Record Your Own Music

“Record your own music” by Javier Lopez

I have been a recording engineer for over 9 years and have many credits to my name on recorded works. Just like many beginners i started with almost nothing. Still, I made it work with a small budget. My first full production studio was a 12 x 12 Sq ft room at 24-hour Guitar in Ceres and was taught by Ruben Garcia to mix and master! Now, I hand down the torch. Now don’t expect to become an expert off theses small tips but this will help you to stop relying on others and record on your own.

1.Don’t go cheap on microphones! Buy a good condenser microphone that you can record both vocals and acoustic instruments. AKG 3000B. If you can’t afford $300 for the 3000B mic, then go with the Rode NT1 or the AKG C2000B (~$200 each). If you are going to be recording high sound pressure levels (e.g., guitar amplifiers), then you can’t beat the Shure SM-57 dynamic mic for about $80.

2. Recording Software: Choose the right program for your budget. Reason , Ableton Live, Pro Tools LE, Sonar Home Studio, Komplete , Sound Forge, Acid Pro Samplitude Music Studio ,nTrack andAudioMulch

3. Audio Interfaces or Music box. This is what connects your mic inputs and speaker out puts to your computer. Mac isplug n play, with PC you will need to install drivers. Look for FireWire cable boxes not USB.

4. Use multiple monitoring methods Invest in a good set of headphones. You want a pair that is as neutral as possible and that is made for the studio. Headphones made for consumer listening will color the sound, so avoid them. Also, set up a pair of close field monitors. This will allow you to reduce the coloration effects of your studio room. When you mix down or master your songs, listen to the mixes on a wide variety of transducers (your headphones, the close field monitors, your living room stereo, your car stereo, a cheap boombox in mono, etc.). This will allow you to get the best overall mix that works in most situations. Check your mix in mono (not just stereo) to make sure that elements of the mix don’t simply disappear due to cancellation.

5. Don’t skimp on audio cables! If you do, you will forever be chasing phantom noises, crackles, pops and intermittent connections around your studio instead of making and recording music. I have found that the best source of relatively low-cost cables is Gateway Electronics. They are so good you can actually use them for video cables to send composite video from your DVD or VCR to your TV.

6. Should you buy analog recorders or digital recorders? The bottom line is that you can make excellent recordings using either format. Analog recorders have more maintenance headaches and tape hiss, but you can find used analog recorders all over for great prices now and many people prefer the “warmer sound” of analog recordings

7. When initially recording your tracks, always print the hottest (loudest) signal possible to the track, but avoid distorting the signal. This will allow you to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio of the signal. You want the signal to beloud enough to mask any noise in the system but you don’t want it to be so loud that the signal distorts or clips.

8. Don’t immediately reach for the EQ knob, and don’t overdo it with the reverb. These are two of the biggest newbie mistakes. Rather than fiddling with EQ, if you don’t like the way something sounds, try changing the source. If you are micing a guitar for example, try moving the mic around to alternate positions relative to the acoustic guitar (or amp, if it is an electric guitar). Small adjustments can make huge differences in the sound. If you have a synthesizer sound that is dull, try opening up the filter a little or change the synth patch in some other manner to get the effect you want.

To add a nice sweetening to your final mix or to add emphasis to a solo instrument without using EQ, try using one of the BBE Sonic Maximizer or Aphex Aural Exciter processors.

These are just a few basics to get you started recording your own music. Have fun and experiment and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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