Basic Home Recording II

Jim Goodman

Part 2 – Choosing a Platform

The first decision we have to make after beginning with the end in mind is the recording medium. We have a decision to make; do we want to record several tracks at once or just multi-track using overdubs? Then we ask ourselves do we want to be able to take it with us or will it be left in an area we designate as our studio?

Lets look at the basic choices. First for the majority of all recording you should have available at least 2 mono tracks or 1 stereo track that can have each channel (L-R) as an independent in. This gives you 2 simultaneous track recording. Perfect for stereo micing guitar or recording 2 singers (will be discussed later).

If you are looking to record a full drum set or a band live you would need to consider enough inputs to capture all available mics independently so as to have flexible control over the mix. You can achieve a good recording of a drum set with 2 mics creatively placed and we will see that later as well when we get to micing and recording.

For our purpose of making a decent demo and really to stay with in a budget we will get by with needing only 2 independent inputs and they ought to be XLR for microphones with phono jacks as an option for plugging in guitar to record direct or other options ie a drum machine, etc. For those that use midi sequencers and such you will also need to consider midi i/o, playback and timing, which beyond the scope of this series.

Next we consider the second question and that is do we want to take it with us or are we looking to have a studio space. The 2 choices we will consider is Standalone or PC. Lets first get a term out of the way. You will hear the word DAW that is an acronym for digital audio workstation. This term can be applied to both standalone and pc recorders.

Standalone refers to what will be referred to as portable. These are self-contained units that give you not only recording ability, but also effects, mixdown and even mastering tools. Many have built-in hard drives and CD Burners or Zip disks. Most all available options have the ability to connect to an external CD burner or other Mixdown device.

PC would refer to your computer. Generally this is not considered portable, but no doubt it can be. With a pc you can have a wider variety of options, effects, mastering and mixing tools. With a PC we have many more considerations to make and we will discuss that in the PC specific installment.

In the next installments we will look at the platforms specifically. The immediate installment will be on Stand-alone recorders, both Cassette and DAW. Then following we will look at PC based DAWs. If you have any questions or if something isn’t clear  please feel free to reply back and I will clarify.