USB Microphones

Purchasing a USB microphone is a really great, cost effective way to get started with recording. They are basically and all in one package that include a Microphone, a preamp and you recording interface all built into one.

The big limitation with going this route is the inability to record multiple instruments to different tracks at the same time or not being able to stereo record instruments. However if you are just going to be doing vocal recording I really think this is the best/cost effective way to go.
So the questions to ask your self are:

1. Will I need to record more than one instrument at the same time?
2. Do i need the ability to record instruments in stereo?

If you answered no to both these questions than a USB microphone might be the right solution for you.

There are a lot of companies out there that currently make USB microphones. Here a few of the most popular:
Blue Microphones - the Snowball and the Snowflake
RODE - PODcaster
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Buying a Recording Interface for your computer

So you've decided you want to try some home recording and the built in sound card you computer just isn't cutting it. Then it's time to invest in a audio recording interface. The recording interface is often also referred to Audio Interface,Digital I/O, Digital Converters, a There are so many options out there it can be a little confusing. So here are a few things you should consider before making a purchase

How many inputs do you need?
The number of inputs on a recording interface is the maximum number of signals you can record at one time. If you are only ever going to record one mic at any given time you may want to consider getting a USB microphone. But must of us would want at least two microphone inputs so you can record guitar and vocal at the same or be able to record instruments in stereo. Now if you are recording a drum kit or a band playing live then you'll need to have many more.

USB or Firewire?

What is your budget?
Before you break the bank on buying the most expensive interface you can find or read too many reviews on "What are the best sounding converters?" Be aware that if your are concerned about sound quality and your just starting out, your money can be better spent on higher quality microphones and preamps which will make a more dramatic impact on sound quality then purchasing higher quality converters. Even cheap recording interfaces today sound pretty good

A lot of audio interfaces will have additional digital inputs as well. This allow you to easily increase the number inputs in the future as you move on to larger projects without having to replace your original purchase.

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What Gear Do I Need to Start Recording on my Computer?

What Gear Do I Need to Start Recording on my Computer?

So I you haven't done any home recording on your computer before here's the basic setup your going to need.

1. Sound Source: Well you need something to record. Whether it's someone's voice, instrument, amplifier,

2. Microphone: There are a lot of different microphones out there. You should get yourself something basic to start with.

3. Recording Interface: Most consumer or prosumer interfaces these days combine 2 things you'll need a preamp and analog to digital converters

3. Computer: Doesn't matter if it's a Mac or PC there are plenty of recording programs for either format. Make sure you have lots of free hard drive space to record onto as recording can take up a lot of drive space fast. Also make sure you have at least 2G of RAM in your computer. The more you have the smoother the software is going to run.
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Choosing an Audio Recording Program

There are a lot of options out there for recording programs these days. This article is just meant to be introduction to a variety of programs for the person out there just getting started.

The first one I’d like to talk about is a really great free recording program called Audacity. It’s a total free and for both Mac and Windows and is great for someone just getting started who just needs the basics and doesn’t want to many bells and whistles confusing them or getting in the way or distracting them. It comes with a modest number of effects and makes for a great editor.

I’d like to point out that when looking at different recording programs a lot of people think sound quality is effected the recording program you use...and they would be wrong. When recording programs cut and paste or change volume levels the are just performing basic math and have no impact on the quality of the recording. Software only makes an impact on sound quality when you are talking about effects or different types of compression or encoding. If you are concerned about the quality of the audio you are recording you should focus your attention on the instruments, microphones, preamps, consoles or any other hardware that touches your recording signal BEFORE it reaches the recording program. So it’s important to realize that even though Audacity is a free recording program it is not inferior in sound quality.

Another free option for Mac users is GarageBand. GarageBand comes preinstalled on every Mac, has a wide selection of built in effects, software instruments, pitch correction software and many other advanced features. My only real complaint about GarageBand is that it’s editing features are laid out very differently from all other recording programs in fact it does just about everything in a different way. Which if you start out learning on GarageBand you will most likely find it difficult to switch to another program further down the road. That being said, for a program that comes free with your computer it packs a lot of punch.
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