How To Record Your Music

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Learn How To Record You Some Music

Below is a compilation of advice from zeFrank forum users on learning how to record your own music.

Read the instructions and participate in the [fun winter project]

1)What Microphone To Use ?

  • Free:
Mac/PC portables: Try your built-in microphone. It may produce OK results.
  • Cheap Solution (less than 30 USDollars):
Head to Target, Best Buy or Radio Shack and grab a cheapie computer microphone. There's tons of stuff $20 or less. Logitech makes a USB one for $29 that even has a light on it. You'd have a tough time spending $40.
  • Less Cheap but reasonable
Cowboy Charlie:
The [Samson C0IU USB] mic is a good idea. I haven't used it myself but I have heard them and its really really great for what it is. Its hypercardioid pattern means very little background noise will be picked up. Another option is the [Blue Snowball] . A bit more expensive, but it looks cool and you can switch between cardioid and omni which makes it a little more versatile. The reason I'd stay away from [Marshall's MXL DRK] is the fact that it plugs in through the line in or mic in on a sound card. On-board sound and even some PCI cards can sound sub-par and if you can totally bypass it with a USB mic, you should.
  • DIY tip for voice recording
I do have one tip to give to anyone who is doing this at home from scratch. In order to protect the sound of your voice and for it to not have too much static, place a stocking over a clothes hanger and place that in between you and the mic. That's what we used to do before we had proper 'spitguards' (they're probably not called like that and they're not just to stop spit...)

2)What's some free software that I could look into ?

  • OSX and Windows XP:
Panzyfaust, CherishHellfire, TekPhreak :
[Audacity]. Its freeware, open source, and easy. You will find a tutorial below...
[KVR Free Software Studio]
free audio sequencers
free audio editors
free plugin synths
free plugin effects

Be sure to check the basic definitions and concepts below if you don't know what an audio sequencer, audio editor, plugin synth, plugin effect is...

  • OSX only

GarageBand is a simple stripped dow program. For tips on using it goto : NB: Garageband does not support 3rd party VST synths and plugins...that being said there's still plenty of good music to be made with it.

  • Windows Only
[Wavepad 3.02] lets you manipulate the wave form in many ways, and is pretty good for simple audio editing tasks. It's freeware, but you can pay for it too, if you want it's full functionality.

3) How do I record some music onto the fun winter song using Audacity?

1. Get Audacity -
2. After installation, open the application and then open an mp3 you want to play with.
3. Set the cursor at the place you want to add vocals, Hit the record button - this will create a new stereo track and will record whatever you sing. You may have to do some configuration in the preferences to be sure your Mic is routed properly. This is in the Audio I/O portion of the prefs.
4. after you've recorded something, you should be able to play back and hear what you've done. if you don't like it, delete that track and start again.
5. When you have something you like, Go to the tracks menu and select the Mix and Render option. This will bounce the whole thing down to one stereo track (instead of two like you had before).
6. Then save the file as whatever you want it to be - WAV, mp3, etc - using the Export As... option in the File Menu
You might want to save the project sometime in between there so you can go back to it in multitrack form.
But... basically that's what you need.

A few basic definitions and concepts

What is an audio editor, audio sequencer, MIDI file, plugin effect and plugin synthesizer ?

Audio editor = A program used to edit audio files: trim them, add effects, adjust volume, convert to other formats etc...
When you want to handle multiple audio streams, the best is to use an audio sequencer, which displays a timeline and allows you to organize multiple audio files (tracks).
For example, you might load a full drum sequence in your editor, cut out only the kick drum in the sequence, then save this to your disk. You would then load the kick drum in your audio sequencer and copy/paste it multiple times in order to form a rhythm.
Audio sequencers also allow you to create MIDI files, which are basically note sequences that can be interpreted by a synthesizer. Synthesizers can either be hardware or software. In their software implementation they exist as plugin synths that can be loaded into the sequencer and played in real time. [The KVR Free Software Studio] has loads of free plugin synths that you can download.
Both sequencers and editors allow you to use plugin effects to tweak your sound. Below you will learn how to tweak your sound using Audacity and a 3rd party plugin.
Sequencers are usually paying programs because they take alot of effort to develop. Having looked at the different options on the KVR page I would intuitively opt for [LUNA free]. It looks pretty simple and stripped down, which is good if you want to learn the basics.

4)How do I tweak my song using a VST Plugin Effect in Audacity  ?

  • For Windows
1.First you must download the VST enabler here:
2.'and add it in this folder: C:\Program Files\Audacity\Plug-Ins
3.'Next go to the [KVR Free Software Studio] and click on All Free Non-SE Effects. Find one that suits you.
4.'For example the plugins on this page: Download the KarmaFX Plugin Pack 1.9 installer.
5.'Choose this path to install to: C:\Program Files\Audacity\Plug-Ins. Make sure that your plugin file (for example "KarmaFX Reverb.dll") has been put in C:\Program Files\Audacity\Plug-Ins.
6.'Now launch audacity. In the Effect menu you should see four new KarmaFX plugins.
7.'Record a sequence as explained in the above section.
8.'Select the sequence (either Ctrl-A to select all or use your mouse to select one section).
9.'Goto to the Effects menu, select one
10.'Tweak the parameters and use the "preview" button until you are satisfied with the effect.
11.'Click OK -> the effect is then rendered to your file.
12.' You may proceed to export the result as explained in the above section.

Disclaimer: KVR is a freeware site. Links to the plugins are often broken, the software is sometimes unstable, etc..etc..If you want bug free, easy to use, ultra pro software you should probably consider investing in a paying sequencer. That being said you can have alot of fun with the free stuff, as has been shown by sportsracers using audacity...

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