I’ve ran across a few different people who are very interested in recording music but haven’t had the chance to do so. A lot of the time that is the case, but it’s also the simple fact that they don’t know the first thing about home recording or how to go about setting up a studio.
I’ve set up a few recording studios in the past, without all the bells and whistles, that have served their purpose for creating quality music. It doesn’t need to take thousands of dollars to start your own studio, especially if only a few artists are involved. Groups and bands with a larger circle may require some extra equipment if you’re recording all at once with Instruments included.
This topic is for beginners seeking basic knowledge, as well as experienced engineers looking for similar key factors but from a different perspective. By the time you finish reading this you’ll know exactly how to set up a home recording studio from start to finish.
For best practices for setting up a home studio, the ideal thing to do first is to choose the right room in your home that can be used to record music in. A prime example of a perfect room is one with minimal noise, so trying to record that soft R&B song you’ve been working on won’t sound too great if there’s a highway or constant trains running right next to your room.
Below is a list of basic essentials you’ll need to begin putting your studio together. Some items may be somewhat pricey which is why it’s best to research where you can find these things for a low price before shopping at a major retail store.
- DAW (digital audio workstation) software
- Audio interface
- Studio foam
- Studio monitors
- Microphone stand
- Pop filter
- Mixing headphones
- Microphone and headphone cables
If you already have the items in this list or already have your home studio set up for quality recording, then you can skip to the topic that applies to you.
Mac or PC
When it comes to choosing a brand of computer or laptop everyone has their preference, and the same goes for inside recording studios. I can provide a pros and cons list if reasons why you should choose Mac over PC and vise versa but that’s not the goal here. The goal is to own a computer that performs well enough to meet all your recording, editing, mixing, and mastering needs.
If you own a computer that you would like to use for your studio, great! That saves you time looking for one to purchase. What you would need to focus on is its performance. Computers need a high amount of RAM memory and a fast processor to be able to withstand running different DAWs for hours and days at a time. It’s best to think long term if you’re shopping for a computer.
You want to have a computer with at least 8GB of RAM and is expandable to higher amounts for now and for the future. It is essential to also shop for a computer or laptop that has the fastest processor you can afford.
So no matter if you’re running with PC or Mac, just make sure the computer you prefer has the best possible performance and will for the next few years.
I’ve mentioned before about the importance of soundproofing and acoustics in your studio, and you can view my article about soundproofing here.
Yes it is possible to have decent recordings without proper acoustics although it won’t help with maximizing your sound quality potential.
Moving on to the topic of speakers for your home studio, there are some key points to take note of.
You’re going to need one of the following:
- Active speakers – which are powered for louder sound
- Passive speakers – which are non powered speakers
Since this article is more for beginners, I recommend getting a pair of powered speakers for a few hundred dollars. There is a cheaper way to go but then you’re moving into low quality playback which is not good if you want a good quality sound.
Your Mixing and Recording Station
The first thing you should think about after your room is properly soundproofed is your audio interface. Decide how many people will be recording at the same time and also if you’ll be using instruments that you plan to record. These are both important to spend time thinking about since you’ll need an interface with at least 8 inputs if you’re recording a full band with all the instruments. If it’s just you recording vocals and guitar chords, you won’t need more than 2 inputs.
Another important step is to make sure your audio interface has compatible connectivity to your computer. If you decide on one that uses USB as opposed to firewire or thunderbolt which are 2 different types of cable connections.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
With so many options of recording software out there to choose from, be sure to get the best help possible if your a beginner. Great help could consist in “how to” videos, online communities, or if you have a friend who’s happens to be a professional, just be sure to seek the right help when you need it.
There’s really no software out there that’s better than the next. All DAWs are uniquely outstanding. A few good softwares for beginners are GarageBand, PreSonus Studio One, or mini starter programs for free like ProTools First so you can learn the basic functionality.
The best DAW option is ultimately the one you’re most comfortable with. You’ll want to choose one and stick with it, and then become a master at using it.
Now to the microphones. While shopping for a microphone, it’s ideal to find a multipurpose mic to use not only for vocals but for instruments and other sound effects. I’ve found that a large condenser microphone can be used for multiple occasions. Brands such as MXL and Audio-Technica have a great variety of mics to choose from.
Be mindful that mics usually run about $100 or more. If you’re a beginner I wouldn’t suggest going all out and buying a $300 microphone.
Similar to microphones, there’s also a wide variety of styles of microphone stands. You can either go with the boom arm mic stand where the microphone somewhat hangs, and there’s the traditional stand that we’re all used to seeing either in a recording studio or on stage during performances. If you decide to go with the large condenser microphone, make sure the mic stand you go with can withstand the weight of the mic so it doesn’t tip over while recording.
There you have it! You have a guide to setting up your very first home studio. Whether you’re a beginner or not, I think you’ll find everything I’ve talked about here very valuable and essential to quality studio recording, all from your home.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and I’ll respond to them as soon and as accurately as possible.
Founder of Home Studio Nation