Each Windows-based computer comes with a program called Sound Recorder. This records short files of 60 seconds or less. If you do not intend to record an answering machine message, you will probably need another recording program. Recording packages range from Freeware to thousands of dollars. For casual to serious amateur, I would recommend either Audacity, which is a freeware program, or one of the lower Cakewalk programs like Guitar Tracks Pro. Cakewalk Guitar Tracks Pro is an easy to learn program because its interface is easy to understand and use. The volume of the recording is controlled by slider controls and buttons that are designed to see and act as their analog cousins on recording equipment. The freeware program Audacity is also very easy to use and has the advantage of being able to run on Windows 98 via Vista, Mac OSX and Linux.
2. Prepare the microphone.
The old adage, you get what you pay for applies to your microphone. If you use a microphone that costs less than $ 20, you will probably get a file that sounds thin and thin. If you are looking for a good sound, invest in a decent microphone. If you have $ 80 to $ 100, I suggest a Shure SM 58. The SM58 has gone to a microphone of choice for musicians across the spectrum for decades. But even if you invest $ 40 wisely, you will get a much better recording than a $ 10 microphone from the local big box electronics store.
Almost all Windows PC sound cards have a 1/8 inch mono input to accept the microphone. Therefore, your microphone must have a mono plug of 1/8 inch. If your microphone has a 1/4 inch mono connector or a weird look with three smaller pins (XLR connector), you can get a cheap adapter at Radio Shack. Take the microphone to the store and show them what you have and what you need. The sales manager can sell you the right adapter.
3. Connect the microphone to the computer
Look at the input output on the computer sound card. Read your computer manual to identify the correct input for the microphone. If you do not find your manual, there should be a small image of a microphone at the appropriate input. Insert the microphone connector into the microphone connector.
4. Open the recording program
On your Windows computer, click on software accessories-entertainment-audio recorder. The button with the red circle is a record. Click the record button and talk or sing into your microphone.
If you are using Audacity or Cakewalk, open the program, start a new project and set up the system to record. Press the red record button and sing or speak into the microphone. (Note: This part of the process requires you to spend some time getting acquainted with the special software package you are using.)
5. Play the audio file.
The button with a rectangle is the stop button. When you have finished talking or singing, click the stop button. Then press the triangle button to play the file. If everything is connected and working properly, you should hear yourself. If there is no sound on your file, repeat these steps, check the computer and microphone manuals.
At this point, the microphone is set and ready to record. The area of sound and music recording is rich in more information, software and equipment. This tutorial has just shown the most basic way to record a voice or instrument to a digital computer. With the help of this and more advanced techniques, it is possible to capture individual and multiple tracks, live and studio recordings on your computer.
Tips and warnings
Many people are aware that their computer can record audio and music directly from a microphone. But there is a lot of confusion about exactly how the technology works and what equipment you need. This tutorial is intended to help the average PC user record directly from a standard dynamic microphone to a Windows-based computer.