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Home Recording on a Budget:

This is a response to a question posted by youtuber, Seventh Broken String...

I was wondering if you could make a video on recording software,
specifically on what would be the cheapest way to go?

Watch the video posted on YouTube for the answer, and follow some of the links to the items discussed...

 

MICROPHONES:

The first link in the recording chain is the microphone. So, obviously, the better the mic, the better the recording. There are two primary types of microphones out there. The Dynamic and the Condenser.

The Dynamic mic is rugged, it has a short pick-up field and isn't all that sensitive to loud sound. So, it can make for the ideal mic on a loud guitar amp. The low-end budget dynamic mic's are also VERY inexpensive. The Nady SP-33 starts at around $10.00. Other basic dynamic microphones to look into are the Behringer XM 8500 for only around $20.00 and the Nady SP-4C for only $16.00. The dynamic microphones are often used in live situations since they are both tough on-stage and do not pick up on the other instruments due to their close field of sensitivity.

The other side of the equation are the Condenser microphones. These mics are very sensitive in contrast. However, this makes them excellent in a studio setting and can yield wonderful acoustic instrument recordings. There are a number of budget condenser mics. The Audix SMT-25 for instance is only $25.00. Then there's the CAD CM217 for only $60.00 or for only $10.00 more you could move into the MXL 990s condenser with a full-host of features usually only found on higher end microphones. These features include things like a
(-10db) dropdown switch, a 150 hz low-cut switch and a built in FET pre-amp. At that price ($70.00) you might want to buy two!

THE INTERFACE: DIGITAL & ANALOG MIXERS...

The most popular interfaces are FireWire interfaces by manufacturers like M-Audio and Presonus. However, these interfaces are EXPENSIVE! And, if you're on a budget, you can pretty much forget about this direction. The only way to go on a budget is USB input. It is only two channels, but that does cover your left and right signals. And, with multi-track recording you can get your recording where you want it with nothing more than a little patience.

If you do not own a mixer, then I'd suggest looking into the Yamaha AUDIOGRAM 6. I've used this unit, and it truly performs. At a rock bottom price of only $140.00 this mixer has everything you would need for simple home recording. Two inputs, (one with phantom power), direct USB output, and control over gain and level for each channel. If you can handle waiting a little bit until it's official release... Peavey is set to offer it's new PV8 USB mixer soon! This mixer is slated to cost near to the same as the Yamaha, only with a lot more bells and whistles. With a MSRP of only $150.00 the Peavey will offer a full-mix for each channel and phantom power for each. I've used Peavey mixers before and wasn't disappointed. Can't wait to try this thing out!

Now, if you can afford to stretch the wallet just a bit further there is the Peavey PV10 USB Mixer for $250.00. This is a serious mixer for the money. With 10 channels, phantom power for all, 3-band eq for all, and stereo plus USB outputs. It's well worth the extra $100.00 price tag!

 

       Recording Software:

SOFTWARE:

Okay, finally we get the the heart of seventhbroken
string's question... What is the recording software to look into when you're on a budget?

In the department of free you could look into a neat little piece of shareware called Audacity. The Audacity software is very stable and works well enough, only problem is lacks in editing parameters and does not allow for serious multi-track recording. But, that said if money is a serious issue, it will get you going until you can save up for something better. Also, for Mac users don't write off Garageband. The software comes free with the Mac OS and it can do quite a lot!

Also, Mac users can save up for the Apple Audio Suite called Logic and it's bargain suite Logic Express. These fully functioning audio suites are top-notch and allow users to fully edit, multi-track, mix and master sound with loads of presets and functionality. Logic Express is the entry level audio suite and only carries a very reasonable pricetag of $170.00. Their professional suite Logic Studio will have you adding nearly $300.00 onto the price of Express ringing the till out at $460.00.

On the Windows side of the audio recording world there are almost too many audio recording software packages to list here! I've worked with a great deal of them and all have their up-sides and down-sides!

Many years ago, I think it was the early 2000's, I had stumbled upon a recording software suite called Cool Edit Pro. It was quite something. I was very impressed with it. Not long thereafter, Adobe purchased the company, I believe they were called, Syntrillium Software. I purchased Audition 1.5 in 2004 and have used it exclusively since then. I do not believe I paid much under $200.00 for Audition 1.5. I purchased Audition 2.0 when it was released, however it contained a number of glitches and I reverted back to 1.5 within a week. The long awaited Audition 3.0 was released in early 2008 and I have recently started working with it in the studio. So, far so good. It requires an ASIO audio driver to record stereo USB, which Adobe never bothered to produce. However, one can be downloaded through the ASIO for All website. The Adobe Audition 3.0 suite can be purchased for just over $300.00.

One other audio software suite you can look into is Steinberg CuBase Essentials. At only $140.00 it can record, edit and mix all of your audio projects!