Knowing a bunch of home recording tips won’t simply cut it if you want to actually produce something. More and more often people choose to record in their own homes but are clueless when it comes to what gear/setup they should get. This is why we created this article on the best recording setup for anyone who wants to record and produce his own music without having to pay tons of money for studio sessions.
Basically, the process of creating your own studio can be divided into two steps:
- Setting Things Up
- Getting The Right Gear
Setting Your Studio Up
Before you move forward with buying anything we mention further in this article, you should think of all the practical aspects of having a studio such as:
- Where will it be (in which room, which part of the room, etc)
- All the necessary room preparation (moving furniture around)
- Soundproofing the studio room
- Arranging Your Workplace
In terms of soundproofing and choosing the perfect room for the matter, we think that windowless rooms do the best job, mainly due to the fact that they are naturally better soundproofed. Furthermore, make sure the room has only one door and that door closes tightly.
Of course, if you don’t have such a room, anything will do with the right amount of isolation and preparation. If your room has a window or a loosely shut door, make sure you pay extra attention to them when soundproofing the whole area.
Something many people overlook is lighting. If you like working in the dark then you will fall in love with what most home-studios look like, but for the people who want a bright workplace, proper lighting is required. Yellow light works better than white one, as it tires the eyes far less which is crucial on those long 15-hour long recording sessions.
Now, to the more important part.
The Best Recording Setup Requires Getting The Proper Gear
Before we dive deeper into some parts of your setup, here is the full list of things you will need to have a complete home studio:
- A Computer (both Microsoft and Apple work, although Linux can have some issues with some DAWs)
- A Good DAW (Digital audio workstation)
- Virtual Plugins/Instruments
- External Audio Interface/Card
- Studio Monitors or Good Headphones
- Microphones (if you will be recording acoustic instruments/vocals/ambient sounds)
- Pop Filter for those mics (for vocals)
- Mic Stands
- Recording Mixer (Optional)
- Studio Rack Mount (Optional)
- Uninterruptible Power Supply with a power conditioner
Having all this (or most of it) will be enough for anyone who is now starting. It gives you the perfect platform to build upon later on as you progress while spending little to no time and money on it.
Now, there are two rules on which we want to stress, as they need to be embedded in your mindset going forward as a studio musician.
Whatever you record, it will be on the level on which is the weakest part of your gear. Even if the remainder of the equipment is great, your sound will always depend on the cheapest (which is often weakest) part of your recording setup. This can be a bad microphone, bad room acoustics, bad instrument sound, etc.
Spend as much as you can on as little as you can. This means that buying one quality piece of gear will always be better than spending the same amount of money on tons of useless stuff. For example,, which one would you choose, a good microphone or a couple of cheaper analog plugins? The answer to this is the microphone, because no matter how good those plugins are, if the source material already sucks by the time it arrives in the DAW, no plugin will be able to save you.
Let’s talk a little more about some of the components of your setup now.
We don’t want to get into the whole Mac/Windows debate, as great music has been produced on both systems, but a general rule here is to get as much RAM as you can in your computer. The OS will only limit your choice of DAW, as some are iOS-exclusive, and others work better on Windows.
To be entirely honest with you, we think that most DAWs work just fine now, even though some people will say that the one that they use is the best. Just get one which is compatible with your computer and your pocket. Check out our top choice for a DAW here.
Your External Sound Card
The function of this piece of equipment is to transform sound from voltage to bits which are then read by your DAW.
For starters, get an audio interface with no more than 2 channels. The number of channels usually determines the price, so if you see a 6 channel one for 300$ and a 2 channel one for 300$, then the 2 channel one is probably way better.
Keep it simple in terms of buttons and extras, as most of the controls will be in the DAW. Brands like Alesis, Focusrite, and Presonus are great and market leaders in the fewer-channeled models. They also make great DAWs like the Studio One by Presonus.
If you are recording vocals only, you can kind of go with only a USB microphone, skipping the audio interface part, but we really recommend getting a sound card either way. After all, they aren’t that expensive and are the core of your future work.
When it comes to microphones, it goes without saying that the better one you buy the better sound you’d get out of it. As we mentioned in our Home Recording Tips article, you need to get a pop filter to eliminate popping sounds. Head out to the article for some more tips.
The other part of your equipment such as mic stands, cables, monitors, headphones will also be as good as deep your pocket is so it is entirely up to you how much you want to invest in it. Getting headphones instead of monitors might also be a good idea since they are generally cheaper and won’t annoy your family and neighbors as much.
When you fix your mind on getting the best recording setup it is easy to get carried away and buy things you won’t really need. This is why we laid the foundations to what you really need to begin with. Following our guide on which things you need to kick things off will save you both time and money and don’t forget that by buying this exact set of equipment you create yourself a platform which is vastly upgradable in the future when you start progressing.