One thing I cannot stand in the recording business is all the pompous assholes who talk down to beginners, and act as if there is this huge mountain to climb until you reach their level. Ive been doing this for over ten years, and always stand up for the beginner looking to start recording. It can be a very intimidating field to approach, what with so many jerks trying to tell you what to do, what to buy, what you can’t do, etc. The best solution towards dealing with pricks like that is to instruct them to go fuck themselves.
There is no right or wrong way when it comes to creativity, and that will never change. You are in complete control of what you create, and you should never ever let anyone intimidate you with fear towards another path. Granted there are many studio guru’s who know what they are talking about, but they are few and far between. A lot of studio cocks will tell you that in order to achieve the best sound, you will need to purchase gold cable and microphones lined with diamonds. This is absolute horse shit, pay no attention to them. Im going to show you how to get started in recording the same way I did, with an affordable budget that suits a beginners mentality.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you all ready have a computer. The good news is that you can record on any modern computer thats been made in the past 10 years. I recorded my first full length album in 2001 on a prehistoric computer that was slower than todays modern cell phones. So now you need to get your hands on some recording software. Ordinarily Id say this was either going to cost you some money, or you’d have to download a pirated copy. However, there is an amazing piece of software called Audacity thats just as powerful as the big names, and its absolutely FREE.
Some other software to check out if you want to spend some money…
Next you’re going to need a recording interface, which basically means something you can plug shit into. This is where you are going to start spending some money, but thankfully not that much. Two things you are going to plug in for your recordings are a microphone, and an instrument such as guitar or bass. Tascam makes a great USB interface that can handle this with a breeze, and its under 100 bucks.
Other devices you can check out…
This is a very important aspect to your setup because you obviously need to be able to hear what you’re creating, and hear it clearly. Technically you can use your own speakers, but chances are they aren’t going to be quite as accurate. The purpose of studio monitors is to provide a flat soundscape to hear your recordings and be able to accurately make adjustments. If you run your sound through computer speakers for example, you are using a set of speakers that may have extra bass or treble built in to make them sound better. When you’re recording, you want as flat a speaker as possible. Alesis makes a great pair of monitors that are USB compatible, and cost less than 100 bones.
Other sets of monitors to check out…
You need something to capture natural sounds, whether it be your voice or an acoustic guitar. This is a no brainer for me to recommend, a Shure SM57 is the go-to mic for almost any application at any skill level. This microphone is responsible for countless records out there. If you listen to music, you’ve all ready heard an SM57. It cost about $100 but its well worth it, and will more than likely outlive you and everyone you know. You can use this microphone on anything, and its going to sound great.
Some other microphones to check out…
These are whats going to make your recording truly shine. From equalizers and compressors, to guitar amps and synthesizers, the world is your oyster here. If I were to recommend every single plugin I love, we would be here for months. The best approach is to start looking around for whatever catches your attention. A great place where you can find a ton of FREE plugins is KVR Audio’s website.
A couple other sites with free plugins…
By now you should have enough to get the ball rolling with your own recordings. The one thing to remember is never be afraid to investigate what all this stuff does. Read manuals, look up tutorials online, watch YouTube demo videos, and most importantly make sure to play around! After all, thats how you’re going to figure out all the bells and whistles of this stuff. You’re going to learn the most by doing everything hands on. As time goes by you might find you hate some of this stuff, and opt for another brand. Thats the point though! This is just a starting point to move forward with.
As I said earlier, you’re going to run into a ton of pompous studio know-it-alls who will recommend overpriced gear, and how everything you have sucks. Its an unfortunate reality of the recording realm, but they are easy to ignore. Just be sure to trust yourself, and your instincts. There are a ton of great resources for you out there, so take advantage of them! If you need some ideas on where to start looking, you can check out my article on Recording 101: Where to Start. As always, feel free to share your questions or comments below and Ill do my best to help you out. Good luck!