How to record tracks for Soundcloud

My Funky Valentine by Benny Sutton
My Funky Valentine by Benny Sutton

What you need to record tracks for Soundcloud (for beginners)

Expectations on YouTube are fairly low. You can get away with playing over a song in your bedroom recorded with one mike, hey some guys don't have a mike, just a mobile phone! However, that approach won't take you far on Soundcloud. Remember Soundcloud is a community of muso's and so it pays to invest in the tech needed to produce quality recordings.

I'm not going to go into it in detail here, just paint a picture with broad strokes of what you need.

Interface and DAW

You need a DAW (a Digital Audio Workstation) that's recording software on a computer in layman's language. You need a PC or Mac, it doesn't need to be that powerful, recording doesn't need newer multi core processors (but they do help).

You need an interface to your computer. This will cost £150/$200 but hey it comes with a lite version of DAW software. I use Cubase but Pro Tools, Ableton and other DAW's will do the job, probably just as well. Your interface allows you to plug your guitar into a standard 1/4" jack. Or your mike, make sure it has Phantom power inputs if your mike needs that. The interface is a black box that takes your audio into/out of your computer; via USB usually. I went for the slightly faster firewire connection as a new card for my PC.

My M-Audio interface is a bit redundant now. I have a Yamaha Mox6 synth and, because Yamaha own Steinberg (the Cubase people) I can use my synth as a control surface; that is to say I can press buttons on my synth that directly interface with Cubase (the basic commands like record/play/forward/back). That's a bit easier to use than juggling a mouse when you are recording. You don't need to go this route, you can control your DAW with your keyboard or using a midi controller. You have to install drivers and configure them so wear a hat (so you don't tear your hair out).


Your interface also acts as route out of your computer to your Hi Fi amp and speakers. I have a pioneer amp that I bought at Richer Sounds for £120/$180-ish. When you are mixing you'll want to hear the track on a couple of different speakers. I have a pair of Yamaha NS10M's - the standard studio close-field, flat response monitors, and a pair of ordinary hi fi speakers. In real studios you might also have a small foldback speaker to emulate a transistor radio or IPod docking station nasty type sound. My Pioneer amp allows me to switch between speakers.


All this processing influences the time it takes between you playing a note and it coming back to you through the speakers. This is called latency. So, what latency is acceptable? It is quite difficult to hear less than 6 ms. Consider that sound travels at roughly 330 meters per second, so even with a physical amp it takes nearly 10 ms for the sound to travel 3 meters from the speaker to your ears.

That's all for now, I'll break it down further in future blog posts.