Need to learn how to record your own song on computer? or want to doing cover song maybe. And don’t know how to get start it?. No worry, this article will help you how to do it. This post is I dedicate for you guys who want to learn how to recording song on computer by yourself.
Yeah! at the first time recording music on computer is seem overwhelming. But when you find out the “know how” is not too difficult actually. Of course there is a lot of stuff that require more time for you to train your ear and master that skill. Like how to mixing or mastering a track like a pro Audio Engineer.
But as you go if you have patience and perseverance. You will find out how to do it in your own term. This tutorial is the very basic stuff for how to start recording song on computer (i.e Digital Recording). I will try my best to write this tutorials as simple and clear as possible. Okay, let’s find out what tools, gear and other stuff you need to get start it 🙂
Tools And Gear You Need to Start Home Recording
The advantage of Digital Recording is, you even can make music and play/record or program all the instrument by yourself in your Home Studio. Even if you don’t have Drum or Bass you can use the virtual drum or Bass. In digital recording, every part of the instruments and vocals track is can be recorded separately. Then you can mix it all together into a Song i.e Mixing.
Believe me both are the same. You’ll not get better result just because you are using Mac or PC. That just a myth! so, no problem if you are using PC or Mac for Digital Recording. End of story.
Okay! In order to recording song on computer you’ll need a software called Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and Audio Interface for input & output of all the Instruments and vocals.
Botht are most essential tool you need if you want a pro quality audio beside your instrument e.g Guitar, Mic etc. There is so many brand on the market that you can choose one that suit you. However there is a brand I recommended if you want to lower down your budget. Just like I did when build my small Home Recording Studio 🙂
For the DAW you can use REAPER which is most affordable DAW software that you can found out there in the music production market industry.
For Audio Interface you can read my list of cheap Audio Interface/External Sound card here: Best Cheap USB Audio Interface For Home Recording
Why have to use External sound card and not just using built in computers sound card instead?
The reason have to use external Sound card/Audio Interface is because the built in audio on your computer was not designed for this kind of task. If you insist for using built in audio, you’ll deal with a lot of issue like noises, hum, electric shock and horrible latency problem.
Already have Audio Interface and DAW installed on your computer? then great! We can continue to how start using it for record your music and how to set it up the right way.
Setting Up The Computer For Home Recording!
If you are serious about Home Recording stuff, first thing you need to do is set up your computer. You don’t have to tweak it in radical way like computers on big studios. For Home Recording computer, that you basically also use it for other things like browsing watch Youtube etc. You can tweak it in casual mode if you want and still work great.
Here are articles I’ve wrote about how to tweak Mac & PC that you can read for references:
When you done tweaking your computer, now we move up to setup the Audio Interface and .. start recording!
Setup The Audio Interface And DAW
Most of audio interface brand is comes with plug and play. Some are comes with the driver. However you still need to setup the Audio Interface to make it work without any issue like latency problem. And we also doing a little “hack” here.
For what I’ve experienced by using some of difference Audio Interface brand. If you are Windows user I highly recommended that you better use Asio4all driver for a better recording experience. Yeah! no matter if your Audio Interface have their own driver. Trust me! it works more better. Download and install Asio4all here: http://www.asio4all.org
When you have Asio4all driver installed on your machine now is time to setup the DAW.
No matter which DAW you use most of them are almost similar in how to set it up. So here i will use REAPER for example.
Open your DAW software and go to Option > Preferences or something similar. In preferences window find for Audio device settings. Change the audio system to Asio4all, after you switch audio to Asio click on Asio Configuration.
In Asio configuration settings make sure to thick all of your audio interface input and output. Next set Buffer Size to lower as 64 Samples for starting. See screenshot
Later, when you play your instrument into computer and you feel you can’t play the same time as the sound come out from your computer you can lower it down or level up the buffer size.
Since Asio4all only available for Windows, if you are Mac user you only need to lower down the sample rate. For more info about how to deal with latency issue you can read here How to Fix Recording Guitar Latency Issue On Mac & Windows
Now the fun part, is time to start record your track!
How to Start Recording!
To start recording, in DAW menu go to File > New Project don’t forget to save your project and name it as the song tittle in the new folder of your project directory. This is important for you to organise every track that you’ve recorded.
Set the tempo and time signature of your song. Also make sure you enable the metronome too. By default in all DAW the tempo is set to 120 bpm.
Next, Add new track by right click on the track panel of your DAW. Depend of how many instrument you want to be use on the track here I give you a simple set for recording a song. But for first recording practice is better to only exercise with 3 tracks = Vocal and two guitar track.
Simple song track example:
- Two rhythm guitar, one pan 100% to right and the other 100% to left.
- One lead guitar pan to centre.
- One bass track pan to centre.
- One virtual drum track pan default centre. As virtual drum is automatically paned all the stuff in stereo map.
- One lead vocal pan to centre.
That’s the basic pictures of standard stereo mapping in Digital Recording. However there is no limit for creativity, so if you want you can add layer track for rhythm guitar and pan it to 70% for left guitar and another layer 70% right to make your guitar sound more “thicker” and so on. That’s kind of stuff you’ll know as you go.
See the screenshot below for example
Make sure recording monitor is ON. And Recording armed is active before you hit the red Record button.
The interesting part of digital recording is you can record instrument like Guitar or Bass by Direct Input (DI) and add Effect on it e.g Amp Simulator etc.
Once you done tracking of all instrument and vocal. Now you can add FX for each track by click on ‘FX’ button on the track you want to insert. For example you may need to use Amp simulator for guitar track. Or maybe you need to add compressor and EQ in vocal track and so on.
Find the balance of all track volume. For example, if you find that some of track sounds too pop up than the other you can cut the frequency by adding EQ on that track.
When everything you feel sounds good to you, now you can render your song into one single Wave/Mp3 track. To do that, in DAW menu go to File > Render and choose the output format as a Wave or Mp3. Is better to Render as Wave, you always can format to Mp3 later.
But! .. before track can be rendered, you need to define where and when the track start and track end. By positioning the Time selection. See screenshot below
And congratulation! you’ve just record your first track and learn to mixing by yourself.
That’s the basic practical & theory of how to record music on computer using DAW software. I will try to discuss how to advance mixing etc on the next post in another chance. Not promise but I will try. As my self still learning and develop that kind of skill.
But, overall hope this article can help you get rid of overwhelmed feeling when you first time find out how to record music on computer. As you succeed record your first track, you will found it’s fun, exited and challenging at the same time.
So happy recording and never stop learning!