Audio engineering and recording vocals can be a very time consuming and pain staking task. Often, musicians and recording artists leave these duties to professional audio engineers. However, artists and musicians are putting on their do-it-yourself hats more than ever nowadays. Many of them are choosing to record, mix, and engineer their own vocals. This can save a boatload of cash and potentially create a wealth of income opportunities! If you’re a beginner, here are 5 essential pieces of home recording equipment you’ll need.
1. Condenser Microphone
Assuming that you already have a computer with vocal recording software, you will need to buy a good vocal recording microphone. This is probably one of the most important pieces of recording equipment for upcoming artists. When you are choosing which mic to purchase, you will have two options. You can either purchase a condenser mic or dynamic mic. For the purposes of vocal recording, you will want to buy a condenser microphone, preferably one with a large diaphragm. If you are having trouble determining which mic is best for you and your budget, visit a local music store, such as Guitar Center or Sam Ash, for detailed information on the various types of microphones available.
2. Mic Stand and Pop Filter
A mic stand allows a musician to keep his/her microphone mounted up without he or she having to hold it. A pop filter helps prevent saliva from entering into the microphone and also helps to reduce the “popping” noise caused by air passing over a microphone during recording.
3. Audio Interface/Sound Card
The next essential piece of home recording equipment you’ll need is an audio interface. This, often times, is an overlooked home recording tool. Your microphone, mic stand, and pop filter go hand in hand with your audio interface.
You may hear people say “Doesn’t my computer already have an audio interface/sound card?” The truth is that your computer does have one, but more often than not it just doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to recording vocals. Sound cards and audio interfaces built in computers are usually cheaply made and lack the quality needed to give you a high quality vocal recording. You can buy an internal sound card and install it in your computer or purchase an external audio interface and connect it to your computer via usb, firewire, or thunderbolt I/O (Mac). Purchasing an external sound card is recommended if you’re a beginner.
4. Studio Monitors
Studio monitors play a critical role in your home recording studio’s setup. A high quality set up studio monitors will allow you to hear your music the way it was recorded. This is advantageous because regular speakers often don’t “tell the truth” about recorded music. It is recommended that you choose studio monitors with the “flattest” response possible so that when you playback your music, you have the most accurate representation of sound. The best thing to do when determining what type of monitors to choose is to visit a music store and listen to them. Ask a sales professional for detailed monitor specifications, but remember that there isn’t a “best set of studio monitors” because everyone’s sound preferences are different.
5. Acoustic/Sound Proof Foam
Acoustic foam is one of the many sound control products available to musicians and artists for recording vocals. Acoustic foam helps in the sound proofing and sound treatment of a selected recording area. Learning how to sound proof a room and reduce excess noise is essential in home studio recording. If you plan on sound proofing your home recording booth or room on your own, be sure to get a room analysis to determine what pieces of acoustic foam will work best for your set up. Auralex.com offers a free personalized room analysis.