DIY Home Recording

November 29th, 2009 · No Comments

One of the hallmarks of this musical age is the ubiquity of home recordings. Accessible and cheap or free recording devices and software with unlimited tracks make it possible for almost everyone to create their own recordings without having to purchase studio time or expensive software, and have given rise to many lo-fi productions. Below are some basic tips on getting your own recording projects underway.

Step 1
Find Recording Equipment

* An external mic to your computer or a 4-track cassette recorder with a mic qualifies your place as a lo-fi recording studio.

Step 2
Find Recording Software

* Audacity is available for free from their website with download options for Windows, Mac, and Linux users; it is user-friendly with basic editing and effects tools.
* Garage Band comes standard with Macs and is extremely user-friendly.
* Other free recording software options include Ardour, Jokosher, and Kristal Audio Engine; but there are many different programs, a list of which can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_free_software_for_audio.

Step 3
Set up a Recording Area

* Choose a quiet room free of fans, echoes, and any other intrusive noises.
* Hanging empty egg cartons on your walls is a cheap solution to dampening unwanted reverberations in your tracks.

Step 4
Record Tracks

* Do a couple practice takes to determine proper mic distance and input volume.
* When listening over these initial takes, make sure that at your loudest the audio does not “clip,” or make an abrasive static sound. If this occurs, turn down your input volume.
* Record each instrument and vocal separately. It is easier to mix your songs this way
* Make sure all your instruments are in tune in case you have to do any re-recording.
* Count in your first track “1.. 2.. 3.. 4” so that you begin with the correct tempo each time.

Step 5
Make Digital

* This is a step required only if recording onto a 4-track or device other than your computer.
* Connect the output on your recorder to the mic or other audio input line in your computer. This differs for each machine, so you should consult your device’s manual.

Step 6
Mix

* Make sure the tracks do not drown each other out.
* Pan your tracks left or right so that they can all be heard properly.

Step 7
Export to usable file

* MP3s are the most versatile types of file. They are small and can be e-mailed and uploaded to MySpace
* WAV files are larger with higher audio fidelity and should be used when space allotment isn’t an issue, like when you are burning your tracks to a CD-R.

Step 8
Spread Your Musical Love Around

* Upload your new tracks to a MySpace page.
* Burn your tracks onto a disc and sell them for a buck or two.
* Hand them out to friends.
* Bring them to venues when asking for shows.
* Put out your own album.

Tags: 2009 · AP Issues · DIY · Kate Kennedy · November/December 2009

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