Why You Don’t Need a Computer to Record Professional Sounding Music

man producing music on 4-track

man producing music on 4-track

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By Joseph Capalbo

What’s the first image that comes to your mind when you think of a home recording studio?

For most, the default is a computer or laptop paired with a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and an audio interface. Because computers have become so affordable and high-powered, recording music has now become more accessible than ever before — and that’s even true without a computer. In fact, there are many instances where it would make sense to ditch the computer all together; and utilize an alternative device, the biggest advantages being portability and accessibility.

Here are some of the other methods to record your music without using a desktop or laptop computer.

Capturing Musical Moments With….

Your Cell Phone

If you have an iPhone, you’re able to download Garageband for free (it even comes on Mac computers for free). And it is one of the most user-friendly DAWs for any beginner to start working with, anyway. You can record audio, MIDI, and do the far majority of things that you can do on the computer on your phone now.

Apps like iZotope’s Spire Pro is another great alternative that has an optional hardware add-on called Spire Studio that can connect directly to your phone just like an audio interface would. You can now record high-quality music on your phone with accessibility that a computer typically doesn’t have.

Your Tablet

If you are looking for a larger screen and even more functionality, tablets are another great resource with which you can start recording music on the go. The larger screen will help provide a larger visibility of your project so you can move around your recording program quicker.

You can also use your tablet as an assistant to a computer, for example with “Logic Remote” while using Logic Pro X.

A Portable Recording Device

Speaking of portability and accessibility, portable audio recording devices have been around for a while and are another great way to capture audio on the go, out in the field, and in a moment’s notice. Many artists and music producers will record sounds on a portable recording device with the idea of putting them into a DAW and using them in their music as samples or atmosphere.

Here are the top field recorders of 2021. You would think you sacrifice some of the functionality with a portable audio recorder, but these are some of the cool features that they offer:

  • Password Protection
  • HD Audio
  • Noise Reduction
  • Dual Microphone Input
  • Line-In Input

If you feel like you’ve seen it all, check out this pen that records audio!

recording pen

+ Read more on Flypaper: “What Not to Buy: How to Stretch Your Home Studio Budget Wisely.”

Explore the Benefits of Limitations With…

Multitrack Recorders

Analog and digital multitrack recorders are another great alternative to computers — you connect your mixing console into it directly, and you’ll be ready to start recording. Some of the main advantages of a recording machine is their reliability and durability, they remove a lot of anxieties around the overwhelming, unending expansiveness that a DAW may create, and they have more inexpensive alternatives relative to a computer and DAW. You just may have to get used to mixing with actual faders on the console (which is super fun!).

Drum Machines

If you’re a beat maker, standalone drum machines are great tools to create drum grooves without needing a computer. You can also get really great, classic sounds out of them to give your recordings a more organic, analog feel. Some notable songs that were driven by a drum machine are U2’s “With or Without You,” Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer,” Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” and so many more.

Cassette Recorders

Cassette recorders were my personal first start to audio recording. You can find them for really inexpensive on Amazon and they have little condenser microphones built into many of them. They might not provide the highest quality but they’re definitely portable, nostalgic, and fun to play with!

Although there are many alternatives to recording on a computer, your workflow may be faster on one due to key commands and an easier way to navigate around your DAW. But if you’re looking to record “on the go” and need that extra accessibility in order for you to record music, it might be time to start looking at some of these alternatives.

Joseph Capalbo is a Soundfly Mentor. Click here to work with him to achieve your next musical goal.

Soundfly’s community of mentors can help you set the right goals, pave the right path toward success, and stick to schedules and routines that you develop together, so you improve every step of the way. Tell us what you’re working on, and we’ll find the right mentor for you! 

Joseph Capalbo, Mainstage Mentor for Songwriting

Joseph Capalbo is a songwriter and producer whose work has been played on major networks all over the world, including NBC, ABC, MTV, E!, Oxygen, NHL, Hallmark Channel, global non-profit organizations, and more. He recently wrote the theme song for E!’s new docu-series, Reunion Road Trip.

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