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Beginner Home Recording - What Do You Need?

What You Need To Record In 2019

Many people speak negatively about "laptop engineers" and say that laptop musicians are ruining music. I disagree. With just a few affordable components, you can start to capture your creativity. Let's go through the basic pieces and look at a few options. The first thing you need is a guitar or a bass. Once you have that, let's get into the fun stuff. 

The Guitar Amp

To capture a guitar signal you have a few options. The most simple is straight into an interface like the Focusrite Solo. This will act as an interface between the guitar and the computer, but more on that later. The downside to this setup is you will need effects and amp simulations from software. Not everyone likes to play this way. The other alternative is to use a guitar amp with a line-level out. One affordable example is the Boss Katana. The line-out can go into the Focusrite Solo. This allows you to use the Amp as you normally would and build your tone with a pedalboard and whatever other effects you want to use. 

At Dylan Talks Tone we use a Kemper Stage and a Focusrite 6i6. This allows us to use a totally digital signal chain called SPIDF. It sounds amazing and is super easy to use. See the video in this post for more details and sound samples. As you can tell, the interface and amp work together and choosing one can influence the choice of the other. 

The Interface

In order to convert the analog signal of the guitar to a digital one that your computer can use, you need a digital interface. The beauty of these devices is their flexibility. The Focusrite 2i2, for example, can record analog guitar signal and a vocal mic at the same time. You can then record a bass or a keyboard track. We really like the Focusrite products because the quality of the preamps is fantastic. 

At DTT we use the Focusrite 6i6 because as we mentioned earlier, it adds the SPIDF interface for a totally digital signal chain. It sounds so clean and it is a very simple single cable connection. 

The Computer

This is where a lot of people can get totally lost. If you follow our youtube channel, you know I recently built a crazy gaming PC to record and edit video. (Click here for my Build List). Quite honestly, my machine is overkill for basic home recording. a basic PC laptop like THIS ONE is all you really need. 8-16 gigs of RAM, a decent processor, and enough hard drive to store your recordings. As your music grows in complexity you can add an external drive if needed. Chances are, if you have a computer that is less than about 5 years old you will be just fine using what you have.  Lets talk software.


The Software

This is where I have the least knowledge, to be honest. This is because once most people find software they like, they usually stick with it. I use a free version of PreSonus Studio One, There are other software packages like Reaper that are really popular and free. Find one you like, and just learn it. This will be a constant process. 

Once you have these pieces, you can start recording music. Don't get me wrong, it is a learning process and you may be frustrated at first when your first demo doesn't make you feel like Rick Rubin. Be patient and keep at it. The coolest part of all of this comes when you wake up at 3 AM with a song idea and you press record and capture that creative moment. That is what playing music is al about.  


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