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I just started getting to the point in my rap where I feel like I'm ready to start wanting to record and now I'm looking to purchase the equipment.

I really would appreciate any pointers on the type of microphone to use and brand. also any pointers on a great software to use for recording is really appreciated.

  • Who are your favourite rappers that you'd like to sound like? Probably best to start researching articles online and see if there is any info on how they achieve their sound. – Simon Bosley Jun 21 '17 at 7:51
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    for the software request please ask this in another post. Best. – JSmith Jun 21 '17 at 11:24
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Hardware

Deciding to purchase your own gear can be the edge of a very deep abyss, be careful haha. Since you are starting, it's my recommendation to start slow. Focusrite makes the 2i2 studio bundle, which would be a great start for about $200-250USD. The 2i2 is an interface with two good sounding preamps. The bundle also comes with a decent large-diaphragm condenser microphone, an xlr cable, and studio (flatish-eq) headphones.

At the very least, you should look into a proper interface like the 2i2. Using an interface will always be inherently better than just using the soundcard, because of the soundcard's proximity to the other components of your computer, and the signal noise caused by that.

Software

You'll want an actual DAW, but something like Audacity, Reaper, or MU Labs will be great, and they're free. If you want to pay for more, Fruity Loops is great for making beats, and Ableton is my personal favorite. Ableton is expensive if you go all out though.

Mics

OK! As for mics, I agree with Schizomorph, you should consider how you will hold the mic. If you see "condenser" or "ribbon" when reading about a mic, definitely get a stand and even a shock-mount. These mics will be very clear and accurate sounding, which isn't always great for rap. Condensor mics (NOT Ribbon) will need phantom power going back to the mic.

If you want to hold it, get a dynamic microphone. The dynamic capsule is slower than, say, a condenser capsule, so it will 'round' off transients. This means a bit less than high-end, and a little less noise-transfer from handling the mic. I find dynamic mics much more forgiving in terms of recording environment.

Specifically, I recommend (from cheapest to most expensive):

AKG D5 is pretty cheap and good for if you want to use it in a live environment as well.

Shure SM58. Similar to the D5. Very dependable.

Audio Technica AT2020. This one is a condensor mic. It is quality sounding and would be good for an in-studio environment.

AKG 214. This is another condenser, but it's more thick and warm than I other condensors I've worked with. This one also handles loud voices very well.

There are a lot of mics out there, but I hope that's a good start.

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It really depends on what your needs are, and your skill level — or maybe your patience level. However, as a beginner, I can provide a fairly useful starting point for others interested.

For my podcast, I wanted to get as close to a professional setup as possible, without a lot of cost. I was able to get all this for about $200.

Here's my shopping list:

  • An XLR Condenser Microphone, with the C-1 being a great candidate. Another podcaster recommended the Behringer C-1 to me, but I ended up getting a good deal on a couple of Behringer C-2s, so I went with that. However, if you want to move around a lot, (e.g. for a live performance), you might do better with a dynamic microphone, instead of my condenser mic. The quality is not as good, but it's more flexible in how it can be used, or so I've been told. Do some research.
  • Cheapest possible "bus mixer," with built-in phantom power, pre-amp, and some way to connect to my PC. You can get a Yamaha one for $200 which connects over USB, but I went with the Behringer Xenyx, which just uses a regular 1/4" TRS output.
  • A mic stand that lets me sit in front of my PC while recording. Might not be appropriate for Rap, or any kind of singing.
  • All the cables and connectors.
  • I also bought the cheapest sound card which supports 96KHz line-in bitrate. If I had budgeted for this from the beginning, I would have gone for something better, because this is now my weakest link.
  • Comfortable headphones, with a longish, cable.

  • Sound card which supports high-quality recording (optional?). I had a problem with crackling noises on my built-in sound card, and it clipped sounds whenever I turned my Bus mixer's master volume up past half-way. The new sound card still makes crackling sounds, but not as often; and I discovered that it does not show up in the recording; it only pops in my headphones while I'm recording. (Maybe this is a driver issue; who knows?)

    Also, the new sound card doesn't clip as quickly, so I can record at a higher volume: your audience can turn your recording down if you're too loud, but they can never turn you up enough if you're too quiet.

I also needed a good audio program, and audacity, which is free and open source, fits my needs perfectly. Since I can't afford a sound-proof room, I rely on Audacity to remove background noise. I don't bother turning off my AC while recording, but I can remove it after the fact. Anything you have to do with software will reduce quality, but my ears can't hear the difference. (I'd have to buy better speakers for that, ;-)


If I had it to do over, I'd get a C-1 instead of the stereo C-2's: I don't need stereo, and I don't have anywhere to plug in or power the second mic, anyway. I also would have gotten a shock-mount for my mic, as the table I attach it to generates a huge amount of sound from vibrations and the like.

  • I noticed from another post, someone uses another mixer to connect to their PC. I wonder if this would fix any of the issues I had to workaround with my sound card? – jpaugh Jun 21 '17 at 17:54
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If you're going to be holding the mic while rapping, you don't want anything too sensitive because it would pick up the slightest vibration. I'd go for something that's been tried and tested for decades like the SM58 or the BETA 58A. These have an internal shock mount system that reduces handling noise and are really durable. If you are going to be performing live, chances are you'll be given one of these, so why not know what you're going to sound like beforehand?

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