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A microphone in a recording studio with a red background. A microphone in a recording studio with a red background.

Different types of recording

2 min read

What are the different methods used in recording?

There are three recording methods to consider.

  • Acoustic recordings - created from capturing acoustic, non-amplified or electronic, musical performances

  • Electronic recordings - sound recordings created using a direct electrical signal, which generally involves keyboards, synthesizers, basses, guitars, microphones, and amplifiers

  • In-the-box recordings - using a computer and specific software to create sounds without keyboards, synthesizers, basses, guitars, microphones, and amplifiers.

These methods describe how a sound recording can be created, but you also need to consider what format to make the sound recording in – analog or digital.

What is an analog recording?

Analog recording captures sound as a continuous sound wave, just as our ears do. This wave is imprinted directly onto vinyl or magnetic tapes. Multi-track two-inch tapes were once the standard analog recording format within the music industry, and though they are much rarer now, you can still find them in some studios.

What is a digital recording?

Digital recording captures the sound not as a continuous wave, like analog, but as a series of regularly spaced points on the wave that approximates what we hear naturally. This allows you to use computer software programs to record, produce, mix, and master sound recordings. It also allows distribution in . Whereas CDs once dominated digital music formats, streaming music is now the most popular.

In terms of sound recording formats, there is an ongoing debate as to whether analog or digital is better. Many suggest that analog tends to be warmer and captures a truer representation of the actual sound, while digital is described as colder and more technical.

Digital recording, however, has a clear cost advantage, allowing to record on their computers anywhere in the world. Analog recording still requires a professional recording studio full of the right equipment.

Image credit: Jakob Johansson, Parapix