The world of home recording has exploded in the last ten years. Before then, home recording was the luxury of the few rich musicians who could afford all the gear, tape machines, and studio consoles necessary to produce music in their homes. With the never-ending increases of computer speed, the recording studio has become a “virtual studio” living inside a computer. With some extra hardware to handle audio inputs and outputs, a relatively powerful machine can become a full-fledged audio workstation.
It is now possible for a home/hobby musician to get results that sound as clean and professional as most studios, and burn the finished CD at home. If you don't own a computer, there are also small portable recording units made by Roland, Akai, and Boss that function as standalone recording studios. They include effects and editing, and now some have built-in CD burners. While portable studios work, computer studios offer some distinct advantages.
Editing Capabilities of Home Computers
Home computers have the benefit of being able to do better editing than portable studios can do. With a monitor, mouse, and keyboard, most of the editing can be done simply. If you record a guitar part that you'd like to repeat at the end, you can copy or drag it to the new location, just as you copy and paste in a word processor. Editing can be done in precise ways, and punch-ins can be controlled with great precision.
Most recording software also has onboard MIDI sequencing so you can mix MIDI tracks and real audio tracks for the ultimate home studio setup. Popular audio recording software is: Ensoniq Paris, Digidesign Pro Tools, Logic Audio, and Steinberg Cubase VST. In the professional recording world, Pro Tools reigns as the standard, and most mid-size and large studios rely on Pro Tools systems, too.
Many of your favorite albums have been recorded directly by computers. Computers have many advantages over traditional recording systems. Ease of editing is just one of the features. Computers allow you to have greater control over the audio and allow tweaks of performance. Say you recorded five takes of a song. The bass player sounds the best on take two, but your solo was better on take four. On a computer, the individual takes can be combined into a “super take” with little effort. On a traditional tape system this would be impossible.
Computers also let you create amazing effects via software. With no more expensive racks, the computer software effects are software plug-ins that reproduce reverb and other popular effects. Some of these effects can automatically tune the “out of tune” vocals and emulate the sound of old tape recordings. The most important factor for the home studio owner is the price/performance ratio. With a decent computer and minimal purchases of software and hardware, you can create great-sounding demos at home from the start to the final CD creation. No more hourly studio rates—you can work when you want to! Many artists, including famous ones, are investing in home studios and recording albums with little expense, thus saving tremendous amounts of money.