To record a track for our virtual choir, you will need the following:
- A device
- A microphone, speakers or headset
- Software (more later)
Your device could be a desktop computer, laptop, tablet (such as an iPad, or Android tablet), or a cell phone (like an iPhone, or Android cellphone). But be aware that the smaller the device, the more difficult this process will be. Ideally we recommend a laptop or desktop with a large enough screen for convenience. An iPad would work, too, in all likelihood, but probably needs more user sophistication.
Laptops, tablets, and cellphones come with built-in speakers. However, they are not usually very good, especially on tablets and cellphones.
Desktop computers usually have some form of speaker. Some are OK, while others leave something to be desired. Your mileage may vary. Give your speakers a try, and if they are inadequate, try adding external speakers or a headset.
Laptops, tablets and cellphones have built-in microphones, but they vary in quality. Some laptop microphones are merely OK, while (for example) an iPhone has quite a good microphone. As they say, your mileage may vary.
Most Windows desktop computers do not come with microphone; if you haven’t already, you would have to add one. They come in many sizes, shapes, and costs.
For our purposes, we don’t need a fancy one, so something like the following stand microphone would suffice:
But see below about the preferred solution — a headset.
For the best experience, consider using a headset that provides both speakers and microphone. The advantage of a headset is that it provides a degree of isolation from the background sounds in your house, so you won’t get as easily distracted. And the microphone is usually a lot better than what came on your device, and it’s right in front of your mouth (or to the side).
A headset doesn’t have to be expensive (although the fancy ones with noise reduction and Bluetooth can be!). And our requirements are not sophisticated.
If you get a headset, be sure to get one with a microphone. If it doesn’t have a microphone, it’s called a headphone.
Preferred Hardware: A Headset
Much the preferred hardware for your convenience, and for quality is a headset. It provides:
- Isolation from the background noise in your house — you can focus just on the music you’re listening to (typically this would be a piano track and/or a singer singing your part so you can sing it with guidance).
- A much better microphone that would typically be supplied on your main device (laptop or desktop), and it is closer to your mouth (in front, or to the side).
If you’re using a Mac or a Windows laptop or desktop, we recommend using Audacity.
Audacity is a free, easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, macOS, and other operating systems. You can download it for your device from https://www.audacityteam.org/, and then install it on your device.
Here’s a relatively simple introduction to the Audacity interface and how to use it:
GarageBand is an audio editor and recorder specifically for MacOS, iPad, and iOS devices. It comes already installed on your iMac, MacPro, iPad, etc. (Be aware that you may have to download a substantial amount to add all of its capabilities, but we don’t need all that for our purposes.)
Here’s a relatively simple introduction to GarageBand: