Recording For Free: Sound on a Mac & PC [how-to]

I love recording audio, making music, archiving stories and beautiful moments, and I am not endowed with money — and have definitely been seriously broke and still wanted to make audio art. What’s a techhead to do? Read on for audio recording recommendations for voices and music on mac and even pc!


Audio on a PC has always been relatively easy because there are about a thousand good free programs out there for PC users to make music:

  • Start –>Accessories –>Entertainment –>Sound Recorder–>talk — aaaand done.
  • Being real, the last time I was on a PC [was when I made my first album using $40 of RAM I installed myself on a machine running Windows ME, but even though] my technology was crap, and I easily ran Modplug Tracker — great audio creation [not recording] software. So good and intuitive to use I sometimes bust out the PC virtualizer on my Mac so I can play with it.
  • And you have Audacity…

Audio on a Mac has gotten basically awesome in the last few years, in part because of Garageband, yes, but also you’ve got:

  • Audacity which is so perfect my friend who pays $$$ for techy grad school got taught it in class. It’s free and available for both Mac and PC and lets your record via your computer’s mic input and/or import all kinds of audio files to mashup and play with.
  • and if you want to get cray* and record audio in other ways, say an interview via Skype, you can use Soundflower** [brought to you by the makers of Max/MSP/Jitter, the A/V program I want to marry*** and spend all my time with. Someone give me $$ so I can, please]. With Soundflower you can record any audio from one program to another: iTunes to Audacity, for example.


RAM you probably have enough memory [RAM] on your computer to record sound without crashing the thing and frustrating the shit out of you. But just in case, do you?

Microphone You can get a mic at many dollar stores for $2. You can get a mic at radio shack for $15. You can get a mic at a pawn shop / on ebay for  $50-$100. You can afford it! Just make sure it has a 1/8″ stereo plug. If it has the common 1/4″ mono no problem – you’ll need to get two adapters at radio shack / your local electronics corner stort for $3 a pop. One will decrease the jack to 1/8″ and the next will go from mono to stereo.

*a familiar form of “crazy”
** thanks to Sébastien McLaughlin for pointing me to this software!
***maybe marriage is the right goal after all?

Leave a comment