Monday, October 26, 2009

Basic Home Recording - Part I

I'd like to talk about some recording basics. This is not intended to be some great technical guide.... just some basic info about recording at home.


The first thing I'd like to talk about are monitors. You will find it difficult to make recordings that sound good using the typical consumer type systems (home stereo, car stereo, boom box, etc.) using standard hi-fi speakers. They are not designed to deliver a flat frequency response. Many enhance certain freq.s which is undesirable in a recording/mixing environment.

If you were to use standard hi-fi speakers you'd find that your mixes sound drastically different when played back on a variety of systems. Additionally, headphones can present many of the same problems. That's not to say headphones don't have a place in the home recording studio...they do. But to use them exclusively would be a mistake. IMO.

What you want to use are near field reference monitors. They are meant to deliver a flat freq. response and are positioned close to the listener. This allows you to monitor the recording with minimal room coloration. Most home studios are far from acoustically ideal rooms. By close monitoring the room dynamics play less of a role.

Both active and passive monitors are available starting at around $200. This is probably your most important initial investment.

Monitors -

Source : Prime @ The Guitar Matrix -


I highly recommend the Line 6 products for capturing guitar, bass, and vocals. They will allow you to record bass and guitars without micing cabinets. Most home studios do not have the proper room dynamics or space for micing cabinets. Beyond that, you will most likely capture other background noises such, vibrating speaker grills, mic stands or even an airplane flying overhead. Not all of these background noises will be "audible" but you can be fairly certain that they are there. They will only add to the overall mud and lack of headroom in your recordings.

The pod type devices can also serve as your soundcard and will save you from yet another purchase. You can also record vocals with them. You will need to eliminate background noises as much as possible when recording vocals. There is no way around this.

Obviously, you will need a bass, guitar, and at least one mic for recording vocals.

Make sure all of your cords,etc. are in good shape and you are not getting any hum, crackles, etc. It is very important to eliminate these things from your recordings. As you add tracks the problems will only multiply.

Line 6 Products -

I'm going to recommend the line6 UX2 as an affordable interface that will allow you to record guitar, bass and vocals. It has phantom power for your mics and several inputs. The older model will allow you to use the free podfarm stand alone application to send both processed and unprocessed signals to your recording software simultaneously. You can capture the sound as you hear it and the straight (unprocessed) signal from your guitar, bass and vocals. That will allow you to use plugins to modify the unprocessed signal so you can shape your tones after they have been recorded.

The reason I mention the older UX2 is because they can be had for little $$$. The newer POD Studio UX2 comes with the pod farm plugin which is the biggest difference between the two. Obviously, it costs more than the older UX2. The older unit offers the standalone version of pod farm. The newer unit comes with both the standalone and plugin versions of pod farm....just trying to be clear about those differences. Both can be used for recording.

There are lots of interfaces available and I tried to pick one that was most affordable while providing a decent interface.

Recording Software

Your going to need a way to record these tracks to your computer. Most of the pod type stuff comes with recording programs. A lot of them come with things such as Ableton. I'm not a big fan of their software. Instead...I recommend Reaper. It is free and fully functional. It is very similar to the old Sonic Foundry Vegas software. Then there is the industry standard Pro Tools....not so free. Also, it requires you to use specific hardware. The advantage is that you can pretty much walk into any professional studio with your stuff and they will have Pro Tools as well. There is a lot to be said for that.

Reaper Software -

So now we have a way to record our bass, guitar, and vocals.


We need a way to create Drum tracks. I recommend EZDrummer. It's fairly inexpensive and sounds pretty good. It uses a minimal amount of computer resources as well. It is a VSTi plugin and a recording program such as reaper or pro tools is needed to use it. Once again, a lot of people do not have the room for a full drum kit. And, if using an acoustic kit there are all the same issues as with micing cabinets and more. Electronic drum kits can eliminate this problem but you still need the room for them. Not to mention the cost.

EZdrummer -

Here are some Reaper templates and drum maps for EZdrummer....

Reaper EZD Templates

Just drop the templates into Reaper and tada.....multichannel VSTi. Make sure you go to the EZdrummer mixer and select multichannel. The Drum maps are text files, but Reaper will read them and name all the drums in the midi editor.

BTW...You can use the Pop Rock Template for Drum Kit from Hell. You will have to make your own drum map.


rob - Rather than post-litter - I'll just append my thoughts on these same subjects to Primes post - Per his suggestion.

EZ Drummer and Superior like Prime and I love so much do still carry a price. Though not prohibitvely hefty, they are still two and three hundred bucks. We talked briefly about finding some free drum plugs. I found a site a while back and just re-found it in my links.

For some very decent drum samplers - go here and download away....

In fact look that whole site over good. LOADS of great, free plugins.


Excellent! Thanks rob.

Just want to add these Reaper Drums. They are free case you don't have EZdrummer. As rob mentioned, there are quite a few free drums/plugins . Unzip and Run ReaDrums have drums.

ReaDrums (direct download)

Source : Prime/rob @ The Guitar Matrix -

« Last Edit: Today at 7:10am by Prime »

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