Interested in getting started with music recording? You’ve come to right place. Our featured guest author for today is one of our newest teachers in Rancho Santa Margarita, California – Cory M.! Read on for his advice for recording newbies…
Do you write songs and want to record them to share with the world? Awesome! Fortunately, computer technology allows you to do this in the privacy of your own home at a fraction of the cost of recording at a “real” studio. So, what equipment do you need to get started?
The computer is the heart and the brain of digital recording. Don’t bother with the “standalone digital workstation,” because they’re nearly obsolete. Just get a fast computer with plenty of memory and drive space, and you’ll be set. I recommend a Mac, but PCs work, too.
Software will assist in the capture, editing, processing and arrangement of your compositions. There are tons of choices out there, so look for programs that are aimed at recording musicians rather than recording engineers. One reason I recommend a Mac is that Apple’s GarageBand comes stock. GarageBand is a powerful but intuitive program that’s fairly easy to use. Plus, it comes with a ton of loops and virtual instruments… and it’s tons of fun.
Something That Gets Sound Into Your Computer
This can be a built-in microphone, a microphone that plugs into the input jack on your computer, a USB microphone or a USB interface cable for guitar. Those will get you started, but I recommend an interface. An interface is like an external sound card where you plug in your microphones, guitars, headphones and external speakers. An interface is usually faster and of higher quality than your internal soundcard. If you go for the interface option and you’re a singer or acoustic guitarist, you’ll also need a microphone, cable(s) and a mic stand. If you’re an electric guitarist or bassist, just plug your guitar directly into the interface.
Something That Lets You Hear What You’re Doing
This can be built-in speakers, ear buds, headphones or external speakers. If you’re new to recording, your built-in computer speakers and ear buds will do just fine. Eventually, though, you’ll want a decent pair of headphones and external audio monitors.
If you’re only interested in recording your guitar or voice, you don’t need any more equipment. But if you’d like to create and/or enhance your music using the virtual instruments (VIs) that sometimes come with recording software, I highly recommend a controller keyboard. A controller keyboard looks like a synthesizer and plugs directly into your computer via USB. It allows you to play the VIs that live inside your software. Some software allows you to use your computer’s keyboard to “play” the VIs, but you’ll soon tire of how frustrating and inaccurate it is.
I’ve just skimmed the surface, but the above equipment should get you going. I recommend signing up for music recording lessons with one of our experts, so they can help you wade through all the buying options. They can help you find the equipment you need that fits within your budget, and then they can show you how to use all that gear to actually make music. Have fun!
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Cory M. teaches guitar, bass guitar, classical guitar, music performance, music recording, music theory, songwriting, and ukulele lessons to students of all ages in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. With his Master’s degree in Music History & Theory, Cory joins the TakeLessons team with over 10 years of teaching experience. Sign up for lessons with Cory, or visit TakeLessons to find a music teacher near you!
Photo by tianhua1993.