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Customer Discussions > Home Recording forum

What should i do to home record my music?

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Showing 1-25 of 77 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 11, 2010 2:40:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 11, 2010 2:41:16 PM PST
Samantha says:
Im so lost with all of this high tec stuff. Im a devoted musician, i play guitar, piano and i sing. I want to know how to record my music, so that it isnt really really horrible quality, nd be able to put it on a computer, or a cd. I have no clue what im supposed to buy tho. Or how to use it. Please help me? I do not have a great budget, i need something cheap -ish and easy to understand.

Posted on Jan 11, 2010 2:55:06 PM PST
Rich says:
you'll certainly get a lot of opinions from those of us who have taken this journey. My vote: 1. Go to Craig's List and buy a used 'studio-in-a-box,' like a Boss, Yamaha or other 12-20 track digital recorder. If you are a multi-instrumentalist, you'll likely want at least that many tracks. Second, get an inexpensive dynamic mike with quality, like a Shure SM-57. Alternatively, a decent condensor mike (large diaghragm) can be had near $100. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, get a recording book that addresses both your level of equipment/knowledge and how to create a good recording via sound isolation, equalization and dynamics (esp. compression). Getting a good recording is more a function as to how well you use the equipment you have rather than how expensive your equipment is or how much equipment you have.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2010 8:49:36 AM PST
Josh Parker says:
Hey, don't go with preboxed systems. They may be easier to use in the short term, but you will quickly find that you will learn them and grow and then be stuck with a boxed solution that won't mold to your growing knowledge. Here's the deal, there are a couple great and FREE audio recording programs out there for the PC. Audacity is a wonderful introduction to multitrack recording and basic editing. It is free and works even with the audio input jack of your PC. However, like a boxed solution, you will soon outgrow it. So, I would suggest you download Reaper. Another free (they have an option to buy it, but it works free forever if you don't want to.) program that is as complete as anything professional studios are using. Keep in mind, it takes time to learn how to record, edit, and add effects like the pros, but if you will take the time to read and experiment with the programs, you'll be surprised how quickly you will rock at it. Finally, I would suggest buying a Tascam US-122L audio interface. This runs about one hundred bucks and you can find them on Amazon. The unit will take input from MIDI, microphone, and line levels. It converts it to digital audio and will record directly into either program I mentioned above. With this interface, your guitar and a cheap microphone and Audacity, you will be able to record and overdub tracks by nightfall! Good luck!

Posted on Jan 24, 2010 5:58:11 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 24, 2010 6:01:01 PM PST
Chris D. says:
Audacity is a good starting point, plus it's free. I have a Tascam US-122 that works great on my XP SP1 laptop but would not work with SP3 or Vista because of driver issues. I have a Samson CO1U usb condenser mic that works with XP SP3 with no problems and it comes with a lite version of Cakewalk. Best Buy for about 90 bucks. There are also a number of XLR to USB converters with built in preamps that may work with mics you already have. Marshall MXL mic mate and Blue Icicle are two that are both under 50 bucks. Shure has one X2U that is closer to 100. I really like the Tascam unit but if you have Vista or 7 you may have some issues. They make usb mics that are as nice as the non usb mics, it just depends on how much you want to spend. If you already have a mixer, Edirol and Behringer both make an RCA to USB soundcard that will get you connected. I have used the Behringer UCA202. The output does not sound as full as the Tascam but it is only about 30 bucks compared to the Tascam which is about 200. If you are just doing complete takes of your material without a lot of overdubbing you can't go wrong with Audacity and a nice USB microphone to get you started.

Posted on Jan 24, 2010 8:54:48 PM PST
so far only Rich gave you a good answer.

Dont buy that computer crap, Multitracking is the best way to get the best, most organic sound. And its a lot less complicated.

I play guitar, but I do the one man band thing with drums, bass ans vocals.
So after asking the same questions as you,

I bought a TASCAM NEO 24Track recorder which already has its own onboard mixer

an MXL vocal condeser mic with a pop screen (you'll need a pop screen for vocals trust me)

Speaker Monitors

Mic preamps (which work for instruments and vocals)

Sennheiser Guitar Mics

And then I soundproofed my room

this stuff is relatively inexpensive compared to what you would blow at some guy's studio. At least with these items, i dont have some a hole i dont know changing my music to his tastes.

The most important thing is Mic placement. I always remember what Jimmy Page said,
"Distance equals depth"

For instance I use 6 mics for my guitar amp.
2 directly in front
2 about 4 feet away
and 2 as far back as possible to catch all the ambience of the room and the natural reverb.

Same for my drum machine. When I mic like that, coupled with the really good amp i have, it sounds like a real drummer. Also when I record my drums I usually do it my bathroom, because the tiles in there provide a good resononance. Just go in anybodys bathroom and you'll notice more of an echo in there than any other part of the house.
I dont really know why bathrooms are like that.

Always make sure you know exactly how the room sounds when recording.
I also do vocals in my bathroom because of the reverb and openness.

For guitar i do it in my bedroom where its really quiet, but not muffled.
Depending on what song im doing i may use the bathroom again for the reverb.

Good luck, and have fun!

Posted on Jan 25, 2010 5:07:20 AM PST
B. Hagberg says:
If you are new to recording then I would stick to a PC based environment.

Hardware is good to a point, but you will be stuck with it and it will end up costing more in the long run. With Software you get a modular solution that is much cheaper.

Some of the aboved mentioned are good for this and are free.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2010 4:01:52 PM PST
Look at Reaper. Everything you need for $70. Try it free before you buy.

Posted on Jan 27, 2010 6:29:29 AM PST
Here's a great site

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 27, 2010 10:05:07 PM PST
I think the best thing you can do s buy a book or two on the subject. Recording well is complex. I agree with the suggestion that multi-track recording is good but most people today do that using computers.

The For Dummies book is not bad and for more advanced level anything by Focal Press. Home recording requires at least a book length treatment. No one can answer this here.

ONe last thing, yu work up to complex recordings in baby steps. Start with just a mic'd guitar. Then learn to recod vocals then learn about mixing. It will take time.

Posted on Jan 27, 2010 10:08:08 PM PST
Warren I says:
Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder

I recently bought this tiny recording device at the recommendation of many of my friends. It has two high quality condensor microphones, records directly to SD card in WAV or MP3 format. It is really great to be able to record multi-track audio without the hassle of a computer. I was recording multi-track flute duets and trios within minutes of opening the box.

Joby GP1-D1EN Gorillapod Flexible Tripod (Grey)
I put my Zoom H4n on one of these standard cheap camera tripods which is fine for home recording. My friend recommended that I buy a standard microphone stand that might be better for this, but I haven't tried that yet.

Posted on Jan 30, 2010 5:05:29 PM PST
Bill Brown says:
Buy the book "Home Recording for Dummies". Don't buy anything until you read it. And to heck with PC. If you can, buy an Apple computer. They all come with Garage Band recording studio pre-installed. The Apples have far fewer problems than PC format recording packages have.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2010 6:59:30 AM PST
Rich says:
Boy, amen to that...considering that I've been struggling for two damn weeks with my pc-based software (Cubase) which gets very temperamental (or is it I who gets temperamental?). I find myself recording on my 'studio in a box' and transferring it over to the pc just because it's fraught with less BS. Maybe it's time for Apple.

Posted on Jan 31, 2010 12:21:45 PM PST
L. Black says:
Go to and check out Tweaks guide! It is a tremendous source of information and it is written to the novice and even beginner levels of understanding up to and through professional level. Always a good resource no matter the project. They also have great equipment reviews and recommendations! Good luck and Godspeed!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2010 3:14:43 PM PST
yeah i forgot to mention tweakheadz, thats where I learned about all the different recording methods, and etc...

Its almost like a college course.

Great advice from L. Black

Posted on Feb 1, 2010 3:21:00 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 1, 2010 3:27:05 PM PST
Steele says:
Go to best buy and buy the M-Audio Condenser USB Mic, it comes with a super scaled down version of Pro Tools (awesome recording program). Put the Mic in the Closet or a small room and then start recording. Pro Tools will take awhile to get used to and mixing takes time to learn but you'll have a nice sound for only $100. And then you can buy some Auralex sound proofing for $60 on here and everything will sound really decent. It probably won't sound studio because it's takes a long time to learn how to mix and master right. For everyone who's like yeah I bet it sounds like crap, check out my link to song I recorded the same way.

Posted on Feb 1, 2010 3:44:01 PM PST
Sarah says:
Just get a good condenser mic. If it's xlr get a box that converts xlr to usb, get cakewalk pro or adobe audition. Get to learn the programs. Audition is super easy and also very easy to find.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 1, 2010 3:48:53 PM PST
Sarah says:
Cubase is terrible. If you go to apple, make sure you get one with a fire wire port. They were being cheap for a while and making them without. Also Apple's (at least mac books) don't have audio inputs unless it's usb and most of the usb condensers I tried don't work. I spent about 3,000 on an entry level little studio set up and still couldn't record a sound. It's more trouble than it's worth unless you want to go all out. I'd rather stick with buying my thousand dollar guitars and record on adobe audition on Windows XP, than pay a crap ton for a mac and play on a crappy two hundred dollar guitar.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 2, 2010 10:00:50 AM PST
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Posted on Feb 3, 2010 5:20:42 AM PST
Player says:
Just the truth.

So, you want to record your own music, and you don't know where to start.

I have a friend who runs his own recording studio. Everytime I see him he is telling me about how he has just purchased a new piece of equipment or software or some other some-such, and every time I ask how much did that cost, the answer is $$$$.$$

Do not get me wrong. I think that is awesome that he has $$$$.$$ to spend, and the equipment and software he buys produces 'the best recordings'. But lets be honest here. There are a ton of us who write and play music who want to lay down our own tracks for demos or pre-recording studio sessions or to put up on our blogs.

We don't have that kind of $$$$$. We are average Joes and Janes who don't make a lot of money, or have a lot to spend. Just the same, we'd like to record our music.

The truth is, with today's technology and electronics, we don't need to steal the money from our kids college funds or go broke buying hardware and software to get a fine recording in our own homes. Your home computer or laptop is the BEST way to record your mix. Hands down, no arguement, period. Portable devices are great... for the road... when there is nothing else... and you don't need to edit... or want to add effects or other instruments or other performers or sync it with a video.

Let me cut through the chaffe.

There is plenty of decent, inexpensive hardware and software that meet OUR needs. Talk to a studio engineer and he'll say, "But, the $35 Behringer C-1 Studio Mic isn't made to the same quality standards that a $400 Sure KSM-141 is. Of course it isn't! But then, I'm not going to pound my microphone the way a studio mic gets pounded. It's like a rental car, if you know what I mean, and I'm not going to run my C-1 over with a car.

What we are concerned about is... the sound. How does your final cut sound!

If you have a decent PC running XP, here is all you need... for pennies! All available from Amazon. The best thing is, you won't have to be explaining to your wife, why you spent this years vacation money on music equipment.

The following equipment is inexpenssive and will make you smile when you hear your first recording. Buy the $$$$.$$ equipment later, after you are making money from your gigs, song writing, etc.

Behringer 502-5 input mixer = $45.00
Behringer UCA202 U-Control Audio Interface = $30.00
TrakAx = Free ( http : / / www . trakax . com / )

If you need a Mic, get a Behringer C-1 Studio Condenser Microphone = 35$ or a Behringer XM8500 Handheld Dynamic Cardioid Vocal Microphone for 20$.
These inexpensive mics hold their own against $300 and $400 dollar mics.

The C-1 mic kicks butt in the studio. I use the XM8500s for my band and gigs. Clean sound with awesome tone.

Just the truth.
May God bless, and happy recording sessions!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 4, 2010 2:15:35 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 4, 2010 2:43:33 PM PST
Dan S. Tong says:

Unfortunately and, with few exceptions, the replies to your question totally ignore your needs and your budgets. They reflect the needs and budgets of those that wrote the replies in an unthinking and reflexive manner. Some of the advice is good (I too have very sophisticated recording equipment and software) but almost certainly inappropriate.

I am assuming that you want to record "live" meaning you will sing and play guitar and will want to record it all at once, rather than record 4 channels each with a separate microphone etc. This means that a single stereo recording will be sufficient for your immediate needs. Equipment that allows you to record many tracks is disproportionally expensive and much more complicated. If you go with a simple one track stereo recorder, later on, once you feel very comfortable with the whole recording experience including using your computer for editing, you can use your computer to combine several pairs of stereo recordings made at various times (add accompaniment tracks) -but that's a bit more complicated, although not necessarily very difficult.

In the past the simplest way to record your music would have been a good tape recorder. Tape recorders and all of their headaches are pretty much gone and the far better tool for you would be a small, easy to use, affordable, portable digital recorder. These have built in microphones that are pretty good, use battery or AC power, store recordings on the same type of flash memory cards that digital cameras use. These cards are very inexpensive these days and are very reliable. After you record your music in wave format (highest quality) you transfer your music file to your computer for possible editing and or burning to a CD. The transfer is done either via a USB cable connected between the recorder and the computer, or by using a card reader. A card reader made for the type of storage card used by the digital recorder (usually SD, SDHC) allows you to rapidly transfer any files on the storage card to your computer without having to connect the recorder ( and supply power to the digital recorder) to the computer.

I''ve tested a number of these digital recorders and the best one for the money, in my opinion, is the Tascam DR07 which sells for about $145 right here on Amazon. The built in microphones are quite good.


Posted on Feb 5, 2010 7:00:44 AM PST
Chris D. says:
I would still say to buy a quallity usb condeser mic and save your money for your next laptop. Download some demo software or freeware and find out which ones work best for you. The beta version of the latest Audacity works great on all platforms and its free. You can test drive a demo version of Samplitude Music Studio or Music Maker at Why spend money on gear that will eventually be sitting in your closet unused?

Posted on Feb 5, 2010 9:17:42 AM PST
Brian Graham says:
Buy nothing until you've read up on both computer-based and standalone recording systems. Only you know what you're looking for. Tweakheadz is a great free resource IMHO but there are others out there too. Either route is easy and gives great results if you take the time to become familiar with it. Enjoy!

Posted on Feb 5, 2010 10:09:52 AM PST
Player says:
Tweakheadz is a good resource for info.

Everyone complicates recording at home. Sure, you can get as tecnical as you wish, but Samantha does not want to spend much money. That isn't bad. Samanta doesn't have to.

Dan is right. The new portable digital recorders are great... for musicians who want to capture the moment, the jam session where they played song inspiring lick, or a rough song idea. (I like the Tascam) Or if they want to record a live, paying gig.

Unfortunately, $150 is still a lot of money, and you don't have editing capability... unless you port it to a computer. Samantha said she didn't want to spend much.

Sample software is fine to try, if you are already experienced and wish to find better software. The real frustration comes with sample software when you spend time recording something, and your time runs out or you can't save your work(cripleware). Been there, done that, won't do it again. There are a few, previously mentioned, totally free, packages that are great for learning.

If you go too inexpensive, you again, limit your abilities to edit, or add to your musical idea.

Most low end hardware solutions do not record multi tracks at once, but they don't have to. You lay down one track, then another separate one, and build a song, as do most professional studios. Rarely is a final cut made in just one pass. Studios go back and add tracks, edit tracks, and delete tracks to get to a final version.

With the solution I presented previously, Samantha doesn't have to spend much money, can lay down vocals and instruments separately or together, add other vocal and intrument tracks, edit the sounds of each track by adding effects, and burn it to a CD or her hard drive.

You guys are great though. Everyone in the music/recording field is glad to help, and that is what really counts. Not that one idea is better than another, or worse. There are many solutions to the problem. Only Samantha knows what she really wants to accomplish, and with everyone's help, she will do that.

Stay golden.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 7, 2010 3:32:45 PM PST
A. Rosa says:
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Posted on Feb 7, 2010 3:36:39 PM PST
A. Rosa says:
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Initial post:  Jan 11, 2010
Latest post:  Jun 25, 2012

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