up as if you were going to record. You might even get a little amped up and take advantage of your new set up. Or you might be wondering where to go after you've plugged your guitar into your amp. This leads to the next step. Equipment Your studio needs a brain before it can begin playing back. That means a computer and internet access. Choosing a computer for your recording need, however, is tricky. It requires a lot of research and reading a book or two. The burning question of whether to buy a Mac or PC is not easily answered. In my opinion, a Mac is industry standard at this time but a PC is best for a beginner. The programs involved with a PC are much more user-friendly and inexpensive. Be sure, however, that when you choose your PC, it has an Intel Chip. They're good at buttering your computer up for use of popular recording and musical software. My personal suggestion is a Dell. They come with decent programs and they have a great tech department. When it comes down to your internet programs, your most reliable selection is Sony's Acid or Vegas, Reaper, Steinberg's Cubasis, or Cakewalk. Of these beginners should use Reaper. It's free, easy and powerful and is music creation capable. Now your sound room/studio is together and you've hooked up your computer, internet access and installed your music creating program of choice. Now you must begin your research for the rest of your equipment list. The trimmings, as I call them, would be more obvious equipment like your AC Adapters, cables, mic and mic stand. While most of your trimmings need no serious attention, your microphone does. Get the AKG d790 for banging and screaming. If you have a more sensitive sound, I suggest the EV/BLUE Cardinal. Of course, if you can afford it, the Blue Bluebird is an awesome microphone. As for your boom speakers and keyboard, each should be chosen with personal judgement. There are a lot of manufacturers out there but it's usually best to stick with the major brands. They have great history and a passion for music that's been passed through generations. This would include Kenwood, Yamaha, Cassio, Behringer and so on. If you're looking for a great amp and you're on a budget, find a pre-owned Marshall online or hit your local retailer when they're on sale. Mixers are what perform the much needed task of taking multiple audio tracks and combining them into one stereo or mono track. They are necessary to every recording job and should be added to your growing studio equipment stash. The standard mixers you will find in any recording studio or perhaps on stage at a concert, have multiple mic preamps, a 2 to 4 band EQ per channel, 1 to 4 effect loops per channel, and a slider for each channel to adjust the channel's level. For a beginner, I would suggest an analog mixer. Do some research to find out which analog will be compatible with the rest of your gear. If you need expert advice, hit the Guitar Center or check out Soundetta.com When purchasing a recorder, be sure to pick something that has enough inputs to create a decent recording for your project because you will be unable to edit later, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Low end recorders also have very small LCD screens, and limited onboard effects, which usually isn't a problem for garage band set ups so long as you find something that has a compressor, limiter, EQ and reverb. In Closing Now that most of what you need is laid before you, find some help in setting it up if you don't have the know how. Research and reading will only go so far, so make some friends in the industry by creating a blog, becoming part of one or checking the postings at your local college. Often time in the world of recording you will find that absorbing information from watching others is a great key to understanding. Revel in the many rewards that your gig will bring you. Rock on.

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    jo5ef
    Agree with other posters, crap article, what a wanker. Would like to see a good article on this subject for those of us without a huge wodge of cash. Perhaps "Home recording on a shoestring"?
    abrockn
    I have to agree with most of the others here, This kind of misses the point. I worked as a lowly assistant in a couple of pro studios in the early 90's and had the pleasure of working on Neve and SSL desks, with endless rack gear(lexicon 480's eventide h3000 and dsp 4000's etc. etc.) the subject of recording would cover 100's of posts, but a couple of misconceptions here are: sound deading the room, a good sound is created by working with the room, controlling the natural sound of the room using mic placement, diffusers, bass traps and any other thing that make the sound you want(look up standing waves and helmholtz diffusers(resonators) online and learn about room management. Great (guitar) tone can be had in almost any room with a bit of forethought. A few things; you can't beat a shure sm57 jammed up close to a speaker cone for a hard,ripping, rock sound, it really is the standard for rock, recording to digital?, use a good compressor to simulate tape saturation, recording to analog?, hit the tape hard, bias your machine properly, clean the heads religiously, and record way brighter than you want, pulling back high frequencys removes hiss, trying to "boost" highs adds hiss and noise. Analog will always have high end rolloff. Get your tone first, then break out the eq's and other crap to "fine tune". if you can avoid it, don't record reverb, add it in during mixdown. I would also, if given the choice, rather record a small 15watt (quality)tube amp than a 120watt monster with a 4x12 cab. I play a peavey xxx with a marshall 4x12 cab, but I would hate to record it, it is simply too loud when the A$$ kicking rock tone starts. For recording equipment check EBAY, GOOD stuff that cost $1000's a few years ago is selling for pennies on the dollar, Mackie 1604's, alesis adats(look for low hours and buy a spare, make digital copies of your work), 1/2" 8 and 16 track analog tape machines sound great, but LEARN to maintain and service it or ANY decent tape machine will be a pile of junk in no time. The list of good used (cheap) equipment is endless. But like all things in life "garbage in, garbage out", start simple and LEARN what makes the tone YOU want.
    Starchild_ex4
    To summarize: Clear out a room and fill it with gear. Oh, and after you spend 7000 bucks on your recording rig, get yourself a marshall cuz they are cool.
    QuiGonTheHippy
    I like this review, it's not very indepth but it does give you a very general idea of what to do
    f1sk
    rteishe wrote: Uh....this is the worst recording article I've ever read. There are HUGE gaps here, and this person obviously has a) no knowledge of microphones whatsoever, or b) wrote this article up in 5 minutes when they probably should have taken hours on it. Not to mention that a) the computer/DAW is only one of the 3 or 4 main approaches to home recording, and b) if you do use a computer to record, one of the number one things that you'r NOT suppose to do it hook your recording comp up to the internet! Your suppossed to keep you dedicated recording computer internet/virus/un-needed program free.... ...and how could you say so little about sound cards and computers when your trying to tell people how to start a computer-recording studio This article is worthless and will just confuse beginner recorders...
    ever heard of anti-virus programs???? also my computer far surpasses the needs of the program, im sure it can handle the internet, as well as other programs, good article
    deadlydunc
    Sony's Acid or Vegas, Reaper, Steinberg's Cubasis, or Cakewalk...internet programs? huh?
    iron_maiden93
    ha me and my friend's record with windows moviemaker and a dollar store mike..makes a decent recording but its pretty easy to tell that we use a dollar store mic.
    gyzer_8970
    jazkel24 wrote: And (skipping back up a bit) while I acknowledge that I personally own a Mac, how on earth can you justify that PC's are 'best for beginners'. Do you realize that most programs are released on both platforms? (Cubase, Pro-Tools, Audacity) Same program, different OS means a fairly easy transition. Sure there'll be differences. Anyway. I just think a little more effort/research could have been put into this article.
    MAcs have garageband preinstalled, saving you some (dunno how much) money... YAY! on another topic, haven't you always wanted to go to Apple Keynote and scream at the top of your voice,"PCs are better than macs!" Then run or watch the fanatics eat you alive...
    SmokinToad
    For easy cheap home recording. You can get a cheap 2 channel mixer from radio shack, then buy a Male RCA to Male 1/8" plug plug that into your sound card. (this is assuming that you already have a computer) The get pretty much any multitrack recording software. You can only record two sources at once but if you do record two sources at once they will be laid down as one track in the recording program. You can single track everything and this will give you better sound quality and more adjustability in the end. As an example check out http://www.myspace.com/flandry the song Rebel Prayer was recorded in the method discribed above. Cheap mixer into stock sound card on a computer from 2000. running winows ME with only 998 processor speed. One track at a time into Cool edit pro 2 which I "found" online. The other songs were done into a Tascam 2488 then imported to the computer and mixed down there. Cheap recording can be done and learning some editing tricks in what ever sofware you have can hide the fact that you are using a setup which even costs, even using a mixer thats better than radio shack, only about 100 dollars (US) thats assuming again that you already have a computer.
    jarett
    i use a cheap mike for the singing and when i plug in my guitar i got an adapter to plug my guitar jack into the microphone slot nd bought a music maker program from half price books.i would prefer a mac over my compaq laptop though.i found that the best program is apple logic recording studio but its 500 bucks.
    f1sk
    rteishe wrote: not to mention that this "beginner studio" that you've suggested...with all of the amps and programs and computer equipment you've suggested...would cost thousands of dollars to put together... ...I'm pretty sure most beginners arn't going to be able to afford that (let alone know what to do with all of that gear once they have it). Basically, all this article really said was, "if you want to record, buy a computer, buy mics, buy a program, and have a really nice amp and guitar"... ....my 12 year old cousin who doesn't play anything or even really like music could have written this! (ok, I'm done venting now...)
    mac mini + garage band can get you started
    rteishe
    not to mention that this "beginner studio" that you've suggested...with all of the amps and programs and computer equipment you've suggested...would cost thousands of dollars to put together... ...I'm pretty sure most beginners arn't going to be able to afford that (let alone know what to do with all of that gear once they have it). Basically, all this article really said was, "if you want to record, buy a computer, buy mics, buy a program, and have a really nice amp and guitar"... ....my 12 year old cousin who doesn't play anything or even really like music could have written this! (ok, I'm done venting now...)
    eisaac
    kalamari wrote: Ummmm forget what I said about the POD and the V-Amp having USB interfaces, I don't think they do... just get the Zoom
    the pod definatly does do
    girl-tarist
    i use my pc laptop, a $5 plug-in computer microphone, a pop filter, and a discarded Cool-Edit Pro 2.... and... voila... studio recording.
    kalamari
    Ummmm forget what I said about the POD and the V-Amp having USB interfaces, I don't think they do... just get the Zoom
    kalamari
    Not very comprehensive but a decent article to get you interested in trying out home recording and the equipment you might think of buying. I'd suggest for musicians on a budget get a good quality USB interfaced effects unit, such as a Line6 POD, Behringer V-Amp, or something from the Zoom G2 series; this will set you up nicely for good quality recordings from many different inputs and some units come bundled with Cubase LE which is very useful.
    Ramco
    This isn't so much an introduction to home recording as this guy listing off his personal favorites as far as equipment. An introduction to home recording should explain what everything does, and how to use them, not which ones are the "best" to get. It's all about your own personal sound.
    jazkel24
    Ish. There's a heap of gaps in this article. What do the first two sections ("Music" and "Becoming an Artist") have to do with anything? Some easy to fix spelling mistakes (Cassio should be spelt Casio). You barely touched on some topics. Listing 3 mics, one for 'banging and screaming, one for a 'more sensitive sound', and the Bluebird (which seems to be expensive). What about the SM-58 (industry standard for vocals), what about if the person wants to record a drum set, then they'll have to invest in at least 5 mics (snare, kick, toms, and 2 overheads) unless they're heading for a single room mic 'Motown' sound. Are you saying the only great amp is a Marshall? Can you not also buy a pre-owned Fender, or any other amp when there's a sale on? And (skipping back up a bit) while I acknowledge that I personally own a Mac, how on earth can you justify that PC's are 'best for beginners'. Do you realize that most programs are released on both platforms? (Cubase, Pro-Tools, Audacity) Same program, different OS means a fairly easy transition. Sure there'll be differences. Anyway. I just think a little more effort/research could have been put into this article.
    rteishe
    Uh....this is the worst recording article I've ever read. There are HUGE gaps here, and this person obviously has a) no knowledge of microphones whatsoever, or b) wrote this article up in 5 minutes when they probably should have taken hours on it. Not to mention that a) the computer/DAW is only one of the 3 or 4 main approaches to home recording, and b) if you do use a computer to record, one of the number one things that you'r NOT suppose to do it hook your recording comp up to the internet! Your suppossed to keep you dedicated recording computer internet/virus/un-needed program free.... ...and how could you say so little about sound cards and computers when your trying to tell people how to start a computer-recording studio This article is worthless and will just confuse beginner recorders...
    0749hsv1978
    what a crap artical mate all you need is a cheap mic a few mates and beer wullah your ready hit rec on the tape player and thjere ya go first track
    Morning Star
    This article wasn't really what I was expecting, for the title I thought it was going to give tips and tricks and explain some stuff. As a beginner at recording I don't think the equipment you buy is really important, just like when you first start learning guitar there's no point in having a Gibson Les Paul classic and Marshall stack.
    wbk666
    i've just checked out the website for Reaper and it isnt free. its either 225 dollars or 50 USD if you use it non commercially