Home Recording Process Basics - dummies

By Jeff Strong

The heart of home recording over the last 30 years or so has been an approach called multitracking. At its core, multitracking involves recording all the instruments on separate tracks so that you can mix them later almost any way you want.

You can multitrack by recording everything — or at least most of the instruments — at one time, just like a live performance, or you can go to the other extreme and record each instrument separately. Either way, you need a bunch of tracks to be able to record to, and you need to understand how to blend all these separate pieces into something musical.

Setting up a song

The first step in recording your music is to set up your system to record. Because you’re probably using a digital system, you need to configure your song. This usually involves setting the file type, bit depth, and sample rate. This process is one that you’ll become very good at in no time.

Getting a great sound

Getting your sound source to sound great in your system is the most important aspect of recording quality music (well, aside from the song and the performances). This is also an area where you’ll constantly be growing and learning. Any time you spend tweaking your mic placement or recording chain setup (configuration and levels) is time well spent, and the reward is often added clarity or at least a more interesting sound.


After you have everything set up, the actual process of recording your music properly is pretty straightforward: You enable your track and press the Record button. This is easier said than done when the clock is ticking and you know that every mistake you make is being documented.

Luckily, digital recording makes it easy to redo a track without costing you anything in audio fidelity. (It will cost you time though, but because you record at home, you may have more time to get your recording right).


With one track recorded, you’re ready to dig into one of the most invigorating parts of the multitracking process: overdubbing. Overdubbing is the process of adding new tracks to your existing ones. This feature allows you to be the one-man band or to bring in other musicians to spice up your music.