Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video The various types of recording devices, part of Audio and Music Production Careers: First Steps.
- Previously, we looked at the path that an audio signal follows in order to get from the source of the sound in to your computer and out to your monitors and headphones. And although audio editing and mixing is performed almost entirely on computers in the box these days, there may be times when circumstances don't allow you to record directly to your computer but instead require you to capture your audio to some other recording device first. So, let's take a look at some alternatives to recording directly in to your computer. Portable recording devices are perfect for recording a live performance or lecture in a setting where it wouldn't be practical to set up a bunch of mics, cables and a laptop computer.
In those cases, you might go with something like this hand-held digital recorder. You can record and do simple editing on this device, but also export the files to your computer for more manipulation. You can find many digital recorders like this one that cover a wide range of uses and provide varying levels of quality. Sometimes you may be caught off-guard or limited in the gear you can carry and you might find yourself recording audio with the mic that's built into your still or video camera or even on your smartphone. Generally, built-in mics on devices like these aren't going to give you the greatest quality, but sometimes capturing the audio with the mic you have on hand is better than not being able to capture it at all.
You can also save these digital files to your computer and manipulate them in a DAW to improve their quality. That said, there are ways to record well into your mobile device. And we have an entire series of courses based on that premise called iPad Music Production. So check out that series for more details on the gear and software used to make top-quality recordings with your mobile device. Now, instead of using the latest technology like an iPad, you may record in a studio that uses two-inch reel-to-reel tape, creating an analog recording, which many people feel provides a warmness of tone that a pure digital signal can't capture.
Unless you want to splice tape, analog tape recordings are often dumped in to a DAW for editing, after being recorded on tape. The bottom line is that, no matter how you record your audio material, it will almost always end up in a DAW in a digital format.