How to get started recording audio
November 25th, 2014
As a music producer your role changes from time to time. You’ll be called upon many times to be a recording engineer. A recording engineer is the person who ensures that the song is recording at the highest quality possible. That means ensuring the singer’s voice is recorded clear. Ensure proper mic technique is used. Using the right equipment for the job at hand. And so on.
A Lot of engineers and producers start out as recording engineers. So let me start by teaching you how to set up your own recording studio. Since we will be doing everything digitally here is a list of what you need and why:
This is you main hub for all your recording. You will need a decent computer that can handle the workload you will be doing. The standard machine is a Mac. Why? it is stable and can easily handle multimedia task without problems. But it’s not the only option available.
Mac has limited software choices where recording audio concerned but you’ll have more choices and more control over your computer if you go with Microsoft Windows. A Mac cost way more than a pc, but a is stable for a long time. It will be a long-term investment.
When making your choice of computer for your studio think about the software you’re going to use and the price you’re willing to spend. So lets talk specs for a minute. A computer with more ram will make your life easier. You can do more things with less headache. More Processing power will keep your studio running and keep you working longer.
You will definitely need a lot hard drive space for storage. A standard dvd burner will be needed to burn your clients files to cd, or sessions data to dvd.
I’m not saying one is better than the other, I’m giving you enough information to make a decision when buying a pc for your studio.
A Software / DAW
As i mentioned above, your software choice can affect whether you buy a mac or a pc. They are a lot choices available. Some are multi platform some are not. Hear is a list of the popular choices.
- Sonar – Pc only
- Pro tools – Mac / Pc
- Cubase – Mac / Pc
- Logic – Mac only
- Reason – Mac / Pc
- Fl studio – Pc only
- Ableton Live – Mac / Pc
- Nuendo – Mac / Pc
But you might be wondering with all these choices which one do I use? well to answer your question it all depends on workflow. Each has it advantages and disadvantages so use the demo for all of them and choose the one that best suits your workflow.
USB / FireWire Soundcard
Once you have your software next up is to choose your sound card. But before we start getting into brands here are a few question you need to answer before you buy a sound card.
How many inputs and outputs will you need?
Do you plan on recording live drums?
Or are you going to be recording vocals only
How will you connect an audio interface to your computer?
Does it come with a built-in preamp?
Can i connect my speakers to it and control the volume?
The answer to these questions will lead you down the type of sound card you buy. Say you are only interested in recording vocals and a piano and guitar player. Then you will need up to four(4) inputs. If you computer has only usb connection you will need a usb sound card. This will narrow down your choice to the one that will suit your budget.
Here is a list of brands to consider:
These are just some of the well-known brands you can check out on your hunt. Just keep in mind what you’ll need to set up your studio based on what you will do with the device.
Microphone , Cables, Shock mount, Pop Filter and Mic stand
For music production a condenser microphone is widely used by everybody who records music professionally. Some are cheap, some are not. But What you need to know is that once you choose a mic for your purposes get to know it’s sound.
Each type of condenser have its pros and cons but what you need to know is that for recording there is no one mic fits all. One mic might shine on one application but fail on another. It’s good to have more than one. The different types for recording purposes are Tube, Ribbon , dynamic and the condenser.
For recording vocals you’ll need a pop filter. What this does is eliminate the pops from the vocals so they are not obvious in the recording. Mic stand is use to hold the mic in place. Shock mount is where you would place the microphone in. This ensures the mic stays in place and prevent it from moving in the case of any vibration of the sort while recording. Cables are what you will use to connect your mic to your sound card.
The amount of money you spend on your mic depends on your budget. Read the reviews online to see what are the experiences other users have with a particular mic you want to buy.
Popular mic brands are:
A good pair of monitors will make life easier when mixing. They allow you to hear back your mix and recordings. When you buy your monitors take time to learn how good music sounds coming from it. This will make referencing your mixes more accurately. You can better compare them because your ears are used to the sound of that speaker.
When buying monitors you want a speaker that has a balance frequency response. Anything with a boost of any sort will lie to you when mixing and mastering your songs. You want something that is flat where frequency is concerned. You don’t want when you’re mixing you think your bass is loud and when you check it on a different source its sound low.
Another type of monitor you will need is a pair of headphones or two. When recording vocals your vocalist will need to hear himself/ herself while recording. it’s a good reference tool for your mixes as well.
This is the most important part of your studio. It’s best to invest in acoustic treatment. Why? If your room is untreated you won’t be able to hear your mixes accurately. When checking your mixes on other sources it will sound different. You mixing and mastering choices won’t be accurate because you not hearing the mix in the best possible environment.
Hear are some basic tips you can use to treat your room.
- When setting up your room where you will be mixing. Place your speakers and your chair the exact length of the distance of the speakers.
- Ensure the speaker cones are facing your ears.
- When putting up acoustic treatment: take a mirror and run it on the wall
- Place the panels where you see the speaker in the mirror
- Do this on the back and side walls
- Place bass traps in the corners on the same level as your speakers
- Place panels above your mixing position
What you’re doing is creating a reflection free zone for your control room. When you do this you will hear your mixes more accurately. When you room is untreated the sound bounces all over the room. You don’t want that because your room will lie to you while you’re mixing.
Ok that’s it once you have gone through got your equipment you’re ready to move on the starting your first recording session.
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