It's not as difficult as you might think to make your own recordings on your computer. You need to have a good soundcard, a digital recording audio program and a fairly good microphone. These are items that you can find at your favorite computer store. The microphone should be a good quality microphone for recording voice or instrument and not a headset microphone or the like.
- If your PC does not have a good soundcard, get one and install it. Actually most PCs (or Macs) already have a good sound card. You may need an adapter for your microphone to change the size of the plug from quarter inch to mini, which most soundcards accept. Plug your microphone in and find the mixer software that came with the sound card. You will have to switch your microphone on and play with setting the level.
- Install your audio program and set up for recording. Once you have installed your audio program, open it and go into the 'options' menu in the toolbar that will, most likely, be found right at the top. In this menu, go down to 'audio' and be sure your soundcard is selected. You may also have the option of setting the sample rate and you will want 44100hz, as this is a CD-quality sample rate. If you record with a lower rate, you will not be able to burn your files to CD. Next, go into 'midi,' in the same menu and select your midi device. If you are going to record midi through your soundcard, be sure the midi device from your soundcard is selected.
- To make a midi recording. Midi is a file format. It is one of the two main file formats used for sound recording. One way that you would make a midi recording would be to plug a midi-compatible instrument, such as an electric keyboard, through your soundcard. For this, you need a midi cable. The next step is to select a track in your audio program, click on 'source' and select the midi device you are using. Find your metronome or your click track, which is probably in the 'options' menu under 'project' and you can set it to play during your recording and during playback to synchronize the recording of other tracks. You can also disable it altogether if that is your preference. The advantage of the midi format is that you can easily change the sound of the instrument voice you are recording with, so that you can get flute or trumpet, for example. The disadvantage is that the sound will only be as good as the midi device you are using. You will need to experiment with different midi devices and instrument ranges. Software synthesizer plug-ins can give you a better sound. Also you cannot record the midi format to CD. It needs to be mixed down or recorded to the next audio format we will be discussing, which is wav.
- To make an audio recording using the wav. format. Anything that you record through a microphone, such as a voice or any instrument is recorded using the wav. format. With wav., you get back exactly what you record. One advantage, though, is that editing possibilities are tremendous, easy and can be instantly reversed without losing the original track. To record to wav., select your track and go to the source again, only this time selecting 'audio.' Arm the track and set up your click, if you want it, and you are all set.
This is a very basic overview of digital audio recording and there are, obviously, almost endless nuances as far as mixing, effects and plug-ins go. However, even if you read the manual that came with your audio program from cover to cover, most of the learning curve comes from trying it and experimenting, and this is where a lot of the fun and creativity comes in! I made some of my most interesting recordings as I was just learning. You can't really hurt anything so just 'let it all hang out' and try it all out.