Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Home Studio Essentials - Welcome
We live during a very special time in human history. Never before has it been easier for one voice to reach millions of people. The democratisation of knowledge and technology has given more people than ever the opportunity to create something that everyone can hear, see, and otherwise experience. Now is the time to make some noise and let others hear it.
If you are reading this, then you probably want to make some noise and share it with the world. You just need some help in making it sound great. That’s where we can help. From making your first recording to editing takes to final mixdown, we will take you step by step through the process of taking an idea and creating something tangible and memorable from it. Sound good?
Now, in order to take that amorphous blob of an idea you have stashed in your brain and turn it into a concrete piece of media you are going to need to learn a few terms, get your hands on a few pieces of hardware and software, and devote a little time and energy towards learning how to use the tools of the trade. The good news is that all of this can be done from your home. No joke. You can make quality recordings, ones that you can be proud of, from your flat. No need to pay a studio for time in the booth. With a little knowledge and pluck, you’ll be making great recordings in no time. But you are going to need a few things first.
There are a few essentials that everyone needs in order to do recording. I call them “The Three Must Haves”. Check them out:
Long gone are the days when you needed a room filled with magnetic tape reels to save a recording. Now, all you need is a computer, a laptop, a tablet or smartphone (Our phones are as powerful as our computers were just a few years ago!). Basically, you need something that is capable of storing data, retrieving data, and outputting that data in a useful format. At the end of the day, recording in the digital age is as simple as making files, editing files and sharing files. We will save the specifics for another blog (both hardware and software), but for now, if you are able to read this, then you probably have a device that is more than powerful enough to produce quality audio.
An I/O (Input/Output) Device
I/O is the first audio terminology I am going to throw at you (there will be plenty more in an upcoming post). It stands for input/output and does exactly that. It allows you, the user, to capture sound going into your computer, translating it from analog sound waves to a digital signal, and then reverses that process on the way out.
Now, most of your computers have dedicated input and output devices. Don’t believe me? Do you have a headphone jack? A microphone jack? These are rudimentary I/Os, and while they work great for talking to Grandma on Skype, they will not be sufficient for our needs in the long run. Best to get yourself a outboard I/O that plugs into your computer via USB. There are a lot of them out there to choose from, so we’ll discuss some of them in a future blog.
A Microphone (and a cable)
I hope I don’t have to explain that one! A microphone is a piece of equipment that translates sound waves into an electrical signal to then be used and processed further on down the signal change. What you might not know is that not all mics are made the same. There are dynamic mics. Condenser mics. Ribbon mics. Mics with large diaphragms. Mics with small diaphragms. Mics that have a cardiod response pattern. Figure-8 pattern. Omni-directional. Mics with different frequency responses. A boost in the mid-range. High-pass roll off. And they come in a wide range of prices, ranging from £7 to several thousand pounds. Don’t fret. We’ll explain the differences and what you need to be aware of when considering a mic purchase.
That’s it! That is all you need to get started.
Be sure to read the next post to learn some of the important terminology you’ll need to know going forward.