Recording on a Budget

By Alex Brunner

Have a great idea for a new song but don’t have the time or resources to get to the studio? We’ve got you covered with five essentials that will make home recording cheap, easy and relatively painless.

1. Microphone

Not all microphones are created equal. It’s easy to get lost for hours in a store like Guitar Center looking for the right equipment to make you sound best. You can easily spend over a thousand dollars on a microphone only to find out that it won’t pick up the frequencies you need it to. For a good vocal mic, check out the Blue Yeti or Blue Yeti Pro. It’s an affordable condenser microphone that provides clean vocals. Although it’s a USB mic, it’s easier to integrate into programs such as Pro Tools because it doesn’t require an interface.

2. Acoustics

It’s not likely that your home has a large sound proof room tucked away somewhere so you’ll have to improvise. You can purchase acoustic foam from your local hardware store or use old mattresses you may have lying around. Try to form an arc with the sound dampening material around the artist who’s recording. This will prevent reflected sound from the room from interfering with your audio.

3. Recording program

Even the best mixing and mastering can still result in subpar quality music if the program you’re using isn’t able to correctly record individual instruments and vocals. There are many recording programs out there that claim to offer “professional” quality recording but a few stand above the rest as an industry standard. If you can afford it, Pro Tools is the most used recording software for many artists. Although it’s pricey, the program is truly a cut above when it comes to recording and editing music. If you’re just looking to record a rough cut, use Audacity. Audacity is a free program with thousands of plug-ins that make recording and editing fast and easy.

4. Timing

Professional musicians are able to record their music in virtually any studio and have it sent to their producer to be mixed and mastered, even if the rest of their band mates are thousands of miles away. You probably don’t have this luxury so be sure to set up a time for recording that works for everyone in your group. Having everyone together will allow you to share creative ideas for new tracks and provide you with immediate feedback on what needs to be done to strengthen your music. In the long run, it’ll be more than worth sacrificing a few nights or weekends.

5. Computer

You don’t have to buy a top of the line Mac to record quality music but it is important that your hardware can handle the task. Recording requires a lot of processing power if you’re wanting to get the best sound and your old laptop may not cut it. Look into investing in a traditional PC with some power behind it and use it solely to record music. Your recordings will sounds much cleaner and warmer using a machine that isn’t cluttered with programs you rarely use. Even a used PC with an external hard drive will do the trick.

Alexander Brunner is an award winning blogger and Pathfinder nominee. He currently lives in South Florida and has worked with many of the state’s most talented up-and-coming Hip Hop artists.

Photo credit: Ben K Adams / / CC BY-ND

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