Recording Your Own Sounds at Home

Recording your own sounds at home can really make your tracks unique, as if everyone is using the same samples from the same packs, it stands to reason there are going to be similarities in the finished tracks, right?

But how do we go about recording sounds at home (properly)? Do we need to spend a lot of money on a decent microphone and acoustic treatment? Perhaps not...

This is a guest post from Ben Jacklin at Subreel.

Enter Ben:

"It takes a huge amount of skill to be an EDM producer (well, to be a good one at least), but one of the skills you may not think is needed is recording. If you don’t come from a background of recording bands or instruments, it can be a bit of a minefield, but don’t let it put you off, there are ways you can record sounds at home without needing a professional studio and use them in your EDM tracks.

Let's imagine you find something at home that makes a cool sound, anything from the rhythmic ‘whurr’ of a washing machine (trust me, with a bit of EQ they can make awesome hi-hats) to the sound of one of your kids toys, there’s plenty around to inspire you. Being able to introduce your own sounds, which are totally unique, can give a nice variation from sample packs and add a more organic sound to your EDM tracks which sometimes gets lost in a sea of VST instruments and effects.

So how can we go about taking those sounds and converting them to something we can use in a track? It really depends how much of a part of your track it’s going to be in, and whether you need the audio to be totally clean. If you’re going to record a person saying a cool word or one random sound to play before the drop, sometimes a slightly distorted sound can be cool, and the best microphone isn’t necessary. The mics built into our phones and laptops these days may even be up to the task for something incidental like this. If you want to record something to use as a key component of a track, you’ll want it to be clean. To do this, a microphone will be essential.

Recording Your Own Sounds

Calvin Harris: A big fan of sampling and recording real instruments in his tracks.

Fortunately, the world of technology has changed so much that USB microphones are a viable option for modern producers. A few years ago, most music industry pros wouldn’t have gone anywhere near a USB mic, nowadays, they can give clean audio and have even been used to record vocals and instruments. If it’s good enough for a singer songwriter, it will probably be up to the job for an EDM producer. We don’t have to go all out here either, if you’re on a budget, something like an entry level Behringer mic (as reviewed here) can provide audio that is clean enough. Alternatively, you can use traditionally connected XLR microphones. Be warned, these require pre-amps or a mixer and realistically, they only sound better when you get to a high level.

Another USB benefit of course is the ease of setup. A huge amount offer ‘plug and play’ capability, this means that as soon as they’re in your USB, drivers will install automatically and you’re ready to go. The recording is then as simple as point in the direction of the sound, ensure you don’t have unwanted background noise and you’re good to go. Experimenting with different distances and angles can also give some very cool effects.

If you have a world-class vocalist coming over to record, put up some acoustic treatments, splash out on a very good quality microphone and a pre-amp. However, if you’re just wanting some cool sounds to add some interest to your track, the quality on offer from a microphone made by the ever-growing “Blue Mics” or a similar USB offering can be more than enough. This is very much a ‘horses for courses’ scenario, and what you want to record will largely dictate the microphone and techniques. You certainly don’t have to spend the earth to get quality, homemade sounds."

This is a guest post from Ben Jacklin: Ben is a musician and blogger for Subreel, offering music equipment reviews, how-to guides and industry insight.

About the Author

My name's Will Darling. I've been making and playing dance music for over 20 years, and share what I've learnt on EDMtips. Get in touch on Facebook.

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