Yay, you’ve decided to build a home recording studio. It sounds like a big decision, and you probably are already feeling some degree of pressure from just reading the previous sentence: But it doesn’t have to be.
Whether you plan on launching your own podcast, YouTube channel or rock band, creating a home recording studio is a must for professional sound quality. This is something I learned the hard way recording music for YouTube and Band Camp. After investing a little money in some proper equipment, the difference in quality was like night and day. It was then that my following really took off – and that I was set on the path to enjoy the success I’m experiencing right now!
I urge other creators and performers to do the same. If you’re out there creating tracks that you’re proud of, then you owe it to yourself to do them justice by recording them accurately and getting that crisp, dynamic sound that you can just get lost in a good pair of headphones.
Table of Contents
Let’s start with a few tips:
If you are not convinced yet, well, the main thing is to start with a simple studio. When you start simple, you avoid getting overwhelmed, discouraged, or worse consider quitting; because you are not attempting to take in more than you can handle.
Home Recording Studio Equipment: The Cost
Being able to complete your first home recording studio successfully and seamlessly is not the only benefit of starting simple. Another advantage is that you get to spend less.
It is no secret that home recording can be expensive. So spending less, at least on your first run, is a welcome idea.
With that said, you should know that it is possible to ruin a nice attempt at having your studio by going for materials that are “too cheap.” That you do not want to spend a fortune is not an excuse for building a recording studio that wouldn’t be a fit for someone who is head over heels for recording their music.
Note: Before you start, make sure you pick a good room in your house to record in. This should be something where there’s minimal ambient noise and where you won’t disturb the rest of the family. Having a quiet space to record makes a big difference!
To make setting up a home studio that bit easier for you, I thought I’d share the exact equipment I’m using right now. I know first-hand that this stuff can get the job done for you and it won’t break the bank either! Here’s a list of 7 essentials needed to setup a home recording studio, what I’m using and what I recommend…
You’ll need a decent computer to run your sound mixing/recording software. When I upgraded my PC to something like, clean and fast, I found that it not only made it much quicker and easier for me to produce tracks but also made it a lot more fun!
If this is your hobby, or if you hope to make money from it, then you’re likely to be spending a lot of time at that computer. So make sure it’s a good one!
I personally chose the Apple MacBook Pro. Specifically, I went for the 15.4 inch model with 1TB SSHD of storage and a stunning retina display. It’s a high-end machine, but it makes mixing and editing my tracks an absolute dream. Apple is still the way to go for artists and creative types, and there’s a ton of excellent software and accessories available to help make your life easier.
Regarding pure power, this is also no slouch. You get a 2.0GHZ QuadCore i7 processor and 16GB of RAM. Radeon HD 6490M dedicated GDDR5 are also suitable for editing videos if you’re going to be doing that
Of course, there are plenty more options for your computer. If you’re a Windows fan for instance, then you might prefer to go with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. I’ve compiled a list of the best computers for home recording studios which you might be interested in.
DAW/Audio Interface Combo
DAW stands for ‘Digital Audio Workstation’ and is the software you’re going to use to record, edit and mix your tunes. As I selected a MacBook Pro, I, of course, needed a piece of software that would work on Max OSx.
The audio interface meanwhile is the hub that plugs into my device and lets me connect my mic and other gear.
I chose the PreSonus AudioBox 22VSL. This is a 24-bit recording interface and comes with Studio One Artist for the digital audio workstation software. You also get Virtual StudioLiveTM (VSL) control software.
All in all, it’s an excellent package. It works with my set-up and gives me all the flexibility I want to get my tracks full of depth and boasting that over-produced ‘wall of sound’ that I like so much
Again, there are plenty more options. Find my full list of favorites best DAW/Audio Interface Combo. The software is going to be pretty important when making this decision as it will dictate what features and capabilities are available to you. The audiobox meanwhile will define compatibility – though there are often ways around that.
The best way to enjoy any piece of music is with a decent pair of headphones. This lets you be fully immersed in your track and hear all the different layers while blocking out the outside world.
I love having decent headphones because I’m a music fan (obviously). But as a recording artist, they’re also a crucial part of my job as they let me hear my own tracks at their best and notice the little imperfections as I’m editing.
As a sound recorder, you don’t just want any old headphones. You’ll want a decent pair of studio monitor headphones that are built specifically for this purpose. I chose the Shure SRH840 Professional Monitoring Headphones because they offer amazing sound quality and lots of impressive features.
Specifically, these use neodymium magnets and 40mm drivers for incredibly detailed sound. They also have a great, over-ear design that is very comfortable and efficient at reducing background noises
Note that some people will opt for separate tracking headphones and mixing headphones. You can look into that in future but for me, these are great for everything I need. I’ve got a list of 7 of the best recording headphones that you can pick from if you’re looking for something different.
Headphones also give you the bonus of being able to make noise while you record without disturbing anyone!
A mic stand is pretty much what you’d expect – a stand to keep your mic in place. It’s more important than you think, though, as it will allow you to get the perfect position to pick up the best sound. Professional sound recorders spend a lot of time setting up the ideal positions for their directional mics, so this is a necessary investment.
For mine, I went with the Samson MK-10 Microphone Boom Stand. It’s a beautiful, simply looking stand with a sleek black finish. What’s more, is that it’s collapsible for easy storage. That lets us use the studio as a spare room when we have guests!
As ever, I’ve compiled a countdown of the tbest mic stands, and you can see that it’s pretty complete.
You probably guessed this was coming! A mic stand is not much use without a microphone and in fact a recording studio isn’t much use without a microphone either…
This is what you’ll be using to capture all those tunes/your earth shattering interview, so it’s pretty important that you invest in something that offers high quality.
Thankfully though, high-quality microphones aren’t quite as expensive as you might expect. I chose the Shure SM58-LC Cardioid Vocal Microphone and my music and voice has been sounding fantastic through it. It uses a frequency that’s tailored for vocals, so it’s particularly useful for singing and for interviews. But that said, I use it for recording all sorts and it definitely does the job. It has a frequency response of 50 up to 15,000Hz and it just captures really great sounding audio.
The reviews are excellent, and overall it’s just great value for money, and I highly recommend it. If you’d like something with less of a vocal focus, though, then you can find my full list of the best recording microphones.
This is the most important investment for your home studio, so if you only buy one new piece of equipment – this should be it. In fact, with just a new mic you can actually get started right away recording high-quality music or podcasts.
tudio monitors is really just a fancy term to describe speakers for your recordings. You could use standard desktop speakers when mixing but you’d have a much harder time picking out the layers and creating something that will sound amazing. If you want to get the most authentic experience, then a great set of powerful studio monitors is worthwhile. What you’re looking for are ‘nearfield monitors’. The ones I went with are the Yamaha HS5 studio monitors. They look great and they’re very affordable and versatile.Find those below, or if you’d like to look at some other options, check out my list of the best studio monitors.
The good news is that you can get by with just headphones at first, so if you’re on a tight budget this can be one of the things you upgrade last!
You’ll end up with cables all over the place by the time you’re a pro sound editor but to start with you’ll need just a few. That means a long XLR cable for your microphone and probably some short ones for your studio monitors. I’m using the LyxPro balanced XLR cables and you get two for one that way. You can find those below or see some alternatives in my full list of the best XLR cables.
Take control back when it comes to the composing and performing of your original music with the Akai Professional MPK225 25-Key USB MIDI Keyboard & Drum Pad Controller with LCD Screen. This controller keyboard features 25 semi-weighted keys that are full sized for swift presses and easy access while you work. Pressure sensitivity is included on these keys to keep you navigating the system more efficiently than ever before
The Akai Professional MPK225 | 25-Key USB MIDI Keyboard & Drum Pad Controller with LCD Screen is one of the best midi controller and features 8 control knobs and 4 switches that translate into an impressive 24 knobs and 12 switches due to its 3 programmable memory banks, giving you an incredible mix of options for commands, the likes of which you’ve never seen. It also includes 8 RBG-illuminated pads that are MPC-style. These convenient pads allow for 32 assignable commands through its astounding 4 memory banks. The control layout of this system comes with a backlighted LCD screen. This screen gets its power from the USB connection that goes right into your computer for even further convenience levels.
Are you tired of being subjected to low-quality recording equipment and having your vocals suffer because of it? Are you finding yourself looking for a cost effective way to maximize your vocal recordings to no avail? Your search stops here. The Dragonpad USA Pop Filter Studio Microphone Mic Wind Screen Pop Filter is your ticket to flawless vocal recordings without worrying about draining your wallet dry. It possesses a number of features that allow you to adjust it to your needs while performing all of the necessary functions that you need a windscreen to perform
This wind screen and pop filter protects the microphone from recording unwanted noises such as those produced by fast moving air created when you sing in your studio or home studio, and can also reduce noise from recording outdoors. This screen comes with a swivel mount that makes placing it on your microphone stand or anywhere else convenient and simple. There is a 360-degree flexible gooseneck holder that furthers the convenience factor. The wind screen also prevents saliva getting onto your microphone when you or your performers get into a song.
If you’re interested, there’s a whole list of some of the best pop filters on the market.
Microphone Pre Amp
Keep the integrity of quality in all of your recorded vocal performances intact as you send them to be processed by other equipment with the Focusrite OctoPre MkII Dynamic Microphone Pre Amp. This pre-amplifier has won 8 separate awards for its ability to preserve the vocals you input, and all of these awards can give their thanks to its wide array of features.
The Focusrite OctoPre MkII Dynamic Microphone Pre Amp has eight, single-dial compressors that deliver the perfect amount of compression as swiftly as possible. These are feed-forward compressors that are VCA-based for total optimization. There are 8, 24-bit/96kHz input and output channels of digital to analog conversion for you to get the most out of this system’s ADAT input. This pre-amp also includes a dynamic performance range of 110dB.
Also available is a traditional soft-knee make-up that achieves gorgeously transparent compression and a unique “More” option that gives you double the ratio when you want compression with an effect. The internal clock of the Focusrite OctoPre MkII Dynamic Microphone Pre Amp possesses industry-standard JetPLL jitter elimination mechanisms to further smooth out your sound.
I’ve also compiled a list of some of the best microphone preamps available on the market on 2017
Recording Studio Desk
Ditch the small desk you have been working on in the corner for a full-impact producing station that is as beautiful to look at as it is functional. The Studio RTA Producer Station Maple is your solution to in-home or professional producing that has enough room and storage compartments to accommodate a full system of gear while keeping everything neatly organized in your workspace.
The Studio RTA Producer Station Maple delivers unmatched space and efficiency while also being incredibly ergonomic. Alongside the 26.25-inch wide slide out computer keyboard shelf beneath the main surface, the main tier itself is large enough to accommodate an 88-key keyboard so that you can get everything done at once without needing to shuffle everything around. On either side of the desk you will find dual 20-space racks for your disks to keep them safely tucked away. An 8-space rack can hold other equipment that you want close at hand on top of the desk, as well as dual 8-space CD holders.
The top level of this work station includes room for more keyboards or your computer’s monitor. There is a useful cable organizer in the back that organizes all of your wiring and keeps them untangled and out of sight. When you need to move to a new location, the locking casters of this steel framed desk make this a simple task.
Not sold on the RTA producer? I’ve reviewed a list of the best recording studio desk for you to check
Get rid of any unwanted echoes, sound reflections or any other distracting noises that might enter your microphone with the addition of the KOVAL INC.- Microphone Isolator Panel Absorber Studio Reflection Filter to your recording space. Now you can have those top-quality studio sounds you have always dreamed of at a fraction of the cost.
This isolator panel can be very simply installed against a tube using the brackets included, or left standing alone on the table where you do your recording. If you choose to mount it, it can be mounted on different sizes of tubes from 3/5 of an inch to 1-inch wide. You can choose to mount it directly onto a vertical microphone stand using the standard 5/8 of an inch female threaded socket.
The front of the isolator panel is made up of five special perforated metal panels lined with 2-inch thick, textured acoustic foam to deliver the highest level of noise reduction possible. On the back and sides of the KOVAL INC.- Microphone Isolator Panel Absorber Studio Reflection Filter, you will find a vented and perforated metal plate that furthers the isolator panel’s noise reduction capabilities. The isolator panel can be folded to further surround the vocalist or for easy movement. The shock mount depth can even be adjusted to either come toward or move away from the panels to lend your preferred level of noise reduction.
I made sure to review a list of the best reflection filters in case you wanted to check other options
Best Home Recording Studio Equipment – Conclusion
As you can see, all you really need to set up your first home recording studio are a few essentials. Therefore, you can cancel any thought of multi-staged planning, research, and preparation you had lined up; because it is actually far easier to go from an empty space to a basic home recording studio to get the vibe and sounds going.
Having all these essentials is the first stage of your home recording journey. Of course, putting them together is seamless, and you do not need technical knowledge. With everything set up, you can start recording your music in your home recording studio.
An important point to note is that as you progress in your home recording journey, you will find yourself equipping your studio with more tools as your proficiency grows and your needs evolve. No need to rush it, though, getting a working studio is all that matters, and thanks to this guide you can have one without much ado.