DIY Recording Tips for Beginners

by Jenni Bly

Recording music is a skill that’s essential for any musician who wants to earn from or make a career out of making music. As Fourfront Media & Music’s Christopher Knab suggests, “The minute you decide you want someone to listen to your songs, you have entered the music business.” And more than doing live gigs, recording your music is a great way to put your creative work out into the world.

If this is your first attempt at recording, here are some tips that can get you started on the right track.

Pick a DAW

Your digital audio workstation (DAW) will serve as the central software to your recording sessions. Installed on your laptop or computer, your DAW is where you can record, edit, add effects, balance, and master your tracks. Any medium range laptop will do just fine handling most DAWs, and if you have a Mac, you already have Garageband to work with. If not, Digital Music News’ review of Garageband alternatives for Windows lists several beginner-friendly DAWs you can try. There’s the open-source LMMS, a free and powerful DAW that also works on Linux. You can also go with Mixcraft if you can use its diverse library of loops. Try to pick a DAW that you can use long-term, as the more familiar you become with its interface, the more efficient your recording and editing sessions will be.

Get an Audio Interface

If you want to record sounds using a keyboard, MIDI controller, electric guitar, mic, or any other instrument that can be digitally connected to a laptop for direct DAW input, you’ll need an audio interface. This piece of basic studio equipment is the standard connection between those instruments and your laptop. There are plenty of affordable ones from brands like Focusrite and PreSonus, with varying options in terms of their number of inputs and other features. If you’re just starting out, you will typically only need an interface with a couple of inputs.

Get a Microphone

If you want to record vocals, acoustic instruments, or drums, you’ll need a proper microphone. Much like an audio interface where you can plug in your mic, a diverse and flexible mic should be one of your first home studio investments. And there are some relatively affordable options for beginners. Shout4Music’s review of the Blue Bottle mic for instance notes how the unit comes with interchangeable large diaphragm capsules. Switching between these capsules can allow you to find a number of configurations for recording vocals, acoustic guitars, or drums – all through one microphone set. Alternatively, if you want to record these instruments but don’t want to spend on an audio interface, microphones like the Audio-Technica AT2020 and the Blue Yeti have USB connections that make them instantly connectable to your laptop and DAW. Any of these microphones can dramatically improve the quality of your initial recordings.

Acoustics & Soundproofing

Neglecting basic acoustics and soundproofing is one of the biggest and most common mistakes made by amateur recording artists. Soundproofing ensures that not only are your raw tracks noise-free, but also that your recording sessions are not disturbing anyone outside your home studio. Meanwhile, acoustics refer to how conducive your home studio is to recording your type of music. Hanging heavy curtains or sheets surrounding the recording room is a common DIY treatment because it’s a cheap and easy way to absorb unwanted echoes and control noise. This is a particularly useful trick for small recording rooms with lots of hard angles. The placement of speakers and instruments will also factor into how sound travels through the room. If you want to get serious about acoustically treating your home studio, Audiophile Review’s comprehensive guide to DIY acoustics can get you started.

These are of course not the only factors you need to note if you want to become a stellar recording artist. However, by keeping the aforementioned tips in mind, you can hit the ground running as you start your own DIY recording journey.

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By Jenni Bly

Jenni Bly is an up and coming independent writer and blogger that specializes in giving guidance and education to indie musicians and performers. She can be reached at

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