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DIY At-Home Recording : Recording Music

Have you been looking to build your own at-home studio for podcasting or music production, but you don't know where to start? This workshop will get you balling on a budget. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a studio at home; you can put toge

Recording Music

Ideal Recording Space

Ideally what you want is a large room with high ceilings, asymmetrical walls, and lots of irregular surfaces. This is extremely hard to come by in DIY studios because bedrooms tend to have low ceilings, be in perfect squares, and have drywall on one side. These sound treated spaces can be reserved at the UTC Library in our Audio Suite, and generally at the Public Library in their recording studio. Try to reduce background noise as much as possible (i.e. roommates, moving trucks, emergency vehicles, humming from the A/C etc.). Even these small noises can be picked up and muddy the recording.

 

Paneling with Blankets

Our goal here isn't to create a perfectly soundless room, it's to get it the best we can. Mixing has come far in the 21st century and getting our rooms as dampened as possible is the goal.

In the corners of your room, use tacks to hang up blankets, comforters, throws, etc. When you hang these up in the corners they are absorbing the sound that would be bouncing sporadically without them. Generally hanging up three or four blankets around your space will create a noticeable difference in the acoustics of your room. Below is a diagram, focus on the corners, then the dotted lines, then the hard lines when paneling.

Source ehomerecording studio

Microphone Placement

Setup up your microphone in the center of the room, behind where you stand should be a comforter. That blanket will absorb the sound that is coming back at you and your microphone. If it wasn't there, the audio would bounce off and hit your microphone a second time. 

 

Monitor Placement

If you have some stereo monitors set them up so that when you are seated, your head is perfectly in between the left and right speaker. Also make sure the monitors are slightly positioned above your head and that you are several feet away from them. Frequencies take time to travel to your ears, being too close can cut them short.

Source ehomerecording

What is a DAW?

A DAW or Digital Audio Workstation, is a computer software that records and programs music. There are an array of them but this guide will focus on the ones available in the UTC Library Studio, if you would like help with these softwares please reach out to libstudio@utc.edu.

Beginner

Audacity

This software is free for everyone and with streamlined capability offers easy entry to recording

Garage Band

A program that is free and compatible with all iOS devices. It has a great help tool and limited software to help learn the basics of recording and producing.

Intermediate

Audition

An Adobe software popular for its uses in Journalism and podcasting. Also can be used for general recording and music.

Logic

Another iOS product, with a similar interface to Garage Band it is great to transition from it. With advanced and more expansive features, Logic still maintains a user friendly attitude with strong preset sounds and effects. Logic's user interface is also unparalleled, it is sleek, smooth, legible, and comprehensible. I recommend it to artists looking for more features than the beginner DAWs.

Advanced

Ableton

I've listed this DAW as advanced moreso because of its user interface and a consistent difficulty to dive into. Ableton's complexity leaves a tool for everything from timing changes to slicing samples, but it is hardly streamlined and can be hard to get a workflow in initially. Use this DAW if you have a general understanding of them and want to dive into a wealth of engineering and production knowledge.

Native Instruments

Native Instruments software isn't to record vocals, but I'd like to plug it in while we're talking studio DAWs. It's a production program paired with Native's Maschine software. Learning these tools will result in live looped performances or fully flesh out beats. 

What is a Vocal Template?

A Vocal Template is a project file or preset (on Garage Band and Logic) that you can open and there will be a project session full of tools and tracks centered around recording vocals. Attached are some templates to get you started or to give you an idea of how to create your own.

To start using a Vocal Template, download the file from the Google Drive link, select destination, then open it into your DAW.

Using a DAW

Each one of these templates focuses on recording efficiency. There are tracks for multiple takes of Hooks, Verses, and Bridges to prioritize taking several takes, then listening through to see which is the best! Once you have recorded on a single track you can turn it down or mute it and start the next!

Note

I recommend looking up EQ, Reverb, and Compression tutorials. These three tools are how you get a demo or early mix sounding solid enough to share or send to an engineer. Understanding and employing these three tools are all it takes to make a great foundational mix.

Helpful Links

Studio Pathfinders

These guides from the Studio will help you get started with some of the DAWs listed on this page.

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