Home recording

Introduction

Music production is a fast paced and extremely fascinating field to get into, even if it is just a hobby. Audio production and sound engineering are now being done more and more on Mac's but I must admit that I'm a die hard PC fan and this is how my home recording studio is set up. It doesn't have to be so complicated and you don't exactly need to attend a recording arts school but I would recommend it.

Inside the recording booth is a Behringer B1 Pro, which is not exactly the best microphone in the world but it is still a condenser microphone of a decent quality. There are certainly far superior condenser style microphones on the market but it's all going to be up to yourself to decide how much money you want to spend on your home recording studio setup.
 
The condenser microphone is attached to the threaded end of the tripod stand and sits on an elastic suspension cup that holds the microphone, it has some degree of shock absorption. I do have a wind screen that is affixed to the tripod stand by a bendable arm and this helps to greatly stop any sudden pops of wind from your breathing.

The recording booth also has its own set of Audio Techninca headphones for the artist to hear the beats. That headphone cord as well as a second pair of Sennheiser headphones for the producer is connected to a splitter I have plugged into the "Phones" jack on the Behringer Xenyx 2222FX, my mixing board.

Essential audio equipment

Another cable running out of the booth is a low noise and balanced XLR cable which is plugged into my microphone and provides the 48 volts of Phantom power needed to run that microphone and this leads to any empty XLR microphone connection on the mixer.

The Phantom power switch is located on the back of my mixing board and when flipped on it provides the 48 volts to power 8 separate condenser microphones. Each microphone input has it's own Xenyx preamp and British style equalizer knobs.

Having an excellent mixing board for your home recording studio will help you out greatly by being able to precisely control all the audio in the room from one board. My mixer also has some nice features built into it like the 24 bit effects processor which has 100 preset FX on it. There is more than enough room for expansion of more dynamic and condenser microphones or any other instruments on this board and certainly more than I can see myself personally using so that's always a bonus.

Behringer U-Control UCA200

When I bought this mixing board it also came with a small USB device called the Behringer U-Control UCA200. This fantastic little box is the perfect way to send audio collected from the mixer via any open channel directly to my computer for hard disk recording by my software. It has gold plated connections on the device so naturally I paid the extra money for Evolution II 24 Kt gold RCA cable that connects the mixer and UCA200. The aim here is to maintain the best possible signal quality.

Next I would like to explain the M-Audio Fast Tracks Pro external sound card sitting on my desk. This box delivers clean crisp digital audio needed for my superior quality hip hop instrumentals and completely replaces the existing sound card in my tower which is connected via a USB port, it features 24 bit sound and has multiple input and output connections in RCA and 1/4 inch balanced and unbalanced jacks. The box also has 2 microphone inputs on the front of it but it makes more sense to use the mixing board with its superior preamps to handle that.

The Fast Tracks Pro also has a midi in/out connections for directly hooking up keyboards or any other midi device. I don't use them because my midi controller is just a straight shot to my PC via the USB port, this is also how it draws power and does no need any adapter.

Set aside time for practice

I have two separate speaker systems that run independently of each other connected via balanced 1/4 inch jacks to the back of the Fast Tracks Pro, this enables me to support a JVC Receiver that powers the two Infinity 10" sub-woofers and the two Alpine mids I have built into a box of mine. As well as running two Pioneer powered monitors positioned on my desk simultaneously.

My computer is nothing to brag about but it still runs very well and allows me to produce high quality rap beats, you don't need a massively powerful PC to run this kind of setup. I did chose to buy a high quality Samsung 22" wide screen monitor was a definite must considering the audio applications I'm running like Acid Pro are better suited towards a wider screen. It's just easier to see the multi track layout and all the control surfaces on a high definition wide screen.
 
I also own an Axiom 25 midi controller which is a compact keyboard that has plenty of assignable knobs and channels. It is only 2 octaves in length but I can easily scroll left and right to reach the other octaves. The controller also has 8 assignable drum pads in the top right which are velocity sensitive like the rest of the keyboard and the notes respond to the force of your touch. This is a lot of fun to play with, and adds a lot of flavour to my hip hop instrumentals.

It did take me a while to accumulate this home recording equipment and even to fully understand how to use the systems and software as a whole. Yet I stayed determined and bought one piece at a time and slowly built my studio that way. Forget going out and getting some loan to get everything at once when all it took was a bit of time and hard work and now I own it. I love seeing other people's PC recording setups and that's where I got most of my inspiration to do this in the beginning.