Just for fun I decided to record myself as an entire rock band as a demonstration to show what was possible with a modest PC recording studio. The song was a cover of You're All I Have, by Snow Patrol. If you want to review my first two posts about this project, you can find them at the following links:
With just a pretty average computer (Intel Core Duo/3 GHz/3 GB RAM), some VERY inexpensive software (Reaper - see details about cost and capability in my post here: PC Recording Software), an audio interface box, the Line 6 POD Studio GX USB Computer Recording Interface, costing $99, a USB microphone, the Samson Q2U Handheld USB Microphone for $59, and drum software called Jamstix for about $100. I did already have an electric guitar and a bass guitar. For the cost information I'm only going to talk about the recording gear requirements, since there are so many variables in what musical equipment folks might already have.
So just looking at the interface and microphone the cost is about $170. If you use Reaper, you can do this project with their 30-day free trial that never expires and is not crippled in any way. If you like it, you can buy it for $40 bucks! Jamstix also has a free trial, but then costs $100 to download if you want to keep it.
Now if you were to go into a studio and do this by yourself, it would take many hours, which would cost many hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. And then you'd have to pay that again for every song you wanted to record. Once you have the $300 or so invested in the computer recording studio I'm describing, you'll only pay once for the gear, so not counting time, every other song you record is free!
I opened Reaper, turned on the metronome to find the right tempo and inserted Jamstix onto a track. Jamstix will play to the tempo of the song. I set up the song structure of You're All I Have by Snow Patrol and pushed the record button in Reaper. Voila...stereo drum track. Next I plugged my bass into the Line 6 interface box and played the bass part along with the drums. I did the same thing with the electric guitar, creating several tracks of those. Then I sang the lead and harmony vocals.
After everything was recorded, I applied effects like EQ, compression and reverb for each track as needed (these effects come free with Reaper:). Then I mixed it to taste and rendered it to a stereo track. Done.
Now this may only be something that was freakin' cool to me and nobody else. If so, oh well. If you would like to learn to do stuff like this though, leave a comment here so I have a feel for how cool folks think this is. There are already video tutorials on the site here to teach the basics of setting up a home recording studio. But if there is enough interest, I can do a few videos showing the one-man rock band thing in more detail.
Either way, it was a blast. I don't know what I would have done with myself if this technology existed when I was in college. I probably would have flunked out;).
Anyway, if you don't know anything about recording yet, you can get our first several lessons free below.