4 October 2014
Recording may seem like itâs harder than it looks, but thatâs an understatement. It is much more difficult. In recording things can get very intricate and complicated. The first things to understand are the sound waves the mixer and the interface. Other very useful details are to know about the instruments and how they work with recording. Also along with the musical instruments you would need to know about the different kinds of chords. Last but not least, I will tell you about the channel strip, and all of its functions.
Sound waves are waves of sound in the air that you cannot see. For instance when you talk you are letting out sound waves from your mouth and letting them into the air where other peopleâs ears can pick up the sound waves and understand what you are saying. When you are singing into a recording mic. You are putting the sound waves from your voice to a mic that can pick up those physical sound waves (sound waves that are in the air) and bring them to the interface where they can turn into digital sound waves (sound waves that are not physical sound waves anymore but sound waves that can go through a chord, computer, mixer, etc.)
A mixer is probably one of the core basic things of recording. A mixer is what the sound travels through to be edited, and come out ready to be heard. A mixer is a variety of channel strips, which makes it so you can edit each instrument or voice individually. Although, despite the mixer being the core of recording, you would not be able to record at all without an interface. You wouldnât be able to because the interface is what changes sound waves in the air into digital sound waves that can go the editing software and back out your speakers. This process is called A.D.D.A. (Analog digital to digital analog)
Now if you really donât know anything about anything in the recording world, you could wonder, âHow does the physical sound waves get into the interface to get turned into a digital sound waves?â Well, obviously a chord could plug into the device/ instrument, and if the chord can plug into the instrument that instrument is called an input device (a device that has a slot or opening to accept the chord) All that means is that the instrument has a âpick-upâ in the instrument that âpicks up the sound wavesâ it looks like a little box inside the instrument and on the outside it will have a quarter jack input where you plug in the chord that will carry the sound waves to the interface to change those sound waves digital. If your instrument is not an input device you will have to use a mic to pick up the sound waves.
There are both âpros and consâ of using an input instrument compared to picking the sound up with a mic. With picking the sound up with a mic, the instrument could sound more realistic, but it could also pick up fuzz from the air, or sounds from your surroundings. Using an instrument with a pick up inside could make the track sound more âclean and freshâ but could also sound like itâs not even real or just a little robotic.
Also with recording instruments, most basses and guitars have a quarter jack input, and the interface only accepts XLR chords. Therefore you would have to get a âDI boxâ itâs a box where you can plug your quarter jack into the DI box and on the other side of the DI box plug in the XLR chord which then plugs into the interface.
Now that you know what mixers are and how the instruments work, Iâm going to tell how they are recorded. If youâve ever seen a mixer youâve seen how they have a lot of buttons and controls. You might even get overwhelmed at how the engineers know what all the buttons do and how they function, but they wonât be so complicated once I tell you what is so simple about them. As I said mixers are made up of several or in some cases dozens of channel strips. Each channel contains one instrument or vocal. So letâs say you have three channels, and on those channels you have, a bass, a guitar and a piano. You can edit each one individually. And each of the channels have their own settings and effects.
Those settings and effects include; âtrack nameâ; which is as simple as it gets, itâs an icon that holds the name of that channel. For example, guitar. Another one is the âtrack type.â Which just says the type of the track which is almost the same thing as the track name.
There is also a ânumeral volumeâ and all it is, is the volume in decimal form. An important one is the âvelocity meterâ which tells you the volume of that channel. And then there is a âvolume faderâ, it allows you to fade and set the volume of the channel.
The two simplest ones in my opinion are the âsolo and muteâ buttons. If you press âsoloâ on your guitar channel you will be muting all the other channels except for the guitar. âMutingâ does the exact opposite. If you muted your bass you would hear all the other channels except for the bass.
One of the most important functions of the channel strip, is the ârecord button.â It allows you to record an instrument, vocal, or any other sound for that channel.
There is also the âpanning dial.â If you were wearing ear buds, and a drum beat or vocal was going ear to ear, or speaker to speaker, that means it was panned. Panning allows you to move the sound to the left side to the right side. Then along with the panning dial there is a âpanning displayâ which just shows you how far youâve panned it to the left or right.
Another important one is the âtrack group.â Letâs say two backup vocals were singing on two separate channels, and instead of editing them separately you could join them together onto one track. Or in other words, making two channels into one. The âtrack groupâ is also very helpful with drums.
Also there is âautomation modeâ, where for example you wanted a certain part of the song to have echoes the automation mode makes it so you can assign any certain effect to any certain time in the song.
Last but not least we have the input and the output. Not an input instrument, but the input of the channel strip within the mixer. Which is where the interface plugs into the channel, then the digital waves of sound go in the input, travels through the strip from top to bottom then exits the output.
Recording is like a puzzle with no picture. You have to make the picture as you go but making each piece of the puzzle one at a time.With the mixer, the interface, and how the instruments can work, and the channel strips within the mixer, we can make music into a song.
Home Recording for Musicians for Dummies
By: Jeff Strong
Published by: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.