Studio Gear 101
So you've decided you want to start making music at home but you don't know where to start? When entering into the world of recording, you're bound to come across a lot of new terms that will be totally foreign to you: preamp, condenser, DAW, compression, normalization...the list goes on. Today I'd like to identify what you'll need to get up and running with your very own home studio.
Recording SoftwareDAW - Digital Audio Workstations
Before the age of computers, all music recording was done on big, expensive equipment, which is why only performers on record labels could really afford to record. Nowadays, software is able to take care of almost all of the same needs as analog equipment. Your DAW, or Digital Audio Workstation, is the program you use to make music. Common examples of DAWs are Pro Tools, PreSonus Studio One, Ableton Live, and more. All of these programs have the same general capabilities, with the differences mainly in their work flows and layouts. At the very least, you'll need a DAW of some sort to begin making music.
An audio interface, commonly referred to as a sound card, is a device used to process audio going in and out of your computer. It converts analog signal, such as sounds recorded through a microphone, into digital signal so it can be manipulated and processed in your DAW. Many interfaces nowadays also have a built in preamp, which amplifies incoming signal from things such as microphones and guitars, and brings them up to a usable level. Those in the professional recording world tend to have a dedicated preamp and a dedicated interface as two separate pieces of gear but to start with, the combo interface/preamps work great.
Nope, I'm not talking about your computer screen. In the world of recording, studio monitors are speakers designed to give you an accurate playback of the audio you've put together. They have a "flat" response, unlike the average loudspeaker which "colors" the sound, or emphasizes/deemphasizes certain frequencies to make the music sound better. The flat, uncolored output of studio monitors allow you to hear problem frequencies within your songs and adjust accordingly to ensure your music sounds good on any speakers you play it on.
A microphone, as you probably already know, is a device that picks up audio signal for transmission or recording. I commonly get asked what the "best" microphone is but there is no one answer to that question. That's kind of like asking what the best car is. If you need to go fast, I might recommend a sports car but if you're trying to transport a lot of cargo, a truck might be a better choice. Selecting a microphone all comes down to what you're recording and what you want it to sound like. There are three main categories of microphones: condenser, dynamic, and ribbon. You will encounter all three in the world of pro audio but generally, condensers and ribbons are most commonly used in a studio setting while dynamics are most commonly used in a live setting. Ribbon mics are pretty specific in their applications, so I'd recommend going with a condenser microphone to start off your home recordings.
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a kind of data widely used in the world of music production to communicate basic messages to and between electronic instruments and digital music tools. MIDI itself does not make any sound but rather can be assigned a sound within a DAW or from a controller. A MIDI controller is a physical piece of gear that allows you to send these MIDI signals into your DAW, signals such as what note is being played, how long it is held, how hard it is being played, etc. There are many different types of MIDI controllers, however the most common ones will feature either drum pads (ex. Maschine Studio), piano keys (ex. M-Audio OXYGEN), or a combination of both (ex. AKAI MPK). You can usually accomplish everything you can do with a MIDI controller solely using your DAW, however it tends to be much more difficult and time-consuming to do without a controller.
The most easily forgotten part of your home recording studio. Some of the crucial accessories you'll need: cables, stands, a microphone shock mount, and a pop filter, at the bare minimum.
I know putting together a home studio can be a bit daunting so feel free to give me a call at 1-800-268-5520 and we'll be sure to set you up with everything you'll need to start making music in no time!