My Recording Gear

June 11, 2015

A Look at Simple Audio Recording!

Ever since I started posting stuff on YouTube, people have been asking me about my mic model and recording process etc. I'm no pro, but I'll share what I know, and I hope it gets YOU started on your own music journey. Here we go!


1. My Microphone




Model? My microphone is Model 990 USB from MXL. It is a condenser mic and is quite sensitive, meant to be used in studios. Dynamic mics are better when you're in a live venue etc (what I learnt in a Coursera producing course).

I also know people who use mics from Blue, and there are probably tons of other great mics out there. This is my best mic so far, moving on from a webcam standing mic (recorded Death by Sea with this) and a Guitar Hero Mic (Yup, we recorded Spiralling Sunday with that. Hear the difference?)

Price? It's a 21st birthday gift from a group of good friends, so till today I don't know the price haha. Oops sorry not much help here. You have to get the stand and pop filter separately. (The pop filter helps to filter out 'pop' sounds ie. 'Bs' and 'Ps' when you record.)

2. Software

I use Mixcraft Acoustica for my Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). I was using it on a month long trial or something. I was soooo pleased to be able to continue recording even when the trial was up, but when I tried to mix down the file into an MP3, THEY DROPPED THE BOMB. NO, they would not let me. Flustered, I tried to crack it to no avail. Bobian haha I was desperate so I bought it and considered it as an investment haha. I spent soooo long on getting the video and recording done leh...haha.

What Mixcraft's interface looks like. There are also drums, other instruments and sound effects you can add.

I have also tried Audacity (free), and Garageband too, until I changed laptops (mine is now a Lenovo). Many pro YouTube artists use Logic, which I have never tried. 

Mixcraft is enough for noobies like me I guess. Easy enough interface to understand and use.Whoop.
It also allows you to build MIDI and other instrument tracks (great for background music and all, but best and most effectively created with the help of a keyboard!- Thanks Esmond!)

3. Recording Process

What I usually do for my videos is to have one take sessions. I set up my camera, hit the record button on my laptop, and do a one take. I do this several times, until I get what I want. (This also means you should really practise a lot before recording, or you will suffer. Recording is truly unforgiving, so do spend time to be more familiar with your song and chords.)

Why separate devices for a one take? Well, the visual quality from my regular point & shoot camera is much stronger than my laptop camera, so I figured you might as well have the machines specialise and do what they're good at. Specialisation is da way to go, says Marx.

Yeah then I extract the video, add reverb to my audio, and put them together in Windows Movie Maker (I know, lol someone recommend me a more powerful video editor please). Then voila! YouTube uploading time.

On YouTube, you can add tags, descriptions, or add some last minute subtitles, captions, blinky subscribe boxes, and even effects. It takes time for YouTube to process those though. For me it usually takes an hour or more. If you monetise your account, you can also add a scheduling time. NOW AIN'T THAT AWESOME? I usually record at night, so staying up till 3am just to wait for your video to be processed is no fun at all. Plus no one is actually awake when I want to drop the new video. (But I do it anyway. Bad marketing strategy.)

THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW:
My mic is so sensitive that it picks up aircon sounds, so I work with my windows shut, doors closed, and NO FAN NO AIRCON. Not funny in Singapore haha.

That's me in pain, because it's so darn hot recording in a room with no wind.
The mic can also pick up laptop fan sounds, so place them away from each other, as far as you can. Yup.

Mike also says that some people use microphone shields to reduce ambient noise, and passed this link for further reading too :) Thanks Mike! 15 Tips For Recording at Home.


Other tips:

If you are recording acoustic guitar, place the mic near the neck of your guitar. You can also record direct through a DI box or something, for cleaner sound. Never tried this yet though.

Tip from Brannlum: Record at a level lower, cause it's easier to amplify sound (ie. make it louder) rather than reduce the volume levels. It's like, when your mic picks up too much sound, you get this fuzzy, distorted sound. Awful.

What to do? Go to Sound settings and bring down the levels so that your mic doesn't pick up EVERYTHING. You might have to fiddle around to get the best settings for yourself.

Soooo in conclusion I do recording with a lot of trial and error? But I hope this little blogpost helped you in some way. Good luck with whatever you're doing, whether you're an aspiring artist like me, or simply want to shop for a birthday present. Your friend will be so pleased! Do give your friends a little nudge- singer-songwriters live on whatever encouragement we can get. It's not easy to bare your soul in a song and upload it to the world. Nope. The first time I shared my music on FB, I was legit freaking out. 

And, lastly, here's a video of me and my latest original- a product of my workflow above^^^.


(Hanna, some self-promo cannot meh? Hahaha)

P.S. If you have other questions, do ask me. But if you have techie questions, don't bother. LOL because I doubt I'll be of much help, especially when coming to things like mixing (I still struggle with that) etc etc etc.


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