Back to Back Issues Page
[BRT] Why computer recording is better than analog recording
February 11, 2012

Time for another edition of Bedroom Recording Tips!

I'm experimenting a bit on the structure of these newsletters, like having an article, and maybe other regular features. Or how often it comes. I have another life besides recording (I know, I really do), and things get busy. Maybe I can provide more value in a bi-weekly or even monthly letter, rather than trying to cook up a half baked weekly thing.

Please let me know if you like or don't like anything here. I'm always trying to improve.

Why computer recording is better than analog recording

OK, I am biased. I like computer recording. It's what I learned, and it makes sense to me.

But it's not the only recording medium available. I am taking a class at my college about recording, and the first week was spent learning the giant 32 track console. If you're interested, you can see a picture of a look alike here:

But after learning about how to run an analog board, I think computer recording is far more powerful for the standard recording guy. Why?

It's simpler to learn. It is good to learn the idea of signal flow, how to use aux channels to patch effects in, and make mult channels. But those things are not necessary to record. A computer system still needs some learning to run it, but not as much to use the basics.

It's not as complicated. OK, it can be, but you don't need to know ALL of the features to run it. To run an analog machine you need to understand things like mix bus, aux channels, and channel flow and monitor flow. You must know how to use the patch bay, and the difference between the long faders and the short faders. But not with a computer recording program.

It takes less space. Well, that's a given.

It's a lot cheaper. I know there is something about moving physical faders and knobs that a computer cannot compete with, but the fact still stands. And if you wish, you can buy a control surface to give the faders and knobs to a computer system.

But I know that you are not tempted to run out to buy a big console. So why am I saying all this? Because it is a confirmation of what I've always thought. Bigger is not necessarily better. For the average recording guy, a computer system is all that is needed. A control surface might be nice, but it doesn't help the sound of your recordings.

You can achieve all that a big console can with a simple computer recording system. It doesn't take the complexity or the cost.

That is good to know for regular recording engineers like us.

What's New at

Do you have the opportunity to do some remodeling for a studio? What do you do? I've gone through the research process for my own studio, and share what I've done and learned in the process. Check it out at Building a Home Recording Studio.

Reader Question

If you have questions about recording, remember that you can ask me. If I can, I'll answer it. You ask questions in two ways. First, on the website is a question form, and second you can email me directly, by replying to this email or going to the question form and clicking on "email."

The question is about stereo recording problems with a single mic:

I use a USB mic (a Rode Podcaster) to record my classical guitar onto my PC using Goldwave Audio Recording software. I set Goldwave to Stereo recording. The Pan button is in the middle, but I only get 1 channel sound. To hear on both speakers, I have to manually 'Audio Mix' it. Also when I record video, using the Podcaster as a mic. I cannot make the sound come out on both speakers because it's too complicated to separate audio and video images.

My answer:

I think the main problem you are facing is simply recording onto a stereo track with a mono input.

Think of it this way. You have a single channel coming in (there is only one mic). But because your software is set to stereo recording, there are two inputs. You get the mic signal into one but not the other.

I think the problem will be solved if you turn OFF the stereo recording feature, and record onto a mono track. It seems counter intuitive, I know. But when you play that track back, it should come from both speakers.

To record stereo, you need two inputs. To record mono, you only need one. Remember that.

When you are mixing the sound in your software (Goldwave), you are mixing everything that is there onto a single stereo output track (your speakers). When there is a single mono track, the default is to put it equally into both sides of the stereo out. You can customize this with the pan knob. If it is in the middle, it will come from both sides of the final stereo mix.

To see this question online, go to

Well, that's all for this time. Until next time, all the best to you and your recording!


Back to Back Issues Page