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How did you learn to record?


Senior Member
I just recently started watching tutorial videos on my particular recording software. I've already learned so much that I can't believe I didn't do this earlier. Would have saved me much aggravation futzing around in the dark!

How did you learn to use your DAW and what tips or resources would you offer to help those new to the scene to improve their engineering skills ?


I do my own stunts.
Silver Supporting Member
Focus on learning the fundamentals and laws of sound. Learn how it works, and how to manipulate it.

DAWs come and and go, but the fundamental rules of how sound works will follow you wherever you go.


A good book to learn alot from is "Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio"- Highly recommended.

Another good source is Groove3 and PureMix.

Finally, make yourself an account on Gearslutz if you don't already have one :)


I learned Logic Pro mostly by trial & error with a little help from the Groove 3 tutorials.


The droid you're looking for
My first serious exposure to recording was in college, which was pre-DAW. The university had a 24 track studio and various early-1990s kind of digital recording gear. I learned a lot about mic technique and philosophy of recording which served me well later.

I'd accumulated a DAW and fooled around with it a little bit, when a musician I knew said she was planning to record her first album, and was looking for low-cost suggestions. I offered to engineer and produce for her. That was late 2007, with the album released in Feb 2008. Six years later, we're still together as a band and have done six albums.

Around the same time, my other band (which shares me and the drummer between the two bands) was ready for our first album. So I worked on that, and we've done a few records now. I've also worked on recording projects for other bands.

While my gear has gotten somewhat better over the years, the real win has definitely been improvements in my mixing skills. I kind of cringe listening to my early work, but my recent recordings sound at least semi-pro to me. It doesn't take a fancy studio. It just takes experience and attention to detail - kind of like how a great guitar won't make you a great player, but once you're a great player, you can play great music even on a bad instrument.


On a borrowed Ampex 2 track, I was in charge of taping organ versions of hymns for when the organist went on vacation. Later went on to record rock and roll live to 2 track. Stepped down to a Fostex X15 in 82-83, and increased track count and decreased analogness as time went on. So, basically 40 years of bad recording experience.


Silver Supporting Member
Started with a used 4-track TASCAM Portastudio in the 1990s. Cheap, simple, great to learn on. Remember bouncing tracks when you needed more room? Line6 came out with the first POD (the red bean) for direct guitar sounds and that was great too.

Late 1990s - went digital with a Sony MiniDisc 4-track recorder. Big jump: you now had instant access to any point in the recording, and you could electronically cut-n-paste sections. MiniDiscs, however, were not the wave of the future. Still, no regrets. Learned a lot on it too.

Early 2000s - went to a Korg D1600 standalone recorder for 16 tracks and a lot of effects and options. Easy step-up from the Sony MD. Still using it. I'm used to working on it. Probably not state of the art sound, but as a home recordist, I can get it to do what I want while I'm simultaneously playing producer, arranger, engineer, composer, and, - oh yeah, - the 'talent.'

Been thinking I'll have to move up to a DAW / PC system some day, but the learning curve for the software alarms me. I keep reading on this page all the baffled posts from guys with day jobs as IT techs, all trying to get their recording software to do something simple...



Silver Supporting Member
I used to used a lot of stand alone units. I even did some demos for a record on an old TEAC analog tape real to real from the 70's.
I got into recording now with an iMac and Apogee interface because of the ease of use. Getting basic recordings and simple mixes is very intuitive with programs like Garageband and the like...now guys like me just have to learn how the game really works...:D How to get a good sound to reproduce in the first place

Rex Anderson

I started playing guitar when I was 12 (1965). Played in bands and handled whatever PA gear they had - I had a natural aptitude for it. Did A/V work in Jr High and High School-same thing, no formal training, just looked at stuff and figured out how to use it.

Decided to make it my career, went to the Institute of Audio Research in New York in 1974 for 2 courses in a summer session, Fundamentals of Audio and Disk Mastering (vinyl records back then).

Went to University of Illinois to study Electrical Engineering and Music. Got a degree and eventually became Director of the Audio Department for the School of Music.

I learned a lot from academic coursework, self study and people who knew what I wanted to learn-I asked a lot of questions. I got lucky - I had good teachers and mentors. I wanted to learn, so I read every book I could get my hands on.

I got practical experience doing live sound for bands and working for the Audio Department as an assistant engineer. We provided a service recording and doing live sound for students and faculty.

I suggest you find a school that teaches audio. If you just take one or two classes for a semester or two, you will learn a lot and meet people to network with.

If you don't know audio fundamentals and the terminology, you don't even know how to scratch the surface of using a DAW.

You need to learn about mics, mic preamps, mixing consoles, EQ, compressors, reverb, delay, speakers, amps etc-the hardware and software. Learn about room and instrument acoustics and the physics of sound.

Offer to work for a band helping the sound man, find a recording studio and get your foot in the door. And, read the manuals.
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I learned some recording basics from YouTube but I went to school for audio engineering and I can say you'll learn what took a lot people decades to learn in just 1 year. at least from the school I went to and I only paid about $2k for my tuition and books so it was a hell of a lot cheaper than something like MI or full sail costs.


Silver Supporting Member
Focus on learning the fundamentals and laws of sound. Learn how it works, and how to manipulate it.

DAWs come and and go, but the fundamental rules of how sound works will follow you wherever you go.

+1000. I would also add that you should study instrument orchestration/acoustics and mic techniques. If you can understand the sound and get a mic to capture it the way you want, everything else becomes much easier and you will have better recordings over all.

I started by doing classical recording, and the goal was often to use zero eq, compression, or verb or other effects. In other words, you had the instrument, the room, the mics, the mic pres (with a high pass filter to get rid of rumble), and the recorder - if you had to use eq, etc. it was generally considered 'remedial' (i.e., fixing what you didn't get right in the first place). Even the panning was done with the mic positioning.

Although I never record classical these days, the techniques I learned are invaluable. Of course I use eq, compression, etc. on rock, pop, etc., but ideally it's to enhance and tweak the mix rather than to 'fix' what hit tape in the first place.


Tone is in the Ears
I went to the Sherwood Oaks school of Audio Engineering in 1974 and had classes at A&M records and Gold Star Studios, (along with classroom instruction). I also took it as a college course.

Audio is not easy - but it is logical. Learn circuit (signal) flow and gain structure first. Then learn mic patterns and the principles of different effects like compression, chorus, reverb, "tracks", mixing, summing amps, converters, etc.

It's a big world.


tape recorder as a kid.
4 track cassette recorder & a Workstation Sequencer as a teenager.
ADAT machine in my early 20's
PC in my late 20's & the DAW has continued to grow/change over the years.
picked up tips from friends, bandmates, books, classes, forums over the years, but it was trial & error and a whole lotta RTFM.


Silver Supporting Member
Way back in the 80's/90's reading Mix Magazine and EQ. Yamaha sound reinforcement handbook also had a lot of fundamentals in it. These days I troll Youtube a vast resource on the subject.

Oh yeah and critically listening to good recordings.


Tascam 4 track, interned at a small studio, been following the development since daws started.

But the advice above is best, learn the theory behind the processes, micing, compression, eqing, reverb, etc


Back at high school they had an 8-track tape recorder in the music centre. Seeing I was in a band with the headmaster's kid we had full access to the music centre toys at the drop of a hat. And kids being kids you learn things 10x faster than you do as an adult, and you have no concept of needing better gear. That was the story for the two final years of school.

Then I moved on to an Audio Production course - it's selling point was that it had a 'SoundTools' rig (shared between 150 students). It had a whopping 128MB of RAM, and a 2GB HD... stuff of the future. Finished that course, bought myself Cubase (no way could a mere mortal afford SoundTools), and i've plugged away at recording ever since.


I had the TEAC 144 which was their first Portastudio model. I just had to have one after seeing an ad for it in Guitar Player magazine. I wore out the heads and had them replaced. Years later I got Cakewalk which was only MIDI sequencer software at the time. I used track 4 on the Portastudio for SMPTE so I could sync it with Cakewalk through a SMPTE-to-MIDI Time Code converter box. I would program drums bass and other MIDI instruments in Cakewalk and use the 3 other Portastudio tracks for guitars and vocals. It worked very well.

When Cakewalk came out with their Pro Audio software, it made life so much easier, and I gave the Portastudio to a friend. I learned to use Cakewalk Pro Audio by simply reading the Manual cover-to-cover.

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