One could write volumes about what gear to buy to use with your digital or tape recorder, how to hook it all up and make awesome recordings, but if you only have 30 seconds, read these time-tested maxims below

When recording your tracks try to get the loudest signal possible down
This will allow you to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio of the signal. You want the signal to be loud enough to defeat any noise in the system but you don’t want it to be so loud that the signal distorts or clips.

Don’t go cheap with audio cables
If you do, you will be chasing phantom noises, crackles and pops around your studio instead of recording tunes. It will make you nuts and you will end up working in a music store for the rest of your life. Also, when you have a cable you think might be bad, it is bad, so throw it out – don’t put it back in the box so you will repeat the madness all over again.

Invest in an audio patch bay
A patch bay is a unit to which all the cables connect. As you change connections around in your studio, you just plug and unplug the cables on the patchbay instead of crawling around the floor behind your rack and mixer in the dark swearing a lot while looking to find the right ¼” jack..

Use multiple monitors when playing back your mixes
When you mix down your songs, you should listen to them on a couple different formats (headphones, small close-field monitors, larger speakers cranked up loud, even a car stereo). The change of aural scene gives you context, allows you to get a sense of what is and isn’t working in a mix and how it will respond to different forms of media and playback. Invest in a good set of headphones. You want a beefy pair that is made for the studio (not consumer media) with a closed back.

Don’t start twisting the EQ knob
If you don’t like the way something sounds, go to the source and try and fix it there first. If you are miking a guitar for example, try moving the mic around to alternate positions relative to the acoustic guitar (or amp, if it is an electric guitar). If an instrument sounds dull pumping the EQ will just polish the turd, so to speak, and small mic adjustments can make huge differences in the sound.

What about the mics?
Get at least one good condenser microphone that you can use to capture vocals and acoustic instruments. Don’t cheap out on this mic as it is portal to the feature signal hitting your tape.