Up until a few decades ago, recording your own music album, or even just recording a few songs of your own, was no easy feat.
In fact, it generally wasn’t possible for a single person to record their own songs, simply because they lacked the required equipment to do so.
Recording a few songs, or even just recording a single song, would require a whole lot of technical equipment, probably an expensive studio, a whole lot of instruments, technicians, and other necessary studio equipment.
For this reason, anyone who wished to be a musician back in the day would generally frequent bars and nightclubs each night, hoping to get recognized by a band or a big-shot music producer, who would then give them access to their studio so they could record their songs.
In the past few years, however, the world of music has changed drastically.
With the advent of home studios, it is now possible for you, as an upcoming musician, to record your songs from the comfort of your home.
You don’t even need to hire any technicians or invest in expensive studio equipment.
All you need is a computer system, a few musical instruments, and a microphone, and you are good to go. You can record any song at home with pretty decent quality.
Nowadays, it is pretty common for home recording studios to be built in basements, garages, and even in bedrooms.
In fact, what many people are doing nowadays is recording a song in a tiny little studio they have made in their bedroom or garage, post it on social media, and sometimes become internet sensations overnight!
Before any of this happens you need to understand the exact process of how the music is recorded.
The process of recording music isn’t too difficult in itself, as long as you tackle each step separately.
Recording vocals and instruments is an entire process in itself. With this step-by-step guide, you will understand how to record music at home.
How to Record Vocals?
The vocals are perhaps the most important part of your entire recording. The vocals always have to be of high quality if your song is to be a success.
The quality of the recording is entirely determined during the recording phase. If the quality of your recording is poor, there is no way you can produce decent vocals.
Furthermore, the thing about vocals is that you cannot fix them later on, once the entire recording has been made.
So you have to take precautions and make sure that your vocals are decent in the preliminary stage.
Using these steps, you can record vocals like a professional, so that they sound like they have been recorded in some sort of fancy studio.
There are three main steps to follow to record vocals like a professional – Preparation, Recording, and Performance.
If you skip out on any of these three, your recording just won’t sound good enough.
Choosing the ‘Right’ Room
Pre-production is just as important, if not more important than the actual production process.
In fact, the first step of preparation is paying attention to pre-production.
The first thing you need to do is to ensure that your song is ready for vocals. You also need to have a rough mix ready.
Once you take these preliminary measures, you can then begin to think of where exactly to record. Ideally, any room or place you select should have a whole lot of soft furnishings.
It is also a good idea to avoid rooms with too many windows or hard surfaces.
Each time you record vocals, you need to ensure that whatever room or place you are in is dead silent. There are a number of reasons for this.
For starters, ‘reverb’ is completely undesirable when recording.
Reverb refers to an effect whereby any sound produced by an amplifier or even an amplified musical instrument reverberates a little bit.
Reverb makes it more difficult to hear the vocals, reduces their clarity, makes the vocals sound unnatural many times, and is therefore undesirable.
Furthermore, reverb also negatively affects pitch correction, and any sort of reflection or resonance is equally undesirable.
So while it’s crucial that the room be dead silent so as not to negatively impact vocals, there is such a thing as ‘too’ dead.
Too much absorption can lead to muffled highs and an unnatural sound.
The perfect balance is a room that is absorptive enough to prevent any significant reflections and resonances, but not so dead that the voice sounds noticeably muffled.
So chose a room with a lot of soft furnishings, like a bedroom or living room! Avoid kitchens and windowed conservatories.
Positioning the Microphone in the Room
The next step is to decide which way to position your microphone.
There are two basic rules to follow here – do not position your microphone towards the center of the room, and position the microphone as far away from walls or reflective surfaces as you possibly can.
Based on these rules then, the ideal place to position your microphone is not too much in the center and not too near the walls either.
Treating the Room Acoustics
It’s not necessary for you to spend too much on making sure that your room has the best acoustics so as to make sure there is no reverb.
All you have to do is make sure your acoustic panels are proper. Then all you have to do is use these panels to make a temporary vocal booth surrounding the vocalist.
If you are looking for cheaper and easier alternatives to this, you can even use materials that lie around the house to absorb excess sound.
These materials include heavy curtains, mattresses, and even duvets or anything else that you know for a fact will absorb extra sound.
If this is also inconvenient, you can place treatment behind the head of the vocalist.
If you are using a cardioid microphone, this is the area where the sound will be affected the most.
If on the other hand, you are using an omnidirectional microphone, you need to place treatment behind the microphone and to its sides as well.
Choosing a Microphone
When recording any vocals, make sure to test as many microphones as are near you before selecting one that works best for you.
Typically, the standard microphone for vocals is a large diaphragm condenser. In fact, this type of microphone works in almost all types of situations.
If you are recording at home, you should generally stick with using a cardioid microphone.
Make sure you have all the necessary accessories too, such as a pop filter and a shock mount.
These help to make sure that excess noise doesn’t ruin your recording.
You also need to be sure to use a strong floor stand that does not sag halfway through the recording session.
Make Sure the Vocalist Is Happy
Right before you start recording, you need to make sure that the vocalist is completely happy with the setup of the monitor and also the mix.
Make sure that the ambiance of the room is decent so that the vocalist is in a decent mood while recording.
Making sure to get a Good Performance
During the recording, you need to make sure that the vocalist is delivering his best performance.
Make sure to encourage the vocalist and to avoid criticizing them during the recording session.
If the vocalist appears tired, make sure to encourage breaks. Also, have snacks on hand in case anyone gets hungry.
A good vocal is always made in the recording phase. So make sure to place special attention on the vocals that you are recording.
In fact, you need to place most of your attention on recording and some of it on mixing.
How to record Instruments?
As important as it is to record vocals correctly, it is also equally important to record the musical instruments correctly.
Similar to recording vocals, there are certain steps you need to follow to correctly record instruments as well.
Each instrument varies in the method that you need to use to record it. Here is a step by step guide on the method needed to record each instrument.
Electric guitars are one of the most commonly recorded instruments. They are also an instrument that is pretty easy to record, so long as you know what you are doing.
In order to record an electric guitar, you will require four essential pieces of equipment – a microphone, a preamplifier, a recording device (generally a computer), and a digital audio converter (DAC).
When talking about microphones, the Shure SM57 is commonly bused with electric guitars. This incredible microphone can deal with almost any volume level.
Some people still prefer a large diaphragm condenser microphone when recording an electric guitar, and these work pretty great too, so long as you know how to adjust the amplifier to a reasonable volume.
The Audio Technica AT4040 and the Blue Microphones Bluebird SL are also pretty affordable condensers that you can consider buying.
A preamp isn’t as essential as the other equipment and you can make do without one, but if you can afford it, you should certainly invest in one.
The ART ProMPA II is a preamp that doesn’t cost too much but can improve sound significantly.
The Universal Audio SOLO/610, on the other hand, is more expensive but produces amazing sound.
Digital audio converter (DAC)
Once your audio signal passes through your preamp, it can now be converted into a digital signal so that you can use it on your computer. For this purpose, you will need a DAC.
The last thing you need to do is to connect your DAC to a recording device. Your personal computer can act as your recording device but so can your Smartphone or Ipad.
Once all this equipment is set up, it’s easy to begin recording.
All you have to do is place your microphone three inches from the grille cloth of your electric guitar amplifier, make sure it is positioned in the middle of your speaker.
You need to ensure that your audio signal doesn’t peak as this is undesirable.
You’re all set to record the electric guitar, one of the easiest instruments to record at home.
The good thing about keyboards is that it is a digital instrument, which means that is relatively easy to record as compared to something that requires a microphone.
There are two main ways of recording keyboards, and both of them are pretty simple Stereo DI Recording and Virtual Instruments Keyboards.
Stereo DI Recording
This method is relevant if you are an old and experienced keyboard player. It is also relevant if your keyboard offers a variety of sounds.
You can then take advantage of these sounds by recording direct output analogs.
The problem, however, is that the line-level connections on most keyboards have very high outputs, and these can very easily clip when recorded through a standard mic preamp channel.
This is why, the best solution is to first run it through a direct box, similar to how you would with a
However, because keyboard outputs are stereo, you will require a stereo DI. A few decent ones are Radical ProD2 and Radial JDI Duplex.
Virtual Instruments Keyboards
If you are not an experienced keyboard player, you may want to go for this method as this is more affordable, offers better editing, no matter your performance, and also allows you to change tone any time during the mix.
Recording drums in a home studio isn’t the best idea. In fact, drums may be the hardest instrument you can ever record in a home studio.
There are many reasons for this.
For starters, you will require a whole lot of equipment including a microphone, a stand and input channels. Secondly, you will require a very large space.
It generally isn’t possible to record drums in a confined place, because of all the gear involved.
Which instruments are the easiest to record?
Based on the above information, it is clear that while recording any instrument can be relatively complex, some instruments are easier to record than others.
For any instrument, you do have to take special care to follow each of the steps mentioned.
You also need to make sure you have all the mentioned equipment in hand before you can start recording.
Some instruments such as the drums require far too much equipment and also too much space so aren’t an ideal instrument to record at home.
Electric guitars, although commonly recorded, aren’t too easy to record either.
Perhaps the easiest instrument you can record is the Keyboard. The Keyboard is digital and this means it doesn’t require the use of a microphone.
Furthermore, the two methods that exist for recording the keyboard are both relatively uncomplicated.
So if you are looking for a relatively simple instrument to record from home, you might want to go for the Keyboard.
This was our comprehensive guide on how you can begin to record vocals and instruments from your home studio.
If you are currently a musician and are struggling with the recording process, or if you hope to become a musician someday and want to get a head start on the recording process, this guide might be helpful for you.
Anything you need to learn about how to record music, you can learn from this guide.
If you feel we have missed out on anything important, feel free to leave a comment below.