Turn your PC into  recording studio with free software. We demonstrate how to use Audacity to record and edit music on your PC.

The ability to create music on a PC has opened up a world of possibilities beyond the confines of the recording studio. With suitable equipment, a PC can take care of every stage of production.

In the following workshop, we’ll outline what you need to start creating music on a PC and help you determine whether your machine is sufficiently powerful. We’ll also show you the basics using the free Audacity.

Creating a tune on your PC is a resource-intensive task, but isn’t as demanding as video-editing. We wouldn’t use a machine with less than a 1.6GHz CPU and 2GB of RAM, but a dual-core processor will suffice. You don’t need the exceptional might of an Intel Core i7 processor.

You shouldn’t need to buy additional storage, either. Most computers now come with large enough hard drives to store your recordings. Social networks, personal websites and music-sharing sites are also useful for storing and sharing audio.

If you’d prefer to create hard copies and distribute your music on disc, use your disc-burning software’s CD-R or Audio Disc output option. You should also find the necessary tools for creating cover art here.

A decent set of speakers will allow your music to live up to its full potential. A 5.1-channel set (five speakers and a subwoofer) such as Creative’s Inspire T6160s will do the job. If your budget doesn’t stretch this far, aim for at least a 2.1 set.

Picking up acoustic nuances and retaining audio fidelity can be difficult. Get around this by experimenting with the positioning of instruments during recording (every setup will produce a slightly different timbre) and by using a unidirectional microphone with a flat frequency response. Shure’s SM58 is still the industry standard for vocals, and no other technology can match the rich and beautiful tones of a natural-sounding acoustic or classical guitar.

You’ll also need a pair of headphones for use during recording or the microphone will distort quality as it picks up audio though the speakers.

Make music with Audacity

Step 1. Download and install Audacity. Select the audio source you want to record or import an audio loop. Note that Audacity can’t play or edit Midi files. If you want to use this soundless data that triggers synthesiser sounds, download a Midi-to-audio converter.

Audacity step 1

Step 2. If you’re creating a new piece of music, a click track will help you keep time. The tempo of the metronome can be adjusted to suit your needs. A click track is a vital addition for recording analogue drums because it keeps drummers at the same pace, thus keeping the entire track in time.

Audacity step 2

Also see:
Digital Home Advisor
Audio and music software reviews