We live in an age in which recording has never been cheaper or easier. The problem many aspiring engineers have isn't finding gear - the issue lies in finding the right gear. Every engineer has their own tastes and every song can require unique solutions.
In this article, we'll help you find the best solution for your style of engineering and songwriting.
This probably goes without saying, but you will need the instruments you plan on recording for your session. Most commonly, we see people recording acoustic guitar and vocals. Sometimes we see engineers doing drum sessions and bass DI tracks.
See a list of our current acoustic guitars here.
See a list of our current electric guitars here.
See a list of our current synthesizers here.
See a list of our current folk instruments here.
See a list of our current drums here.
2) The Right Interface
An audio interface is the heart of your studio and essentially defines what you can record. There are tons of different kinds, but I'll narrow it down to the few I recommend all the time.
If you are looking for an interface that has the best sound for the best price, you won't find anything better than Audient. I always recommend the iD14 for people who only need 2 inputs because they have the same mic preamps as the massive Audient Consoles, incredible Burr Brown converters and scroll wheel functionality. The iD14 also has ADAT expandability for an extra 8 inputs for later expansion.
PreSonus' Studio 24c comes in as the bang for buck interface for two reasons. First, and most important, it sounds really good for being only $149.95. Second, it includes the award-winning DAW, Studio One: Artist Version. This software on its own sells for $99.95 and it comes with this interface (and every other PreSonus interface) for free!
To learn more about Studio One, click here.
Focusrite's Clarett range is great for recording drums. The 8Pre USB has 8 super clean preamps with lots of dynamic range (118dB to be exact) that can handle the peaks of drums without clipping. Claretts also have the "Air" mode which adds a high end boost if you need extra clarity and sparkle.
Alternative: Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen
3) Proper Microphones for the Job
The mics you need strongly depend on what you're recording and the sound you're going for. Some of the most common recording situations require a vocal mic, an acoustic guitar mic and some drum mics. Again, I'll narrow these down to the ones I end up recommending for most situations.
Lewitt has quite the reputation of making condenser mics that sound far beyond their price point. The LCT-440 Pure is no exception. This microphone holds up to it's name by sounding so clean and great on pretty much everything you use it for. I love it for vocals because you can use it for any style of music and morph the sound into what you need.
For acoustic guitars, you can't beat the WA84. 84 style microphones have been a standard on acoustic guitars for years.
Pro Tip: for huge sounding guitars, use a single condenser. Track the same part twice and pan one hard left and the other hard right.
Alternative: Lewitt LCT-040 MATCH - $99
If you need to record a drum kit on a budget, you won't find any better mics than the Audix FP7. For only $499, you get seven super punchy mics with an aluminum carrying case.
4) Headphones for Monitoring and Playback
Headphones for the studio should almost always be closed back. The reason being that any other type will allow bleed to get into the mics while tracking. There are some great open-back and semi-open back headphones for mixing, but if you're on a budget, you can't go wrong with closed back for both jobs.
For studio work, you won't find better headphones at a better price than the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x.
A DAW is a program that you download onto your computer that allows you to record, edit and mix within it. Many interfaces include a DAW and you can also find many really good free ones.
For help looking for the best DAW for you, check out this article.
Other than mic stands and cables, this is everything you need to record a song on a budget in 2019!
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