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.