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By Derek Maffett

A simple guide to thinking through recording your own music

Is music a passion of yours? If so, chances are at some point, either a family member or a dear friend has recognized your talent and encouraged you to record your own material. Whether you are considering a mixtape, an EP, a single, instrumentation or a full blown album, the question you are faced with is "where do I even start?"

Good news

Good news: The music industry has drastically changed over the past few decades, and with technology, the opportunity to record, produce and share your music with the world is literally at your fingertips. If you are at your computer or laptop, there are recording programs such as ProTools or Logic, which are industry standards, available to purchase at most major technology retailers.

If you are only holding your phone in hand, fear not – there are plenty of apps, such as Soundcloud, that offer instant recording and sharing abilities within your social network.

Simplifying the process

To understand what you need to get started, and how to approach recording, here is a simple guideline in understanding any type of signal flow, particularly audio: Source -> Modifier -> Destination.

Source is simply your voice (or microphone), your guitar, drum kit, or anything else that will produce sound. The goal is to get the best version of your source to your destination. Which means the audio files are recorded and saved to your computer, edited, and ready to be shared and listened to. Simple enough, right? Well, the step that trips up most aspiring artists is sending that audio source through a modifier.

You have options

This is where freedom and creativity comes in depending on what your goal is and your technical ability to connect everything in order that the signal travels properly. Most audio mixers, brands such as Mackie or Allen&Heath, can usually take an XLR mic input, or a ¼" line input from an instrument. Additionally, they have multiple sends, or "outs," to get to your computer or other recording device. If you do not desire to do a lot of mixing and editing on your computer, and you just want to tweak the raw, analog sound, a mixer is probably the simplest way to go, and it's budget conscious.

Another modifier, and probably the most common among today's DIY recording artists is a midi controller. Most midis have the same mic and line input abilities as a mixer, except they function more as a converter which takes your analog audio source and converts it to a digital audio signal to send to your computer via USB. You will need to research which brands work best with your computer, and the program you have. M-Audio, Focusrite and Korg, are a few well-known brands, but do your research.

How serious are you?

If you are invested in and serious about recording your own music, then find the best microphone you can afford that is tailored to your instrument (source). Then decide on the best way to modify that source before it arrives at it's destination. You can watch a "how to" video on just about any piece of equipment you find. Once you have the finished product, share it with everyone you know or don't know! The music market is designed for the Do-It-Yourself artist to be successful!

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