With all this talk about equipment, you can't forget about the instruments you're going to play. They're pretty important to this process because, no matter how good your recording gear is, your instruments need to sound good. It stands to reason that any problems you have with your instruments are going to get worse when you record them. There's a widely used phrase in the recording world: garbage in, garbage out. Make sure you have decent-sounding equipment. It's a myth that “you can fix it in the mix.”
Adding new sounds to your music is one of the fun parts about home recording. Even if you only play guitar, adding several different-sounding guitars on different tracks can widen the variety of sounds you can make. Experimentation is the name of the game here; you'd be amazed at what sounds good together. Keyboard players can really go to town with different sounds, layers of instruments, even drum kits from the keyboard.
Drum machines have always been useful to nondrummers and home studio musicians alike. Acoustic drums can be difficult to record well, and can be too loud for many apartments and houses. Drum machines not only keep time, but also can blend into the mix of sounds well enough not to stick out as “fake.” Drum machines have also gone into the virtual world of the computer. Sample-based drum programs such as Battery from Native Instrument sound so realistic it's uncanny. They sound so realistic because samples are actual recordings of drums, not synthetic versions. Premade drum loops are every bit as real as having the drummer with you. These loops are professionally recorded in studios, are well mixed, and sound very cool — something worth checking into. To utilize loops, you would use a computer and recording software. Loops come as premixed audio files. You simply add them into your recording program on an empty track and voilà, instant drums! Loops are widely used in dance, hip-hop, and electronica.
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