Today I’m going to talk about the chain which you’ll ideally record with. If the things I talk about here sounds like Star Trek stuff, then just go back and read the previous tutorial posts.
Of course you might not always have access to all this gear. For instance, if you’re at a trade fare doing an interview you might just have a handheld recorder. In that case there’s not much to do besides recording at the best way you possibly can (i.e., when there’s as few people around as possible).
Microphone. You will need some kind of microphone to record with unless you just want to use pre-recorded things (i.e. music). I’ve already written a few posts on microphone techniques here, be sure to check them out.
Mic preamp. Somewhere in the line you need to connect the microphone to a preamp. If you use a good sound card or audio interface you might already have one. Another option is using a mixer, or of course a dedicated mic pre.
This is all you need, but using a compressor or a limiter while recording can be useful as well. The purpose of this is not to distort the signal while you’re recording. As I’ve said in the past, this is specifically important if you record digitally because digital distortion sounds horrible. If you decide to compress “on the way in” make sure that you don’t compress much so you squash or pump the signal. You can always compress more later, but you can’t remove compression once it’s there.
I’ve talked a lot about the use of EQ in the past. I suggest you don’t use EQ when recording, that is typically something you add later.