100 Newbie Burdles – Part 1 – What do I need to Record and Make Music

You can skip this post if you are happy with the arrangement you have at home right now. This is really really basic. This is for someone TOTALLY new.

The first thing that you would need is to determine the setup that you would need to make music. How long did i wander in this zone?. About an year. How much was I motivated at this time to make music? I would give myself 4/10. So that reflects at how long it took me to finally know what to buy.

Basically, there are three things that you would need apart from your computer to make music.

1. Audio Interface.
2. DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) – The software that you install on your computer that helps to sequence and arrange music; helps you add effects; use virtual instruments and produce music.
3. Instruments and Microphone – Depending on the type of music you are going to make, sometimes a keyboard is all that is needed (example for electronic music).

Lets see each of these in detail.

Audio Interface

This is the most important component of Home Recording. This is the first and foremost thing that you have to consider buying because this is the key. Without an audio interface you are not gonna go anywhere but believe me its one of the best investments i have ever made in my life, I just love it.

So what does an audio interface do? Essentially it converts the analog audio that you send it via a line in from an instrument or signal from a mic that you have connected to it. So in short, if you are going to record guitar, vocals or drums for that matter, you would need an Audio Interface.

I have the M-Audio Fast Track Pro. I got this because it had what i needed and more.

fast-track-pro-4x4-mobile-usb-audiomidi-preamps

FTP_front+back

Reasons I went for the Fast Track Pro1. It had midi support. My keyboard did not have an usb port for me to directly connect to my computer to send MIDI notes to my DAW.
2. It had two audio input jacks. Which was more than enough for me. The max i would do that would be to record vocals in the future or record guitar.
3. I loved the brand.

But sadly this product is discontinued now. I would suggest you check out some of the products like the MBox by Avid, the Scarlett range from Focusrite and the Audiobox range from Presonus.

Digital Audio Workstation – DAW
This will be the second most important thing that you will need. This is the software that you will install in your computer, which will help you create tracks, record audio or use Midi and VST, sequence and arrange them, Mix them and finally master and produce the tracks.

There is a whole lot of debate on what DAW is good for you and what is better and which is the best one out there. Thats an endless topic on its own. But a wise suggestion is to go with the DAW that comes with your Audio Interface. Every Audio interface you buy will come with some free or lightweight version of the main software so that you get used to it and later possibly buy it. Now this is a good deal. When i got my Fast track Pro i got with it a limited version of Protools and Ableton Live. I installed Ableton live first because it seemed somewhat unique to what ive seen my friends use, like cubase and logic. Although i had no clue of what i was looking at, i think it was first love and no matter how many DAWs i come across i always go back to Ableton. This might not be the same case with you. Maybe the first DAW you get to use is something else. Stick to it and become a pro in that. More about this in another post.

Instruments and Microphones

This is an obvious section. Yes you will need instruments. But depending on what kind of music you will make, you might need less or more. For electronic music, a keyboard is all that is needed. Of course you can very well get a lot of other cool gadgets. But this will be the bare minimum. For three months into my passionate quest, i had just my audio interface and my keyboard. No mics, No good headphones. I was just using the headphone i already had. This is why i haven’t listed that here. But if you have the money. Go for it!. Get some good Monitor Headphones or even Studio Monitors for that matter. But eventually you will need some good headphones with a flat frequency response to mix properly.

You will need a good mic for vocals and guitars. To keep this post shorter, let me conclude that getting a decent Condenser mic would be better. A whole post on mics later.

With these three, i guess you can start your quest pretty decently. Let me recap.

1. Audio Interface
2. The free limited version of DAW that came with your Audio Interface.
3. Keyboard and a Decent Mic. Assuming that you are a music lover and you already have an OK headphones.

Thanks for reading.

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