Basic Recording Guide

Basic Recording Guide

Recording your own music is super rewarding, but for the beginner, the equipment options can seem a little daunting. Read our guide and let us help you get you on the right track.

So you have your favourite electric guitar and you’ve just created that killer riff or that chord progression you have been playing on your acoustic has developed into a fully-fledged song destined to sell millions - now you have a problem…how do you get it down to tape…erm sorry I mean MP3!! Welcome to the world or recording! Let our basic recording guide help you get started.

Your initial foray into recording can seem like a daunting one, what’s an interface? USB? Firewire? What does MIDI do? Software or hardware?

Let’s start with hardware, and by hardware I mean a dedicated unit designed solely to record music and that comes in the form of a Multitrack Recorder. Back in the day you would have a 4 track tape recorder with no FX and not much else (Beatles done alright on it though!!).  Now we have Digital Multitrack Recorders that allow us to record, add FX, add drum rhythms and even burn it all to a CD.

BOSS are one of the market leaders when it comes to Digital Multitracks. Their entry level model is the BOSS Micro BR BR-80, an 8–track recorder with eband backing tracks and built in mics – it can also be used as a USB audio interface with the included software. The BOSS BR-800 steps it up a level with again, 8 track recording, built in FX, rhythm generator, touch sensor switches and can also be used as a USB interface. Zoom are another popular company within the Digital Multitrack world offering great options at excellent prices.

Have an iPad? Well, there are loads or great apps available (try Garageband) to help you get some tracks down. The Alesis IO Dock II is the perfect compliment for the iPad musician.

When it comes to software recording what we need is essentially a computer to host/run the software and a dedicated Audio Interface to get the sound source (be it guitar, bass, drums, vocals) to the software. Most models utilize USB or Firewire connectivity - both are ideal, with Firewire generally seen as a slightly more Pro option due to bandwidth and protocol but USB is generally more popular (USB 1, USB2 or USB3 or Firewire is a another topic which we won’t go into here) . Most audio interfaces come with a LE or light versions of leading software programs to make sure you can get recording straight away.

The Alesis Acoustic Link and Alesis Guitarlink Plus are a form of interface, essentially a cable that connects to the guitar and then to the USB port on your computer, these are a great way to get recording on a budget. Sticking with Alesis, the Alesis iO2 Express and bigger brother Alesis iO4 are dedicated USB Audio Interfaces giving 2 or 4 channels of recording, MIDI ports and Pro in and out connectivity.

AKAI have the AKAI EIE and AKAI EIE Pro models to their name. Both have a chunky, old school style design ( in a pleasing way!), 4 channels of ins and outs, MIDI and USB. The more expensive model simply adds 24 bit recording as opposed to the 16 bit of the cheaper model - fundamentally giving a better recorded sound with better resolution.

M-Audio have a couple of great interfaces on the market in the form of the M-Audio M-Track II and a M-Audio M-Track II Plus.

Both units features dedicated inputs for Mics and Guitars or Line level instruments. A big selling point of the M-Track Plus is the included software that comes in the form of Ableton Live Lite,. The M-Track Plus also comes pacakged with Cubase LE software.

Revolutionary amp modelling is not only what Line 6 is about, they also have some great USB audio interfaces in their line up. The Line 6 UX1 is great for beginners with essential ins and outs and bonus software whilst those requiring more channels may wish to step up to the Line 6 UX2.

As an alternative and if you just require a mic for vocals or to record an acoustic instrument you can maybe bypass the interface option and get a dedicated USB Microphone. MXL do a great range of models for varying budgets.

This is just a guide to hopefully answer a few questions you may have as a beginner to the recording world. We are more than happy to give further advice depending on your needs/budget so feel free pop into out Harlow store or call us on 01279 432900.


Posted on 2nd August 2013 by Rob Evans

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02nd August 2013


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