A lot of people are surprised when I tell them that all of my recording is done at home. It’s not about what you have, but rather how you use it.
Thanks to producer/engineer Graham Cochrane, here is a list of the 5 things you need to record from home:
This is the basis of most modern audio recording. Whether it’s a PC or a Mac, make sure it’s in good working order, with a fast-enough processor and enough RAM and hard drive space. There’s nothing worse than recording an awesome vocal take and having your computer freeze in the middle of it.
2. Digital Audio Workstation
A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is a computer software application for recording and production. Although ProTools is the industry standard, Logic and Studio One are gaining traction. Ableton Live is popular with DJs and EDM producers, while FL Studio has been a staple in Rap & Hip-Hop.
Make sure the DAW you want to use is compatible with your computer. While most work on both Mac and PC, some are exclusively Mac (Logic) and some are exclusively PC (Sonar).
3. Audio Interface
This allows you to record vocals and instruments into your DAW. Unless you’re tracking drums or a string ensemble, a simple 2-4 channel USB audio interface is typically all you will need to get started.
Most DAWs work with any brand of audio interface; I’ve been using my mBox 2 (designed for ProTools 6) with Logic 9 and 10. Make sure it comes with a built-in preamp with phantom power for your microphone, line-in inputs for guitars and keyboards, stereo outs, and at least one headphone out. MIDI In & Out is a good bonus if you’ll be using a keyboard.
4. Good Studio Microphone
While there are three main types of microphones (dynamic, condenser, and ribbon), I suggest a moderately-priced condenser mic to get started. Unless you have a specific sound you’re going for, you can acquire a good quality condenser mic for around $100. Graham suggests the Behringer B-1.
While purchasing a mic, you’ll need to pick up a mic stand, a shockmount and a pop filter. The stand holds the mic, the shockmount reduces vibrations that can mess up a vocal take, and the pop filter reduces the “popping” sounds caused by fast moving air into the microphone.
5. Studio Headphones and/or Monitors
If you’re recording yourself, invest in some good wired headphones. If you’re recording others, get two pair: one for you, one for them. While it is doable to record and mix in headphones, studio monitors are also an option for mixing purposes.