I grew up playing music and have slowly acquired a bunch of recording gear over the years, like this Tascam Portastudio 4-track cassette recorder. I bought in high school and spent endless hours hunched over it. The thing still works!
My 5-year-old and I have recorded some tunes on tape, but he really loves recording in Garageband on the iPad. I don’t blame him: I’m constantly amazed at how powerful the iOS version is.
I wanted to build us a little plug & play recording station and resurrect some of my old equipment (old keyboards, SM-57s, some condenser microphones), so here’s what we’ve set up:
- Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD – No-frills, $99, this thing has 4 XLR inputs and MIDI w/ a USB out.
- Apple Lightning to USB-3 cable – converts USB to lightning and has enough juice that you don’t have to use a powered hub with the Behringer
- Anker 6ft lightning cable
So, for about a $150 investment, I can have all my old microphones, bass guitar, and keyboard plugged in at all times, and all you have to do is plug in an iPad (or an iPhone!), fire up Garageband, select the inputs, and go. I’ll often make a drum pattern with the built-in sequencer, then record myself singing and playing my old Yamaha piano through the MIDI input. It’s fun to do the basic tracks, unplug the iPad, then sit on the couch with headphones and do the mixing.
I’m constantly amazed at the technology my kindergartener has access to, but, as always, the hardest thing about music isn’t the recording technology, it’s writing a song worth recording!