Recording Basics

Recording Basics - So you have decided that you'd like to build your own studio and get down to making some home audio recordings.

You have enough gear, cables, furniture, and inspiration to get started as well as the knowledge to set it all up.

But this is only half the battle.

This is not a scavenger hunt to collect the required items on a list -- we're trying to make some music, Right?!?

And though you fight to stay alive, your body starts to shiver... not because no mere mortal can resist the evil of -- The Thriller...

But rather because you

Have no idea what to do next!

This is great news! And do you know why?

Because it means you are about to start learning a lot about your unique system.

But just to give you a push off in the right direction, remember the general flow for a recording session.

A little knowledge of recording basics will take you a long way.

When creating a home audio recording, there are 3 independant parts to consider:

  1. Tracking

  2. Mixing

  3. Mastering

Click on the above links for a more in depth discussion, or for a quick overview just read on in this Recording Basics overview.


Tracking refers to the recording of each part of your song.

For example, the vocals would be recorded on one track, while the lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and drums would each be on their own tracks as well.

So when you hit that record button to lay down a gnarly track... this is known as the Trackingstage of your recording journey.

Your goal during tracking should be to get your best performance recorded with the optimum input settings.

This can be achieved through an understanding of proper Gain Staging.

As always, your will accomplish this through the use of your trusted Digital Audio Workstationand associated Recording Software package.

Once you have everything setup properly, you'll want to be sure you can hear yourself during a recording session.

For this you'll need to use your Headphones to give a real-time Monitoring solution.

Having good, quality tracks will give you the greatest flexibility during the next stage, which I like to call -- Mixing.


Mixing is the process of bringing all your recorded tracks together into one unified final product.

One way to do this is through the use of your analog Mixing Console.

While there is nothing wrong with this, I prefer to handle everything in the digital realm.

With just a few mouse clicks you can use the digital mixing console on your Recording Software to get the same results as a physical mixer.

Whichever way you choose the tools of the trade are the same.

You'll use Faders, Mute/Solo, Pan Controls, and Equalizers to sculpt your raw tracks into the polished "statue of sonic liberty" that it is.

Once you have successfully arranged the various input recordings, then you are ready for the 3rd and final step of our recording journey -- Mastering.


There was a time not too long ago when the realm of Mastering was regarded as a mysterious combination of alchemy and rocket science.

The good news for your home audio recordings is that the times --they are a-changing.

If you have ever been watching a TV program at a comfortable level, when all of a sudden a commercial comes on that blows your hair back, then you already understand one of the benefits of the Mastering process.

Being able to even out the audio levels across a song, or to match the levels across several songs (in the case of an album) is critical to making the final project polished and professional.

The Bottom Line

I wanted to briefly touch on these topics to simply give you an overall picture of the recording life cycle.

You will find that the 3 steps mentioned here in Recording Basics are iterative and can be done in any order you choose.

The most important thing is to roll up your sleeves and get to it.

There is simply no substitute for hitting record and trying to take a song from inside your head to final product for yourself.

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