Welcome back, friend!This guest post comes to us via Ellie Batchiyska. If you’re recording for the first time, you’ll love the suggested gear mentioned below.
If you’d like to contribute something to The Music Entrepreneur HQ, be sure to scan our submission guidelines.
Also note: This post contains links to affiliate products. If you purchase through these links, we will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Now, let’s get into it!
The lyrics are written, the band is gathered, the sound has been established, but wait – you don’t have all the professional equipment you need to get your debut album sounding up to snuff.
Naturally, as a beginner band, you’re on a budget. However, you need the essentials: microphones, amps, recording equipment.
Unfortunately, none of those things are cheap. The good news is we’ve made the frugal findings for you and compiled them all into a tidy list.
Here are five pieces of equipment you absolutely need in to begin the recording process, narrowed down to the most affordable yet quality items in each category.
1. Prep with a Preamp
Think of the pre-amplifier as your central hub for low-level signals, sounds, and inputs. Maybe it’s not the sexiest piece of equipment in your studio, but it is possibly the most basic and crucial. It boosts weak signals from microphones or instruments before processing them through a power amplifier or loudspeaker.
Most importantly, it cleans up these weak signals, allowing for a crisper and cleaner overall sound quality.
Due to its elemental purpose, the preamp is possibly the priciest item on this list.
However, you can get a PreSonus DigiMax D8 Eight-Channel Preamp with 48 kHz ADAT Output for just $399 on Amazon, probably the most affordable preamp on the market right now, unless you buy one secondhand.
2. Get Crankin’ with a Guitar Amp
Decent amps at a reasonable price are hard to come by. On the one hand, you want your electric guitar to sound loud and clear, but on the other, you’re not willing to give up an arm and a leg for the tone.
Fortunately, with the Bugera V5 Infinium, you don’t have to spend more than $200. This simple tube amp is compact and great for a small makeshift studio space.
With a couple of modifications and tube replacements, it can even sound like a $500 piece of equipment. This amp is dually useful: powerful enough for studio recording, yet compact enough for carrying around to live gigs.
3. Microphone Mania
With that, you want to make sure to buy a mic that simultaneously enhances input and drowns out excessive background noise.
Durable, dynamic, and industry-approved, the Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic microphone is a knockout at just $99. Despite its primary use for vocals, this mic is renowned for its pickup of percussion, wind, and string instruments as well.
4. Makin’ Headway with Some Headphones
Why splurge on Beats or Bose when you can get comparable sound quality at a non-comparable price? And we mean non-comparable in a good way.
The Prestige Series SR60e headphones are only $79 and reviews boast that their ability to pick up upper mids/highs and bass is exceptional.
Lightweight, retro, and practical, these are great for ensuring you pick up the most realistic sound of your music in post-production.
5. And Finally, a DAW
Though not a tangible piece of equipment, the recording process is not complete without music production software. Depending on your needs, standards, and computer, there are numerous programs you can use.
For Mac users who love taking advantage of their extensive apps and features, GarageBand is a failsafe option. This free program either comes pre-installed on your Mac or can easily be downloaded from the app store.
Within the program, you have access to a complete sound library, where you can fill in missing pieces from your recording session with pre-recorded instrumental snippets. Guitar/voice presets, along with the ability to plug in equipment directly for recording (such as a USB keyboard), make it almost unbelievable that this program is available at little to no cost.
For a slightly more professional program at a still nominal price, Avid’s Pro Tools offers an impressive array of functions. It is available for Windows and Mac, and allows users to collaborate remotely on projects, access a sound library with thousands of sounds and 60 instruments, and even surround sound capabilities.
At just $25/month, Pro Tools can be especially useful to bands that don’t have high-quality equipment, as its sophisticated interface allows you to edit almost anything to perfection.
Now That You’ve Got the Gear…
Get recording! When you save money on your equipment, you give yourself the ability to invest in promotional materials, live shows, and a recording space.
Bobby Gillespie may have preached that a band is only as good as its drummer, but the truth is that they’re only as good as their gear. After all, what’s the point of sounding phenomenal live if you can’t get that sound across in recordings?
Start small with these must-haves and then get ready to work your way up once they begin to pay off, which they will.