In the last post we began talking about how to make your own beat studio and today we’re going to continue on from there by completing the setup and turning it into a full on home recording beast. Up until now, we focused solely on the production side of things and getting all we need to bang out some dope beats but eventually, you’re going to want to flex your recording muscle too. It doesn’t have to just be to lay down a sick verse or to record your friend of a friends sister that claimed she could sing on your hook. You may also find yourself recording any weird noise you can to create your own sound and samples or gathering your homies to create your own claps and chants. The possibilities are endless once your beat studio has the ability to record.
Don’t Forget the Flow
Let’s do a quick recap of the Flow of Audio everything we need to complete our beat studio:
- Audio Interface
- MIDI Controller
- Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
Today we’re going to go further with microphones as well as important recording tools. This where a lot of moving parts come into play and a lot of elements need to be taken into consideration. Before we even think about all that, though, let’s take a look at the room in which you’re building your beat studio.
Now take a gooooood look around at your beat studio. For most of you this may be your bedroom or even your garage, or maybe you’re in a spare room or office, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter, however, is how much empty space is in it. Now I’m not saying that so that we can fit in a couch, get some girls, some drinks and have a party while making that rap magic. You see, empty space gives your voice more room to travel and allows for more natural reverb and reflections which will ultimately bounce back into your microphone and cause a whole lot of…well…problems.
Now because we can’t spend thousands trying to sound-proof everything, we need less empty space. That’s why bedrooms aren’t so bad. You have “things” in your room. “Things” that take up space and will absorb the sound to kill it and stop it from reflecting, like your bed and pillows. That’s why, if you have the unnecessary space (wait for it), I suggest you get a couch! It’s great for absorbing sound with its thick cushions and your artists will have somewhere to sit too, which is nice. You know what else is in your bedroom? A closet! If you can stand inside it and comfortably rap then why not stick your microphone in that bad boy and start calling it a booth.
Walls and windows are your next biggest threat so make sure none of them are exposed by hanging blankets up (I’m serious) and using thicker curtains. We’ll talk more about insulation in later posts but these are quick fire home remedies to aid in a basic recording.
Now when it comes to your mic, there’s really only one thing you’ve got to know before you even think about asking “What microphone should I buy?” You see, when it comes to basic models there are two common types that you will encounter: Dynamic and Condenser microphones. These labels simply refer to the type of transducer inside the mic. This determines
how it picks up sound but let’s forget about all that sciency stuff for now. All you really need to know is that Dynamic microphones are best for recording live instruments and for live performances and Condenser microphones are what you’re after if you’re looking to record vocals in your beat studio (or any studio for that matter…for real).
Now be warned: there are three other items you will definitely need to buy along with your microphone if you’re setting one up for the first time. They are:
- A Mic Stand
- A Pop Filter
- An XLR Cable
These items are inexpensive and you absolutely do not need to ball out and go get the top of the line stuff and the same could be said for your microphone (I mean seriously if you wanna get your DIY on and make a filter and stand then by all means you can). This now brings us to the last pressure point: Budget
Remember earlier when I was talking about the room? Now imagine buying a super expensive microphone that, not only picks up your voice clearly but picks up every little imperfection, reflection and teeny drop of unwanted reverb clearly too. So don’t stress too much about the price and try not to spend more than $100 on a great Condenser microphone. Some are even less than $50. We’ve provided a great selection below this post.
Many people try to skip buying one of these with a USB microphone which is a seriously bad move. Even if you don’t plan on recording much, it’s a great investment for one essential reason: Analog to Digital and Digital to Analog Conversation (here comes some science).
Sound waves are a natural acoustic signal that your computer would never be able to understand without first converting it to a digital signal and then converting it back into an analogue signal so that it can be played out through your speakers and headphones. Now I bet you didn’t know all that was going on hey? So can you imagine how much pressure that would put on your poor little sound-card if you just plugged in a USB microphone? Because after all that, it’s still gotta run your DAW and all the little sound operations on your computer too. See now why I stressed about RAM in the last post?
You’ll only need one channel at a time while recording but many affordable interfaces come with, preferably, two channels, as well as combo channels that can take an XLR cable AND a normal instrument jack for you to plug your guitar or bass directly into your computer (just not at the same time). We’ve provided some great options below.
If You Build It…
All these components together with the ones we previously discussed are all you need to start living that producer life inside your very own beat studio. Anybody can do it no matter how old or how musically inclined you may be. Have you made your own studio? Got any more questions you’d like to ask? Then feel free to share your comments and thoughts below.
Ryan C. Voller, Recording Artist – Producer – Lead Contributor for HowToMakeHip-Hop.com