Inexpensive Multitrack Digital Recording Part I

Are you a songwriter or musician who wants to record their music quickly, easily and cheaply? Want get your ideas in a fixed format such as an audio CD? This short guide to setting up a cheap audio home studio should help. It’s about using what works for you. You will learn how to multi-track using well-known and simple methods to get your music to your hard drive.

Will your recordings rival those made in professional studios? Probably not. But I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well your music will sound. With a little effort and a small outlay of cash you too can record songs of sufficient quality to sell your music and amaze your friends.

And how much will it cost? It varies. I have listed the generic products you will need and also some brand specific items. Does this mean the brands I’ve listed are the best? No, of course not. It is equipment that I have, have used or know someone who has. I’m sure there are better and worse products out there. This is meant as a guide to help you get the equipment that best fits your budget and expertise. I have based the cost of each item from information I’ve gathered off the net.

You should be able to spend less by doing a little comparison-shopping.

Microphone(s)
To record live sounds such as vocals and acoustic guitars you will need at least one microphone – two are better. And since microphones come in two basic varieties, dynamic and condenser it makes sense to purchase two microphones. With both a condenser and dynamic microphone your options and flexibility are both increased. For an explanation of the two types see Chapter 10 in Jim Goodman’s excellent series on home recording basics.

The Shure SM57 a good professional quality microphone and one I recommend. With a street price of $100 this microphone becomes even more attractive. You could start your home recording studio with two SM57’s but for more flexibility in your recording I suggest adding a condenser as your second microphone. The CAD M177 is an excellent choice.

One of a very few budget microphones that sound like the manufacturers’ press release says it does. Very smooth, natural, with little of no hum. I usually record flat and add very little EQ to acoustic guitars and vocals.

The best price I’ve found for the Cad M177 is at B&H photo who have the CAT M177 priced at $125 as of 5/14/08.
Total estimated cost of Microphones: $225.00

3 Replies to “Inexpensive Multitrack Digital Recording Part I”

  1. Thanks for the info on the microphone…do you have any ideas on some speakers? I don’t want to spend too much money but would like some good monitor speakers for my home recording studio. I’ve seen some Electro Voice that were not too expensive but am still uncertain as to what to actually buy.

  2. Electro Voice makes some very nice speakers but I tend to associate them more with live sound. For a home recording studio I like several brands – M-Audio, Wharfdale, Fostex and Mackie. In particular the Mackie MR5 works well with computer audio because they are magnetically shielded and can be placed close to the monitor. The good news is that all those companys have studio monitors under $200.

    I’m glad you asked the question, I’m looking to upgrade my old KLH monitors as well. Cheap audio monitors were going to be part III but I think I will move them up to part II. 🙂

  3. I usually use headphones for recording if I want to monitor. No feedback (unless you turn the sound up REAL loud) and I find it easier to hear with them. For listening, get the best frequency response you can. Due to my personal space limitations, I use small but good quality speakers but the larger ones actually due a bit better. My headphones I use are Koss Porta Pro and they have a 15 to 25,000 cycle range which is better than my hearing! They sell at Best Buy for around fifty dollars. You might be able to find them online for less …

    Good luck recording and listening

    Lynn in New Orleans, LA.

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