Darth Fader’s series on recording continues from Part 1

 

So, what do you need?

 

Well, you still need a bit of knowledge to make a good recording and that’s why you’re here in the first place. We’ll give you plenty of that if you stick around.

 

You need a few tools in addition to the computer, many of which are familiar like microphones and speakers.

 

The most important aspect of recording is figuring out what software to use.  Most people put the cart in front of the horse: they have a computer and purchase whatever recording software runs on their platform (Mac or PC).

 

Not all Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software runs on both:

 

Pro Tools, Reason/Record yes.

Digital Performer just announced a Windows version.

FL Studio, Sonar: PC only.

 

You’re going to live with this software so make it something that feels right.

 

Friends of mine swear by Logic. I swear at it.

 

It’s a very personal decision so try out some demos.  Beg, borrow (don’t steal), bug your friends to let you try running the software on their machines.  Talk to people (I said talk, not text).

 

protools 021213

Will your DAW software take you as deep as you want to go?  Note plugin window for Reel Tape Delay.  More on plugins below.

 

Here are some questions that need to be answered, based upon your needs:

 

•Does the software support recording of both audio and MIDI data?

 

•Is there an upgrade path to more capable versions of the software?

 

•Does it have a track or ‘voice’ limit?

 

•Will you need to record at high sample rates (88.2 kHz, and higher)?

 

•Does it include virtual instruments? Is this important to you?

 

•Will you need to purchase plug-ins or does it include effects?

 

 

A plug-in is a mini-program that runs within recording software to expand its capabilities.

 

For example, if you want a reverb effect or EQ on a vocal track, you typically have to assign a plug-in to that track. Most DAW software comes with a basic bundle of plug-ins to get you started (often referred to as a “Suite”).

 

Some sound good, some not so much.

 

Plug-ins can represent an investment ranging from under a hundred to several thousand dollars. We’ll discuss plug-in formats in the future.

 

Other considerations for your DAW software:

 

•Does the software have the ability to import video so that you can record to picture?

 

•Can it lock to external time code?

 

•Can it deal with a variety of audio file formats such as WAV, AIFF etc?

 

•Does the software require any specialized external hardware for operation? Until recently, Avid hardware was required to run Pro Tools software. This is no longer the case. Most DAW software works with any hardware (see below).

 

Check back soon (or subscribe to Darth Fader’s blog by hitting the RSS button) for Part 3 – Computers and interfaces.

 

You might also be interested in:

Recording Basics Part 3

Recording Basics Part 1

Originally posted 2012-02-17 06:01:45.