Updated: May 26, 2018
Recording Keyboards and how they work, explained by RaMed Studios.
The great thing about keyboards is…
Because it’s a digital instrument…
It’s far simpler to record than anything involving a microphone.
There are only 2 ways to do it, and both methods are relatively straight-forward.
The first is…
1. Stereo DI Recording
If you’re an actual keyboard player…and you own a good keyboard, with a solid selection of sounds…
You probably want to take advantage of those sounds by recording the direct analog outputs, right?
The only problem is…
The line-level connections on most keyboards have extremely high-outputs, which can easily clip when recorded through a standard mic preamp channel.
That is why, the best solution is to first run it through a direct box, just as you would with a guitar.
The only difference is…since keyboard outputs are stereo, you’ll need a stereo DI.
2. Virtual Instruments Keyboards
For the rest of you “multi-instrumentalists“, who use keyboards on occasion…
But don’t really consider yourselves “keyboard players“…
A virtual instrument, in combination with a MIDI controller, offers a far better recording solution, for the following reasons:
It’s far cheaper than a good digital piano
It offers better editing features for “sub-par” performances
It allows you to change tones at any point during the mix
That is why, if you suck at keyboards, but need a good way of “faking-it” from time to time, virtual instruments are what I recommend.
As I’m sure you already know…
Drums are quite possibly the single-hardest-instrument to record in a home studio.
Because doing so requires:
Lot’s of Equipment – including multiple drum microphones, stands, and input channels.
A Big Room – with enough space to fit all that gear, and good acoustics for that nice “live” sound.
Physical/Acoustic Isolation – so you can make noise without annoying your neighbors.
Since few project studios have these luxuries…here’s what many use instead:
1. Virtual Instrument Drums
These days, virtual instrument drums are capable of producing drum tracks so real…
You’ll swear you’re listening to a real drummer.
And that’s because…
Every sample in the software was recorded in a pro studio, on a world-class drum kit, by real session drummer.
So not only is it easier than recording real drums…in many cases, it actually soundsbetter as well.
And for a small project studio, it is by far the best option.
Here are 3 good ones I recommend:
2. Electronic Drums
With a “brain” module far more sophisticated than any virtual instrument…
And hardware so realistic you may as well be playing acoustic drums…
Electronic drum kits (the good ones anyway), are in my opinion, the ideal solution to record this instrument in a home studio.
They’re quiet enough to play without bothering your neighbors.
They offer a ton of kits to choose from.
The good ones sound absolutely amazing.
The best ones let you record each drum to a separate track, just like with acoustic drums.
Now despite the awesomeness of electronic drums, they’re still not quite as good as “the real thing”.
So up next…
3. Recording Acoustic Drums
The truth is, an entire book could be written on this one subject alone. For today though, here’s the super-condensed version for beginners.
First, there’s the mics…
On cymbals, you use condenser mics, and on drums, you use dynamic mics.
If you’re still building a mic collection, here are some good ones I recommend for each piece of a standard kit:
Kick – AKG D112 or any good bass mic
Snare – Shure SM57 or any good dynamic mic
Toms – Sennheiser e604 or any good dynamic mic
Hi-Hats – Shure SM81 or any good small diaphragm condenser mic
Cymbals/Room – any good matched pair of condenser mics
Next, there’s the positioning…
While varying opinions exist on exactly how this should be done, here are some of the basic underlying strategies:
On individual drums – the mics are positioned right along the rim, at a downward angle, as close to the drum head as possible without getting in the drummer’s way. If possible, angle it AWAY from adjacent drums to minimize bleed.
On kick drums – two mics are sometimes used on the front and back to capture both the low-end thump and click of the beater.
On snare drums – two mics are sometimes be used on the top and bottom to capture both the crack of the drum and rattle of the snare.
On toms – each drum can be miked individually, or they can be recorded with a pair of stereo room mics instead.
On cymbals – the same is true as with toms…although the more important cymbals (hi-hat and ride) usually get their own mics.
Written By: E-Home Recording Studio