There are simple and inexpensive ways to set up a home recording studio for your auditions, jobs, and podcasts. Free recording software, inexpensive microphones, and ways to minimize room tone keep budgets in check. There are also expensive options for top-level home studios. I've broken the choices to five categories to satisfy price ranges and needs. Feel free to mix, match, and research options that aren't listed. The industry changes quickly and new equipment and software emerge constantly.
Option 1: Inexpensive
Download Audacity at audacity.sourceforge.net or use another free, easy-to-use recording software program that may be pre-installed on your computer. Make sure you have the ability to deliver files in .wav, .aiff, and .mp3. Additional downloads may be necessary to convert and export mp3 files. The Audacity site provides a link to the Lame mp3 encoder. In the Help section of the site are a user manual, a tutorial, and tips to educate you on the recording process.
Next, you'll need a microphone. USB microphones are not
the best quality but are much better than the microphone in your computer. Here is a list of several condenser mics under $150: Blue Microphones Yeti (better than the Snowflake and Snowball); Audio-Technica AT2020; Samson G-Track, C01U, and C03U; MXL 990; and AKG Perception 120. Some of these mics come with a desktop base, others require an additional purchase of a microphone stand.
To minimize some of the room tone echo, place your microphone in the closet between your clothes, stack pillows around you, talk into a corner of the room draped with heavy fabric, or create your own sound studio by building a box with acoustical sound foam on the inside to put your mic inside. It's not very glamorous when you stick your head inside these areas, but they get the job done.
To listen to your recordings, insert the earplug connector from
your cellphone or portable music device into your computer. You'll get a better sound than listening to the recording back through your computer speakers.
Option 2: Mobile Device
Phone and hand held devices like iPhone and iPad offer light,
portable, and cheap options for recording and editing your voice. The iAudition app is less than $5. Twisted Wave is around $80 and offers more functionality. The AT2020 and Blue Yeti microphones work well with these audio programs.
Next month we'll look at the more expensive options.