It is vitally important as an audio engineer to understand how audio gets from the recording source to your speakers within the studio environment.
The modern home studio has become a lot simpler over the years. Gone are the days of separate pre-amps and D/A converters, most home studios
can be setup with the below equipment:
Audio gets recorded via microphone or instrument of choice via midi cable or xlr audio cable into your external sound card (or you could have an on board PCI inside your computer machine)
The sound card will also have a midi in for your midi controller, and if its usb powered, it will plug directly into your computer.
It will also have output to your speaker monitors and headphones.
Pre amps and D/A converters are housed within your sound card.
You could also have a separate mic pre-amp if your sound card does not possess phantom power (more on this when we discuss microphone choice)
Your sound card then carries the signal into your computer/ laptop via usb, and then into your DAW of choice.
If you plan on recording multiple instruments or vocalists, it is probably best to replace or compliment your external sound card with a mixing desk.
Mixing desks have more audio inputs and outputs and allow you more freedom and control over your mix with its faders and onboard effects.
(more on this when we discuss mixing desks in detail)
Continuing the signal flow once inside your DAW:
To record or monitor the incoming signal, you will arm an audio or midi track (depending on the source) for recording. For midi, you will insert your midi plugin or virtual instrument directly onto the midi track.
Once your recording is done, this signal can be routed to your effects units / plugins or send/ return tracks and then to your master channel.
The Master channel carries the signal out to your sound card which sends the audio to you monitors and/ or headphones.
It is important to remember that the better your recording, the better your mix and the better your end result will be.
This places valuable importance on your studio environment, acoustics and monitor placement in your home studio.
Too many bedroom producers neglect this simple fact and look to the mix engineer to fix a bad recording.
Remember, there is nothing that can be done to improve a bad recording.
Yes you can always clean up a bit of background noise or ground hum, but if you find that your little poodle is doing backing vocals on your song, you are fighting a losing battle.
Make sure your recording is clean and clear and you cannot go wrong.
For more recording tips, our next post will be on studio acoustics, outlining common materials which can be used to absorb sound in your home studio and how to use them.
Please feel free to comment in the comments section below, we need your feedback and questions to be able to assist anyone having difficulty out there.
Yours in making music easier…