After years of experimenting, I’ve finally found the best way to record music at home, and I’m very excited to share it with you Today! When I started producing my first projects at the age of 16, I had no knowledge of whatsoever on the subject.
The internet was my one and only source of information, so I looked at YouTube videos, blog posts, message boards, etc. I was able to monitor my guitar amplifier and vocals using a USB microphone (from the “Rock Band” video game) and my mother’s laptop.
You see, this isn’t just about the money!
So I finally learned to use the MIDI sequencer to program drum kits and bass guitar tracks, but it was hard to do without the MIDI / USB controller.
As years went by, I have acquired more tools, but I have always found a solution when I can’t afford a piece of equipment.
Now I know exactly what any home recording studio needs, but there’s one question left .
Do you have what it takes to be a productive music producer right in the comfort of your own home? If so, let’s get started now!
What Type Of Computer Do We Need To Record Audio?
The most essential element of any recording studio in the 21st century is the computer, but it must meet certain criteria. Audio processing requires a powerful CPU, an abundance of RAM and a large HDD, so we need to make sure that our computer is up to the challenge.
Central Processing Unit ( CPU)
Audio processing uses sequential processing for each operation, so we need a computer with excellent single-core efficiency (at least 2.7 GHz). However, when there are multiple tasks, parallel processing is always used, so having multiple cores is ideal (at least 4 cores).
Random Access Memory (RAM)
A lot of memory can be taken up by the use of sample libraries, particularly if you use more than one. I suggest a device with a minimum of 8 GB of RAM, but you may also want to consider 16 GB.
Hard Drive Disk (HDD)
It can take up a lot of space to install sample libraries and store projects, so you would either need a big internal or external HDD (at least 1 TB). Whichever option you select, make sure the speed of the drive is at least 5400 RPM, but 7200 RPM preferably.
You might be able to save yourself this cost if you’re lucky enough to already own a computer that meets these requirements.
If you have to invest (like I had to) in a new computer, though, I highly recommend that you buy an Apple computer.
They are the most suitable for this type of work and are used in professional studios throughout the world.
I still use my home-built Windows machine for other activities, but shifting to Mac OSX has enhanced performance and quality drastically.
How To Record Sound Into Our Computer?
There are actually two important components that make up a recording studio in terms of hardware, so let’s look at audio interfaces now that we know what kind of computer we need.
Simply put, for your instrument / microphone lines, an audio interface functions as a preamp and as an analog – to – digital (ADC). Many forms of audio interfaces (USB, Thunderbolt & PCIe) are available in the market, but they all serve the very same purpose.
I suggest a USB audio interface for home recording because it is the most accessible, but if you own an Apple computer, I would prefer a Thunderbolt interface because there are at least two Thunderbolt ports on your computer.
Entry-level Thunderbolt audio interfaces are not any more costly than their comparable USB counterparts, but the performance is much higher.
However, when searching for an audio interface, we need to make sure that the system is compatible with the recording software that we use, which can be done through a fast web search.
I personally use the Zoom H4n Pro as my audio interface and it’s highly compatible with GarageBand and Logic Pro X, but you might want to try out the Focusrite Scarlett-2i2 also.
What Type Of Software Do We Need To Record Music?
We now have an idea of the hardware we need at home to record music, but we still lack ONE vital piece of software that will make it possible.
A digital audio workstation (DAW) is basically software for recording that allows you to make, edit and store tracks with your audio interface that you are recording.
In reality, selecting a DAW can be one of the most difficult decisions, but it all depends on how serious you would like to become of a producer;
Hobbyists are likely to be much better off with a free or “lite” alternative, but professional projects require professional software.
Audacity is a free open-source DAW that can satisfy your basic needs for recording, but the GarageBand of Apple is honestly impressive(this is the kind of value you get with Apple)!
Purchasing hardware can often give you access to some free software; for example, my Zoom H4n Pro came with Cubase LE, which I’ve been using for quite some time.
However, if you are passionate about the production of music, take a look at following software –
- Ableton Live
- FL Studio
- Pro Tools
- Logic Pro
If you’re not sure which DAW is right for you, consider demoing a few as they all have prototype versions that typically last 30 days and/or have some restrictions.
Do You Need Anything Else To Record Music At Home?
Several producers don’t even have an audio interface, they just have a DAW like Reason, Ableton Live, FL Studio, etc. and just use their laptop to create music. I encourage you, however, to become a musician and create your music production musical by performing your parts.
You’ll probably need some microphones if you want to record vocals, some instruments and 1⁄4 “jacks for recording the electric / bass guitar right into the interface.
You may also want to start using the MIDI / USB keyboard to make MIDI sequencing simpler if you wish to do any more advanced programming.
The best way to start is to start small and gradually grow as your requirements develop over time, because they’re going to.
In the starting stages, it is much more important to gain all the information we need.
Let’s avoid needless expenditures, as purchasing any piece of equipment that catches our eye (been there, done that) can be tempting.
Creating An Effective Workflow
Your own self-limitation and lack of essential tools are the only barriers to your creativity. Sometimes having too much can be overwhelming, which is why I’ve been downgrading my recording studio considerably over the years.
More than a music producer, I consider myself a musician, so a recording studio is simply a means of creating.
The essence of sound recording is a performance, so let’s not forget the importance of music in the modern world.
That’s why I recommend that you give yourself a MIDI / USB keyboard at least if you want to use “virtual” instruments, that way your tracks can still have a “human” character.
Tips To Enhance Your Home Recording
Get your preamp
Plugging directly into your recording interface with a guitar or microphone can often produce a very transparent sound that lacks the warmth and volume a great track requires. There is an easy and cheap way to get a better sound from the source: first plug the guitar or microphone into a preamp.
For as little as $50, a decent preamp can be purchased and will automatically add volume and warmth to anything you record.
A few technical points to note: First, if you purchase a tube preamp, it’s best to junk the tube that came with it and switch it with a better one that you can buy at a guitar shop (doing so requires nothing more than a screwdriver).
Secondly, keep in mind that a balanced audio cable such as a TSR or XLR cable will be needed for the performance of the preamp. Even though it will fit into the input, don’t try to connect the preamp to your interface with just an instrument cable.
Dive In And Continuously Use the Web as a Resource
I noticed that friends who are new to this will purchase large home recording books before they really start attempting to do some serious recording on their own. These can be strong tools, but most of it, I believe, should be bypassed and dipped in. Trial and error is the best instructor ever.
Most contemporary software program for recording, such as GarageBand, are very user-friendly and do not take much time to learn at a basic level. Just start experimenting, and develop your own basic knowledge.
When you’ve completed this experiment, it’s time to use the web to learn unique tasks. YouTube and a site named GearSlutz are the two best sources of knowledge. With regard to recording, they each provide oceans of tutorials and advice on virtually every subject.
You may have learned to record drums reasonably well on your own, but you’re not sure how to properly EQ a snare drum. Go and look it up.
Maybe you’ve recorded a good vocal track, but would you like to know a bit more about using pitch correction effectively? Seek and you shall find. This technique continues to teach me new approaches.
Again, don’t try to take all this information into account at once. It’ll overwhelm you and make it seem impossible to engineer great tracks. In fact, advanced books and the like are more helpful after you have had a lot of hours under your belt, not before.
Invest in One Good Big Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
It’s not earth-shattering news for most home recording enthusiasts, but I can’t overstate its importance: it’s imperative to buy a good condenser microphone.
I strongly recommend that anyone mastering their own recordings, even on a shoestring budget, make it mandatory to purchase a large diaphragm condenser microphone.
The reason I so deeply believe in this item is that you can also record musical instruments (instrumental guitars, mandolins, banjos, etc.), light percussion (tambourines, bongos, etc.) and a whole host of other items in addition to recording vocals.
When recording drums, I really love using mine as a room microphone. Your wallet will take a pounding if you start buying separate condenser microphones in different shapes and sizes for all these different activities, and the results will not even change all that much. I’m a fan of the Rode NT1A, but there are plenty of great options out there if you want to stay below $200.
Invest In Some nice Mastering Software
“One thing that almost every new enthusiast of home recording invariably says is,” My track is finished, but it’s not as loud or punchy as the tunes of my favourite band are.”
To master their finished songs, many folks would then turn to professional engineers. Although these consultants always do a fantastic job (at increasingly cheap rates), they are no longer expected to be used by artists. If you’re like me and like to record a lot of content, it’s just too costly to use a lot of outside engineering support.
Mastering software is cheap, user-friendly, and very powerful nowadays. I’m using a product by Izotope called Ozone. You can get it for around $200 and it is possible to get older versions of the product for even less. There are also other choices, and none of them takes much time to learn.
Software components, such as Reverb or Compression units, can also be used on individual tracks within the recording, so these products have many, many uses beyond just mastering the final tune.
Professional engineers, of course, are going to be better (I don’t think Coldplay will decide to start using $200 software to master their tracks), but you’re definitely going to be very happy with the results you get, and they’re going to be on par with what you hear professionally mastered.
I hope this article was helpful for you if you are a musician at the moment and are struggling with the recording process, or if you plan to become a musician eventually and want to get a head start on the recording process.
From this article, you can learn everything you need to learn about how to record music at home.
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