The following info is a collection of resources for anyone interested in being introduced to recording sound on any level.
The first step is to approach recording is to understand what a DAW is. The acronym stands for Digital Audio Workstation. DAW’s basically allows you to record, manipulate, add effects and chop your track in any order, to make it a final product.
There are plenty of DAWs on the market at the moment but the three dominant one are represented by ProTools, Logic Pro, and Ableton Live.
ProTools is mainly used in analog studios as it’s great for audio editing and mixing with outboard hardware (available both for PC and MAC).
Logic Pro (from Apple) is the most common, thanks to its intuitive features. Unfortunately, it’s only available for MAC users.
Ableton Live is very intuitive and great for live loop performances and sound design (available for MAC and PC).
Once you chose your favorite DAW you need an audio interface to convert the audio signal into digital samples in order to perform all the above-cited actions. The most common audio interface, because of its price: quality ratio, is the Scarlett 2i2 from Focusrite. It has two XLR (balanced connection) / Jack (unbalanced) inputs, 2 Jack Outputs and one headphone output. It also has a 48V button to arm phantom power, needed for certain types of microphones which we are going to talk about below.
The world of microphones, as most of the things related to music, is wide. It is mainly divided though in three categories, ‘Dynamic’, ‘Condenser’ and ‘Ribbon’. �
Dynamic microphones are the most common ones, like the super-famous Shure SM58 used for vocals for live gigs (and sometimes something else as well, but we forgive them). It is called dynamic because it creates its own electric current when the coil with a magnetic field vibrates due to the hit of a sound wave. For that reason, it doesn’t require phantom power.
Condenser microphones have a stronger signal compared to the dynamic. It’s more sensitive in its response to the sound vibration. For this reason, it’s unsuitable for live environments but perfect for studio situations. Condenser microphones require voltage from an external source to function. This power is needed because the two plates placed against each share a small voltage between them and one of these plates is thinner than the other and acts as a diaphragm. When the soundwave hits the diaphragm, the vibration changes the distance between the plates and therefore the capacitance, measured by a capacitor. This process requires voltage, usually 48 Volt.
Ribbon microphones are usually one of the most expensive because of the thin ribbon inside the microphone. This makes it excellent for picking up amazing details in sound but also makes it extremely delicate and precious. The ribbon microphone combines the self-powering feature of the dynamic microphone with the diaphragm element of the condenser microphone.
Cool, now that we have our DAW, or cables and audio interface, its time to start the recording! Common to all the Daws is the ‘arm track’ button, which is represented by the Red dot.
First of all, create a new track, arm the track and press play.