With prices on most audio gear dropping substantially the last few years, there has never been a better time to start recording your own music at home. It can be daunting trying to decide what equipment you want/need, which is why we’ve put together this easy guide that covers the essentials for starting home recording.
An audio interface is what will allow you to plug in guitar/bass/keyboards/microphones in to your computer. A good audio interface should have a flat and wide frequency response (put simply, the interface should be able to handle a wide range of sounds without altering the tonal qualities of them, such as distorting). You also want an audio interface that allows different input types, importantly XLR (for microphones) and Phone/6.5 (guitars/bass/keyboards).
The workhorse of the studio! There are all sorts of microphones, each designed to record specific types of sounds in specific environments. For home recording, you’ll want a good all-round microphone that can handle a wide range of sounds (vocals, acoustic guitar, piano etc).
Studio monitors are somewhat different to regular speakers. Home speakers are usually designed to tweak the sound (add bass/treble) to get the best possible performance from them. Studio monitors are designed to add nothing to the sound being played through them. This is to let you hear the “pure” form of your recording.
For newcomers to home recording, the software used should be relatively simple to use. Many professional recording applications can cost thousands of dollars, which is why Audacity is such a good starting point; it’s free. For a beginner, it will be able to do everything you need to do to record your tracks.
Incredibly talented vocalist Alexa Goddard shot to fame after her YouTube cover of Soulja Boy’s “Turn My Swag On” amassed an incredible 1.5 million views in just four weeks. Like countless others, the RØDE NT1-A was the microphone she trusted to faithfully record her vocals.
Despite her sudden online notoriety, Alexa’s musical career has been years in the making. A seasoned performing professional despite her youth, Alexa has been singing professionally for over seven years, having first picked up a microphone at the tender age of four years old.
The MA-15Ds feature a built-in Bass Enhancer, which operates on psycho acoustic principles that converts low frequencies into a series of overtones the human ear cannot distinguish from the original low frequencies. This allows the listener to perceive bass frequencies outside of the normal range of the speaker cone, without overdriving the woofer. With the Bass Enhancer the MA-15Ds offer a strong low-end in a very compact set of reference speakers. In addition the MA-15Ds offer a Sub-Out port, to connect a sub woofer.
“In this episode Ric covers the best approach for recording high quality off screen dialogue for voiceovers (VOs), as well as his personal tips for getting best results from talent when using ADR (automated dialogue replacement).”
RØDE NTG-3 and Blimp put through their paces for UK’s Channel 4
In late 2008 freelance location recordist Chris Bruce was commissioned to make a programme that would put his brand-new RØDE NTG-3 shotgun microphone to the ultimate endurance test. The assignment was to record a new programme for The UK’s Channel 4 entitled ‘Ultimate Gap Year’, which follows a team of six backpackers as they slog their way across this spectacular corner of South East Asia.
A tougher test for production equipment would be difficult to imagine. For all its beauty and cultural mystique, Indonesia is an obstacle course of rugged and diverse terrain. The climate can hardly be described as benign, as it boasts most of the environmental extremes found in the natural world.
Having previously relied on Sennheiser’s popular MKH416 shotgun microphone for tough conditions, this time Chris opted for RØDE’s NTG-3 shotgun, giving it a trial by fire – and took both the NTG-3 and the matching RØDE BLIMP windshield system on the trip. He was very pleased with the results: ”I was familiar with the 416, it’s a solid and reliable workhorse that can handle most environments. But I’d read some rave reviews of the NTG-3, and was intrigued to find out how well a mic costing half as much would measure up to the old standard.”
Chris was very impressed by his RØDE NTG-3. “It’s difficult to overstate exactly how unfriendly the conditions were. Temperatures ranged from near freezing on the side of a volcano to the more normal 35 degrees plus, accompanied by 100% humidity and frequent tropical rain storms. Jakarta is a very densely populated city in a part of the world where, dare I say it, RF restrictions on electrical equipment probably aren’t quite so stringent as they are in Europe. In all situations the NTG-3 performed outstandingly well.”
“It was an exhausting trip, but the NTG-3 performed brilliantly throughout and was no trouble at all. I didn’t need to use anything else, and didn’t even have to dip into the bag for my spare. We went through a whole variety of environments and damp humid locations and it didn’t let me down once. I’m so happy with it, it’s going to be my main shotgun mic on my next trip to Ethiopia.”
We have the Rode NTG-3 in stock at Australia’s lowest price.
Rugged, compact, and feature-filled, the UA-25EX is a portable-interface powerhouse. Ideal for computer-based audio engineers who appreciate mobility, this 24bit/96kHz USB audio interface is equipped with pro-grade microphone preamps, a newly-developed analog compressor/limiter, and ground-lift functionality for studio and stage.
High-resolution 24bit/96kHz performance with pro-grade mic preamps
Onboard analog compressor/limiter with variable attack times and threshold control
USB bus powered, low-noise, wide-range power supply
Two mic preamps and XLR/TRS combo jacks with 48V phantom power, Hi-Z port for guitar-direct connection, S/PDIF optical I/O, MIDI in/out
Ground lift for studio and live stage use
Bundled with Production Plus Pack from Cakewalk By Roland
“One of the reason’s the NT1-A makes an appearance on guitar amps for me is it’s super quiet. It has a self noise of 5dB. It’s cardioid polar pattern means that I can place it in a room and get a very wide sound”
“The NT3 is a no nonsense, hard hitting microphone. We can simply put this on guitar amplifier, and set and forget. It’s got a really unique low, mid and high frequency response.”
The Sennheiser MKH-60 is a very popular supercardioid patterned shotgun microphone. It has a robust and clear sound with a nice bass response and excellent off-axis rejection. The Sennheiser has a different sound than the other high-end microphones tested, although the basic sound quality is similar to the MKH-50, which I quite liked. The MKH-60 presents with less bass and slightly more mid-range emphasis than the MKH-50.
… Test #1 Male Voice, Interior, on-axis, interview setup Listen to test #1 recording sample
As I listened to the MKH-60, I sensed a lot of balance in the sound. Just as in the Schoeps CMIT5u, the MKH-60 sounded surprisingly good in a small room with lots of reflective surfaces. I would characterize the sound of the MKH-60 as mid-range emphasized whereas the MKH-50 seemed to be much more bass focused overall. The MKH-60 is a favorite for newer boom operators as it’s pickup pattern is pretty forgiving yet has good rejection of off-axis noise. Like the MKH-50, the overall sound quality of the MKH-60 is darker than many of the other mics tested, one more reason why it is important to have more than one microphone in your sound kit. Sometimes your talent can sound kind of high frequency or even chirpy. Recording that sort of voice through a mic that emphasizes high frequencies can be a mistake. A microphone like the MKH-60 can do very good things for thinner sounding and female/kid voices, as it lends then some richness. I would say that overall the sound of the MKH-60 leans toward the mids.
Test #3 Microphone handling noise, Interior, narrative setup Listen to test #3 recording sample
The MKH-60 exhibited even slightly lower handling noise levels than the MKH-50. I used the same Sennheiser mic mount and obtained very impressive results. I would say that this would be a great mic to consider if you are an amateur boom pole operator and need a forgiving mic. The MKH-60 isolates you from the boom pole in a way that is very appealing. I felt confident that with this mic, I could actually boom operate and get decent results. That’s saying a lot.
Test #5. Male Voice, Exterior, on-axis, narrative setup Listen to test #5 recording sample
The MKH-60 was an outstanding performer on the exterior test. I heard very little off-axis sound but I never got a sense being in a VO booth that I had with the Schoeps CMIT5u and the Neumann KMR-81i. I would say overall, the MKH-60 shared a lot of similar qualities with the Sanken CS-3e. They both sound very natural on exteriors with the Sanken leaning slightly toward the mids and the Sennheiser leaning slightly toward the lows. Interestingly, the MKH-60 presents with a lot less of a bass feel than the MK-50 on exteriors. I really like the sound quality of this mic and I am told that the MKH-60 makes an excellent mic for hand booming by less experienced boom operators. It has some latitude and forgiveness in it’s pickup pattern which makes it a natural for a beginning boom operator.
Final Evaluation and Recommendations
Unlike it’s sibling, the MKH-50, the Sennheiser MKH-60 had a slightly more balanced sound overall. It produced less bass coloration on exteriors, had excellent off-axis rejection and did extremely well in the mic handling tests. In exteriors, the MKH-60 seemed to compare more to the Sanken CS-3e than the other German microphones. After reviewing both of these Sennheisers, I could see that teaming the two of them together would result in a very complimentary microphone package, if not an inexpensive one.
I have shot many hundreds of interviews with the MKH-60 over the years and it presents a very well balanced sound picture with a slight mid-range emphasis. Personally, I find that I really enjoy using the MKH-60 although it becomes rather transparent, like the Schoeps CMC641. After a while, you just don’t notice the microphone’s characteristics at all, you just notice the sound it recorded. I feel that the Schoeps is less colored than the Sennheiser but both of them present a very realistic sound.