5 Tips: Digital Recording for Students
Unless you have been holed up in a basement lacking electricity, you probably realize the future of music is digital recording. For some of the younger students at LA Music Academy, you probably don’t remember the dark ages when bands would have to slave away at day jobs for months or years to pay for analog tape — not to mention a day or two at a nice studio to track and mix their project. Here are some tips we’ve put together for students about to delve into digital recording:
1) STUDENT DISCOUNTS
Apple computers running Pro Tools have emerged as the premier hardware for digital music recording. You are in luck if you are a LAMA student because Apple loves to sell to students. All you have to do is visit HERE and see what deals they have going. As of right now there are some great deals on MacBook Pros and even a $100 coupon at the App store with your purchase.
2) GET THE BASICS
You have your hardware, now you have to choose your software. If you are looking to make the highest quality recordings, then Pro Tools is your only option. The cheaper option is to use GarageBand which comes with every Apple computer. While not as “pro” as “pro tools,” it is a great beginner program. In fact, artists like Ben Folds and Nine Inch Nails have even released raw GarageBand files for fans to remix their songs. Either way, you will probably need some sort of Preamp to connect microphones and instruments into your computer, this gear will run you anywhere from $200 to $1000.
3) DON’T OVERBUY
The truth of the matter is that you probably aren’t going to record the LA Philharmonic on your laptop in your dorm room or basement. You have to be very realistic about the kind of recording you are going to do or otherwise your budget will skyrocket. Think about the kind of music you will be recording and isolate the different pieces of gear. For instance, a folk singer with an acoustic guitar, you need a good vocal mic, and a good instrument mic, or to save money, track the guitar first and record later using the same mic. Just remember — there are no rules in the creation of music. Prince hooked guitar pedals up to drum machines to get his classic sound, Guided By Voices used radio shack mics to create their mid 90s low-fi sound, experiment! It is often cheaper.
4) CONSIDER USED GEAR
Especially with the current state of the economy, there are tons of great gear out there people are re-selling! Deals are to be had. Check Craigslist, eBay, Garage Sales, and Guitar Center used. You must be diligent because good deals disappear quickly. For more comprehensive info make sure to view our post, 10 Tips: Buying Used Musical Instruments.
5) TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION
With so many people recording on their computers, large professional studios are in financial crisis and creating ways to game the system to your advantage. A popular trend is to “track” your basic tracks yourself and then bring them to a professional mixer in a nice room with great speakers to do the final mix. Although, some would say you are better off spending your money TRACKING in a great room, especially for drums, which are often hard to get to sound right. Mastering Engineers are also having to compete with home engineers and often offer very conservative prices.
Hint: find an engineer who offers mastering per track and pick your best song to get mastered.
The good news about being a LAMA student is that if you want to learn more about recording we have our very own “Music Producer” program; more info can be found here. Even if you are not in the program you can learn a lot just from talking with private instructors and teachers and asking them questions. Excellent resources exist on-line as well. Make sure to check out www.gearslutz.com and www.recording.org. Just popping in there once a day to see what audiophiles are talking about, will be a great free education.
What other tips do you have for students interested in digital recording?