I’m happy to have worked, and to continue to work, with artists who are capable of doing some of the recording themselves. True, I will insist on a certain standard of technical quality, but many of my clients are fully capable of saving themselves some money while becoming a greater part of the project.
Does recording some of the tracks yourself mean that you have to equip your home studio with the same recording tools as your engineer?
Not at all. You can even get the job done using FREE recording software. You absolutely do not need to buy the same recording software as your engineer in order to record some of the tracks yourself.
DAWs All Speak WAV
The recording software that you use, and the recording software that your engineer uses, is something called a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Whether it’s Pro Tools, Cubase, Studio One, Reaper, Audacity, Ableton, or a host of other capable options, consider them all DAWs. And regardless of which one you use, chances are that under the covers, the recorded audio is contained in WAV files (“Waveform Audio” file format) or the Apple-near-equivalent AIFF (“Audio Interchange” file format). So, while you may not be able to send your whole song project to your engineer and have it be useful to her or him, you can easily create WAV or AIFF files containing your recorded performances. Send these files to your engineer and they will be able to easily incorporate them into the master project for your song.
Use What Works For You
The takeaway lesson here, is that you can choose to use virtually any DAW that is capable of recording your performance, just as long as it can record at an industry-standard Bit Depth and Sample Rate, ideally that requested by your engineer.
Bit Depth is the measure of how many data “bits” are used to represent each digital audio sample (a moment in time) of your performance. For final presentation of high-quality audio, this can be as low as 16 bits (the Compact Disc standard), but for recording purposes, this is usually higher, with most projects recorded at 24 bits.
Sample Rate is the measure of how many digital audio samples, per second, are used to represent the sound of your performance in a digital (computer) representation. Again, for final presentation of CD-quality audio, that measure is 44,100 times per second, a frequency of 44.1kHz. This number was chosen for the CD standard because of how it relates mathematically to human perception of sound. Recording your performances, you should defer to your engineer’s suggestion, but use at least 44.1kHz. Higher sample rates commonly used are 48kHz (48,000 samples per second), 88.2kHz and 96kHz, with some engineers using sample rates as high as 192kHz.
Suffice to say that most DAWs are capable of recording at a Bit Depth and Sample Rate which will please your engineer, so choose a DAW which works for you. Once you have a recorded performance to share, your engineer can help guide you through the steps of creating WAV or AIFF files that can be incorporated into the master song project.
Please Don’t Feed The Elephant
Yes, there’s an elephant in this room. I’ve made it sound simple to record yourself and send audio files to your engineer. What I haven’t said is that there are many considerations needed in order to get a quality recording to your engineer. You will be required to have a certain standard of recording equipment and enough basic knowledge to use it effectively, and the more advanced your knowledge, the better quality of your recordings.
But the idea I’m focusing on here, is that you don’t need to buy matching equipment to that your engineer uses, in order to collaborate on the recording process. And as always, communicate with your engineer and solicit her/his advice in order to get the best results and have the most fun!
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