The days of bad demo recordings on cassettes, as romantic as they may be, are over. Modern recording equipment and software has become affordable, putting it in the reach of many struggling musicians, and that gives musicians the ability to create professional sounding recordings right in their home.
Who Needs It?
Many musicians like the convenience of having a home music recording setup. Since the advent of the internet, and, in particular MySpace, the ability to create listenable demos has become critical to getting gigs as a working musician. Any time you want to book a gig, the venue is going to want to hear what you sound like; no recordings equals no gigs.
Having a home recording setup of some sort has a lot of advantages besides getting gigs. For one thing, if you are writing songs, it can help the band, or your backing musicians, to learn them by recording rough tracks to burn to CD or e-mail to them as mp3s.
If you get good enough at the recording process, you can certainly save money on production costs. It can even be a step towards cutting out the middleman and creating your own label to release your albums on.
Is It Complicated?
Home recording can ran the gamut from a simple acoustic guitar/voice setup to full band recordings, and can be something as simple as recording in a room or as professional as treating the room with soundproofing and really going for the best sound you can get.
It is still possible to do simple home recording on external units. Companies like Tascam and Roland make standalone multi-track recorders let you mix down tracks and burn to CD. These are certainly more advanced than the old basic recording systems.
However, what's really changed the home recording setup is the use of high-quality software that contains a multitude of plug-in effects that have replaced the need to have racks of expensive outboard gear such as compressors, gates, reverbs and limiters. With the high-quality built in and third-party plug-ins that are available for many software recording setups, any musician has access to some of the best sounding gear out there.
Of course, the process itself can also involve mastering the recordings, burning them to CD and more. Even if you aren't signed, it can be a way for you as a performer to get your music out there at your shows, make extra money, and, hopefully, generate word-of-mouth and build a following.
Part of the fun for most engineers involves playing with all the gear. In discussions with many top live sound and recording engineers, one common background they almost all have is they started as musicians, mixing their own band. For many people who have a love of music and a desire to stay out of corporate America, sound engineering is a viable career path.
In this series, we'll review some of the equipment and techniques for recording a typical rock setup. That said, don't worry if you are singer-songwriter who only needs to sing and strum a guitar. You will be able to add and subtract which info relates directly to your situation).
Lets go take a look at some recording equipment and get your studio set up.
BY THE WAY… if you find that any of this isn’t going deep enough down the rabbit hole for you, you need to visit my buddy Joe Gilder’s Home Studio Corner. He goes deep and when he’s finished with you, you will be a pro – not kidding (tell him Corey at Musicgoat said hi).