Home Recording For Dummies

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  • Edition: 6th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2020-11-03
  • Publisher: For Dummies
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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


Make your next track a studio-quality gem with this celebrated recording guide 

Have you ever dreamed of producing the next big song? Or maybe you need some hints on the recording gear used to create pro podcasts? With just a little bit of guidance, there’s nothing stopping you from creating crystal-clear, studio-quality tracks from the comfort of your own home. In Home Recording For Dummies, expert sound engineer and celebrated author Jeff Strong demystifies the world of recording and walks you through every step of creating high-fidelity audio.  

With this book at your side, you’ll discover how to choose a room that fits your studio needs, get the hardware you can’t live without, choose the right microphone for the task at hand, record live and virtual instruments, build rhythm tracks and loops, and edit, mix, and master your recording. 

Learn how to: 

  • Set up your home studio, acquire and connect all the right gear, and build multi-track recordings 
  • Understand the different types of microphones and the best use for each 
  • Record audio from live sound or virtual instruments 
  • Edit your tracks for better project management 
  • Mix and master your music for public consumption 

Home Recording For Dummies is the must-read guide that helps home create high-fidelity, multi-track songs and recordings that blow audiences away. 

Author Biography

Jeff Strong is a percussionist, composer, recording engineer, researcher, and Director of the Strong Institute—an auditory brain stimulation research organization—and creator of Brain Shift Radio (BSR), an interactive brain stimulation music site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Foolish Assumptions 2

Icons Used in This Book 3

Beyond the Book 3

Where to Go from Here 3

Part 1: Getting Started with Home Recording 5

Chapter 1: Understanding Home Recording 7

Examining the Anatomy of a Home Studio 7

Exploring the recording essentials 8

Checking out recording system types 10

Getting a Glimpse into the Recording Process 11

Setting up a song 11

Getting a great sound 11

Recording 12

Overdubbing 12

Making Sense of Mixing 12

Cleaning up tracks using editing 13

Equalizing your tracks 13

Processing your signal 13

Blending your tracks 13

Adding the Final Touches 14

Mastering your mixes 14

Putting your music out into the world 15

Promoting your music 16

Chapter 2: Getting the Right Gear 17

Determining Your Home Studio Needs 18

Detailing Your Digital Options 21

Computer-Based Digital Recording Systems 23

Finding the right computer setup 23

Getting the sound in and out 26

Choosing the right software 30

Studio-in-a-Box Systems 33

Taking a look at the benefits 33

Examining some popular SIAB systems 33

Mobile-Device Recording 34

Android 35

Apple iOS 36

Exploring Sample Setups 37

Live and MIDI studio 38

MIDI-intensive studio 38

Live studio 41

Podcasting studio 42

Audio-for-video studio 43

Mobile on-location studio 44

Chapter 3: Getting Connected: Setting Up Your Studio 45

Understanding Analog Connections 46

The ¼-inch analog plug 46

XLR 49

RCA 49

Delving into Digital Connections 50




ADAT Lightpipe 51


USB 52

FireWire 53

Thunderbolt 54

Working Efficiently 55

Taming heat and dust 57

Monitoring your monitors 57

Optimizing Your Room 58

Isolating sound 58

Controlling sound 60

Chapter 4: Meet the Mixer 69

Meeting the Many Mixers 69

Analog mixer 70

Digital mixer 71

Software mixer 72

Computer control surface 73

Understanding Mixer Basics 74

Examining inputs 75

Checking out the channel strip 76

Recognizing mixer routing 82

Opting for outputs 83

Chapter 5: Multitrack Recording 85

Understanding Multitracking 85

Getting Ready to Record 86

Setting up a song 87

Creating and organizing your tracks 87

Selecting a sound source 90

Setting levels 92

Getting the sound you want 92

Choosing a monitoring source 95

Setting a Tempo Map 95

Saving Your Work 95

Sharing Files with Others 96

Part 2: Working with Microphones 97

Chapter 6: Understanding Microphones 99

Meeting the Many Microphone Types 100

Construction types 100

Polarity patterns 106

Assessing Your Microphone Needs 110

Deciding How Many Microphones and What Kind 111

Getting started 111

Movin’ on 113

Going all out 115

Finding the Right Mic for the Situation 117

Partnering Mics with Preamps 120

Solid-state 120

Vacuum tube 121

Hybrid 121

Considering Compressors 122

Analyzing Some Microphone Accessories 123

Microphone cords 123

Microphone stands 123

Pop filters 123

Caring for Your Microphones 124

Daily care 125

Storage 125

Chapter 7: Taking a Look at Microphone Techniques 127

Singling Out Close Miking 128

Detailing Distant Miking 130

Assessing Ambient Miking 131

Selecting Stereo Miking 133

X-Y pairs 133

Blumlein technique 134

Spaced pairs 135

Stereo microphones 136

Overcoming problems with stereo miking 137

Creating Miking Combinations 139

Chapter 8: Miking Your Instruments 141

Getting a Great Lead Vocal Sound 142

Making the most of the room 142

Choosing the best mic 142

Getting Good Backup Vocals 145

Examining Electric Guitar Miking 146

Using the room 147

Getting the most out of the mics 147

Exploring Electric Bass Miking 149

Managing the room 149

Getting the most from the mic 149

Miking Acoustic Guitars and Similar Instruments 150

Making the most of the room 150

Using your mics 150

Maneuvering Horn Mics 152

Understanding the role of the room 152

Making the most of the mics 152

Placing Mics for a Piano 153

Harnessing the sound of the room 153

Managing the mics 153

Setting Up Mics for Strings 154

Making the most of the room 154

Making sense of the mics 154

Digging into Drum Set Miking 155

First things first: Tuning your drums 155

Using the room to your benefit 156

Picking up the kick (bass) drum 156

Setting up the snare drum 159

Tackling the tom-toms 160

Handling the hi-hats 161

Creating the best cymbal sound 161

Miking the whole kit 162

Getting Your Hands on Hand Drums 163

Perfecting Percussion Miking 163

Exploring the impact of the room 163

Choosing and using the mics 164

Part 3: Recording Live Audio 165

Chapter 9: Getting a Great Source Sound 167

Making Sense of the Signal Chain 167

Setting Optimal Signal Levels 169

Understanding Pre and Post Levels 171

Interpreting the various levels 171

Looking at examples 173

Getting Great Guitar, Bass, and Electronic String Instrument Sounds 174

Connect directly 174

Process beforehand 175

Leverage your amp 176

Creating Killer Keyboard Tracks 176

Recording E-Drums, Drum Machines, and Electronic Percussion 177

Making the Most of Microphones 178

Placing mics properly 179

Compressing carefully 179

Chapter 10: Recording Audio 183

Performing Your First Take 183

Punching In and Out 185

Manual punching 185

Punching with a foot switch 185

Automatic punching 185

Repeated punching (looping) 186

Exploring Overdubbing 187

Submixing 188

Bouncing 189

Keeping Track of Your Tracks 190

Chapter 11: Understanding Electronic Instruments and MIDI 191

Meeting MIDI 192

Perusing MIDI ports 192

Understanding MIDI channels 194

Appreciating MIDI messages 195

Managing modes 196

Taking orders from General MIDI 197

Gearing Up for MIDI 198

Sound generators 199

Sound card 202

MIDI controller 203

Sequencer 204

MIDI interface 204

Chapter 12: Recording Electronic Instruments Using MIDI 207

Synchronizing Your Devices 207

Synchronizing two (or more) synthesizers 208

Synchronizing a computer sequencer and a synthesizer 209

Synchronizing a sequencer and an audio recorder 210

Using the transport function from one device to control another 212

Sequencing 214

Recording MIDI data 215

Overdubbing 217

Saving Your Data 218

Transferring Data Using MIDI 219

Chapter 13: Working with Loops 221

Understanding Loops and Loop Types 222

Choosing Loop Formats 222

Setting Up Your Session 223

Setting tempo and time and key signatures 223

Creating song maps 224

Enabling a metronome 225

Adding Loops to Your Sessions 226

Browsing loop libraries 226

Previewing loops 227

Adding loops to your session 227

Editing Loops 229

Creating Loops 229

Part 4: Editing and Enhancing Your Tracks 233

Chapter 14: Getting into Editing 235

Understanding Digital Editing 236

Copy 237

Cut/Delete/Erase 237

Insert 238

Paste 239

Move 240

Export/Import 240

Undo 241

Finding the Section You Want to Edit 241

Editing aurally 241

Editing visually 242

Editing to Improve the Sound of a Performance 244

Replacing a bad note 245

Evening out a performance 246

Getting rid of distortion 247

Getting rid of noise 248

Correcting pitch problems 248

Creating a Performance That Never Happened 249

Creating loops 249

Assembling a song 250

Making compilations of your tracks 250

Discovering Other Ways to Use Editing 251

Adjusting the length of a performance 251

Reversing a phrase 251

Chapter 15: Editing MIDI Data 253

Understanding MIDI Windows 253

Selecting track material 255

Setting MIDI patches on tracks 255

Adding MIDI events 256

Deleting MIDI notes 257

Editing MIDI Data 257

Changing a note’s pitch 258

Changing a note’s duration 258

Changing a note’s velocity 259

Changing time locations 259

Moving notes freely 260

Editing Program Data 260

Changing program patches 260

Moving program change markers 260

Changing Continuous Controller Data 261

Editing lines with the Pencil tool 261

Editing breakpoints 262

Scaling breakpoints 262

Quantizing Your Performance 263

Transposing Your Performance 266

Saving Your Data 267

Transferring Data Using MIDI 267

Part 5: Mixing and Mastering Your Music 269

Chapter 16: Mixing Basics 271

Understanding Mixing 272

Managing Levels as You Work 272

Getting Started Mixing Your Song 273

Mixing in DAWs 274

Using a control surface 274

Using a digital mixer 274

Using an analog mixer 275

Using the Stereo Field 276

Left or right 276

Front or back 278

Adjusting Levels: Enhancing the Emotion of the Song 279

Dynamics 280

The arrangement 281

Tuning Your Ears 281

Listening critically 281

Choosing reference music 283

Dealing with ear fatigue 284

Making several versions 284

Chapter 17: Using Equalization 285

Exploring Equalization 285

Graphic 285

Parametric 286

Low-shelf/high-shelf 286

Low-pass/high-pass 287

Dialing-In EQ 287

Inserting an EQ plug-in in a track 287

Exploring EQ options 289

Equalizing Your Tracks 291

General EQ guidelines 293

Equalizing vocals 296

Equalizing guitar 296

Equalizing bass 297

Equalizing drums 297

Equalizing percussion 299

Equalizing piano 299

Equalizing horns 300

Chapter 18: Digging into Dynamics Processors 301

Connecting Dynamics Processors 301

Introducing Compressors 302

Getting to know compressor parameters 303

Getting started using compression 305

Using compression 306

Looking into Limiters 311

Understanding limiter settings 312

Setting limits with the peak limiter 313

Introducing Gates and Expanders 314

Getting to know gate parameters 314

Getting started using gates 316

Getting started using an expander 317

Detailing the De-Esser 317

Setting Up Side Chains 319

Setting up a side chain 319

Using a side chain 321

Chapter 19: Singling Out Signal Processors 323

Routing Your Effects 324

Inserting effects 324

Sending signals to effects 325

Rolling Out the Reverb 326

Seeing reverb settings 327

Getting started using reverb 328

Detailing Delay 329

Digging into delay settings 329

Getting started using delay 330

Creating Chorus Effects 331

Making Sense of Microphone Modeling 333

Applying an Amp Simulator 334

Detailing Distortion Effects 335

Selecting Tape Saturation Effects 336

Chapter 20: Automating Your Mix 339

Understanding Automation 340

Audio tracks 340

Auxiliary input tracks 340

Instrument tracks 341

Master fader tracks 341

MIDI tracks 341

Accessing Automation Modes 341

Writing Automation 343

Writing automation on a track 343

Writing plug-in automation 344

Writing send automation 345

Viewing Automation 346

Editing Automation Data 347

Using editing commands 347

Editing with the edit tools 348

Chapter 21: Making Your Mix 351

Submixing Tracks 351

Mixing in-the-Box 353

Examining bounce options 353

Performing the bounce 356

Using an External Master Deck 357

Chapter 22: Mastering Your Music 359

Demystifying Mastering 360

Processing 360

Sequencing 361

Leveling 361

Getting Ready to Master 361

Paying a Pro or Doing It Yourself 362

Hiring a Professional Mastering Engineer 363

Mastering Your Music Yourself 365

Optimizing dynamics 366

Perfecting tonal balance 368

Sequencing your songs 370

Balancing levels 371

Preparing for Distribution 372

Chapter 23: Creating Your Finished Product 373

Understanding File Formats 374

Lossy audio file formats 374

Lossless audio file formats 374

Putting Your Music on CD 375

CDs on demand 376

Short-run CD duplication 378

Large-quantity CD replication 379

Delivering Digital Files 380

Download card 381

USB sticks (flash drives) 381

Online music distribution 382

Streaming music sites 382

Creating MP3 Files 383

Bit rate 383

Mode 385

Pressing Vinyl 386

Part 6: The Part of Tens 389

Chapter 24: Ten Invaluable Recording Tips 391

Using an Analog Tape Deck 391

Layering Your Drum Beats 392

Decorating Your Room 393

Setting a Tempo Map 393

Listening to Your Mix in Mono 394

Doubling and Tripling Your Tracks 394

Recording Dirty Room Ambience 394

Overdubbing Live Drums 395

Pressing Record, Even during a Rehearsal 396

Leaving the Humanity in Your Tracks 396

Chapter 25: Ten (or So) Ways to Distribute and Promote Music 397

Marketing Yourself 398

Setting Up Your Own Music Website 399

Checking out musician-friendly hosting services 400

Designing your site 400

Putting Your Music on a Music Host Site 402

Engaging in Social Media Networking 403

Offering Free Downloads 404

Selling Your Music Digitally 404

Licensing Your Music 406

Podcasting 406

Selling Your CDs 407

Promoting Your Music 408

Connecting with an Email Newsletter 409

Index 411

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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