Producing and recording your own music is getting cheaper day by day. Long gone are the days where you need to have a studio with over $50000 in hardware and gear. Nowadays it’s easy to make your own home recording studio even with a tight budget. While it’s possible to build a home recording studio for just under $500, you’d be restricting yourself on equipment that you can buy or will have to wait till big sales such as Black Friday or look for clearance sales
Here are the things you would need to build your own home recording studio. We’ll provide a recommended list at the end.
- Audio Interface
- Studio Monitors / Studio Headphones
- Sound Treatment
- A microphone
- MIDI Controller
This is the most important part of your setup. This is where you’ll be doing all the work from recording to editing. That being said, you don’t need an extremely powerful computer to do the job. You don’t even need to get a mac. They’re expensive. Even entry level computers are capable of basic music production and the computer you’re using right now may even be suitable.
Here are things you should consider for a computer:
- CPU: If intel, go with at least an i5
If AMD, something with at least 6 cores
- RAM: At least 4gb. If you use a lot of VSTs, you’ll need at least 8
- Storage: At least a SSD for your boot drive. You will be thankful you have one
- At least 2TB HDD or external HDD. Raw recordings and wav files are big. You need the space
- OS: Windows 8.1 or higher / OSX 9 or higher
If you build your own PC, you can save a lot of money. Check out this subreddit if you wish to build your own for your home recording studio: /r/buildapc
This is another very important part for your studio setup. This is what will connect what you’re recording to your computer. Any vocals, guitars or other external instruments will be connected to your computer this way. There are many cheap ones you can buy, even USB mixers can do, but to fully benefit in the long run, this is where you need to spend decent money on your home recording studio
DAW = Digital Audio Workstation
The ones you need to pick from are these:
- FL Studio
- Ableton Live
- Logic Pro
- Pro Tools
Each has their own strengths. It’s all really up to personal preference. Some have demo versions that you can try out. Download them and have a feel of which works best for you; pick which one you’re more comfortable with. They all essentially do the same thing.
We’ll eventually have a more in-depth article on DAWs but for now, check out different forums or subreddits to get an idea of which works best for you. This subreddit is good /r/audioengineering
Also don’t be afraid to change DAWs. Personally I started off with FL Studio and switched to Ableton. Workflow was easier for me with Ableton and its live capabilities were a plus. You should spend time and try to master a DAW before you decide to switch or stay.
Studio Monitors/Studio Headphones:
If you can afford monitors, get them. On a budget, it’s very tempting to get the KRK rp5s. A lot of budget home recording studios have them and they’re pretty popular. It’s actually what I started with. However, if you really want a good mix, I’d go with at least the Yamaha HS7s. The HS5s at the least. You get more accurate sound out of them but however, they are pricy
If you must get the cheapest studio monitors, KRKs are good enough but you should upgrade that in the future.
However if you can’t afford monitors, headphones will have to do. First off if you do get headphones, do yourself a favor and DON’T BUY DR. DRE BEATS. They’re horrible, expensive and will mess up your mix.
Consider Audio Technica ATH-M50’s or Beyer Dynamics DT-770s. They’re good for the price and cost a fraction of what it costs to get monitors.
One benefit too for headphones over monitors is that if you don’t have a room that is treated, that will limit your mix quality. Which brings us to the next point
This can be considered optional if you’re just starting out. Without treatment however it will limit your potential on recording sound quality. You’ll be dealing with echos, bass buildups, muddiness, etc….
Buying acoustic treatment panels are expensive but however you can make your own for pretty cheap. YOu will need to put in some work however. Check this video out on how to build your own
A very important part for your home recording studio is a microphone. I mean…. you need it to record right?
If you are just first starting out and don’t know what to get or don’t know what exactly you’ll be recording, get the shure sm57. They’re extremely versatile and affordable. Even big studios still use them.
Get XLR cables. Use long ones for your mic and short ones for your studio monitors (if you have them)
Also make sure that your audio interface does use XLRs but if not then they’re usually TRS. Length guideline still applies
If you are on a budget, get cheap ones from amazon or ebay. On a budget, there really isn’t that much of a difference anyway between expensive and cheap cables.
- Computer: HP i5, 8GB, 128GB SSD, 1TB HDD
- DAW: Ableton Live
- Audio Interface: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
- Studio Monitors / Studio Headphones: Yamaha HS7/Audio Technica ATH-M50x
- Sound Treatment: DIY
- A microphone: Shure SM-57
- Cables: Generic XLR
- MIDI Controller: ARTURIA MiniLab 25
We’ll keep updating this article as things change so stay tuned!