Recording can be intimidating at first, but you really only need a few basic tools to get started! We see images of these major recording studios and they look like command centers on a space station, but most of those big expensive pieces of gear have been replicated digitally to near perfection. They are now no more than a piece of software you load on your computer and voila! Recording studio! To help you on your path to recording greatness, here are some basics you need to get started.
Digital Audio Workstation or “DAW”
This is a recording software program for your computer. This is where you will do everything. You will record, arrange, mix and master all in this program. Logic Pro, Ableton Live, Pro Tools and FL Studio are some commonly used programs by professionals. Most have either a free trial or a “lite” version, so try a few out before you buy one and see what’s right for your needs! There are also some free options out there like Garageband, Studio 1 and Cakewalk.
These are essential to hearing the full fidelity of what you’re recording, and you will definitely need them if you are going to be using a microphone to record. Your headphones should PLUG DIRECTLY IN to your computer, NO BLUETOOTH (or you will get latency when recording and it’s just a mess!). More info and recommendations on “Choosing Headphones” HERE.
This allows you to connect your instrument and/or microphone directly to your computer. Some are designed just for electric guitars, basses and other instruments that plug-in; others allow you to also plug in a microphone. Check out our helpful guide on “Choosing an Audio Interface” for more info and recommendations.
If you plan to record vocals or any acoustic instruments you will need a microphone. (NOTE: If you are more interested in recording electric instruments and/or producing beats and other digital music completely within the computer, the next item “MIDI keyboard” will be a much more useful next step for your needs.) Check out our guide to “Choosing a Microphone” for some options to help narrow down your choices.
MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. MIDI keyboards do not make any sounds on their own, they are just a controller and most connect via USB or other standard connections. If you don’t plan on recording vocals or using any analog or acoustic instruments then this is all you need for an “audio interface”. There are tons of these out there that are all pretty equal quality. Just look closely at the different features they offer and choose one that best suits your needs!
Recording Studio Video Guide
For those of you who like video guides, here is just that! Check out the video below to learn a little bit more about the essentials when it comes to setting up your home recording studio.