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Help!! with the whole 9 yards!!

Discussion in 'Recording' started by mflou, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. mflou

    mflou Guest

    To start off I write hiphop/rap/R n B type music!!
    Iv'e been writing for ever, but absolutely have little to none experience with audio recording, making beats, mastering, any of that!!

    As of right now I don't have the money to go out and make a studio or buy all these things!! All i have to start with right now is a computer!!

    I need help on what type of stuff I should buy? What programs? What type of mic?
    I think'll thats the jist of it!!
    Just need a direction to look in and to start
    cuz i really have no audio recording experience at all!
  2. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

    There are other forums where they could help you better for hip-hop/R&B.

    Try futureproducers.com, and post in the "Getting Started" section.
  3. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    An autotune plugin, a lot of software instruments, and a computer mic (you'll destroy the tone of the voice with the autotune anyway) and hey presto, you just made hip hop.

    The less sarcastic answer, is to first work out how you want to create the song. Do you want to make your own beats? Using keyboard-style samplers or software? Use pre-existing ones?
    Then you can set about looking for an interface once you know what you need to hook up.
  4. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member


    In order to get started in home recording it would be wise to first address what it is you are trying to do and why. Is this just to capture some song writing ideas, are you trying to make a band demo, are you thinking about getting into recording as a business. A lot of people venture into home recording not realizing that their needs and budget would probably be best served by utilizing a pro studio to produce their band demo for example. The investment needed to produce great results at home is roughly equivalent to or more than the studio time cost and then there is the fact that the beginner has no experience in the rather complicated process of achieving great results. That being said here is my short course on getting started.


    Let’s assume you have a recent computer that you are willing to dedicate to recording, because in order to use it for recording you will need to disable wireless, antivirus software, and likely make some other changes that make it difficult to use as your everyday PC. You will need a second hard drive either internal or external (7200 rpm or better) to record to. All the better interfaces (more on this later) require firewire connection and the chipset included in your stock computer will likely have to be upgraded. Once you have made some of the decisions regarding what other hardware you will be using you may have to review your computers specifications to make certain that it will meet those demands.


    In order to record we must take a source signal, for example a microphone, guitar pick up, etc. preamplify it (boost it) convert it to a digital signal, send it into the PC and use a software program that will recognize it, record it and create a file we can store. The most common method for doing this in home project studios is the use of an audio interface. This unit goes between the signal source and the computer. It usually provides preamplification, digital conversion both incoming and outgoing, and monitoring capabilities. The fewest channels I could recommend would be two but four and eight channel models are probably the least you should consider when dealing with recording drums and/or bands and you may need more than that. Some models can be daisy chained to provide as many as 24 channels of tracking. The common inputs to the preamp sections are XLR (mic cable) and ¼” phone jack, either line level or instrument level depending on the unit. Other options include additional inputs like optical ADAT I/O (in and out), Midi I/O, S/PDIF I/O, multiple monitor outputs, headphone jacks, and more. Prices start at $75.00 and go way up from there. The more you pay the better the preamps, digital converters and input and output options will be. You should buy the best quality you can possibly afford with more options than you believe you will need because no one ever says later “I wish I did not have eight channels” it usually the opposite. Some interfaces are proprietary meaning they will only work with certain software, others require very specific computer hardware so check this carefully. These units connect by USB or firewire cable to the computer. USB is not recommended, it can be used for two channel units but firewire is the accepted norm.


    Almost all interfaces come packaged with limited edition recording software. These are slightly reduced option versions of major recording studio software and this where the channels you are recording get assigned to separate tracks. You can use this software to mix your tracks later, add effects (reverb, delay, compressors and many more), copy, delete, and playback. If you are already familiar with a particular software system then it might be worthwhile to choose an interface that comes with the software you want as some programs only work with certain hardware. There are multiple low cost or free software systems as well. The software becomes the “mixing board” most people associate with a recording studio complete with graphic slider controls and all. They offer multiple routing choices and monitoring options and this whole process is sometimes known as “mixing in the box”. This type of system means that a hardware mixer is not necessary.


    It seems to me that a great deal of people overlook this very important aspect when considering getting into home recording. You can have all the best equipment covered so far, great microphones, a well recorded performance and produce outstandingly poor results by skipping due diligence in this area. What good is a great recording if you can’t give a listenable copy to anyone? In order to mix, EQ, add effects or assess your results you will need both monitors and headphones. Headphones will at least be required while recording and please dispel the idea that you can create professional mixes using headphones or computer speakers or your home stereo. You will need monitors. For most home studios nearfield monitors (these are placed near your listening position) are the obvious choice. Most home studios utilize 5” speakers but the larger sizes are available. There are two basic types passive and active. Active monitors, which are more popular, have amplification built in to the monitor, while the passive types require a separate amplifier to power them. You can get good results with either type. Prices for a good set start at about $200.00 a pair and up.


    It would be easy to write a book here and many have, microphone choices are among the most debated issues in recording. There are two basic types most new people consider dynamic and condenser mics. Dollar for dollar dynamic mics are probably the best choice for a beginner. The single most recommended one I can think of being the SM57 (Shure Microphone) $99.00 which is an excellent all around instrument mic and can be used for vocals with the addition of a cheap foam pop filter. It can be used to mic drums, acoustic guitars, amps and so on. Condenser mics require phantom power and decent quality ones IMO start in the $300.00 range. You will also need microphone stands for your mics and words of caution cheap stands are soon found in the garbage can. Pay for quality once and you will only cry once.


    You will need to buy cables for your microphones, monitors, and instruments if you don’t already have them. It is best to buy TRS style (balanced) cables for your monitors if they accept them. Quality counts in durability and there are many reliable brands on the market, you don’t need the gold plated elitist cable or any particular manufacturer’s brand name ones either.


    This part really should go first in this discussion but it would still get skipped right over. Bedrooms, closets, living rooms, garages, attics, basements and in my case woodsheds make poor recording environments and even worse mixing rooms. Proper acoustic treatment will do a tremendous amount for your recordings and your ability to assess and correct them. It is not inexpensive and figuring out exactly what needs to be done in any given space is not easy. There are members of this forum that have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their recording spaces before equipment and while you may not carry this to this level it would be wise to consider where you are going to record as much as how.


    Now once you get all your new equipment there is one huge piece of advice I can give you. RTFM (Read The F%@*&ng Manuals) yes all of them, even the software’s 120 pages. These products are not very intuitive they do far too many things to be. The next is that good recordings come as much from technique as they do from equipment and a great engineer can make great recordings with decent gear and a poor engineer can only make poor recordings with the greatest of gear. Have fun, experiment, and learn to listen.
  5. boostdemon

    boostdemon Guest

    ^^ thank you. Thats actually a great bit of write up. I was searching around for this type of "getting started" post
  6. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    Who owns the copyright to this article?
  7. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I wrote this myself, Space. Why?
  8. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    "It would be easy to write a book here and many have, "

    I was most interested in this line.
  9. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Just the turn of a phrase, what about it interested you?
  10. Brewdork

    Brewdork Active Member

    maybe that you wrote a relative book...90% fluff, if you ask me.

    mflou, get a usb interface a mic, maybe a used keyboard, any number of easy mixing programs for your pc and see if you like it...then spend the bucks on more. let it evolve with you, it's glorious. don't listen to all these gloom and doom, "you have to buy this" fluff. it is what you make it, you'd be amazed what even the most basic piece of electronics you may already own is capable of. bust it.
  11. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    I don't think mflou got past the computer section paragraph....maybe he went off to buy all of his stuff..either way I don't think he's coming back for a reply!

    I actually read thru the entire thing jg49 and everything in there was pretty much the story in a nutshell....you must have been in a mood when you wrote that all out ....maybe it should be made into a sticky....very good...especially the manuals part....but the that would involve reading something!
  12. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Brewdork "maybe that you wrote a relative book...90% fluff, if you ask me."
    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, the piece I wrote is mine, but I do take a liitle offense to the fact that you think that 90% of it is fluff. If you want to defend your position why not clue us in on your recording chain and post a few examples of the recordings you are achieving with it. I am always willing to learn something new.

    That piece was written after Madmax had suggested that there should be a sticky on getting started. I have it in muy computer in Word and paste it every now and then. I have never written any books, though as a part of my work a day job I am frequently required to write letters, contracts, proposals, instructions, etc. Several English teachers and professors greatly encouraged me to pursue writing as a career. The fact that Space thought that I had pasted a magazine arcticle I took as a compliment, however when I wrote that I did not refer to any previously written piece, did not condense, quote, shorten or paraphrase anyone else's work.
  13. Brewdork

    Brewdork Active Member

    I'll stand-down from the "expensive crap" pissing contest, just trying to encourage another noob in this intimidating world full of fluffinutters. What I'm saying is, it's not a defined science...so one should push the limits of what they have to get some feet wet prior to spending their first born's lunch money trying take too much into account too quickly.

    If you were just trying to open the door to you listing all your stuff, though, go for it.
  14. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I am not trying to get into a pissing contest nor was I looking for a way to "show off" my not really very expensive gear, there are many ways to get results. Just how good those results are is highly relative, I agree that one should work at getting the very best from whatever equipment one has and that good recording is more about how the equipment is used. I am sort of at loss as to what you are calling "expensive crap" though.
  15. Brewdork

    Brewdork Active Member

    Alrrright...I use DIs, and SM57s and 58s, and an Alesis Micron through a PV14USB mixer, to PC and Boss BR1180. We monitor with headphones, and I master with pc speakers made by creative. See, best I can with what I have...oh and I mix 4 dudes in one room live...(shreeeeak, your brain just went)...the point = we have FUN.

    Now when you list your chain, also please tell me how much money you make doing this.

    Dah, this is retarded.
  16. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    First off if you are having fun congrats and I mean that. Look I am not a gear whore, don't think of myself as a snob, I am not by nature condescending and I am absolutely not trying to argue here.
    A tremendous number of people come to this site and ask how to get started in home recording and the intro to my long winded post was that you need to define exactly what it is you are trying to do and what kind of results you are trying to achieve. In that post I said that the gear I outlined is the most common approach to the home project studio IMO.
    You should not ransom your first born, but there are quite a few regular posters here who have invested tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in their gear and spaces. So expensive is a VERY relative term.
    I use 2 Presonus Firestudio Projects daisy chained, I have a dedicated recording computer with two seperate drives. My mic list is too long to get into (I did not respond to this to list my equipment) but the vast majority of my recording is live mobile. Most of it is younger bands recorded live in clubs, coffe houses, their rehearsal spaces and so on. The recordings are mostly used to promote the bands, give or sell to their fans, youtube, myspace, etc. I mostly use Shure mics (57,58, ksm137, 141) because they are rugged, dependable and provide good sound in bad environments. So if you thought my brain would explode because you record 4 people in one room guess again, lol.
    As far as how much money I make doing this it feeds the pig, meaning I break even reinvesting in gear with whatever I make. I have a great job, I do this because I love it. I have been a pro musician for over forty years and started out recording on 4 track reel to reel in the 70's and I am not talking about studio recorders.
    I have used 4 track cassette recorders, and porta studios similiar to the one you listed (Fostex, Tascam and Yamaha.) I have used various hand held field recorders. All with varying results, I will tell you that I thought it was a big step up in recording quality when I got my first Presonus interface. For only one or two hundred dollars more wow what a difference. I have been recorded professionally in great studios and still book time when I am doing something important or mixing something down where the band has some budget and is looking for great results.
  17. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    WOW.....all that over a guy who's not even listening?
  18. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    It's my last day of vacation and I am really well rested LOL.

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