The trouble with owning recording equipment is that you have to know how to record things to get the best possible sound; my biggest problem has always been figuring out how to do this. My second biggest problem has always been remembering how I did it.
Studio Buddy™ to the rescue!
I found Studio Buddy™, "The Home Recording Helper", on TAXI's website. (TAXI is "...the World's Leading Independent A&R [artist & repertoire] Company helping bands, artists, composers, and songwriters get record deals, publishing deals and placements in film and TV.") It's a free program designed to help you "Engineer like the pros! Platinum engineers give you their secret formulas for making great recordings in your home studio." It lives up to its billing, all in a simple two-pane interface like any other help file topics on left, info on the right. You can even print out each topic.
Here's just a teeny-tiny sample of the gems of wisdom you'll find:
Question: "How do I get rid of distortion?"
Answer (excerpt): "Start by visualizing the problem. Somewhere in the chain there's a circuit that's being overloaded or has become incompatible. Eliminate each variable, one at a time, until the distortion goes away." (It goes on to describe the various types of distortion and the causes. Good stuff!)
So far, I've learned how to find the "sweet spot" for placing a mic in front of an acoustic guitar (get down on your hands and knees and listen) and several techniques for recording vocals (use condenser mics and a good headphone mix). There's even a good guide to buying the right microphones (a Shure SM-57 is a must-have, AKG's C3000B is a great condenser mic).
I think I'll be up late tonight I'll be hangin' with my new "Buddy".