If you have shopped around for music equipment before, you’ll know it is quite expensive to build and setup your own home recording studio. However, regardless if you’re a hobbyist or professional musician, investing in a good home setup will usually save time and money over the long run. We have compiled a list of basic recording equipment you’ll need to get started.
This will be the main source of sound for your recordings, and should be the most important piece of equipment in your setup. There are two main types of mics, condenser mics and dynamic mics. Condenser microphones are great for recording voice as they capture sound from every direction. Condenser mics have a much more sensitive membrane that reproduces a lot more subtle sounds, which gives your vocal recordings a lot more resonance and a “fuller” sound.
Dynamic microphones are different from condensers because they only capture sound from one direction. They are great for recording acoustic guitars and drums. Condensers also require phantom power (their own power source), while dynamic mics don’t. It is very common to integrate both types of mics in one single setup. A lot of singer/songwriters will have two mics setup when they record, one to record their voice and one to record their guitar. This allows you to separate the two channels so you can edit them independently.
A mixer will allow you to have greater control of your sound sources. If you are just beginning, a great mixer would be the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (see full review) or Presonus Audiobox USB. The Presonus mixer allows for 2 channels and plugs directly into your computer so you can easily edit your recordings and record directly into your music software.
If you are only recording live music then a keyboard isn’t necessary, however if you wish to add samples or want to add sounds using your music software, you’ll need a keyboard to create them. If you are only starting out and you aren’t too fussy about what keyboard you will be using, just purchase a cheap MIDI keyboard and you can create just about anything you want. However, if you are very serious about your music production then you may consider buying a much more expensive keyboard which features weighted keys and in-built filters and sounds.
Studio monitors is a fancy name for speakers. The big difference between studio monitors and your everyday speakers is the sound output. Studio monitors are designed specifically to create uncolored sound, this is essential for mixing because it will allow you to pinpoint what sounds good and bad within a recording so you can adjust and edit accordingly. Everyday speakers produce colored sound, which usually means more bass, a sharp high-end and very little mid-range. This is great for listening to certain types of music, but isn’t very good for mixing and recording.
You can purchase a great pair of headphones for $200 – $300. A great idea for headphones would be to purchase a pair of popular headphones so you can reference (referencing means listening to your recording through everyday equipment so you know what it will sound like in the real world). So while you are mixing and adjusting your recording with your studio monitors, you can then switch to your headphones to get a better idea of what sounds better to everyday users.
However if you are going to mix with your headphones, you should buy studio headphones which are designed specifically to output uncolored sound.
Never go cheap on your cables, if you do you will notice phantom sounds such as random crackles and pops in your recordings. You don’t have to get the most expensive cables, but don’t get the cheapest either.
There are a variety of DAW (digital audio workstation) and recording software on the market. A good piece of free software you can use to do some basic recording is Audacity. If you are looking to edit and mix you should consider purchasing a real DAW such as Logic, Ableton Live, Pro-Tools and many others. They will provide you with a greater set of tools that will help to create the perfect recording.
Time to Record
Once you’ve setup your recording equipment, it’s time to start experimenting and recording. You can upgrade and slowly add more equipment to your home studio as you get more serious, but everything you need to start creating high quality music has been listed in this article.