It could be said that there is only one thing you really need to have a home recording studio: a desktop computer or laptop – but this is not everything. However, it is a good starting point.
If you don’t want to make music that sounds like it didn’t cost anything to make, you must do some additional investment in additional music production equipment.
Although you don’t need to spend thousands and thousands on equipment to make decent sounding music, you do have to have a reasonable budget available. The key is not really how much you spend, but spending it on the right things.
In the article below we have put together a list of what we feel are the 5 most essential pieces of equipment you need to have a good home recording studio.
1. A Powerful Computer
The great thing is that nowadays, even middle range computers that have been built in the last 5 years, are more than capable of handling the job of being part of a recording studio. As you will have to work with a multitude of audio and effect tracks at the same time, making music can quickly eat up the processing power of your computer. Therefore, the faster and more powerful the computer you get, the better.
Also see: Best laptop for music production
2. Recording Software
There are number of different names for recording software, as some like to call it “sequencer software” and others like to call it DAW software – regardless of what you call it, it all boils down to the same thing.
This is the heart of your DAW, Digital Audio Workstation or “home recording studio” and it enables you to record, mix and edit all your tracks, adding plug-ins and effects and lots more to build up your music.
Although there are various programs out there that can leave you perplexed when trying to pick the right one, the thing you need to remember is that most of the well-known pieces of software are good and offer value for money. You just need to work out your own budget and buy the program that fits into that best and then learn how to use it.
3. Audio Interface
Although you can use the internal sound card on your computer to record audio, it’s not really suitable to use as part of a home recording studio. You need an audio interface to record vocals, guitars, keyboards and any other instruments you intend on incorporating into your music.
Similarly to recording software, there is a wide variety of audio interfaces to choose from. The great thing is that most will work with most pieces of recording software, regardless of whether they are the same brand or not. While many come with a plethora of features, don’t be misled into believing that more necessary means better. The most you will likely need, particularly in the initial stages is a USB audio interface with 2 output and input channels.
You should also ensure that there are at least 1 or 2 microphone preamp inputs that work with phantom power and at least 1 to 2 inputs for guitars and keyboards, space to connect midi instruments if you plan to use them, stereo outputs and a headphone output too.
4. A Reasonable Microphone
While you may realize that a microphone is a crucial part of any recording studio set-up, you may not fully appreciate the profound effect the microphone you choose has on the end results. In the beginning, you should be okay with just one microphone, regardless of what instrument you play. If you are wanting to record acoustic guitar and vocals, it is always best to record those separately and you can use the same microphone.
To help you understand things better, though, you need to know the difference between the two types of microphone you can purchase – dynamic and condenser. Dynamic mics, because they are directional, are used in live performances more because they pick up what they are pointed at and little else.
Condenser microphones, on the other hand, use a different type of technology, involving an electrical current to pick up the sound and therefore need the phantom power mentioned previously. As they are known for giving a clear, detailed and rich sound, they are the type you should buy for your home studio.
5. Good Quality Headphones and/Or Studio Monitors
The last thing you need for the most simple of home recording setups is something to listen to your recordings through. Studio monitors are the best option as they give the most accurate sound. Though you do not need to get the most expensive out there, and probably don’t have the space for them anyway.
If space is an issue, then a good quality, reasonably priced pair of studio headphones will do the job. While there are arguments about mixing using headphones, and it is not ideal, it is still possible.
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