Basic PC Recording

Do you want to use your PC to record Audio? Audio recording to your PC is easier than you might think.

Using your PC as a music recording device is simple, cheap and easy. Making music has never been so much fun!

This article is designed for those on a tight budget, or whos requirements are very simple, audio recordings. Enabling the PC to record audio from a microphone is simple. digital recording will give you much more control, and superior quality.

 

How To Set Up Audio Recording To A PC Via A Microphone.

 

Step 1

Everything explained here has been tested on my own computer, the back of your computer may look slightly different from mine, but should have the basic same inputs and outputs. (I/O) If you encounter any difficulties? Please start a new thread in the recording forum and we will endeavour to sort out any problems.

I am going to show you the very basic requirements for recording audio to a PC. There will be another article for a slightly more advanced setup coming shortly.

If you’re running to a tight budget, and If you only want to record one vocal line with a few chords strummed on the guitar, then this method should suit you fine for now. So lets consider what you may already have!

Most PCs built in the last 3 or 4 years will have some kind of audio built in. If you have speakers attached to your computer and it plays music whilst booting up, then you have audio capabilities that we can use! This on board audio will enable you to make basic recordings. If all you want is a ‘sketch pad’ for ideas, then you will find this is suitable!

First thing to do is haul the case out and have a look at the back where all the cables are plugged in. You will see the audio Ins & Outs (I/O) clearly by the colours, Blue, Green and Pink. (Thes 3 will be the minimum, but can have more) These sockets will accept a 3.5mm jack plug. This is a standard size jack socket found on most audio inputs on computers. See photo for size comparisons.

jackplugs

If you have speakers attached to your computer, they will most likely be plugged in here! If so, you only need to decipher what the other sockets are! Most sockets are now colour coded, Blue, Green, Pink, but some older sockets may not be, in which case you need to look for the embossed labels. They should look something like this.

In Out

We are going to start with the most simple and cheapest way to record an acoustic guitar, or a voice, (or both) into your PC. (Digital Audio) The first thing you will need, is a microphone! For the purposes of this article, I purchased the cheapest mic I could find. It cost €7. (Less than $15) Here’s a link to the actual one!

http://www.pcworld.co.uk/product.php?sku=226538

This is the kind of mic you might use with microsoft messenger or yahoo messenger etc. I wanted to show how even the cheapest of equipment can aid us in our quest for audio heaven. The quality of this mic is nothing to write home about, but will serve our purpose for now! This will plug straight into the ‘mic’ or Pink, input on the back of the computer. The speaker cable will be coming from the Green socket. (We’ll get to the blue socket in the next article.) We need to tweak a few settings. So. Go to {Start}, {Control panel}, and double click on the speaker Icon.

speaker icon

This will bring up the ‘Sounds and Audio Devices’ properties box. Now click on the {Voice} tab. (along the top) This is what you should have.

Device Properties

Now click on the {Voice, Recording Volume} to bring up another properties Box, the Volume control.

There should be several options available, but we need to have the ‘microphone’ column up. If it’s not, click on {Options} then on {properties} then, select the {Recording} option, and in the lower pane, make sure that ‘Microphone’ is selected, then click OK. This is what you should have on the screen.

Record Control

 

Step 2

Now all we need, is some software to record with! The best value for money software I could find was something called ‘Audacity’ It costs nothing! It’s freeware, and it will (depending on the power of your proccessor) record audio straight to your hard drive. You can download it from here.

http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

It’s an open source application and if you’re clever enough, you can get the source code and make changes to the downloaded version! They also have versions for Mac and Linux. Once you’ve downloaded and installed Audacity, open it up and lets record the first song!

Hit {R} on your keyboard, or the red ‘record’ button on the screen, and just play along into the mic! When you’ve finished playing, hit the space bar to stop.

Rewind and hit the play button to listen to what you’ve just recorded! If you want to record another audio track, just hit record again and you will get another track recording. If you DO want more than one track, I would suggest replacing the Audio out (speakers) with a set of headphones. They will plug into the same socket as the speakers. (Green socket) Doing this , you won’t get the new track recording the previous track from the speakers!

You will need to experiment to get the correct placement for the mic. It helps if it’s as far away from the computer case as possible to decrease the risk of picking up the noise of the case fans. This is what you might expect to hear with this minimalist recording technique.

 

Download: Without Her
Stream: Without Her

If you have any trouble with any part of this setup? Please open a new thread in the recording forum where we can try to help you through!

I hope you find this introduction for audio recording usefull, but please do not expect too much in the way of quality recording with this method. This is meant purely as a sketchpad for ideas. Please keep a look out for future articles about improving the quality of your recordings.

Discuss this article in our Music Forum.

About Steve Perrett

A Songstuff staff member for sveral years, Steve plays guitar, writes songs and records his own material.

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