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.
Let’s start with a few tips:
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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.
You can grab it here:
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!
Check it out here:
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.
Get them here:
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 lots more 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!
You can also get yours here:
As ever, I’ve compiled a countdown of the top 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.
Grab yours here:
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.
Studio 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 alternative 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.
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.