Whether you’re a vocalist, guitar player, keyboardist or horn player (or some combination), you can create high-quality, do-it-yourself recordings with a handful of key items.
Before you get your gear, take some time to plan out your recording space. Whether you’ll be doing your recording in a spare bedroom, a basement, a garage or some other space, make sure you understand how the space will impact your sound. Can you hear sounds from the street, or is there a loud ventilation system? Are the ceilings low or high? Does the room echo or do sounds vibrate? All of these elements can affect your recordings.
Also, make sure your space is big enough for everything you’ll want to record. Do you plan to lay down drum tracks? You’ll need to have a space large enough for that (both physically and acoustically). Also, make sure you have a comfortable area, like a work station, to set up your computer and other equipment.
Once you’ve planned out your space, it’s time to put together the gear you’ll need to make the most of your DIY recording studio.
Chances are you already have a computer that is capable of being the hub of your home studio. It doesn’t matter when you have a Mac or a PC, as you can find gear and software that are compatible with either system, and great music can be made with both. Try to get as much RAM as you can to improve system performance while you’re running multiple programs.
Get a good quality studio microphone, like the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone with Shockmount. If you’re tracking by yourself and/or only tracking instruments one at a time, you won’t need more than 1 or 2 microphones. Make sure you get microphone cables that are long enough to allow you to position the microphones in comfortable locations. You might also consider a boom stand to position them even more accurately. This will be especially useful for horn players, as you want to be sure the microphone captures the horn’s true sound.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
The digital audio workstation is the software program you’ll use to record, edit, mix and master your music. There are many popular DAWs out there. Be sure to find one that is compatible with your computer! Sometimes you can even find free versions to try out and then scale up to paid versions once you’ve found what works best for you.
The interface is what will turn your analog or acoustic sounds (from your horn, keyboard, guitar or voice) into a digital signal that can be fed into your DAW. There are many options, such as the IK Multimedia iRig Pro Duo Studio Suite, and price points available these days. Make sure it has a mix channel so you can hear any recording playback and hear what you’re playing. This will help you play in time and with good intonation.
A good pair of studio headphones is critical so you can hear the recording and/or your monitors. Again, there are lots of options out there, but you may want to consider over-ear headphones as opposed to ear buds. You’ll hear your playback better and it won’t feel as stiff in a recording environment.
You’ve got your space, you’ve got your gear, and now you can start recording. Having a home recording studio is a great way to collaborate with friends near and far, since you no longer have to be in the same room with other musicians to create a full recording. Experiment, research and try out some DIY recording techniques, and most of all, have fun with recording at home!
For more information, check out Home Recording for Woodwind & Brass Players or call a Staff Advisor at 800.348.5003 for advice on the best gear for your experience level, recording space and budget.