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Setting up a Home Recording Studio – Software Explained

In terms of being sophisticated and state of the art, the sky’s the limit when it comes to setting up your home recording studio.  Of course the essentials such as a computer, monitors, microphones, and headphones are necessary, but there is so much out there that it can easily become overwhelming.  

It’s important to realize that efficiency in the studio is critical and also a necessity for those who want to take advantage of constantly pouring out musical ideas.  To be efficient in the studio you must not only need to know your way around all of your hardware but you must also need to know how to fully utilize your recording software.  For this reason, it is imperative that you choose the correct digital audio recording software that fits both your needs and your level of recording skillset.  

Choosing The Right Software For Your Home Studio

When it comes to recording software (aside from free software such as Audacity), you probably already know that it can either be purchased by itself or else come bundled in a digital audio workstation (DAW) package along with an audio interface.  The audio interface is of course responsible for converting the incoming analog audio signals from vocals and/or guitar for instance into sampled, digital representations which can then be edited and mixed within the accompanying software.

For those of you who are new to recording, I highly recommend going with bundled software since many tools available to you in pricey standalone software packages will take some time to work up to in order to take full advantage of.  Having an audio interface/bundled software combo package also ensures instant compatibility in terms of installing and setting up the software.  There is also fantastic software out there that comes free when you buy a digital audio interface.  Companies like Avid for instance offer the newest version of Pro Tools when you buy their interface.  

Pro Tools: The Industry Standard

You may have heard Pro Tools referred to as ‘the industry standard’.  I personally feel the most comfortable using Pro Tools to record and mix.  It’s clean, intuitive, and doesn’t pose a huge learning curve for those individuals who are just getting into recording.  Though Avid products are a little pricier than most, I think in this case, you get what you pay for.  Presonus also offers a great line of interfaces that comes paired with their Studio One ARTIST DAW software upon purchase.

Obviously choosing the correct DAW software can greatly impact the creative essence of what comes out of your studio so it’s important to choose the one that is right for you.  So who ranks among the top DAWs according to today’s professional engineers?  This obviously depends on the type of music being produced, but if we’re strictly speaking Hip Hop, you can bet the following make the cut.

  1. FL Studio (former Fruity Loops)
  2. Avid Pro Tools
  3. Apple Logic Pro X
  4. Propellerhead Reason
  5. Ableton Live     

Another thing to take into consideration when choosing the appropriate DAW software is what lies for your home studio down the road.  If your plan is to procure a lot of actual instruments and mic most of your tracks, Pro Tools may be the way to go.  If you prefer working with more virtual instruments, Logic or Reason may be your DAW of choice.  Whatever you choice, whether it’s a standalone or bundled software package, there are a few things that you must know and/or take into consideration when setting up your DAW recording software.  

Following software installation, which can sometimes prove to be quite cumbersome (especially for standalone DAWs), you’ll want to make sure that your audio interface/analog to digital converter is talking directly to the software.  This is usually accomplished by setting your software’s Audio Input & Output preferences to coincide with your interface.  The other thing you will want to do is minimize any latency effects that may be present.  

This is also done within your DAW software’s audio preferences but you may need to read deeper as latency can very across the board depending on the software.   

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