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So you want to start recording, but you know absolutely nothing and have no equipment yet...

If you want to get started in recording, but you don't know anything about it and have no equipment, you are in a great place. Just take the right first steps...

Come on the FREE COURSE TOUR

So you want to start recording, but you know absolutely nothing and have no equipment yet...

If you know nothing about recording and you don't have any equipment, well you're in a great place. You can start by buying the right equipment, and learn good techniques from Day 1.

We'll have to presume that you are a musician or you know some musicians you can record. Musical skill is another matter entirely.

You could enroll on a course to learn the basics of recording. However courses can cause more confusion than they solve. The problem is with students' expectations - many seem to expect that they can attend a course and somehow 'absorb' the knowledge just by being there. You can't. Sound engineering and recording are very practical tasks. You can't absorb the skill of brick laying, you have to do it. Likewise with recording, you can't let your instructor show you every little detail and solve every little problem. He or she should show you once, you take precise notes, then you make it your business to work out how to make all the connections and get the equipment to do what you want it to do, all by yourself.

You can do the same without formal instruction. Buy some recording equipment and follow the manual. It has to be said that hardware recording systems often have better manuals than software. For the purpose of learning recording techniques, you couldn't do better than buy a Yamaha digital audio workstation (DAW) such as the Yamaha AW1600 16-track unit.

My reason for recommending a workstation here rather than software is that you won't get bogged down in complicated computer stuff. If you get on well with computers, then it will be easy for you to get started with a software DAW. But it's easy to get hooked into plug-ins and upgrades and all the things that will take your mind off the actual music. With a hardware DAW you just get stuck in and learn how to record. Of course you certainly can make great recordings with a software system, so it's not as though this is specifically unrecommended, and once your recording skills are in place you will benefit from having one.

My reason for recommending Yamaha is that they make professional digital mixing consoles too. Other manufacturers such as Roland and Korg do not. So although Roland in particular make great products, in my opinion, you would be learning the 'Roland method', which doesn't have such a strong relationship with professional practice.

So my recommendation to someone who wants to make a start is to buy a Yamaha AW1600, a couple of microphones such as the Shure SM58 or AKG C3000B (one SM58 and two C3000B's - for stereo - would be ideal). You could start with a pair of headphones for monitoring, such as the Sennheiser HD25. Then get out there and record. You'll be halfway to being an expert while people who have gone the software route are still getting the damn thing to work properly.

From that point, a more advanced course such as the Audio Masterclass Music Production and Sound Engineering Online Course would be the next step toward professionalism.

By the way, some of the equipment may seem expensive. The trouble with less capable equipment is that it's so much harder to learn because you'll always wonder whether it's the equipment's fault that your recordings don't sound good. But if the equipment is up to standard, which my recommendations are, then you know it's your fault. Strive for continual improvements and you will get there faster than you think.

By David Mellor Monday February 19, 2007
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