When it comes to building a home recording studio, it’s easy to have some fancy Hollywood studio in mind, get overwhelmed and throw the idea in a trash can.
To be honest, you don’t need a gigantic budget to get started, so long as you are realistic and committed to getting it done. Starting simple allows you to get set up faster, and save money in the process.
Just don’t go too cheap, as this may inhibit your ability to create great quality recordings.
Here are the basic elements needed to get started on your audio production journey.
You don’t need to be Stephen Hawking to know that you need a good computer if your home studio dream is to take form.
You do not need a sophisticated CIA movie computer to run a home studio. Most computers produced these days can handle basic studio work. If your computer was built after 2010, it’s probably more than sufficient for your recording needs.
Here are a couple of recommendations if you don’t have a suitable machine now:
- MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro is one of the best machines for home studios, but it can be a little pricy. If you’re on a tight budget, you might consider the…
- Mac Mini. Though underrated, the Mac Mini is enough machine for a home studio, and its price tag is reasonable.
DAW/Audio Interface Combo
In case you don’t already know, DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation. It refers to a software application you can use to record, mix and edit audio in your computer.
The audio interface is the device that connects your computer to other hardware like microphones and musical instruments.
DAWs and audio interfaces sometimes come together in bundles. If budget is a concern, a combo can be a good way to go, though you might end up having to compromise in terms of either the DAW or the audio interface.
For beginners, the combo can be a great choice – you’ll save yourself from having to purchase more products, and you’ll also save some money.
The best combo deals are offered via Presonus and Avid. I recommend either the:
- Presonus Audiobox USB, which comes with the Studio One DAW.
- Avid Pro Tools Duet, which comes with a perpetual Pro Tools License. Note: This is the costlier option of the two.
You don’t need a huge collection of microphones to get started with recording. One or two microphones are often more than enough to get your projects off the ground.
Choosing mics is typically a matter of the sounds you’re looking to capture – voice, acoustic instruments, electric instruments, etc.
Large diaphragm condenser mics are great for recording vocals. The Rode NT1A walks that tight rope between quality and affordability (but there are more affordable options).
For recording instruments like electric guitars and drum cymbals, a small diaphragm condenser mic is ideal. You can’t go wrong with the Audio Technica AT2020, which is great for a variety of applications.
A dynamic microphone is also a good tool to have, since it can help cut out extraneous noise in your home recording environment. There is virtually no studio – home, project, or professional – that doesn’t own a Shure SM57.
Every home recordist requires a good pair of headphones. There are two basic types of headphones you should know about – closed back and open back.
Closed back headphones are used for tracking and allow for more isolation, though offer a lower quality sound overall. Basically, if you want to cut out background noise while recording (i.e. what you’re hearing in your headphones while recording), you’ll want to purchase a set of closed backs.
Open back headphones offer better sound quality than closed backs, but lack good isolation. Open back headphones can also be more expensive.
If you’re wondering whether to get closed backs or open backs, and which are best, check here for more information.
If you’re just getting started, you’ll probably want to purchase a pair of closed back headphones. A pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M30x closed back headphones are easy on the wallet and should be sufficient.
As a sidebar, practically every type of technology has been going through a revolution, including headphones. Wireless headphones are becoming increasingly popular, though their use will be limited in the studio. If you’re interested, it wouldn’t do you any harm to check out the best wireless earbuds around.
It is possible to mix your tracks on headphones, but it’s best not to rely on them, as it will inhibit your ability to mix accurately and with balance.
Studio monitors offer more transparency, and can offer better feedback for mixing. Just for reference, they aren’t the same as the speakers you’re using in your living room.
Proper studio monitors are designed to offer a more neutral sound – as opposed to the “colored” sound of your living room speakers – and this will make it easier for you to sniff out inconsistencies, noise, and other artifacts in your audio.
Studio monitors will give you the best mixing experience overall, and if you don’t utilize them, it will take more time and effort to craft the kinds of sounds you’re looking for. I recommend the KRK RP5G3-NA Rockit 5 Generation 3 powered studio monitors for beginners. You’ll can find these in project and home studios everywhere, because of the quality they offer.
You don’t need a network of complicated bundles of cables when you’re getting your home studio set up.
You’ll probably want a long XLR cable for your microphones, as well as two shorter ones for your monitors. Just make sure your audio interface accepts XLR cables, and you’ll be off to the races.
The AmazonBasics XLR 6 Feet and 25 Feet are good options to consider.
Handheld microphones are great for live performances, but not so much for the studio. You should anchor your mic to a stand when recording to reduce and avoid unnecessary strain and noise.
Whether you pick up a desk stand, or a free-standing stand is entirely up to you. It all depends on your budget, but it’s better to get a solid stand than to go too cheap.
The AmazonBasics Tripod Boom mic stand and the On Stage DS7200B Adjustable desk mic stand are reasonably good options, especially if you’re on a tight budget and you’ll only be using them at home, but don’t be afraid to pay more for stands, because low quality stands can be annoying.
Beginner musicians and engineers often assume they require expensive gear to get started in home recording. This simply isn’t the case.
Home recording is all about making the most of the limited resources available to you. You can still capture a great sound and get great mixes without shelling out for the best equipment available. Find a meaningful balance between sustainability and affordability – you want to capture quality recordings without paying an arm and a leg for it.
It would also be worth exploring the best recording studio equipment with the best discount by CouponsMonk. If you’re going to be picking up some gear anyway, you may as well see if you can buy it at a reduced cost.
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