When I started home-recording back in 2000 using a computer running on Windows2000 (not the standard choice for recording back then but very stable!), I used a computer with two sound cards, to prevent latency. It worked like a gem. But, it was analog sound. That has it’s drawbacks, for example there’s analog hiss.

USB Sound Card budget recording at homeTimes have changed, we have digital USB audio interfaces now. But they’re expensive, aren’t they? Not anymore! If you know where and what to buy! This is, by far, the cheapest but good quality home studio setup you can put together without compromising on sound quality.

Every computer has a build in soundcard. Add an additional, cheap, external USB Audio soundcard to your computer running, for example, Windows7 and you’re ready to go.

It might even work with free audio recording software like Audacity since the USB Audio sound card is recognized as a ‘regular’ sound card. Use the USB Audio sound card as the input card, and the computer or laptop’s build in sound card as output to prevent latency and you’re ready to go. You cannot go wrong with this setup, it allows you to record digital and it’s suitable for recording your singer/songwriter or even band demo’s as well as doing a full cd recording if you would choose so and have the engineering skills.

The $150 digital home studio using a digital USB Audio Sound Card (used as the USB Audio interface), Mixcraft 5.2 studio software, Shure C606 dynamic mic and Behringer HPM1000 headphones for monitoring. Guitar used: Epiphopne DOT.

Apple Macbook / Garageband (update)

Since my friend Jim asked me if it would work on an Apple too, I did a little test on my daughter Mirjam’s Apple notebook. I’m not that used to Apple stuff, and have never recorded something with Garageband before, but I thought “well, how hard could that be” and plugged it in. It worked very well. After adding some drum loops, I plugged in my Stratocaster, selected a virtual Amp from Garageband, and started jamming along the beat.

On the Apple the line-in wasn’t recognized but perhaps that’s because I don’t have enough knowledge on how to set it up properly so I ran the guitar trough the mic-in. Worked fine! However, I did make another error and you can hear that very clear on the recording. I set the track to ‘stereo’ while the instrument of course is .. mono. Resulting in a lot of additional hiss. Well, so be it. It was a “proof of concept” recording.