Running a Virtual Recording Studio

There isn’t that much difference in 2022 between a traditional recording studio, as in recording onto tape, and a virtual recording studio, where you record directly to a computer.

Audio immediately enters into what we might call the virtual realm immediately upon recording. Instead of being held on tape format, audio can literally be beamed through the air and transferred from one box to another. It can also be duplicated and replicated any number of times without losing any fidelity.

The best news of all is that the virtual recording studio is the one that is simultaneously more advanced AND more affordable. In fact, odds are incredibly high that you already own a virtual recording studio.

What Do I Need?

You won’t really need that much more stuff than you would to do anything on your computer.

The Hardware

First let’s talk about the hardware – the physical, non-virtual part of the equation.

If you have a computer with a sound card or external audio interface, and any kind of microphone, then your virtual recording studio is probably sitting in a room in your house, or on your laptop.

Just a few years ago, that kind of home recording studio would not have been quite good enough to yield professional quality audio. But today, with the availability of unbelievably USB microphones (such as the Blue Yeti, Rode NT-USB, or Samson C01UPro, just to name a few), professional sounding audio is achievable for just about anyone with a computer, or even a smart phone now! In 2022, just about any USB mic can be used with a phone or tablet. Amazing stuff.

For the best quality, I recommend that instead of using a USB microphone, you invest in a recording interface like the Focusrite Scarlett Solo or 2i2. there are tons of options out there. Those are just a couple of choices. Then you can use “standard” microphones. I recommend an Audio-Technica AT2035, which is a large diaphragm condenser (LDC) mic. there are also tons of LDCs out there as well. These are just some affordable, great sounding examples I personally use.

The Software

There are a lot of unbelievably affordable (some ever free!) recording programs out there, such as Audacity, Reaper, or Adobe Audition. And that’s just to name a few.

Then there are virtual instruments. I combine real instruments that I can actually play – like guitar and bass – with fake (otherwise known as “virtual”) instruments like drums, trumpets, strings, etc. These are software programs that you can “play” with a MIDI keyboard.

At the risk of over-simplifying it, the process goes something like this:

  1. Open your recording software that might have cost you anywhere between $0 and $50 to start out with.
  2. Speak, sing, or play an instrument in front of a microphone that is hooked up to your computer via a USB cable (or to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch if you have the IK Multimedia iRig Mic!).
  3. Save your finished song, voice-over, or whatever audio you were recording.
  4. Done.

Speed, quality and ease are the benefits of the virtual recording studio. And if you are collaborating with others on a project involving audio, there is no better way to do it than virtually.

Say you need someone with that movie-announce voice to do the intro and “outtro” of your podcast or radio show. Just send that person (if you don’t know them already, you can hire them from places like…all in cyberspace) the script via e-mail.

They record your script and send it back to you via e-mail. Now all you have to do is insert the movie-announcer voice into your recording software, put some royalty-free background music behind it (or even music you composed and recorded), and voila, you have a professional podcast or radio show introduction and closer, all done in the virtual world; no tapes or CDs to mail back and forth, etc.

Of course you can do the same thing with music. Is your singer in Washington, your other singer in London, and your bass player in Los Angeles? No problem. Send them all an audio file of the demo song over the internet, have them record their parts and e-mail them back to you, then mix it all together into a final song. Your band may never have even seen each other during recording! How amazing is that?

If you’d like to investigate the virtually (no pun intended) limitless audio possibilities of a virtual recording studio, come visit Home Brew Audio on the web. Who knows? A new career may be in the offing with the virtual recording studio you may not even know you already had.

Free videos from “The Newbies Guide to Audio Recording Awesomeness”

These video tutorials show you step-by-step, in plain language how to record multi-track audio in Audacity AND Reaper software.

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