At this point you will have your mics set up and connected either to your sound card or external audio device, and the external audio device is connected to your computer and you are ready to do the recording. It’s time to do what the pros do- test.
Start RipEditBurn Plus. Make sure the correct sound device is selected for both record and playback by going to File->Preferences->Devices. If you are using an external device for recording and it is connected by USB or Firewire, you will have to find it in the dropdown list that comes up in Recording Devices. It’s OK to use one device for recording and a different device (often the “Default Playback Device”) for listening. Depending on your audio hardware, you may be able to use headphones for listening to the recording. Good headphones will help you get an excellent recording.
If you are using a mixer, hopefully you’ve listened to the balance through the mixer (probably using headphones) to make sure it’s correct. Make sure you get the balance right going into the computer. Sometimes that means rearranging the mics, moving them back for an instrument that is too loud or getting them in really close for instruments that are softer.
To start recording, make sure that the record source is correct using the Rec Source button. You may have to experiment, every audio card and external device offers different options, find the one that works properly and gives you good sound. Then click on the record button. RipEditBurn Plus will not start recording until you have told it the Sampling Rate, Bit Rate, and number of Channels you want to use. In almost all cases you will want to record at 44100 Hz, 16 bits, and in Stereo. Once you click on the OK button the recording will start. Click on the Record button (which should be flashing red) again when you want to stop.
Have your group play some soft sections and some loud sections. If the volume is set too high in the record slider you may get some distortion. If you are using an external device, turn the volume down until the distortion is gone, but leave it as high as you can. If you turn it down too far, you lose some of the quality in the softer sections. It’s better to get rid of distortion and lose some quality, but make sure you don’t lose any more than you need to.
Once you are happy with the balance between musicians, start doing takes. RipEditBurn Plus allows you to edit, so don’t be too concerned if there are mistakes on one take. You can always do another and edit out the mistakes. In the old days it was all going to tape, and editing was not a lot of fun. Things got pretty tense in the recording studio if you made a mistake! The tools are better now.
Before you start editing, make sure you save a raw copy of each take. That way if you do something wrong in editing, or if you don’t like an effect and run out of undoes, you can go back to the original and start over again.
by Tom Jeffries, Chief Blazing Officer at Blaze Audio
Tom is a former professional musician who has been running companies that develop audio software for 34 years. He studied with Charlie Schlueter as principal trumpet Minnesota Orchestra for four years. Charlie Schlueter went on to do 25 years as principal trumpet with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Tom also played principal trumpet for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and principal trumpet for the San Jose Orchestra.