Most people’s first attempt at a hip hop production tends to be the hardest, not least because they’re working on a tight budget. Often, the best option is to make your own beats, but not everyone has the time or the skill for it. Free hip hop instrumentals, which you’ll find at dozens of music websites, have made things a bit easier. Just listen to a few beats and decide which one best suits your music, and you’re good to go. These have allowed more than a few artists to put together a demo and kick-start their careers.

When you have the budget, however, buying exclusive instrumentals may be more worth your money. Exclusive means that you pay for the rights to use the material, which in turn means that no one else can use the same track. The advantage to this is that you can be sure you get a unique sound. With royalty-free instrumentals, there’s a good chance that someone else is using the piece, and your material can sound eerily alike. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it can be an issue for people who value originality and creativity.

Price points vary for different hip hop tracks, from just a few dollars to several hundreds or thousands. It’s even possible to find the same track offered for free on one site and for an exclusive fee on another. This should be a cause for suspicion: there’s always a reason why a company would give something away. It could be that the sound quality is low, or that some of the notes are off-key. If it’s free, you can always give it a try and see for yourself. Sometimes the flaws are minor enough to fix in an editing program, and the time you spend tweaking is worth the few dollars you save.

Of course, this also means that paying for something doesn’t always mean you’ve got exclusive rights to it, although that’s the theory. When you find a good instrumental, look it up and see if it’s available somewhere else. You may find that it’s actually a royalty-free piece, or at the very least get it for less from a different dealer. You can also consider making your own beats. Both approaches are more time-consuming, but it’s an important investment—if you plan on doing this professionally eventually, you don’t want copyright troubles to get in the way.

Hip hop production seems easy—just whip up some lyrics and find hip hop beats online to go with it. But those two steps are more complicated than they sound. Finding beats is especially challenging. Many people have a hip hop beat in mind but can’t quite find a sample to match it. Some just don’t have enough sources, while others don’t like having to pay to use them. Others lack the equipment. In any case, there are all sorts of hurdles to finding hip hop beats—and that’s just part of the whole picture.

One way around this is to use royalty-free tracks—pieces that are free for anyone to use, as opposed to exclusive tracks which can only be used once. An obvious drawback is that you’re probably not the only one using it, which can compromise originality. However, you can use editing software to tweak the sound, such as change the pitch or the tempo, so that it sounds more like your own. This is a popular solution for artists on a low budget, or those working on a demo.

Exclusive tracks give you the advantage of being the only one using the piece, which means you may not need as much editing. They cost a lot more, however, so they’re far more common among professionals. Also, if the track doesn’t quite match the song, a composer might run it through an editing program anyway.

If you have a good ear and the time to play around, you can also try making your own hip hop beats. Beat making software allows you to mix and match speeds, pitches, and other elements, as well as use a variety of simulated instruments. There are several free programs online, which can do the job if you don’t need that much functionality. If you plan on working on more projects and eventually making money off them, it might be a good idea to go for a more feature-packed paid program. Most of them offer 30-day trial versions so you can see which programs best suit your needs.

Finally, whatever your medium is, make sure you have a good set of speakers and other audio gear you might need (e.g. microphones). This ensures that you get accurate and consistent results—you don’t want your piece to sound differently from one computer to the next. When you go out and show your work to others—especially to potential partners or record labels—you want to make sure they hear it the way you intended.

A few years ago 5.1 surround sound DVD video players looked likely to become standard kit in every living room in the technology friendly world.

So now a few years on, what has happened to the original promise of surround sound music? Well the answer to that is ‘lots, but not nearly enough.’

For those that don’t know already, 5.1 surround sound is basically five speakers and a sub-woofer placed around your room allowing you to listen to music or a movie soundtrack literally surrounded by speakers. The film industry pioneered it for theatres and it then became available as a DVD player add-on for home entertainment systems.

Now at least 100,000,000 people world-wide own systems, which can and should be used for all manner of surround sound music DVDs.

I hear you say, ‘but surround sound music on DVD hasn’t really caught on. All that wire in my living room’.

Even though the consumer can buy a DVD player and surround speaker system cheaply enough, surround sound music hasn’t really caught fire yet. Why?

There are reasons why we should all remain confident that surround sound music will become more popular, but at the moment it’s still an infant child.

The amount of different DVD and surround sound formats is confusing and can be offputting.

The consumer desperately wants an end to the confusing compatibility war between different surround sound formats.

Many music artists would start producing DVDs if it wasn’t so complex, just as there are many consumers that would purchase a surround sound DVD system for the same reason. They should be able to buy a DVD player and play any product claiming to play DVDs.

Consumer surround sound formats currently include sound on video DVDs encoded as Dolby 5.1 surround sound or DTS; the competing DVD-Audio (DVD-A) and Super Audio CD (SACD) formats and MP3 Surround.

There are 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 systems, four speaker systems, even one speaker systems and ‘simulated surround sound systems.’ Phew! See what I mean?

They all have their uses, but the I feel the music business would be wise to embrace one format. Every time the consumer buys a surround sound music product they have to research whether it will be compatible to their particular system.

The good news here is that slowly, but surely things are improving. As long as there is no ‘new’ new format to rock the boat, the problem of incompatibility could become a thing of the past.

There are many great web sites to visit which do explain (in as much detail as you could possibly imagine) all the different formats and help you decide what to buy.

How about all that wire in my living room though?

There are wireless speaker systems available, but the cheaper ones are for mainly rear-channel wireless amplification. This doesn’t quite get rid of all the wires and limits people who have odd shaped rooms. But they are better than nothing.

It would be great for a ‘let’s make it fun revolution’ to occur with surround sound, like the iPod. Small wireless speakers one could place anywhere. The recommended configuration would still be in a circle, but you’d have a license to have fun by placing them in different locations.

Certain types of music would not really benefit from this unconventional approach, but other types mixed specially for surround sound might not suffer that much and it would release the consumer from the pressure to set their systems up in a way that would please an audio engineer or DVD manufacturer.

Not enough of an improvement on CDs and overall lack of interesting music DVD products.

The amount of compression used for music on DVD video is far greater than CDs. So stereo music on CD is generally of a higher quality than stereo music on DVD. However, add the extra speakers and a properly mixed 5.1 surround sound piece of music and all of a sudden the playback bit ratio seems much less important.

‘What is’ you ask, ‘a properly mixed 5.1 piece of music?’

Recreating real space is what seems to interest some surround sound pioneers. The chance to paint a more precise musical picture by placing you the listener deeper inside a musical ensemble or concert venue.

This approach has got its merits, but it’s reliant on people having their speakers in precise locations, and that they will sit dead centre amongst them. Pluses can turn to minuses at this point. If you don’t have a perfectly set up system it might just sound weird, especially if you are used to the stereo CD mix from the same artist.

Apart from all the technical considerations, I consider a great 5.1mix a strong alternative to the stereo mix. Let’s say the artist already has their stereo mix. Why not make the surround mix something that really explores that extra space and is different from the stereo mix.

Give the consumer a choice of two distinctly different sounding mixes. This might inspire more people to make the effort to set up those surround speakers which are still sitting unused in the attic.

Currently it is almost mandatory to include some type of visual content on a DVD.

In a way, it’s a shame that ‘audio only’ DVDs haven’t caught on…yet.

Depending on the level of production the artist is looking to reach, it can be both very expensive and time consuming producing enough visual material to accompany all the music for a competitive DVD release.

Most musicians have a hard enough time producing their music let alone having to produce hour’s worth of videos as well. So you could say that the need for visual content (as exciting as it can be) is holding back the growth surround sound music.

Live concerts are the most successful type of music DVDs, mainly because they are relatively cheap to produce.

For ‘audio only’ DVDs to catch on, consumer expectation will have to be ‘re-trained’ to expect what they might consider as less. I feel that the days of distributing film or music products on any type of disk is going to disappear fast.

What does the future looks like for surround sound?

The real turning point will come when the Internet becomes surround sound friendly. A new MP3 surround streaming module has just been announced that allows manufacturers to build web radios featuring true 5.1 surround sound.

Many people surf the Internet sitting at their desk, listening to music for hours at a time. Soon they will be able to surf and listen in surround sound. Small near-field computer monitors would work perfectly.(especially wireless ones).

It’s inevitable that 5.1 radio and TV broadcasts will soon become the norm. Even without the music business, embracing surround sound as anything more than a small niche, the amount of people with a 5.1 system is steadily increasing.

At this point, surround sound music becomes a viable ‘audio only’ product. If the surround sound community can simplify the production process even more allowing the average project studio to easily create surround sound content, we should all benefit.

I predict there will be a tipping point where all of a sudden the ‘need’ for surround sound music will exceed the amount of available products.

Live surround sound music can be amazing. I went to Berlin and mixed a gig by the experimental Electronic band ‘Warren Suicide’. Instruments and vocals flying around the room in surround sound mayhem. It was great, and opened my eyes to what I hope is ‘the future’ for certain styles of music.

Dance music is an area I really hope starts to explore surround sound. The drum/synth based repetition is perfect fodder to trigger a quantum leap in 5.1 music production. All the technology is now available to present surround sound mixes in smaller clubs or ‘surround rooms’ in larger clubs.

I have to quickly point out that the 1 in 5.1 stands for sub-woofer (a dedicated speaker designed to carry just low frequencies). This on its own is a major step forward for dance music fans.

DJ producers in particular can take control of the ‘low end’ of their tracks and shake the furniture more than ever before. Because one doesn’t have to squeeze all that low end into the same speakers as everything else it allows for a more overall dynamic mix.

Music mixed in 5.1 surround sound gives us the opportunity to produce and listen to music in a completely new way.

Both as a composer and as a engineer, I personally feel liberated, set free from the confines of stereo. In this case more really is better. The extra speakers/channels give you more ‘room’ to put your music.

My hope is for ‘audio only’ surround sound music to take off. Music is, after all, the world of the invisible – it seems a shame to connect it at the hip to pictures. Your mind processes visual images first, then sound. So pictures can distract people who might listen more carefully without them.

There is room for both music videos and surround sound music without the videos.

‘What kind of gear do you need to start mixing in surround sound?’:

a) A reasonably fast computer

b) Music software package that supports 5.1 mixing (Logic Audio, Pro-Tools etc.)

c) Minimum 8 channel audio interface (Motu, Digidesign )

d) Five matched self powered speakers, and a sub-woofer

Mixing In Surround Sound:

When I first started mixing something in surround sound, I went out and purchased three sets of Sony Mega Bass self powered computer speakers. After connecting them directly to my audio interface outputs, I then assigned the surround sound out-puts in Logic Audio. I opened a song I was working on and spread the instruments out around the channels and hit play… Wow! The five mini speakers sounded great. Mixing in a tiny bit of subs from my Genelec sub-woofer, it sounded even better.

I know… I can hear engineers crying out.. ‘But what about…?’ Well, it’s unconventional but as a starting point this system does work. Now I own a full set of Genelecs, but I still use this approach.

The normal way to mix in surround sound is to have a matched system where the sub-woofer is driven from the speakers. A roll-off decides that everything below a certain frequency is sent on to the sub-woofer. I favour rooting the signal directly to the sub-woofer from a send on either my main out-put fadder’s or occasionally individual instrument fadder’s. This way I can choose which instruments to place in the sub-woofer and which not to.

I say to music mixers; ‘Approach the surround mix with a fresh concept, understanding that it can reflect a different side of the song/composition.’

I don’t recommend the approach of mixing both the stereo and surround mixes at the same time. It seems that one or the other will be compromised. You’re still ‘thinking in stereo’.

The effects needed and levels will be different in a surround mix. I find I use less processing overall especially compression, again it comes down to having more space to place the instruments.

So start fresh without any of your stereo effects haunting you. It’s one of those things that will save you time in the end, plus you will probably mix more creatively.

After a little guess work and experimentation I managed to figure out the right level to print my mixes. Again the sub-woofer channel was tricky, but after burning a few trial DVDs trying different levels I got the hang of it.

I played some mixes I had done in my studio at Real World and Metropolis Studios and they sounded right. It shows you can produce your own surround sound music at a reasonable cost, even in a project studio.

There are hours worth of surround sound production tutorials available from all the major music software companies. Just visit your software makers web site to get started.

Of course the absolutely best way to mix music in surround sound is to go to a top recording studio. If you’re just starting out with surround sound, mix a track with the guidance of a highly trained professional engineer, who has experience with surround sound mixing.

There are great audio engineers who would (for a smallish fee) come to your project studio and ‘consult’ with you on the technical elements of your mix.

If you are producing a DVD for commercial release, it’s still best to get your project professionally mastered. Any decent music mastering facility can (to a point) rebalance your surround mix, so if you are a little heavy or light on the subs they can deal with it then.

Tips on ways to create your own visual content:

The quality you want to achieve is normally connected to the expectations of your audience.

With enough time and energy you can make videos using a consumer DV camera and Final Cut Pro (or PC equivalent). DV cameras are generally just not quite good enough for any ‘serious filming’, but if used creatively for certain situations it’s possible to pull it off. HD camera’s are much higher quality but still do cost a lot more to buy.

Live concerts and gigs can work well though. If you are doing a gig, ask around all the people you know and see how many DV cameras you could borrow. If you have four cameras set up around the club, one camera to roam around and some decent lighting on stage, you’re in business. Make sure the people operating the fixed cameras don’t mess around during the filming. No zooming and out or trying to track the movements on stage. Perfectly still videos are much better to edit. Then in your film editing software, you can cut between different angles and add zooms, even simulate camera movement.

There’s no guarantee, but if the actual performance is strong enough, some of the production values will be overlooked.

Done well enough, you can produce a DVD using still images, like a slide show – again a good film editing program allows you to animate still photos way beyond what one might think is possible.

There are some fantastic animation programs like Bryce 3D, and Cinema 4D that are worth looking into. Start producing convincing 3D text an logos.

Warren Suicide are a great ad-sample of a band who are embracing the audio – visual age. Their DVD was produced by them, and although they worked really hard on it, the finished DVD was not expensive to make, but is just as imaginative and entertaining as any big budget music DVD I’ve seen.

How do I get my mix on to a DVD?:

There are, as you can imagine, quite a few ways available.

The huge majority of DVD players in circulation use the DVD video format. So I recommend choosing Dolby 5.1 or DTS encoding, don’t worry too much about all the others. DTS sounds just as good to me, but I found more options were available with Dolby 5.1.

All you really need is Final Cut Pro and DVD studio Pro or the PC equivalents. DVD Studio Pro comes with a audio compression program called Apac. Apac allows you to compress your six channel mix into a single 5.1 file, ready to place on a DVD.

These programs are not cheap, but they are worth every penny if you’re considering commercially releasing your DVD. Between them you can edit and effect your video footage/audio content, add text, export the outcome in a format which is ready to be authored and finally burned on to a DVD. WOW! All in you back room – not bad.

By: Merv de Peyer

About the Author:

Merv de Peyer is the Son of virtuoso Clarinettist Gervase de Peyer. He is a holder of a degree in Performance and Composition from the prestigious Berklee College Of Music.

After graduating Merv moved to New York to pursue a career as a jazz pianist, and studio musician.
Through his career he has consistently worked with entertainment’s largest names including: Miles Davis, Pharaoh Sanders, Eddie Murphy and Bernard Perdie.

He recorded then toured Cameo’s multi platinum album “Word Up”. And was recently commissioned to Compose, Score (for full orchestra), and Mix (in surround sound) the sound track to the world’s first 360-degree movie currently showing in Germany.

An accomplished producer and studio musician he has more than 100 major label records to his credit, ranging from working with artists like the Bernard Sumner, Johnny Marr super group Electronic, to mixing Mi Chico Latino, the first Geri Halliwell single to reach number.
For more info go to www.mervdepeyer.com

Posted in Music Software by: Hip Hop Diva

Up until a few years ago, making music meant a massive investment in time and money- either you had to buy expensive equipment and learn how to use it, or rent a studio for $100 per hour or even more. Those days are fortunately gone now, you can use your computer to record and edit your vocals or instruments, arrange everything and burn a CD of your work afterwards, ready to be played on your CD player.

In order to make music with your computer, the minimum you need is a soundcard and good software. Modern computers usually ship with a built-in soundcard already, which is sufficient to start with – just connect an amplifier or headphones to it. Nearly all soundcards have Mic In/Line in connectors as well, so if you wish to record vocals or instruments, you only need to purchase a microphone and connect that. Although some soundcards come bundled with a microphone already, those are usually of poor quality and not suitable for decent music production. Thus a good idea here is to seek advice in your local music store.

Next you need to find good music software. Fortunately there is a lot of applications available for all common computer platforms, no matter if you are using Windows, Linux or Mac OS X. To find good applications for your platform, type something like “Music Software for PC” into your favourite search engine.

A good idea is to start with free software, then move on to commercial software once you got the hang of it and your requirements grow. You might also want to look at the applications that are given away for free on cover CDs of music magazines, or those that come bundled with your soundcard. Some music software developers give away older, discontinued or feature-limited versions of their software for free. Often such software is a lot more capable than software which has always been distributed freely.

By: Robert Fischer

About the Author:

Robert Fischer is a writer and musician. He occasionally works as a freelancer for Synapse Audio Software, creating demonstration content for their music software.

Posted in Music Software by: Hip Hop Diva

A Synthesizer in its broadest term, any musical device that makes its sounds output electronically is a synthesizer.

Software synthesizers are programs made for computer to generate digital audio automatically. It is also known as softsynth or virtual instrument as it creates sounds or music virtually.

Sounds created by computer programs are nothing new, but with the advancement in the processing speed the softsynth type software are getting priorities to perform as dedicated hardware.

Softsynths cost less, more transportable than devoted hardware, and are compatible with other music software such as music sequencers whose primary task is to create and manage electronic music. Almost all modern sequencers now have the sound editing and processing capabilities as well. As a result, the terms digital audio workstation and music sequencer are often used interchangeably.

Software vs. Hardware

Software synthesizers are complex software owing to its high production value. There are hardware synthesizers which have software as complex as a softsynth. The difference is that softsynths run on a general purpose computer, usually with a sound card. The advantage to dedicated hardware is that it can be more stable, and also that it often has a user interface that is physical and therefore easier to control during real time shows.

Power of Synthesizers

Most professional software synthesizers offer a near infinite range of creative possibilities with a wide collection of synths ranging from highly realistic emulation of acoustic instruments, analog and FM synthesizers, loop processors to entirely unique hybrid creations.

There are programs designed to emulate accurately the universe of a real recording studio, synthesizers, drum machines, sample players, effects, mixing table, sequencer, with extra tools to edit patterns, control curves, MIDI sequences. The powers include real time synthesis and effects, a user friendly interface and a type of automated studio, which provides the user with an unprecedented comfort, and facility of composition.

There are the composition wizards, which help users to quickly understand the general use of the software and the different aspects of creating a song. It can act as a learning curve for both novice and experienced users alike and helps to learn the way to compose in unfamiliar music types.

Program Overview

Software synthesizers have a tightly integrated environment comprising mainly three zones, the player, the designer and the navigator. With the integrated player one can play the preset synths included in the library. The user interface of the software synthesizers program depends on the manufacturers and their designers. However, there are provisions of tweaks to customize the presets of the existing factory and save them as new and custom sounds.

The designer is the customization section. Here in software synthesizers, the individual modules are connected within a synth, or even create new instruments or emulation from the scratch, using a spontaneous building block approach.

The builder interface presents the patch associated with each synth in a way that is easy to understand and logical. Finally, the browser or navigator is the browsing of the library consisting of: performances, synths, presets, modules, MIDI Links, imported patches and sub patches.

By: Victor Epand

About the Author:

Victor Epand is an expert consultant for guitars, drums, and synthesizers. You can find the best marketplace for guitars, drums, and synthesizers at these 3 sites: guitars, drums, drum sets, drum kits, and software synthesizers, software keyboards.

Posted in Music Software by: Hip Hop Diva

Did you know that you can record a CD using your home computer – with very basic equipment?

Did you know that you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a demo recording done? and you shouldn’t need to spend your hard earned dollars on equipment either!

When I was in my first band and we needed to get a demonstration CD done we would have to spend hundreds of dollars going to studios and getting tracks laid down.

It would take hours and they’d have these huge 24 track analog recording machines and enormous mixing desks that looked really impressive.

The reality is that it is the music that you produce that’s the important thing… not how flashy the equipment is!

After a few times in the studio, like many others before me I decided to start my own home studio. I went out and bought mixing desks, microphones and software for my computer. I was constantly playing and fooling around.

I spent thousands of dollars on all this equipment – I had mixing desks, dat machines and the works!

When I had my first child we didn’t have the space for the home studio anymore – so it had to go! I consolidated into one computer which I used for my internet business, and sold off the rest on e-bay.

The point of this story… you don’t have to spend money to do things!

Just a matter of two or three years after I sold all this equipment I’m now looking into what I can do with my current computer.. and free software that is available online… and I work out that I can do nearly everything I did with my expensive software!

You can get an audio recording program called Audacity – Its an Open Source program (which means its completely free, with no nag screens, optional upgrades, or spyware included) that will do nearly all of the audio editing I used to do on my big computers.

You can set up this software on your computer, and then borrow a decent quality microphone. Then set it up and start recording yourself, one track at a time!

If you play guitar and sing you’ll be able to do quite a decent job of recording yourself that way. Simply record the guitar first, and then sing over the top.

You can also create midi file accompaniments completely free using low cost or no-cost midi sequencers as well. So if you’re a musician my advice is to do what you can for very little cost, and concentrate on your music… not the gadgets!

By: Kevin Tuck

About the Author:

Kevin Tuck is an internet entrepreneur and musician, and has several music related websites. One of his recent projects is to catalog and review low cost and free music software on a blog called the Music Software Guide

Posted in Music Software by: Hip Hop Diva

Do you want your kid to flourish in field of music? If YES, now for this you need not send your kids faraway to learn it. Now a days software are designed in a way that we learn and create music on our own by sitting at our foot steps and doing it on ease. Many software concerns like FlexiMusic, audacity, co ol edit pro have launched their music software’s that even novices to music could learn, compose music on their own.

FlexiMusic software concerns one of the unique software is FlexiMusic Kids Composer. FlexiMusic Kids Composer designed especially for kids. Its has features like “Paint” brush, an “Erase” tools with which we can create music and in no time we see our song getting a new birth. We have separate panels namely “Beats” and “Stars”. We can select the instruments of our choice from Beats and tunes from Stars panel. In addition to this we have special feature viz., Audio recording. In this we record our own vocals, sing and compose music to get into this, we need is a PC, FlexiMusic Kids Composer and a little creativity.

By: Heera

About the Author:

The author is a passionate internet user. He is fond of all kinds of music, more enthusiastic in learning and programming music related software. http://www.fleximusic.com this site is one among the favorites of the author.
http://www.fleximusic.com/kidscomposer/overview.htm

Posted in Music Software by: Hip Hop Diva

Music is the food of soul. It is loved by one and all and is expressed in an incredibly different number of forms. Voice, violin, guitar, drum, piano, flute, mandolin and scores of other means are used to create music. These days all you need is to attract a recording studio and you can start creating music for the whole world.

People like to enjoy music in various ways. Many like to play musical instruments. Many others sing their heart out and lots of truly creative ones compose music. Dancing is another way of enjoying music as is listening to it, whether in a car audio, music player or iPod. You could also open your own record company and launch artists.

Children love music in any form. Even newborns love to hear soothing sounds. In fact doctors claim that playing soft music when a lady is pregnant helps a child in the womb calm down and become more musically inclined. Much of what a child likes in music depends upon what he has been exposed to in his childhood. So, if you love listening to rock, your child will probably pick up that trait too. Newborns have been seen to respond positively to melodious tunes. Many cranky babies become quieter on being exposed to rhythmic and soft sounds. Mothers have been known to help their babies sleep with the sweet strains of lullabies. Parents can download music software that allows them to ensure soothing music for their little one.

Music is everything for the romantics. They use it to express their feelings when words fail them. Innumerable songs have been written and will be composed by lovers around the world to woo their beloved. A lover holding flowers and singing while kneeling down at her balcony is one of the more enduring romantic pictures of all time. Even in earlier times lovers resorted to music to propose and impress. Heartbreak is also best described through music. How else can a jilted lover express his anguish but by sad numbers? Tribes in any civilization have used songs and dances to encourage mating and this process is still followed subtly in the pubs and bars of the world today. A disc jockey may have replaced a singer or musician, but the concept remains the same.

For lovers of dance, music is the prime component. Dance is one of the easiest ways to fell completely free. But unless there is some good foot tapping number on, dancing is out of the question. Even if you have two left feet, you will sway to the sounds of the popular songs. Music is the life of parties. Discos and bars cannot do without it. Whether it is a wedding dance or a birthday bash, music downloads can make any social occasion full of fun.

So love music to love life. You not only lift your mood while listening to good music but can also change the world by creating meaningful songs.

By: Sarika Kabra

About the Author:

The author is passionate about everything musical. Check this to learn how to set up a home recording studio. Here are some valuable resources on music recording. You can learn new music terms here.

Posted in Music Software by: Hip Hop Diva

It’s perfectly possible to make very high quality recordings at home with today’s computer technology. However, you will need to spend a fair bit of money on software, and hardware (such as high quality microphones and soundcards) in order to achieve this. BUT DON’T WORRY! It is entirely possible to make recordings at home that are very respectable in quality whilst spending only a relatively small amount of money! Even better news…it’s all pretty easy to do!

I like to think of my home recording set-up like an artist’s sketchbook. It’s somewhere to play around with my ideas, record a few vocal takes, put down a basic bass line, some simple drums and maybe a guitar track behind it. It’s then that the magic really starts. On pretty much all music software you can just copy and paste individual parts (or whole sections) around, just like you would do in a word processor. This makes it really easy to swap verses around, try a new drum beat on a different section…anything you can think of really.

Home studio software usually has a good selection of instruments built in, so you can add piano, strings, brass, synth and many more sounds to your songs. If you’re an accomplished keyboard player you can play all these different parts in via a (music) keyboard. If not, you can just play the notes in on screen (and you can change them really easily if you play a wrong note).

Like I said, if you want to do this all at a really high (studio quality) level, then you’ll need to think about investing some serious cash. But most software and hardware manufacturers have realised that there are loads of people like you and me out there, and have produced some really good ‘Entry Level’ cut down versions of their studio quality kit.

What you’ll need to get started.

At the most basic level, all you need for recording at home is a microphone, a sound card and a computer running some recording software. Lets look at the hardware first.

Microphones

You can use the same microphone you would use for live shows for basic home recording (the Shure SM58 is a tried and tested classic), but you’ll want to think about getting a studio quality condenser microphone if you want to record higher quality vocals.

Pop Shield

Pop shields are an inexpensive device that attaches to the mic stand, and stops loud blowing and popping noises from reaching the microphone. Singers make these noises mostly when singing ‘P’ and ‘B’ type sounds. You can make basic pop shield by stretching a pair of tights over a wire coat hanger! It won’t be as good as a professional one, but it will do the job pretty well!

Sound Cards

The majority of sound cards that come with computers are not designed for use with music programs. If you try to use them for recording music the quality will be much lower and you will experience large delays which will make recording impossible. If you want to do home recording then you will need a soundcard that has been designed for this purpose.

There are several different types:-

Internal Cards – If you have a PC that has a spare internal card slot, then you can get a relatively inexpensive sound card that can be used for home music production. If you know what you are doing you can fit them yourself, but if you’re in any doubt then please (for your own safety) get someone who knows what they are doing to fit it.

USB / FIREWIRE – there are some great sound cards that attach via USB / FIREWIRE. They usually cost a little bit more, but are really easy to transfer between computers if you use more than one.

Another thing to consider when you are buying a sound card is whether or not it will directly accept the signal from your microphone. It will almost certainly tell you this on the package / website where you buy it from, and may say something like ‘Mic Preamp’. If it doesn’t then you will need to connect it via your mixing desk.

Now lets talk about the software

On the most basic level, the software works by recording each channel of music (e.g. Vocals, Guitar, Drums etc). You can then alter the volumes of each of the different tracks, just like you would do live on a mixing desk. Each separate channel can be chopped up and moved around (just like you can copy and paste text in a word processor). This is what makes recording on computers much more powerful than old style tape recordings. Finaly you can add effects like compression, reverb and delay to individual tracks (or to the whole mix) then your track is about finished.

I’ve always used software from a company called Steinberg. It’s very powerful software and it’s pretty easy to understand. Steinberg produces a very high quality studio program called Cubase 4. They also produce a cut down version for the home user called Cubase 4 Essential, and another piece of software aimed at total beginners called Sequel. There are several other companies that also make great quality, affordable software for home recording.

Once you’ve got the basics set up, you just need to get recording, and try out new things. Make sure you read the user manual to get full benefit out of these powerful pieces of software.

Good luck, and above all, enjoy your music!

By: Gemma King

About the Author:

Gemma King is a Professional Singer, Songwriter, Vocal Coach and artist Consultant. She regularly writes for her newsletter which is a must read for both amateur and professional singers alike.

Gemma has also written a book on ‘How To Become A Singer‘ which is available on her website now.

Posted in Music Software by: Hip Hop Diva

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About the Author:

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Posted in Music Software by: Hip Hop Diva