This term at Song Academy Winchester, we have begun recording the students’ songs and some asked me about setting up their own recording system at home. There are so many ways of doing this, we all make use of recording and song writing apps but this technology is still relatively new and there is still no better method than using a proper, good quality microphone and making use of one of the various recording programmes available.
A professional studio often has a great collection of microphones for recording drums, guitars and vocals etc. These microphones can cost thousands of pounds, but all you need to record at home is one microphone. A large condenser microphone, such as SE200 or AT4033 are perfect for recording vocals and instruments and are not prohibitively expensive, costing as little as £40.
This is what the microphones tend to look like, the circular thing in front is known as a pop-shield. This is also a useful piece of equipment as it stops hard sounds such as ‘P’s or ‘K’s from spoiling your recordings. These can be made from things around the house. Why not try twisting a wire coat hanger into a circle and stretching a pair of tights over it (making sure you ask permission first from whoever’s tights and hanger it is).
Audio interface choice
To record successfully on a computer or Ipad it is necessary to get a good audio interface or soundcard. Most computers do not come ready to record music, unless you have had one specifically made. So you need to use an external interface/mixer so you can plug your microphone or instrument into your computer, and control its volume, and allow it to connect to the recording software. Ipads now have several interfaces such as the IRig, which allows you to plug microphones and instruments into an Ipad and use it with various apps including Garage Band, which is one of the most easily used recording software applications. For computers or laptops Focusrite and RME are both highly recommended and affordable. There are interfaces with different numbers of channels to record through, so my recommendation would be to start with a two channel or one channel interface such as Apogee’s One, which also has a built in microphone.
There are a number of popular recording software programmes. I use ProTools predominantly, which is the industry standard for live music recording. However, there are some excellent software packages that allow you to not only record your own live sound, but also program drums and other instruments included in the software. ProLogicX and GarageBand are particularly good for this. Cubase, Cakewalk and Reason are also great programmes for live and synthesized sound.
Depending on space, there are some things to consider when choosing where to set up your home studio. If you have an unused garden shed or out building, this can be perfect, and wooden walls, which can be quite resonant can be dampened by material on the walls, If you are recording in your house, make sure your are not too near a street or in a room with a boiler or anything which may make excessive noise.
You would be surprised how many songs were recorded in ‘home studios’, and it has never been easier to record anywhere, anytime, so why not have a go!