Recording vocal music on a PC

My girlfriend sings opera and I would like to record her (some solo arias and some with a piano) and then publish the MP3 files on a webpage.

Apart from a microphone and some type of keyboard, what do I need to do this, in terms of hardware and software?


I would get a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy Platinum or Extigy Platinum. They have all the inputs/outputs/midi connections/etc. necessary.

Comes with decent software, but better software can be obtained from 3rd party vendors.

I would also make sure the PC you’re doing it on is relatively up-to-date.

(Note: I’m pretty sure some people will come in to say you should buy a Mac. If you want to spend a lot more money for less capability, go for it)

IWhat you want to do does not require anything fancy. I have a jurassic P233MMX and freeware Cool-Edit and can do that and much more in terms of editing. So, in terms of equipment, the most basic computer and software should do it, but plan on spending a fair amount of time messing with it and learning your way around.

      • Notes and asides:
  • Like all cheap soundcards, Soundblasters cross-bleed. They sort-of “echo internally”, just a bit, so to speak. If you are compressing to MP3 you may not be able to hear it anyway, but if you cut it to a CD and don’t like the bleeding, the only way to avoid it is to not use the PC/soundcard for direct-input recording. A home audio-CD-R deck is preferred method #1, a minidisk recorder with digital-out is #2, but that’s $200-$300++ more either way.
  • If you buy a reasonable soundcard, it should come with some sort of inexpensive multitrack recording/mixing software included. The reason you want mixing software is to record vocals and piano, you record them both separately and mix the two tracks digitally. -It sounds better that way, because when you find it doesn’t sound right, there’s mixing-things you can do to help fix it. Recording is done in wav files, and this sort of cheap software often allows a limited number of MP3-conversions, after which you gotta pay for a plug-in, unless you have some other way to convert to MP3.
  • Cheap Mics 101: $5 PC mics can work well enough, if they’re positioned right: at a 90-degree angle (not pointing at the singer), 4-6 inches away from the mouth, and 1-2 inches off to one side, and if the singer is reasonably careful it won’t pick up pops or breathing. Another thing to try is using a pair of headphones as mics: plug them into the mic jack, snap the earpieces off the headband and position them centered a few inches from the face. They are lousy for real high-frequency, but can work very well for vocals -they have a “sound” that softens up the signal a bit. You need to try it to hear the sound… They record in stereo (a normal mic is mono-only), but you can flatten that to mono in your mixing software if you don’t like the stereo sound. - DougC

The first thing to do is figure out how you’re going to do this. Are you going to record your girlfriend and a pianist performing simultaneously, like at a recital, or are you going to record them separately, one after the other?

Are you going to use an electric keyboard, or an acoustic piano?

How much do you want to spend?

Since your girlfriend is a singer, maybe she knows someone with at least rudimentary recording gear. If she’s in school there’s probably a tech that records concerts and recitals that she can hit up for info or maybe even the tech can do a proper recording for a small fee.

Software-wise something cool edit pro should do the trick.

Hardware-wise the 16 bit soundcard in your computer should be OK as long as it has a line input. Mic inputs can be very noisy. What soundcard do you have and what kinds of inputs does it have?

You need a half-decent microphone and (ideally) a mixer or preamp to set the level and output a line signal to your soundcard. A couple of microphones and a mixer can be rented from your local music store.

What kind of room are going to record in?

I was just thinking about a simple recording but I guess there’s more to it than that.

When we do use an accompanist with a keyboard, we’ll use the easier method. Which one is it? Simultaneous or not?

I’ll probably have to buy a soundcard since I have the cheap one that came with my PC. What’s a good one with a line input, like you mentioned?