My other post focused on becoming a session guitarist, but there are also affordable ways to record your own projects in a home studio. Whether the recordings are for personal use or professional use, you can build a home studio and produce music that reaches the masses in your own backyard, home office, or bedroom. I gathered information that should help anyone interested in building a home studio.
A home recording studio can have a vast amount of uses for you. It can become a small business, a way to express your music to others, and is a great way to get in touch with music industry contacts. Find a good run down and introduction of the home studio here at http://ezinearticles.com/?Home-Music-Recording-Studio&id;=5155059.
For anyone interested in music production, from composers to managers, performers, instrumentalists, bands, even producers and DJ’s the home music recording can be the best way to go.
It can be an easy, affordable and fun way to record tracks with your band, or on your own. Home music recording can be done by any musician regardless of the style or genre of music that you want to produce. However, if your home studio isn’t set up properly, it can be difficult, costly and stressful.
You have to make sure that if you want to record from home that you invest in good equipment and set up your studio the proper way. There are many websites online that can be really helpful in informing you on what sort of equipment you need for your home music recording studio.
If this is your first time, you should be aware that there are a couple of different routes you can take when setting up your home music recording studio.
First you can use a simple, multi-track recorder that stands alone. This can be used for both recording and also for mixing. It depends on what model recorder you buy; your tracks can be mixed and then burned onto a CD, or saved onto a compact flash card and then transported onto your computer.
Some of the newer modes also allow conversion between the recorder and your computer by USB or a FireWire connection. This choice is specifically for musicians who are going to be using real instruments to create their music.
Second you could record direct onto your laptop or computer. All you have to do is buy and install a simple recording software and an audio interface onto your computer. You can use this sort of software with real instruments in your studio, or you can set it up to upload pre-recorded music and mix it with music beats that you create online.
Either option is great and there are advantages and disadvantages to both. It really depends on what you want to create, your skill base, your knowledge and your financial plan for your home music recording.
They both work nice as a startup for home music recording and really it comes down to your personal favorite.
There are also many things that you need to consider when you are ready to upgrade the set up in your home music recording studio. You must figure out if you need to apply an acoustic treatment for your studio room, there are options from this that range from relatively affordable to very expensive, and that depends on your budget, your style and your needs.
Do you have neighbors who are going to complain? When do you plan to do the bulk of your recording? You will also need to think about home music recording studio furniture, microphones, music computers, sound cards, audio interfaces, mixers and mixing procedures and monitors.
I suggest that you start out small, with a simple set up and build on it as your needs grow and your skills grow. This will help you to avoid huge early outlays, and running the risk of buying equipment that you don’t know how to use or that you will never need.
With technology, the more equipment you have, the more problems you run the risk of facing. So take it slow when you are starting out, there are some great affordable options out there for first timers in the home music recording world, and there is some awesome recording equipment and software that will give you quality results on a budget!
It’s time to start planning your first home music studio, but where do you begin? Find answers here at http://ezinearticles.com/?Building-Your-First-Home-Recording-Studio&id;=5104296.
Modern technology, computers and sound equipment make it possible for almost anyone to create and record their own music in a home studio. A PC or computer with a soundcard in, is enough to get started and there are plenty of good makes of soundcard on the market too. If you are thinking of starting to build your own home recording studio, here is a small list of items and points you will need to consider. It is not gospel and plenty of people get by on much less technology, but thinking about the following points will help you consider all the options.
It all starts with the soundcard in your computer.
If your computer came with a soundcard built-in already, then you need to forget about using it – completely! These basic models are cheap to make and supply and will only be suitable for producing sound, not recording it. You will need to consider an entry-level audio interface card or device to get the most out of home recording with your computer.
Look for a model that offers high quality analog to digital conversion processors as this will make the sound better.
You will also need to know how many instruments you want to record at once. If it is more than one, buy a soundcard with multiple input channels. Try to buy one with at least 2 inputs though. A major problem that musicians suffer from with home recording is latency. The refers to the time it takes for a sound recording device and computer to handle the input before it is recorded to the hard disk. Try to get a sound recording device with the lowest amount of latency.
If you are recoding using instruments such as guitars or vocals through a microphone, you will need to buy a preamp to boost the sound levels. Some soundcards do come with a preamp built in, but opt for an external one if you want the best quality.
The next thing to think about is which software you will use on your computer. The software is used to record the sound coming from the soundcard, process it, add effects and save it in separate tracks which can be layered to create a mix. Some software is free but you should opt for the more professional versions which are not too expensive.
Cubase, Adobe Audition and Logic Audio are good ones to look at. If you are using keyboards, you will want some software that can use MIDI and plugins that will generate audio effects.
Most sequencing software does offer these as standard but some will be more advanced than others and offer more control over your sound. You might find that you are lost at first, but you will soon pick up the software. Use the Internet to help you learn the software. There are bound to be plenty of YouTube videos showing you how to perform basic tasks.
Once you have music to listen to, you will need some good monitor speakers to blast it out.
Having a soundcard that records music is one thing but you also need to be able to listen to your recordings. You also need to be able to hear them at very high quality so you can pick out any issues that need to be resolved. A monitor speaker is designed for this job, providing you with excellent quality audio output so you can ensure your track is perfect.
You can use normal music system speakers if you cannot afford a monitor, but you should invest in one as soon as possible.
Recording analog sounds such as acoustic guitars or vocals will also need to be considered as part of your set up. After you have the soundcard, speakers and software set up, think about buying some good quality microphones and preamps. Mics come is a wide price range but you should try to spend as much as you can afford on one. You will really notice the difference between a cheap and expensive microphone.
Now to get into the details that will help your home studio thrive and survive in an technologically savvy music industry that changes every minute. Find a step by step guide to successful audio engineering in a home studio here at http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/columns/the_guide_to/the_home_recording_studio_survival_guide_chapters_1-6.html.
I wrote this for UG a while back. I hope you guys find it useful. It’s important to note I do not go over many parameters (knobs and buttons) of each sound processor. You can find these on wiki. I will try my best to tell you how to use each device in a practical situation.
I will try to make this 100% accurate as possible, but I am human. If there’s something you feel is incorrect, PM me, and I’ll look over it.
1. Recording on your computer (DAW)
2. A guide to mastering the Equalizer (EQ)
3. A guide to great sounding vocals
4. A guide to reverb, delay, and auxiliary tracks.
5. A guide to mastering compression
6. Cheap headphones are your best friend
1. Recording on your computer with a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
What is it? Basically it’s a computer software simulation for “studio equipment”. You know those huge boards in studios that the mics are attached to with sliding volume faders, lights, etc etc? Somebody finally (many years ago) decided to make one of those for the computer. And it’s the same concept. If your recording software doesn’t have a multi-track system in the form of software, you should think about switching. The power of a digital mixer board is a must if you want to create demos or do it as a profession.
Without this, you literally cannot do necessary things. This section is only for people who want a DAW described above, and have a small but decent budget.
There’s two versions of these – one’s that require hardware and will cost 250-500, and ones that don’t require hardware, which will cost close to 200. There’s a rumor going around that people are finding the ones that don’t require hardware for free by downloading it, I hope somebody puts a stop to it soon. The one’s that don’t require hardware will use your computers sound card. You plug your mic in the same place you plug speakers in. This should be avoided, as these sound cards are typically 16 bit, and you want to record in 24 bit. If you have a 24 bit sound, that’s better, but only if it’s external will you avoid the problem of the computers current hum in your recordings.
Recommended by me is going to be Protools. You can get an Mbox 2 off craigslist typically for 250. At the retail store it’s going to run you close to 450. There’s a nice package for 600, which is going to give you everything you need for a basic setup.
If you can’t afford that much, I recommend cubase or sonar, or a free software called reaper.
It’s also great now to catch the idea of a controller. This is much like a nintendo controller, only its a giant mixer board. You can control the “digital mixer board simulator software on your computer” with it. So basically, this giant controller that looks like a studio mixer board that has faders and knobs on it, and if you were to move a sliding fader on the controller board, it would move the slider on the software version of the computer. On your computer monitor you would see the slider move up on its computer version of the mixer board. This is very cool, and will provide you with speed when mixing, and easier control and use of automation. The common misconception is that this will be tons of money. If you have a budget of $1,400, you can open a business as a studio if you wanted to.
2. A guide to mastering the EQ
First and foremost your best bet is to utilize a parametric EQ. These have the most control and are the most versatile. Basically, no EQ matches up to it. Go with a 5 or 7 band. This means you can control up to 5 or 7 different frequencies on one sound with one insert.
One does not have to know where each individual sound or instrument should sit or sounds good in frequency, in fact, it’s completely up to you, although I would recommend following some basic guidelines as to where vocals, guitars, or drums fall in the world of frequency. See the end of this post, as to that’s not as important to the next following things.
First and foremost, you need to understand the ultimate use of the equalizer..many are under the conception that an equalizer is built to make your “drums bang harder” or “vocals sound warmer” by increasing or decreasing the volume of the bass, mid range, or high frequencies. Yes, it is used for that too, but it’s the final piece of the recording in which our EQ is important.
I’ve never been good at metaphors, so I’m not going to take that route, but a much more up front approach to enlightening you on a “great eq engineer” and what his main focus is.
If you have 6 instruments, all of them different instruments, you want to associate one quality as it’s main identifier on your track..and that’s it’s frequency. Think of each sounds frequency as it’s face, and we don’t want any twins. The goal would be to assign a frequency that SOUNDS GOOD for that instrument as it’s main identifier, and exploit that frequency to give this particular instrument character vs other sounds on the track. What is to be most avoided is two separate instruments or sounds to share one frequency, which means, if your vocals are pumped up at 3k, you DO NOT want your guitar to be pumped up at 3k. This will take away the presence of both entities, and also create “mud” as they sound at the same time. Although this one paragraph may seem short, this is the main focus of a good EQ engineer. To get each individual layer of the recording a frequency that sounds great for that particular sound, and avoid sharing that certain frequency with other sounds. This will give your track “fullness”.
There’s a rule to remember with EQ’s – less can be more. In other words, often times you do not need to boost a frequency on a sound, but rather lower the frequencies you don’t want, in turn making the good sounding frequencies stand out more.
You do not need to know what frequencies sound good on what instruments if you use the following trick below (still try to learn that stuff though):
The Parametric EQ Trick – Eq’s have three main controls, volume, frequency, and band. I can’t explain those to you, so if you don’t know them, you will not understand this trick.
You’re guna have to look it up.
Step One- Activate one of the five or seven channels on your EQ. Increase the volume (or DB) of it almost all the way up. This will sound like hell if played back. Before pressing play, turn your speakers DOWN.
Step Two- Decrease your band to be very narrow, almost like spike with little width.
Step Three – Slide the frequency of your spike all throughout the frequency chart, listening for any unwanted noise. Mark those frequencies on a piece of paper. I’d suggest finding two or three of these nasty frequencies.
Step Four – Continue sliding your spike until you find the tone that sounds good. Mark that on your piece of paper under “sounds good – 3k” or whatever the frequency is.
Step Six – Bring the equalizer back to defaults, then look at your paper. Activate your 5-7 separate bands (there’s an on/off switch!) and lower the sounds you have written down as BAD sounds by around 2 decibels. Set one band to the frequency you have as “sounds good” and RAISE that 2 decibels.
Do this whole process about 3-4 times, but keeping the piece of paper you have the frequencies marked on. Try to spread out repeating this process a few hours apart, best the next day. One day a frequency may sound good or bad, and the next day you might totally disagree with your decision. Mixing your track over the course of 5 days is a good thing.
Any experienced engineer will tell you they rarely ever get it right the first day.
Here’s some quick tips on typical frequency for most popular recordings (these are some general ideas, and results can heavily vary!):
Your kick drum will mostly likely sound good somewhere between 50hz-100hz.
Your snare will sound pretty decent around 1k.
Vocals usually sound good somewhere between 1-4k.
Guitars are 3-6k. These are the hardest to mix with vocals.
You can find more info for typical frequencies per instrument or sound online. Just use google. Feel free to ask any questions!
3. A guide to great sounding vocals
This one is much more simplier if you’ve mastered the eq, and if you havn’t, make sure you ready this first, because good vocals are hand in hand with good EQ
Find that section above.
Past that, there’s a few things you need to know about vocals!
1. The biggest misconception and mistake you can make is to have your vocals in stereo! The vocal of any human being is a monosound, and if you want your recording to sound real and warm, it needs to be mono. Stereo will sound thin at the center, and wide on the left and right, giving you the impression two different people are singing on the left and right of you! gross! If you record and keep it as mono, your vocalist will sound like hes standing in front of you when you listen to the song! And yes, the vocals will still be on both the left and right speakers.
2. Rarely should you just grab a clone copy of the chorus or even a verse, put it on a new track, doubling it up. It’s a very obvious, cheap sound. Take the extra time to record it, using some different harmonics and tones, to make it sound PRO.
3. A clean recording is the most important thing! Make sure your vocalist is not far from the mic, a half foot to a foot and a half tops! Make sure you have the right microphone settings. Do not use a omnidirectional mic or something like that, look up “cardioid” and make sure that’s the type of mic you are using! Also, feel free to experiment, but for “singers” use a “condenser” microphone, and for screamers, use a “dynamic” microphone. Feel free to put your screamer on the condenser for a more warm sound, but make sure you follow the steps below or you will break your stuff!
DON’T BREAK YOUR MIC! If your vocalist screams, do not move him away from the mic more than a foot and a half. Do not lower the gain! Use a pad! Look up what this button means if you don’t know! This is extremely important to remember when using a ribbon might, and possibly a condenser mic.
4. Never, ever record with any kind of effects on the vocals. Get a clean version of the vocals, then ADD any effect you want over that. This cannot be stressed enough and it is the biggest threat that you will not be able to make your vocals sound good! No compressors, delays, or eq!
5. “Just open the reverb plugin and choose a preset!” The biggest missed fact of reverb or any delays is that it needs to be in time with your songs bpm, or it will make the track sound muddy. This is the “delay” in milliseconds were talking about, but it needs to be in time with your BPM!
Well how do we do this? Three ways: 1. MATH! 2. “Auto Timer” feature! 3. “Tap Feature!”
You can calculate your reverb timing with MATH! Here’s the formula!
Calculate your reverb or delay timing using the formula below if your reverb device has no “auto timer” or “tap timing” -
Here’s an article that explains the formula.
The auto timer on some of your digital reverbs will pick the bpm you set in your DAW, and auto time it! But atlas, finding these nifty tools can be troublesome.
There’s also a tap feature, which you tap the tempo on a little button and it will automatically time it!
Misuse of reverb is a plague. For more information on how to set up a reverb properly, see the reverb section.
4. A guide to reverb, delay
This section is not so long, but is one of the most important aspects of audio engineering and good sound. It does not explain to you the parameters or knobs of a reverb, but if you’ve got that figured out I’ll show you how to make your reverb sound even warmer.
I’m going to try to explain this cross platform for all software.
Here’s the rule – you never want to put a delay or reverb on your track by using that tracks insert.
Why? You lose audio power and cause some latency problems in your track that may not be audible but are still there. The second reason is you want your vocals to be mono, but your reverb to be stereo, for the effect the person is standing in front of you, but there voice is traveling and bouncing throughout some kind of stadium, stage, or whatever.
Here’s the correct way to do this
Create a new track called an auxiliary track, and make it stereo.
Find your track (vocal let’s say) and find the output bus. These are usually a drop down right on the mixing view of your track.
Bus this track by selecting from the drop down a bus number (bus 3). At this point, it can be any bus number you desire.
Now go to your auxiliary track. Make sure the fader is set to unity (0db). Go to the INPUT section of the track, and find the INPUT bus. Select the bus number you chose for the vocal output. So if your vocals are bused out on bus 4, your input on your aux track needs to be bus 4.
What this did was create a clone copy of your audio track on your aux track. The original track STILL outputs to the master fader, it is not only routed through the aux track now, but just a copy of the signal is sent to the aux.
On your aux, put the insert of your delay. Get your settings how you want them. Keep the “dry/wet” option completely wet unless trying to achieve a certain sound (that really shouldn’t be the case, as you will do a dry/wet feature with faders now).
Now, you should have two tracks of vocals, one is the original, one is the aux version which now has a delay or reverb on it. Use the fader on the aux track to blend in the reverb by raising or lowering the volume.
You now have correctly setup a reverb/delay.
5. A guide to mastering the compressor
Two key things:
1. Compression on your individual sounds, like the guitar, and drums
2. Compression on your ENTIRE song
1. What the hell does this thing even do? Welp, a compressor is a device that you shoot sound into, and it compresses it. With the controls on the compressor, you can make sound more “squashed” by raising soft sounds and lowering loud sounds. A guitarist who finger picks one part of a song an then strums another part of the song will often require compression (or automation), because typically the strum will be much louder then the finger picking.
Compression is typically used on most audio signals in your mix, but some may be very very light. It’s quiet uncommon to not want to apply some compression.
2. Compressing but not over compressing your final mix is usually a good idea. Anytime a record is finished, it is sent to a mastering studio, who will run a compressor and eq over the song as a whole. This will make it so when people are in their car listening to your song, it’s not blasting one minute and then quiet the next. If your entire song is not somewhat dynamically flush, most listeners will just either a. turn down the volume when it gets loud, in turn not even hearing the quiet parts. OR b. turn it off completely.
A practical example of this is when your watching a movie on tv, then a commericial comes on, and its volume is BLOWING YOUR HAIR BACK. That’s because modern commercials are compressed to hell and back to sound in your face, while the movie probably had light compression on it to keep the dynamics of the audio in tack.
Be wary not to over compression, as dynamic dimension is a good thing, you want your violins to sound a bit more quiet than your guitar or vice versa, but you don’t want it to be a dramatic difference either.
6. Cheap headphones are your best friend
What the heck am I talking about? Well, this is for the mixing process. Below my setup I have a box with 16 pairs of headphones, which are the cheapest, crappiest, and worst sounding headphones I can find.
Why use these to mix? Because 80% of speakers used by average people are CHEAP. And it’s important to make sure it sounds good on those cheap speakers.
Your mixing process should start and end with your high quality monitors, speakers or headphones, but in between should be a mixing session on as many cheap speakers or headphones you can find. You will often find that your mix sounds great on your high quality stuff, but sounds terrible on cheap stuff. Adapting to the cheap stuff will still retain your high quality speaker sound if you spend enough time going back and forth. Also make trips to your car.
If you take your song seriously, never release a mix without running it through cheap speakers or headphones. This is an often missed but important process of mixing.
If you haven’t found out by now, recording studios can be a very expensive investment, but there are ways to build a home studio on a budget. I found an article that goes over just that here at http://ezinearticles.com/?Guide-to-Building-a-Home-Recording-Studio-on-a-Tight-Budget&id;=5299672.
When you decide you want to build a home recording studio you are embarking on a journey which will provide you with an investment that will last a lifetime. The beauty of recording your music is that even if you don’t make it to the top of the charts you can capture a time in your life which will live on forever for you future generations of family to enjoy and see a snapshot of your time on earth. If that’s not a good reason to get one I don’t know what is.
On to the technical side anyway, to build your studio the very basic thing you need to begin with is a computer or laptop. You need the highest specification you can afford as music recording can really push the capabilities of its potential. Ideally keep this computer disconnected from the internet. The main reason is loss of data from downloading something and crashing the whole thing. Also it could simply slow it down and affect recording.
I’m assuming you’re already a competent musician but just to confirm you’ll need instruments, the most obvious being a guitar, bass and drums. You have these so let’s build a studio. The first thing you need is a condenser microphone. This is a special studio piece of equipment, not suitable for live performance due to the sensitivity of the diaphragm which picks up the sound. Make sure you choose one with phantom power, ideally 48v.
This is a small amount of electricity which passes into the microphone to enhance the clarity of the sound.
Your next piece of equipment is an audio-midi interface. This is a small box which plugs into the USB port on your computer and then you can plug in a variety of guitar and speaker cables to send the sound into your computer for recording. Make sure you can use XLR, quarter inch jack and MIDI cables.
Now you need to hear the sound so you need two things, get some decent headphones preferably the big ones that completely cover your ears and drown out outside noise, these will be utilised for vocals when you want to sing but not record the backing music at the same time. You also need monitor speakers. These have a higher range of frequencies than the average home stereo ones as you will be recording in high quality definition.
At this point a great optional item but not essential is a MIDI keyboard which is almost identical to the standard musical keyboard but can be used to not only lay down piano type sounds but using special computer programs you can play drums via the MIDI keyboard rather than setting up a kit in the corner of your spare bedroom.
Last but not least, you need a computer music editing program. These days there are a huge number of choices, to name one to get you started take a look at Cubase and go from there. This is essentially where you send the sound from the audio interface into the computer on the program where you can mix, edit and create.
The beauty of this set up is you can fit these items in your spare bedroom at home and with a bit of searching you can pick these up even on a small budget. This is a basic home studio but it is enough to build a full song which with the help of online music sites could be the next big hit. Good luck to you.
A home recording studio has a lot of advantages for guitar players. Often, you are your biggest critic and a home studio can be a great way to judge your playing and learn from it. Recording your own guitar playing will have a great effect on your playing and practice methods. A home recording studio is also a way to build profit in the music industry; it’s a great way to get your music and the music you love out to the world.
Make Mike’s Guitar Talk your best source for guitar tips in the Internet.
Have fun and stay tuned!