The Secret To Getting Ahead... Is Getting Started
So you’ve decided to take the plunge... you’ve saved up a good chunk of change, and are ready to buy the gear necessary to record your music.
It’s exciting researching all the programs, plug-ins, preamps, compressors, microphones, etc. In fact, for only a few thousand dollars, you can have a studio in a spare room of your house that rivals the power of multi-million dollar studios from 15 years ago. Today, you have the audio world at your fingertips!
It's In The Way That You Use It...
But the question isn’t really what to get, it’s do you know how to use it?
I hear from musicians all the time who are so excited to jump in. They're committed to learning how to record their music themselves, retain complete control throughout the creative process, and are ready to purchase all the gear they 'think' they need...
This is absolutely the best time in history to be a creative individual. With a little time and dedication, every single one of us can learn the programs and processes necessary to see our vision through to completion. I applaud any individual who jumps in with both feet. As Mark Twain said, "The Secret To Getting Ahead Is Getting Started."
We're no longer bound to professional studios, producers and engineers to help us realize our vision.
But let me caution you. As exciting as this process is, I've seen too many musicians become so overwhelmed when they make all these purchases. They’ve spent a lot of money on gear without any clue how they’re going to utilize it all. My recommendation is to buy one thing at a time... and LEARN Everything About It!!
Taking The Plunge...
So, for those just starting out in production, here is the order I would suggest you go about this process:
- Choose a DAW. Your Digital Audio Workstation is the program you will be doing the majority of your production in. These include:
- Digital Performer
- Studio One
- Choose an Interface. The interface you choose will depend on both your budget and how many audio tracks you plan on recording at any one time. Here are some companies to look into:
- Universal Audio
- Antelope Audio
- Choose a Set of Speakers. It's been said that 70% of the results you get are based on the speakers you use. Do not skimp on your speakers. Here are some companies to look into:
- Purchase all the Cabling necessary to connect your instrument, microphones, and/or midi controller to your interface, your interface to your computer, and your interface to your speakers.
- Learn The Basics of Navigating your DAW. At the very minimum, here are 6 processes that you must know no matter which DAW you work in.
- Setting the Audio Inputs and Outputs Correctly
- Arming and Recording an Audio/MIDI Track
- Editing an Audio/MIDI File
- Creating Crossfades
- Adjusting Pan and Levels
- Using the Included EQ, Compression, Reverb & Delay Plug-ins as well as Virtual Instruments
Expanding Your Sonic Palette
Once you are comfortable navigating your way around your DAW, as well as having explored the Plug-ins and Virtual Instruments included with your DAW, then you can start expanding your studio.
As you do, I would recommend prioritizing your gear purchases in this order:
- High Quality Microphone. The sound quality starts at the microphone, so invest in a good one.
- Preamp. I recommend using an external preamp over the onboard preamp in your interface. Like a high quality microphone, a high quality external preamp will really give your audio signal some sheen.
- Compressor. This is a personal preference, but sending signal through an external compressor after your preamp, and prior to your interface converting the analog signal to digital, can make a major difference when recording vocals and acoustic instruments.
- Plug-ins. Instead of just randomly buying a plug-in pack, after you've become familiar with the plug-ins that came with your DAW, you'll have a clear idea on what you'll need in order to complement the ones you already have.
- Virtual Instruments. Most DAWs come with some pretty impressive Virtual Instruments. After you've experimented with them, you'll have an idea of what third party ones you'll want in order to complete your arsenal of sounds.
Overcoming the Overwhelm...
The goal here is to avoid the overwhelm and save needless expenditures, while learning the extraordinary creative power that comes inherent in your system. If you focus on learning one piece of gear/plug-in/virtual instrument at a time, you will be proficient at navigating your way around your studio setup in only a matter of weeks.
Overwhelm slows down and stalls the creative process, because you will have "all the gear, but no idea" how to best utilize it.
Confidence speeds up the creative process, which makes recording your music an extremely enjoyable & rewarding experience!
What are some of your favorite and most useful tools that you use when you record? Share with us in the COMMENTS SECTION Below:
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