Home Recording Pt 1 – Getting Started

Many of you will already have experience in the home recording process, whether it be on an old cassette tape 4-Track or using your home PC. I’m going to assume you people already understand the basics 'Multitrack Recording', otherwise known as 'Multitracking'. This is where individual instruments are recorded on separate 'Tracks' to allow the manipulation of one instrument without effecting the others. If anyone would like me to elaborate on this more please just ask.

Now you will need some microphones to record with.  You can do well with a couple of Shure SM57 Microphones. They’re an industry standard and rugged as fuck so you cant go too far wrong, and they sound great when used properly on snare and guitar amps. Make sure you also get some new microphone cables as well as some good microphone stands. Failing that just go grab a couple of Karaoke mics from your local department store.

Now you will need something to multitrack with. Realistically you have two options as to what you use to multitrack. You can use a digital recorder or a computer-based recording programme.

akaiDPS24MKIIDigital Multitrack Recorders:
You can pick up a good multitrack recorder for less than $1000 these days and most of them have onboard processing/effects that will help you mix your music after it has been recorded. These systems are also portable and can easily be taken to a rehearsal room to demo a new song or record your set.  They often store data on CD-R, DVD-R or a built in hard drive. Reputable makers of Digital Multitrack Recorders are Roland, Fostex and Tascam (see links below). Sony also made a Mini-Disc multitrack recorders called the MDM-X4 which can be picked up real cheap online.

Computer Based Recorders:
To do this you will need a computer, a decent soundcard and a good sound recording program.  Pro-Tools, Cubase & Logic are all very good recording programmes and allow you to record, mix and master your music from start to finish. They can also be obtained free of charge relatively easily. It may take a while to work out how to use your sound recording/mixing program effectively but can be a very powerful tool once you have overcome the learning curve.  These days pretty much all the big recording studios use computer based recording programs, in particular ProTools by Digidesign.

What u need to work out before you settle on a multitrack system is how many separate tracks you will need to record at any one time.  You can get away with 1 or 2 separate tracks for guitars, bass, vocals, keyboards and pretty much any instrument apart from drums.  If you are looking to properly record drums you will need the ability to record at least 8 tracks simultaneously (for example kick drum, snare, tom1, tom2, tom3, hi hat, cymbals left & cymbals right) you will also need several microphones to record drums.  If you are using a computer based recording system you will need an Audio Interface to record that many separate tracks at once. I will talk more about audio interfaces and the process of recording several inputs at once in Part 2 of this feature.

Once your instruments are recorded you are ready for the Mixing stage. Mixing is where all the individual instruments are blended together. The sound and feel of each instrument is altered through the use of tools such as equalisation, compression and by adding effects such as reverb and delay. This is a whole section on it’s own and will be discussed in detail in coming issues of this feature.

I know this is basic knowledge to a lot of you, i am just starting at the beginning. We will get into deep discussion about the fine art of engineering mixing and mastering shortly.

Please do not hesitate to ask if there is anything you are unclear about or would like me to elaborate more on.

Cheers and good luck


Relevant Links:
Shure SM57 Microphone – www.tweakheadz.com/review_of_the_sm57.htm
Tascam Multitrack Digital Recorders – www.tascam.com/PersonalCreativity.html#Digital_Recorders
Roland Digital Digital Recorders – www.rolandcorp.com.au/default.aspx?prdgrp=3
Fostex MR16HD Digital Multitrack Recorder – www.fostexinternational.com/docs/music_products/mr16hd.shtml
ProTools Recording Software – www.digidesign.com
Cubase Recording Software – www.steinberg.net
Logic Recording Software – www.apple.com/logicpro/


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