Recording Your Own NAF muisc

A beginners guide to
computer based audio recording.


Please support these posts

Distant Spirits
Nominee: Native American Music Award

Sacred Dreams
Winner: Native American Music Award

New Fire
Nominee: Native American Music Award,
Winner: Indian Summer Music Award.

Recording your Own NAF music

One of the questions I seem to get more than any other is from people wanting to know how to record their own flute playing. As I use fairly expensive equipment and software for my recordings I'm never sure how to answer this as I assume that most people don't intend to spend a lot of money.

So I called my friend Hal Stevens at West LA Music and picked his brain a little. Hal gave me a few options for people wanting to put together a small, inexpensive set-up to record themselves and we'll look at two different options in this post. At the bottom you'll find contact info for Hal and I highly recommend you contact him before buying anything.

Before we start let's talk about a some of the components and what they do.

Microphones: A Mic converts sound waves to electronic impulses. The better the Mic the better the conversion, e.g. the better the sound recorded.

Audio Interfaces: A audio interface converts the electronic impulses from a Mic into the 1s and 0s of digital code. The better the audio interface the better the conversion into digital code. Audio interfaces also convert the digital code back to electrical impulses that go to your Monitors (speakers). Again the better the audio interface the better the sound delivered to your speaks and thus your and your listeners ears. Audio interfaces are also known by the name Digital I/O.

FireWire and USB: These are types of cables that carry the digital code between your computer and the audio interface very quickly.

Monitors: Monitors are very refined speakers that ideally give you a flat response across the frequency spectrum. In others words they don't color the sound. Monitors are like Mics in reverse.

Recording Software: Recording Software is the application that displays and edits whatever you record to your computer. Think of it like a very powerful Multitrack tape deck, mixing board and studio effects like echo, EQ and others all in your computer.

Obviously you need a computer and for this article unless otherwise specified we'll be talking about PCs and equipment and software that works with PCs.

OPTION #1: Studio in a Box
The first option that is out there is to buy everything you need in one box. There is a package just like this put together by Røde Microphones called
The Røde to Recording System. It includes:

1 Røde Microphone
2 Studio Monitors
1 Firewire Audio Interface
1 Steinberg Cubase LE (the recording software)
Cables, a setup manual and some other goodies.

This set up comes with a mic stand for table top use, but for recording a Native American flute you'll need a full studio/stage mic stand. Usually these are not much money although you can certainly find expensive ones. The manufacture's suggested price for this is $1099.95 but should be able to get it for about $750. Just like buying a car, you don't pay the sticker price. That said retailer can only haggle so much before they lose their profit. Again not unlike purchasing a car.

OPTION #2 Build it Yourself
This second option is to put together all the components yourself. This give you more control over each piece and could end up saving you money. The prices listed below for each component is a ballpark as to what the unit should cost, not the sticker price. The actual price may vary but not much.

M-Audio Mobliepre USB Audio Interface. $150.00
M-Audio StudioPro 3 Studio Monitors. $100.00
Audio-Technica AT 2020 Microphone. $100
Cakewalk Home Studio 4 Recording Software. $100

The total of these components adds up to $450.00. However you still need to purchase some cables and a Mic stand. Never-the-less you will most likely spend about $100 less than the Studio in a Box option.

The next step up is to move into Pro and Semi-Pro gear. I use MOTU's Digital Performer (Mac only) and a couple of their audio interfaces and a high quality Audio-Technica microphone. Each of these cost between $750 and $1000.00. I also use a stand alone a stand alone Aphex Tube Mic Pre-Amp.

I know that for many of you spending $500.00 might be a lot of money, but to put this into perspective a top of the line iPod costs about $350 and all it does is play back music. Most studios spend thousand of dollars on their equipment and software. A single microphone can cost $3,000 and up.

Many of you have asked me if your sound card on your computer will do the stuff that an Audio Interface does. As a Mac user I don't really have a true sound card, but I do know that the process of crunching the digital numbers from your mic to your computer and back to your speakers takes a lot of computer power. If you have your sound card do that work it takes power away from your computer's built in processor and will slow things down. Also most sound cards are not built for professional sounding recording and are not made using the best and cleanest components. However, if you're really on a tight budget you could use option #2 and not purchase the Audio Interface right away and use your sound card temporary. Trust me, you'll want a better sounding I/0 sooner than later.

To find out more about all this and to purchase gear I recommend you call
Hal Stevens at West LA Music. I buy 90% of my studio equipment from Hal. I find him to be straight forward and knowledgeable. While West LA Music does sell to the average Wannabe Rocker they also sell a lot to professional musicians like myself and understand our needs. Plus I think Hal is just a nice guy and easy to deal with. In my opinion in the LA retail music market West LA Music has great prices too! Don't forget that out of state purchases don't pay sales tax and West LA Music ships all over the world. Hal can be reached at (310) 477-1945 or at

I mention this because a lot of music/guitar stores are full of a bunch on no nothing, air-head rocker, sales people that try to give you the hard sell and I don't wish that kind of grief on anyone. Plus, just like the flute makers on my web site, I want to recommend someone I know and trust.

How to Buy a NAF, part 1
How to Buy a NAF, part 2
How to care for your NAF
Playing your first NAF scale
Strengthening your Fingers
Playing from the Heart Part-1
Playing from the Heart Part-2

You can also find all the articles HERE

Visit the
Cedar Mesa Music Store. You can also find a list of makers who's flutes I play on my web site.

NAF History and Construction

Please support these posts by purchasing copies my recordings of Native American flutes.

Distant Spirits
Nominee: Native American Music Award

Sacred Dreams
Winner: Native American Music Award

New Fire
Nominee: Native American Music Award,
Winner: Indian Summer Music Award.

You can listen to samples from all three and purchase them online. Members of my E-Mailing list get an extra 10% off all online purchases.

© 2006 Cedar Mesa Music. All rights reserved.


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