If you are planning to take our course and presently have no equipment - or maybe just a little, we strongly advise you NOT to buy anything right now.
Why? Because once you have begun your AIA studies, you will be much better informed as to exactly what YOU need for YOUR OWN particular style of recordings.
We don't want you buying the wrong stuff!
There are so many different pieces of equipment available that it is quite formidable to choose the correct pieces for your own special recording needs. If you are prepared to wait a bit, AIA will gladly help you make the right choice when the time comes.
There are many hustling salesmen ready to take advantage of your lack of knowledge and make a quick buck at your expense. We hear horror stories about people buying all sorts of equipment they don't really need.
However, if you are determined to set up a home studio right away, we can recommend a certain minimum of equipment so that you can practice as you learn. If you have not yet started putting together your studio, here are some of AIA's suggestions:
Minimum equipment recommendations
♦ Recent computer with a recording application
♦ Audio interface or a digital audio workstation.
♦ Headphones and monitor speakers
Dynamic microphone or condenser microphone?
Unless your music is purely electronic, you should have at least one dynamic mic in your studio. The Shure SM58 is quite inexpensive and probably the most used mic anywhere around the world.
This mic is possibly the best all-round general purpose microphone there is. It sounds great on drums and guitar amps in particular, but you can use it on almost anything including vocals.
One point to remember. The full and punchy sound of a dynamic mic doesn't quite capture all the extreme high frequencies. For instruments such as cymbals or tambourines, a condenser mic is better.
Nearly all professional studios use at least one condenser microphone and the Rode sound can be heard on many recent hit recordings. It puts you in the same league as all the top professionals.
The Rode NT1A is a condenser mic with a wider frequency response than any dynamic mic. It has a crisp sound and is very versatile, capable of capturing a clean representation of any sound source. It is especially good for recording vocals.
If you have never heard a condenser mic before, you may be surprised at the difference in sound between a dynamic mic and a condenser mic. Both have their own uses and distinctive qualities.
An Interface will connect your microphone and instrument to your computer
Pro Tools computer software is used in just about every recording studio around the world. From the Avid company, Pro Tools software can be used with the Mbox interface.
Pictured is the Mbox audio interface which connects your mic and your musical instrument to your Windows or Mac computer.
It has two mic preamplifiers and two instrument inputs. The world-renowned Pro Tools recording software is installed into your desktop or laptop computer.
However, if you need to record eight microphones simultaneously (maybe the whole band) then you need an multi-channel analog-to-digital microphone preamplifier.
PreSonus Digimax D8 is an 8-channel mic-preamplifier. As well as 8 microphone inputs, it also has two instrument inputs for electric guitars or synthesizers. If you never record more than two sounds at a time (perhaps just guitar and vocal) then you don't need this multichannel unit.
A digital workstation (DAW)
For those who prefer not to use a computer for recording, you can use a recorder such as the Tascam DP 24SD. It is a self-contained mixer and recorder with eight mic/line inputs and 24 recordable tracks. It also has multiple effects processors and virtual tracks for alternate takes.
As this digital audio workstation (DAW) already has eight microphone inputs, you would not need to purchase any additional mic preamplifiers. It can record up to 8-tracks simultaneously.
A set of 12 encoders control EQ, effects sends, and panning. Built-in effects include compression, guitar amp modeling, delay, reverb, with a total of 10 effects processors available during mixing.
A monitor system
The final piece in the recording chain is the monitor system. This allows you to listen to everything as you are recording and mixing. The most important fact regarding the choice of speakers is their ability to reproduce all sounds as faithfully as possible - with no coloration added.
There may be other, nicer-sounding speakers available but if they don't reproduce the true sound, you will not make great sounding recordings if you use them.
We at AIA hold Tannoy Monitor speakers in high regard. They have been the golden ears in British recording studios since the sixties. A pair of Tannoy Reveal 6 active monitors (pictured right) contain their own power amplifier so you wouldn't need to purchase a power amp as an additional item.
Remember - AIA can help you choose the right equipment when the time comes.
And it's not what you have - it's how you use it!