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How do I record sound coming from outside my computer?

Sometimes when you are producing music, you will want to record sounds outside the computer such as vocals, guitars, live drums, outboard synths, samplers, and other instruments or sound sources. People sometimes call these “external audio sources.”

Think About

  • How can producers or audio engineers capture or record musical ideas?
  • What equipment is needed to record?
  • How can I get the best recording to ensure the resulting mix will be the best it can be?

Get Started

There are a couple of ways you can record sounds from outside your computer. Usually, you will need a device that converts the sound into something the computer can understand.

We call this device an interface or audio interface. 

  1. Check out this video on audio interfaces to get started recording external audio sources:

Note the video uses Ableton Live but you can use many different music apps to record sound. If you are curious how to set up Ableton Live for recording audio, you can start the video at the beginning, since we will be starting at 0:50. 

  1. Now watch this video on using a microphone with an audio interface to record vocals or instrumentals

If you want to communicate like a producer or audio engineers, you can call the cable used with a microphone, an XLR cable instead of a Mic cable!

  1. Once you have the microphone connected to the computer you will need to figure out how to set up your music app to record. That process is specific to whatever software or app you are using. 
  1. Record some audio tracks of external audio sources

    1. Just like with MIDI and virtual instruments, this may take some practice, so make sure to be patient! 

Sharing What You Learned

Discuss how you were able to an external audio source.