Sound Advice: A Beginner’s Guide to Home Recording Equipment

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COMPUTER

When building a digital home recording studio, your computer is the centerpiece – the platform from which everything else will connect and operate. The most important component is speed; the speed of processing large-scale projects; the speed of use of the software and an audio interface; speed to make sure you don’t worry about lag or wait for your computer to catch up with you in the middle of a recording.

If you’re looking to invest in a computer for your home recording studio, here’s what you need to know.

Desktop computer versus laptop

The larger case of a desktop PC can allow for more processing power, which means you get faster speeds and expanded storage. Desktops often have more space for more inputs and outputs than laptops, allowing for more sophisticated setup without committing additional hubs or external ports, while the extra space also opens the door. to significant customization with regard to RAM, hard drives and video cards.

AUDIO INTERFACE

Your audio interface is the piece of connecting equipment that bridges the gap between recording equipment and recording, editing and mixing software. As a routing box, this is where you plug in microphones, speakers, and headphones.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface and AKAI EIE Pro 24-bit audio interface extension

When choosing an audio interface, it is important to consider the following points.

Number of mic preamps

The number of preamps dictates the number of microphones you can record with at a time. For vocals, you may only need one preamp. To record a drum kit or multiple instruments at the same time, at least four preamps are likely to be needed.

Speaker outputs

Whether it’s XLR, 1/4 “or RCA, it’s important to make sure your interface and your speaker outputs match.

Headphone socket

This is necessary to connect headphones to your audio interface and allow you to listen to the finer details while recording.

Pickups

When your home recording studio is just starting out, one or two mics should cover all of the basics. Choosing the right microphone for you depends on the instrument you plan to record.

In general, condenser microphones are best suited for high frequency instruments such as acoustic guitar, cymbals, and piano. While dynamic mics work well with high frequency instruments such as drums and electric guitar.

When you are looking for versatility and quality across the board, a large diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone is your best bet. Its ability to pick up low frequencies, focus only on the noise in front of it, and its ability to pick up high frequencies make it versatile.

Audio-Technica AT2020

For the electric guitar, however, the best mic to start with is a Shure SM57, which has an excellent reputation for recording guitar amps.

Shure SM57

STUDIO INSTRUCTORS

Studio monitors are needed to play and mix your recordings. These are specially designed for listening to recorded music, with a flatter response that doesn’t enhance or stretch your track’s frequencies too much – an important feature when trying to make objective decisions about your mix.

Adam Audio A7X and Audioengine A5 + studio monitors

While you can use headphones for this aspect of home recording, studio speakers provide a much better sound overview with which to mix your music.

Active vs Passive

Active studio monitors have a built-in speaker, while passive studio monitors need a separate power amp to operate. When it comes to starting your home recording studio, the less equipment the better.

Near field vs medium / far field

Near-field studio monitors are suitable for tight spaces, such as a home studio. Mid and far field monitors, on the other hand, are designed to be further away from your ears and therefore require additional space to operate.

LISTENERS

With your studio monitors, studio headphones are the gateway to listening and working on your recordings. And in a home studio environment, offer the possibility of working at any time of the day or night, without causing racketeering angering neighbors.

Closed back vs. Open back

Closed-back headphones provide improved isolation while sacrificing some sound quality – perfect for tracking. The reverse is true for open-back headphones, which offer increased sound quality and less isolation.

Open-back or closed-back headphones

It’s a luxury worth having both, but if you can only choose one, the greater isolation that comes with a pair of closed-back headphones is the way to go.

DAW SOFTWARE

The Digital Audio Workstation is the software that will bring your home recording studio to life. The all-in-one tool will allow you to record, play, mix and master your recordings until completion.

Ableton Live Suite 9

It comes down to a personal choice, but here are some of the most popular DAWs on the market:

Professional tools – Outstanding audio editing features ideal for mixing.

Logic – comes with a huge library of sounds and plugins and is user-friendly, but only compatible with a Mac.

Ableton Live – perfect for electronic producers looking to use loops and sampling.


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