This not-so-new age of technology is giving the average joe access to more and better gadgetry every day. And thanks to the miracle of the Internet and social media, it's becoming ever more feasible to set up your own recording facility and to let the world hear how great you are.
That said, creating your own recording rig can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavour, complete with a head-scratching ‘Why is there no sound?’ becoming your new mantra, and lengthy Google searches for answers. To save you time and money, here are five tips for creating a recording set-up that's right for you.
1. Do Your Research
The thought of being able to express and explore your creativity is an appealing (not to mention healthy) prospect, but don't jump the gun on this one: mistakes can be costly. Make sure you have at least a basic understanding of what you’re going to need at every stage if you’re going to successfully transfer what's in your head onto your computer.
2. Understand Your Means
It's important to recognise your goals and invest accordingly. Recording a full band sound requires very different equipment to that of a 'bedroom guitarist' just wanting to lay down riffs over a drum loop. Often in the world of recording gear, there's not necessarily a 'better' or 'worse' piece of equipment, rather, 'better' or 'worse' for you.
3. Know What To Budget
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Except this time the chain is the series of equipment you're using (e.g. Guitar > Lead > Audio Interface > Amp Simulator > DAW). A crackling lead could render the whole operation useless, no matter how expensive your guitar. It's therefore important not to heavily prioritise a certain bit of kit; a £600 microphone is ultimately wasted on a cheap audio interface, as the preamps won't accommodate the subtle differences that set it apart from a slightly cheaper one. And before all this even matters, make sure you have a computer that can actually handle the process.
4. Pay For Your Software
Of course, the Internet isn’t just a ‘miracle’; there is also a dark side... Pirating software for recording can lead to all sorts of trouble and, from experience, it rarely works. You get what you pay for. Some free DAWs are incredibly decent considering they're... well, free. But the more high-end software offers you a lot more. Software also includes Plug-Ins. It can be tempting to think ‘They're only plug-ins’ and feel justified in pirating them, but the companies involved have spent thousands researching and developing plug-ins which you, the consumer, would use and deem worth the money. Oh, and a torrented plug-in is even more of a nightmare than the DAW itself, so save yourself a heap of time and hair.
5. Enjoy Yourself
Recording your own music is supposed to be a fun and creative experience, no matter what kind of sound you’re after. It can also be a frustrating pastime, but if you've followed the advice above, you should be able to grow your garden of ideas with minimal pain. And who knows? Perhaps that little tune in your head could one day be played in front of thousands! In which case, I want my backstage pass...
Cameron is currently using these in his home studio:
Pro Tools 10 on a 2008 iMac, Line 6 UX8 Toneport interface (now discontinued).
Microphones: 1x Shure sm57 for snare/guitar amps; 1x Akg d112 for kick drums/bass amps; 3x Shure pg56 for toms; 2x Akg c1000B for overheads and vocals. Versatile mics are key to keeping costs to a minimum.
This story was featured in Meet and Jam, published on 14 January 2015.