Mainly, every recording studio has a sound mixing table and a device where to record all the necessary material. The mixing desk is where all the microphones and/or instruments are connected. And from the mixer, the signals are sent to the recording device.
In a professional recording studio, you can still find a huge analog mixer. And multi-track recording devices. But, nowadays, the digital world opens many doors and allows us to minimize costs, wiring, space and above all working time.
Tools needed in a recording studio
– Audio interface,
– Listening monitors (near field speakers and headphones),
– Control and data storage machine (a PC/laptop),
– Multi-track editing software.
- The audio interface
In your house, the substitute for the mixing desk will be the audio interface. A small device that will allow you to directly connect from 1 to 4 microphones. Or, musical instruments such as guitar, keyboards or bass.
The image below is an audio interface. Compared to the sound mixing, you can see the space saving perfectly:
- D.A.W. Computer and software
The substitute for multi-track will be the conjunction of a computer and program. We will call this set DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) which means Digital Audio Workstation.
To obtain a final quality product we will need to handle large files. And to work smoothly then, we will need a computer that besides being powerful is capable of holding large amounts of information.
How powerful does my pc have to be? How much capacity do I need in the hard disk?
Well, we will put a minimum of 8 GB of RAM, and we recommend a powerful microprocessor. In the current year 2018 you will have no problem with an Intel I7. Although it is advisable to check with the software manufacturer the minimum requirements, as well as those recommended.
You can work comfortably under a Windows system, but if you want to spend more money to use a Mac / Apple are at liberty to do so.
With the hard drive we will take into account that a standard song can occupy 300 to 600 MB. And depending on its complexity, a session can even reach 4 GB.
We will be working with uncompressed audio, i.e. WAV or AIFF files in the case of Apple. We will not be working with MP3 or any other compressed audio format. However, once we have finished our work, we can use a file compressor if we want to save disk space by keeping a backup.
On the computer we will install a multitrack audio software. There are well known programs on the market, as well as their free versions (which are usually very limited), and also free open source programs.
With this program we should be able to record, edit, mix and master. It is very common to modify the sound during the mixing using what we call plug-in. A plug-in is nothing more than an application that can be used inside your DAW and that can work on a channel of the sound mixing, or directly on the wave or audio clip. And what it does is apply an effect to modify the sound. The normal way is to use several in one session.
For the recording phase you will most likely need to use a microphone. Especially for vocals, but also for recording electric guitars through an amplifier. Even for recording acoustic instruments like percussion, a classical or acoustic guitar, etc.
There are many types of microphones, but the minimum recommended is to have 1 large membrane condenser, and 1 dynamic. We will use the condenser one mainly for vocals. We will use the dynamic one for high volume amplifiers.
In fact, with a condenser you can use it well if you know how to use it well. But having a dynamic will give you the possibility of choosing another way of recording, as well as combining it with the condenser.