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Quick guide for home recording. By StrangeJam

Posted in recording

So I figured i'd write a little quick reference guide for people who want to start recording themselves but have no clue where to start, what to get or what to do.


Let's cover this quickly in 3 stages:

A)What you need.
B)how to set it up.
C)Future considerations

A)What you need

To start recording you're gonna need the following:
-A guitar recording interface:
now you may be wondering, what exactly is that? well to make it short, it will allow you to record directly into your computer without having to deal with problems such as latency and quality. I personally recommend line 6 interfaces like the PODstudio GX,UX1, and UX2, since I own a UX1 and I know friends with the GX and we are all extremely satisfied with the results. they cost around 99-200 dollars, depending on the model, ideally if you're not gonna record by mic'ing an amp, a podstudio GX should suffice. did I mention they come with a software called POD farm? this is a VST amp modelling software which achieves really good results, so if you're also a bedroom guitarist looking to get a good sounding tone but don't wanna dish 1200 bucks on a valve amp this might be what you're looking for. not the best example since my guitar has pretty bad pickups and my mixing skills terrible but if you want a quick reference I recorded this using POD farm ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=napS4526ZJo ). if you think that sounds bad...you're not wrong! but just look up vids using the UX1,GX,or UX2 tags for better samples.

More info on said interfaces:
http://line6.com/podstudioux1/
http://line6.com/podstudiogx/

now let's get something out of the way, yes you can record using your amp and your pc's line in as well but I don't really recommend it, especially once you start using amp modelling VSTs, this is where that latency issue comes into play, coming from experience, there's actually no difference when you record straight from your amp's line out to your pc's line in, but I tried using software like Amplitube and PODfarm with it and a weird delay happens which ends up ruining your recordings, there are probably better reasons to not use your line out but i'm no expert in that area. just for reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGyODiIGsNc&feature=related
I recorded that using my pc's line in.

And let's wrap up this part by quoting BooDoo on something extremely important which I completely forgot about:

"I'll contribute one thing if you're concerned about latency but don't have money immediately available for a TonePort/PODStudio/et c.: ASIO4ALL is a great app that can reduce latency to tolerable levels in any Windows DAW/recording software with ASIO support on just about any consumer-level sound card.

I use a SBLive! external USB's Line In and my total in-out latency into Ableton Live with ASIO4ALL is <30ms. Not 'perfect', but far better than >120ms or so without the ASIO4ALL interface."

-A Digital Audio Workstation:

This is basically where the magic happens, where you record, edit, add effects, mix and master. It all comes down to personal preference here but here's a quick list of all the trusted big names:
-Cubase
-Sonar
-Reaper
-Adobe Audition 3.0
-Pro Tools
-Garage Band/Logic

Personally I use Reaper and Adobe Audition 3.0. these 2 let you load up VSTi effects(which is what pod farm is)and give you great control over your audio.

What is a VST plugin?
I feel like I should go over this real quick just for reference,aken straight from wikipedia:
"Virtual Studio Technology (VST) is an interface for integrating software audio synthesizer and effect plugins with audio editors and hard-disk recording systems. VST and similar technologies use Digital Signal Processing to simulate traditional recording studio hardware with software. Thousands of plugins exist, both commercial and freeware, and VST is supported by a large number of audio applications. The technology can be licensed from its creator, Steinberg."

And my quick explanation: A vst will give you realistic sounding tones and effects for a variety of instruments from guitars and synths to drums and bass guitars, but it is not just limited to that, a lot of audio mastering plug-ins(if not all) are VSTs. popular guitar amp modelling vsts are Amplitube,Guitar Rig, Pod Farm(highly recommended) and...oh yeah! a bunch of free ones like Nick Crow's 8085.


-A guitar,bass,or electro acoustic guitar.

Basically the instrument you're gonna record.

B)How to set it up

I'll assume you went down the audio interface route and picked up either adobe audition or reaper as your DAW for this quick "tutorial".
1.-First off you wanna make sure to import all your VST plugins into your DAW.
http://img21.imageshack.us/img21/2347/capturefo.png

2.-Insert a track and arm it for recording.
To do this press ctrl+T, and to arm it just press the button which says ar next to it.
http://yfrog.com/j1armmp

3.-Record whatever it is you want to record.
This is where the road forks and branches out, as pointed out by CpxAzn, when you recording using the PODStudio interfaces you have 2 choices, one is to first record the clean signal of your guitar and then apply the amp VST FX, or the other choice is to change the monitoring mode to "record input" and it will basically record whatever tone you're using while running PODfarm on the side. there are apparently quite a few approaches on how to do this, but this is how I do it.

That is basically how you record but there's a whole lot more to it of course.(doubling tracks,basic interface stuff,etc) but this should give you a quick rough guideline for you to experiment with.


C)Future considerations

so you've recorded your ultimate solo that will pierce the internet (lolreferences) and you have that killer rhytm track worthy of James hetfield, along with a killer bassline that would make Victor Wooten proud, as well as mindblowing drums that Mike Portnoy would dare not attempt...but you feel your mix doesn't sound balanced at all.
This is probably the area where most of us struggle, that is sound mastering.
It will give you headaches when you're starting out, oh yes.
personally I suck at making audio mixes and masters so I won't even fool anyone by giving "advice", but I highly recommend that you do some research on this after you get your basic recording setup ready. there's a bunch of plug-ins out there designed for this, but they're by no means magic, it still takes a lot of tweaking and knowing how sound frequencies work from your side.

here's a quick "list" of plug-ins for audio mastering that I know of:
-Izotope Ozone http://www.izotope.com/
-T-Racks http://www.ikmultimedia.com/t-racks/features/
...and another one which is worth around 12k dollars but I haven't actually even used, only heard from people that the results are really good, I'll get back with the name sometime.


Drum Machines:

They work pretty much in the same line as guitar amp vsts, except that you dump a midi and then apply the plug in and the drums becaome magically realistic sounding.
Personally I work with EZdrummer.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE1mlwUIKO0&feature=related


Monitors:

Monitors are special speakers meant for sound mixing and mastering, i'll just leave the link:
http://www.zzounds.com/item--KRKRP8G2
it pretty much explains what they are and why you would want them.

Record by mic'ing an amp
If you already have a good amp then this is probably what you're gonna want to do.
basically you still use the audio interface except that you're gonna need different kinds of mics depending on what you're trying to record. there seems to be a universal rule from what I've seen.

Shure SM57 to mic electric guitar amps.
http://www.zzounds.com/item--SHUSM57LC

Condenser mics to mic electroacoustic/acoustic guitars:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeLcQlO4H7Y

and at least quite a few mics to mic a piano(depends on the type of piano really.)

well that's it for now but I'll get back to reformat this thing to add more info. a lot of stuff escaped me right now, stuff which is probably vital, but this should at least put confused people on the generic track, feel free to correct me on anything if you spot some blasphemy up there, after all I recently just started to get into the whole recording-at-home business.

2 comments on Quick guide for home recording. By StrangeJam

Lots of useful information!

Lots of useful information! Thank you!

I translated this tutorial to portuguese... can I post it on my blog (obviously, keeping the credits)?

Thanks in advance! Keep the great work!

sure as long as you link back

sure as long as you link back to this place and keep the credits I don't mind :)