by Tim | 5:47 pm

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.

Getting Started

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.

  • Computer
  • DAW (digital audio workstation) software
  • Audio interface
  • Studio foam
  • Microphone(s)
  • 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.

Acoustic Treatment

Soundproofing

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.

Studio Monitors

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

Audio Interface

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.

Microphone Tendencies

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.

Microphone Stands

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.

Time To Record!

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.

– Tim

Founder of Home Studio Nation

Comments

Stratos K

Very nice article and very interesting to read. I may not be very much into recording but as an engineer I always find interesting all articles that have to do with video and audio. I guess for basic recording it is a given that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars but I am curious what kind of quality should someone expect from such a system?

Nov 26.2018 | 07:16 am

    Tim

    Thank you for your feedback Stratos!

    The guide provided here is more for those recently entering the audio engineering field and don’t have more than a few hundred dollars to spend. When applied correctly, the quality turns out great actually.

    Depending on what level the recording artist or engineer decides to take the newly recorded song or album, having a more basic studio can produce hit records just as pro recording studios. Of course higher priced equipment would function easier and would be more beneficial as many other things, so I guess the “you get what you pay for” quote definitely applies here.

    Thank you!

    – Tim

    Nov 26.2018 | 07:33 am

Emmanuel Buysse

Great post and good info.

I always thought you need a lot of money before you can start up a home studio, which it seems it isn’t.

Now I won’t set up one, but I have a friend who loves to build one but he is afraid it will cost a lot.

I will send this post to him, to show him he can easily do it and what he needs.

He will be thankful to you, thanks for sharing!

Nov 26.2018 | 07:54 am

    Tim

    Thanks for dropping a comment Emmanuel!

    It’s really a great thing that having a home based recording studio does not have to cost thousands of dollars. The most expensive part should be buying the software, if you choose one that’s not free, and the rest is really not all that expensive if you look in the right places.

    My goal here is to give as many alternatives as possible for those who need to save money, and give my review on high quality studio tools for those who are more experienced.

    I hope I have been of some assistance! Thanks for reading!

    Nov 30.2018 | 09:15 am

Alice

Just the article I was searching for.

Thank you Tim for a detailed guide on how to set up a home recording studio. We have a mini-band in our church, of which I’m a member, and we have been planning for months to record our very first album. However, we could not seem to figure out how to this, considering that we are low on budget. We tried asking around how much it would cost should we decide to rent a recording studio. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford the price, at least not at the moment. So we thought, why don’t we just set up our own home recording studio in my place.

We have pretty much everything on your list and we have asked the help of some church members who are knowledgeable in the area of sound control and stuff like that. I do get the important things you’ve said on how to go about this, I just have some concern as to the recording of the vocals and the instruments.

Do you advice that we record them one at a time? I know some bands who record the vocals and the rhythm guitar first, then proceed to add the bass then the drums. 

Nov 26.2018 | 09:23 am

    Tim

    Thank you for your feedback Alice!

    I’m excited for the music you and your church have coming. A lot of people, myself included, don’t have the funds to build a huge pro studio so the best way is to do it from home and save some money.

    Depending on your setup, you’ll be able to get great quality recordings when you record multiple vocals simultaneously or if you record them one by one. As long as you have your recording booth properly soundproofed and the necessary connections for instruments, you’re going to have great results.

    I would most definitely advise you to record the rhythm guitar first like you said, and then either record vocals one by one or at the same time. Afterwards, adding in the drums and other instruments would make for a great mix so no instruments bleed into your recording. Keep in mind, audio interfaces with mpre than one input, as well as multiple microphones can run you quite a bit of cash. 

    I hope this helps!

    Nov 30.2018 | 02:56 am

ARTHUR

Hi Tim,

I like the way your site is laid out. Simple yet informative.

I love the way your passion shows through! It is obvious how passionate you are about making and recording music.

What sets you apart, think, is how you’re aiming towards helping beginners to start up correctly. 

Your content shows how you care about your music and recording quality music but it also conveys how passionate you are about helping other capture the very best of their music and that is rare. Your website presents you as a trustworthy and caring mixing engineer which is exactly what people are looking for.

Well done!

Nov 26.2018 | 05:17 pm

    Tim

    Hello Arthur!

    Thank you tremendously, that’s exactly what I was going for. I do have a passion for music creation and I’ve never before had the opportunity to help many people with what I was never helped with in the past. I’ve always just been pressured to pay an arm and leg for a product.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post and I hope I’ve been of assistance!

    Nov 30.2018 | 06:41 pm

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