If you want to start recording at home you will need to think of things like finding a room to record in that you don’t have to pay for, and how to make a room suitable to record in.
In the past we have also looked at at some multitrack equipment that will enable you record without breaking the bank, including multitrack recording interfaces and multitrack software which would enable you to both record and mix.
Of course you’ll need something to listen to the mix on, so here’s an article covering mixing on headphones or speakers.
And most recently we have looked at microphones; which ones to borrow, getting the best out of dynamic mics and condenser mics, and of course which mics to buy if you need them.
That little lot should almost everything you need to get started on a multitrack recording, but there are a few more bits and pieces that are essential before you can get stuck right into recording.
You will definitely need some XLR cables to connect your mics to an interface with. It’s worth buying decent length cables in the first place, and something between 5 and 10 meters should be plenty for a home studio. 5 meters should just about give you enough length to reach from a near-by interface to any where on a drum kit including overheads. If your interface won’t be in the same room as the musicians, then you will need significantly longer cables.
It’s worth investing in a few extra ones, because you might just need to extend one or two to reach a particular microphone, or you might be unlucky and have one damaged.
A couple of 1/4″ jack to jack cables will also prove very useful, because when was the last time your guitarist remembered a spare one?
These little gems are incredibly useful to have in a home studio. They basically work by taking the output signal from an electrical instrument like a guitar pick-up or keyboard, and bump up the signal to microphone level to plug into your interface. They will also have an output to plug into a guitar amp if you want the musician to have their own back-line monitor or you want to mic it up that way too. Most DI boxes will include an earth lift switch which can entirely eliminate that irritating hum you often get with electric guitars or basses.
Stands are clearly a must, and ones with boom arms are the most versatile. Boom arms allow you to extend the mic stand horizontally, for example under a hi-hat to reach the snare or something. You will need at least as many as the minimum number of channels you expect to record simultaneously.
Hopefully any mics that you have will come with clips, especially if you buy them from new. However if you have been able to borrow some, then it’s definitely worth checking that they have a clip to attach them to a mic-stand with. Clips can be surprisingly expensive to buy, so try not to lose them!
A pop shield can really help you with recording vocals (which we will cover later in this series) as it can reduce or eliminate the ‘pops’ from consonant sounds like ‘p’ and ‘b’ etc. I’ve actually seen one used on a kick drum mic too, to stop a condenser mic’s capsule from overloading due to the rush of air through the hole in the rear skin.
Maybe not a necessity, but a stereo bar that allows you to mount to mics in close proximity on one stand can be a real space saver. They are often very useful on acoustic guitars, and drum overheads.
[image via petit hiboux]