There are two ways to record your band using Mixcraft. The first method is the ‘live’ approach, in which the entire band plays the song through in one take and in recorded ‘live’ by Mixcraft. The second method is the ‘multitrack’ approach, in which each instrument or vocal track is recorded separately in isolation, then all are mixed together to create a perfectly blended recording. The ‘live’ method is a great, fast way to create demo-style tracks of your songs. The ‘multitrack’ method is the method typically preferred by recording studios, and it offers the most flexibility and control over the final mix.
To record your band in a ‘live’ or ‘multitrack’ fashion, you will need a hardware audio mixer. Audio mixers come in many sizes and range from inexpensive to very expensive.
The most important consideration for you when purchasing a hardware audio mixer will be to determine the number of channels you need. If your band is very simple – such as one guitar and two singers – you may only need 4 channels available on your mixer: two microphones for the vocals, one or two microphones for the guitar. If your band is larger, you may need a much larger mixer, to accommodate microphones for drums and guitar cabinets, acoustic instruments, keyboards, and vocals.
When all instruments are mixed through the mixer, you can connect your mixer to your sound card. Many consumer-style mixers have RCA outputs, and most professional mixers have ¼" outputs.
Depending on the output of your mixer, you may need:
q 2 ¼" mono outs to 1 1/8" stereo mini
q 1 RCA jack to 1 1/8" stereo mini
q 2 or more ¼" mono plug to 1/8" mini or ¼" mono plugs. (If you have a soundcard that supports multiple inputs.)
q Another combination of the above.
For live recording, you will want to route every instrument into the mixer on its own dedicated channel. You will then want to set the levels for each instrument. Use headphones or loud speakers to achieve a mix you are happy with. Mixcraft will record the output of the mixer, so if the mix is not quite right, you will not be pleased with the recording. Pay special attention to achieving a full mix that sounds good to you.
Once your mixer output is wired to your sound card input, launch Mixcraft, and begin recording. Have your band play through the entire song. It is often best to play through the song multiple times and select the recording that sounds best. If you are not pleased with the sound of the mix, make your adjustments on your mixer and record the song again.
When you have a recording that you are happy with, trim the noise before and after the song. You can now save this recording to a .WAV or .MP3 file, or burn it straight to a CD!
In this approach, you will record each instrument individually, in isolation. You will still want to purchase a mixer to allow you to plug in different sorts of microphones and instruments, and to control and EQ the sound before its recorded. If you have a large band, it is often desirable to record your tracks in the following order:
4) Lead vocals
5) Harmony Vocals
Since drums are typically the foundation for a song, it is very desirable to begin with a drum recording. It can be very difficult to record drums later, along with a guitar or keyboard part, as the timing will usually be off in subtle ways.
Use one or more microphones on the drum set, and run them through the mixer. Mix these channels to create a stereo drum mix that you are pleased with. Then use Mixcraft to record the complete drum part. Alternatively, you can use Beatcraft to create synthesize a drum track.
Next, use the ‘Overdub’ recording feature of Mixcraft to record more parts onto individual tracks, and use Mixcraft’s track controls to adjust the volume and panning of each track:
Finally, consider using effects in a subtle manner to change the sound of the recording. Using a room-style reverb effect on the drum recording will make the drums sound fuller, and place them in a space. Using EQ on an acoustic or electric guitar recording can help emphasize the high and low frequencies of the guitar while cutting back on the midrange frequencies, which can muddy up a recording. Flangers and phasers can create amazing effects on guitars and keyboards. Likewise, delay, EQ, and reverb can all sound great on vocals! Remember that effects are like spices, and should be used lightly – a little goes a long way!
Once all of your tracks are recorded, mixed, and processed, use the Render feature to save the entire recording as a WAV, or render to an MP3 or other compressed format and email the song to your friends or place it on your web site!
You can also use Mixcraft to record your song to a CD. The best recording engineers will play the CD in their car, on their home stereo, and anywhere else they can play it to make sure the mix sounds good in all these locations. Sometimes a mix that sounds very good on your computer speakers can have too much bass in your car or on your home stereo. Experimenting with mixing can be very rewarding!