One of the first things that people need to know about setting up a recording studio at home is that price isn’t everything. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on expensive gear when you can achieve similar professional-sounding results for less money. Hence it’s far more essential to determine what it is that you want to do first before spending any amount of money on studio recording gear.
In this post, we will go over the essentials for a home recording studio and a few things that you need to consider to get the best value for your money.
For starters, you will need a laptop computer which is going to be the center of your home recording studio. If you’re reading this, then you probably don’t want to spend all your money on the latest Macbook Pro. That said, you can’t expect good results with an old Windows Vista computer from the early 2000s. Ideally, you would want to get a mid-range laptop like the Lenovo Ideapad 320 or even a Macbook Air. Similar laptops can be bought for under $500 with the following specs:
- At least 2.6 GHz dual-core CPU
- At least 8GB of RAM
- At least 500 GB 5400 RPM Mechanical Storage Drive.
Check out our ultimate guide for the best music laptops.
Home Studio DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
While strictly not a recording gear, a DAW is nevertheless an essential part of any home recording studio. As you may already know, the latter is an application that you will need for recording mix and operating digital instruments.
The popular choice is a DAW called “Pro Tools” by Avid which costs around $100 per year. While it can be expensive for most people, many experts argue that it’s the best choice for complicated audio mixes, routing, and sound manipulation.
A less expensive option is Apple’s Logic Pro, which you can buy for around $200 and has no recurring subscription fees. Hence, it has been a popular choice for many beginners looking to get into producing and recording music. That said, it’s only available for Mac OS users.
One important thing that you ought to remember before purchasing a DAW is that one doesn’t necessarily produce better results than the other. It’s all about finding one that fits your budget and your workflow.
Another essential piece that you will need for your home recording studio is a nifty device called an audio interface. Such a device will allow you to record audio from a microphone, drums, guitars and other musical instruments via an audio cable. Likewise, an audio interface device also lets you output said sound through a speaker setup. Some may argue that you can use the audio output on your computer, but this is generally not a good idea as the quality isn’t as good.
If you’re serious about running a home recording studio, then you will need a suitable audio interface device. An audio interface device that is geared towards home enthusiasts (like this one from Focusrite) typically costs less than $150 but most are limited to one or two inputs. If you need more for a live band recording session, then you’d be looking to spend up to $700 or more, like this one from Peavey.
Speakers and Headphones
If there’s one area that you would not want to scrimp on, it would be headphones and speakers (or monitors). After all, these devices allow you to hear whatever it is that you are doing. The better you can hear, the better your chances of coming up with a quality recording. Speakers for home recording studios are different from that of regular speakers used on cars and home entertainment systems. Mixing audio on those speakers can lead to errors as they often optimized with a high EQ (equalizer) curve.
One of the more popular choices in the audio recording industry is the Yamaha HS8, which costs around $350. If you can afford it, you might want to get studio monitors from top brands like Adam Audio. These can set you back thousands of dollars but are widely regarded by experts as the best-in-class when it comes to performance. Plus, it’s money well spent if it can help simplify your recording and mixing sessions.
As for headphones, you can get away with spending less than $30, which is generally useful for tracking audio. However, if you want to be able to mix and produce music using the same headphones, then you will need to get something like the Beyerdynamic DT880 which costs around $200.
Of course, you will also need a good microphone for your home recording studio. This is important, particularly if you want to highlight vocals during your recording sessions. Fortunately, it is possible to accomplish the latter without spending much money in the process. You can get a professional studio-quality condenser microphone like the Rode NT1A for around $300.
Check out our article about The Best USB Microphone For Under $100.
Home Studio Acoustic Treatment
Last but not least is the acoustic treatment for your home recording studio. You can use old mattresses, blankets, pillows, and similar materials that you have at home. You can also use your book collection, which works very well for dampening the sound inside the room.
So there you have it, all the essentials for setting up a home recording studio. As you get better at it, you can always upgrade your gear and add a few embellishments to your studio. The important thing is to master what you have first and figure out the things that you’ll need to take your craft to the next level.