With the advent of new technology that allows the average consumer to record music at their home computer, you are now free to explore the world of creating your own audio. To get started, you need a computer with at least 1.6 gHz of processing speed, and at least one gigabyte of RAM. More is better, of course, but this is the minimum that will get you started. You also need a sound card with a microphone input, plus a microphone that will plug into that input.
Audacity is a free audio program which you can use to record and edit your music. You can download Audacity for free online. Once you have downloaded Audacity, you must access the Settings and set Audacity to recognize your sound card input. Audacity offers the ability record multiple tracks of audio, which gives you easier editing than using the onboard sound recorder that comes with most operating systems.
Make sure the audio levels bar indicates firmly in the green for most of your recording. If your recording is too low in volume, the sound will have a thin quality to it. If the recording is in the red, this means that you have exceeded the volume capacity of your hardware or software, and a distorted artifact will result. You can avoid this problem by using a hardware compressor or turning down your preamp if the sound is entirely too loud.
If you want to take your recordings to a professional level, get your hands on some professional audio equipment. Check Craigslist or your local classifieds for local deals for cash, but check the hardware carefully for damage and operational problems because there are no guarantees once you hand over the cash.
To have a professional recording setup, you need at least a recording console, a preamp, monitor speakers, and a professional microphone such as a Shure SM-57. A recording console such as the Ozone is a good small entry level recording console which is affordable for a start.
A preamp prepares and gives body to the sound before it is fed through the recording console. If you have an old receiver, especially a tube receiver from the ’70s, you can use the receiver as your preamp. Otherwise, a guitar mixer or any other sound processing hardware can function as a preamp. You can also buy a new preamp online for as little as $30. A preamp can make recording a lot easier by giving you greater control of the sound before it reaches the audio program.
Though you can record professional-sounding music with a free audio editing and recording program, the industry standard professional pay software Pro Tools offers a greatly expanded array of plug-ins and filters that give you greater control over your computer.