TMLI4: What is the best software/equipment for audio recording?

I want to record some audio CDs. They’re strictly spoken word, not music, though I do want to break them into different tracks. I have never done this before with a computer so please give me some advice that presumes absolutely no prior knowledge.

I have a PC, about two years old, Windows XP, to the best of my knowledge no software specifically for recording (though I have the latest RT and WM players, if that helps).

  1. Is there a particular software I can buy or download for a reasonable price that produces clear audio?

  2. Any suggestions for a good reasonably priced microphone (which all reading suggests is where you spend as much as you can afford)?

Thanks for any suggestions.
*For those not familiar- TMLI4= “Tell me like I’m four”. I mention this as acronyms are asked about a lot (if only by me).

You can download Audacity for free. It’s the best alternative to pay software for recording.

Your microphone is going to be a bit of an issue: the input jack on your sound card is a 1/8" mini socket. Most decent microphones have a totally-incompatible XLR plug and socket. You may wish to see what folks who use camcorders use for recording sound, as those mics will have miniplugs on them. The problem is, they might be omnidirectional, whereas you want a directional mic for voice.

I haven’t used Audacity but I hear that it is pretty good. The big problem is the mic. Mics use odd connectors which sound cards generally don’t have.

I guess it depends on what kind of quiality you need. If you are going for really good quality you should be able to do it for about 200. I did a quick check and found that you can get a Lexicon USB audio interface for 99 bucks at Musicians Friend. That will allow you two inputs at once and it should record CD quality stuff. It comes with Cuebase Le (Light version I think) and that is way more than enough for spoken word.

For a mic you can’t really go wrong with a SM57. They are always on sale somewhere for about 99 bucks. Throw in a cable for 10 bucks and you are looking at ~210 plus tax.

This is probably more than you want to spend but if you are going to do a lot of recording it might be a decent way to go.


You can also find adapters to convert the mic’s plug from the standard to mini-jack. Radio Shack ought to have them.

If you’re still working at a college, you can ask the radio station or communications department if you can use their facilities. Many students would be grateful for the experience.


I second the vote for audacity. Nifty program that’s not too hard to use, and will give you the editing ability, and a few neat toys to use in the ability to do things with the qualities of your voice.