Recording music has evolved from multi-thousand dollar studios, inaccessible by most people, into home and mobile recording rigs for less than $1,000. However, there are so many ways to configure a home studio that it can be difficult to know where to start. The purpose of this article is to help you understand the bare essentials of a studio to fit your needs and budget.
1.) A computer capable of running recording software
This is a must in any modern home studio. Most laptops around $300 can run a few recording sessions without a problem. Sometimes, they are available at a lower price because the manufacturer refurbished it. These are usually good deals that you cannot pass up if you are in the market. Of course, if you need more processing power, RAM, and storage, you can always increase your budget.
A good signal chain starts with a good microphone or two. If you are recording vocals, it is essential to acquire a microphone that will capture and accentuate that best features in your voice. Brands like MXL, Audio-Technica and Rode make this possible for anyone by creating big studio sounds with a small price. The Audio-Technica AT2020 is only $99 and impresses me every time I hear it. A definite recommendation for any studio!
3.) An audio interface
An audio interface connects directly to your computer. It takes the sounds you record from a microphone or guitar and puts them into a digital format in your computer. There are great options for all kinds of musicians and recording engineers. For example, if you are a singer/songwriter and only plan on recording one or two tracks at a time, then something like the New Generation FocusriteScarlett Solo ($99) or Scarlett 2i2 ($149) would be perfect! If you are in a band and plan on recording a full drumset, you may need up to 8 inputs with your interface. Also available in the Scarlett Range is the 18i20 which fits exactly that description. With 8 of the the same high quality mic preamplifiers in a rack-mountable chassis, $499 is an unbeatable price! For more information on how to choose an interface, check out our article: 7 Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing Your Audio Interface.
4.) Recording Software
The interface needs to store the audio in your computer in order to layer and mix tracks later. This is where Digital Audio Workstations (DAW's) come into play. There are many great options when choosing your software. Some of them come with a hefty price though. When just starting a home studio, there is plenty of free software such as Pro Tools|First, Studio One Prime and many more! Although they are free and get the job done, every free software has its limitations. The great part of purchasing a new interface is that many of them come with upgraded versions of the free software available. For example, with any PreSonus interface ($99.95 -$899.95), Studio One 3: Artist Version is included. This software is used by many musicians, artists, and professional audio engineers to record, mix and master entire albums! The Artist version of Studio One 3 is particularly powerful for the price you pay. There are other interfaces that come with software similar to this. My advice is to purchase new to get more for your money.
Monitoring while recording and for playback is an essential part of recording and mixing. Whether you are using headphones or studio monitors, you need to hear exactly what is going on in your mix. I definitely recommend using studio monitors because they tend to give you the most honest and accurate appraisal of the sound you're recording, which means they'll translate better into the real world, but if that does not fit the budget, many headphones can get the job done. Great studio monitors don't have to always be $700 each. PreSonus Eris E5's are some of the best studio monitors you can find for less than $300 per pair!
PreSonus has taken the challenge of creating a home studio from scratch and turned it into an all-in-one package with the iTwo Studio. There are many like this, but at a $249 price point, everything that is included with this declares it the winner in my book. As always, enjoy FREE shipping on every order in the continental US. If you have any questions regarding your home studio setup and how we can get you started, or help you improve, give us a call at 855-269-0474 or stop in our store in Downtown Appleton!