Basic Guide on How to Setup a Home Recording Studio
Welcome to our basic guide on how to setup a home recording studio.
You don’t really need a lot of gear to get started, but we’ll start with the very bare essentials.
As you gain more experience, you can add more tools in your arsenal to record, mix, edit, and master your music.
Where do you start looking?
You need to hunt for the best DAW/Audio Interface that you can afford.
- DAW/Audio Interface Combo
This is one of the first pieces of hardware you’re going to need to setup your home recording studio. Simply put, it’s that little box that you use connect all your gear to your computer.
The DAW or digital audio workstation is the software that is for recording, mixing, and editing your music. The audio interface part refers to the actual hardware—that’s where all the plugs go.
You can buy the DAW separately from the audio interface and sometimes they are packaged together.
If you want to save a good amount of money, you ought to buy the combo. 💪
Some people would argue that buying them separately allows you to pick better software or better hardware. But according to personal experience, if you’re just starting and you don’t know what you’re doing, the DAW/Audio interface combo is a great place to start without making you spend a lot of money.
The sounds that you make using the combo is pretty sick—it’s about as good as the expensive interface and DAW software.
Here are the top reasons why I recommend that beginners start with this piece of hardware:
- It’s highly compatible with a lot of your hardware
- There’s a lot of tech support available for these things (YouTube, tutorial sites, manufacturer tech support, etc.)
- It’s the cheaper option
- With it you can figure out what other bits of hardware you can add to your setup
- It is one item that you can check off the list
- There are DAW/audio interface combos that cost only around $100—big savings, right?
However, if you want to purchase your DAW and audio interface separately, there’s no one stopping you.
Just so you know, what is considered as the industry standard for the DAW is Pro Tools from Avid—it will cost you around $100 (it used to be way more expensive).
Pro Tools is what many professionals use. Another popular company that produces great DAWs is Presonus. If you purchase one of their audio interfaces then you get a free copy of their DAW called Studio One Artist—sweet deal!
Now, Avid, being one of the major competitors in the market matches that offer. If you buy either the Pro Tools DUET or Pro Tools QUARTET, you get a free copy of their DAW, Pro Tools 12. Buying the combo saves you a great deal of money.
If you’re still insisting on buying these two separately then be my guest. It’s a good way to find software and gear that suits your taste.
The next piece of hardware you need to get to setup your home recording studio at home is a set of microphones.
Well, you don’t really need to buy a lot of microphones at first. However, notice that as you modify and improve your studio setup, you will eventually assemble your very own collection of microphones.
To get started, you only need one or two microphones. Which ones you choose will depend on the type of instruments you want to record with. However, I would like to recommend that you start with a large diaphragm condenser vocal mic, which is a classic option for most.
That’s what you use if you want to sing or add your voice into the mix. However, if you’re not interested in speaking into the mic but you would like to play music on a guitar, cymbals or maybe a piano, then I recommend a small diaphragm condenser mic.
Note a lot of people have a lot to say about studio microphones. You may even need an entire guide just to figure out all the different variants. You can just start with those two options first, then get more microphones later.
- Studio Headphones
When you’re just starting then you’re going to do all the recording by yourself. That is why at the very beginning, you will only need one pair of studio headphones. You can get subsequent pairs as you grow your collection later.
There are basically two types of headphones you should be using. They’re the standard ones or staples in any studio. They include the following:
- Open back headphones: this type of studio headphone is the one you will use for mixing. It gives you optimal sound quality, which is what you will need when you’re mixing. The only downside about it is that it offers very little when it comes to isolation.
- Closed back headphones: this is the studio headphones that you will use for tracking. This type of headphones gives you optimal levels of isolation, which is great for recording your tracks. However, it doesn’t give you the best sound quality—which is why you need the open back type in the first place. Record with this one and then mix and edit with the other.
- Nearfield Monitors
As tradition has it, mixing is to be done on nearfield monitors, also known as studio monitors—simply put, your speakers.
Well, nowadays home studio owners just do their mixing using open back headphones.
I suggest that you buy your monitors later after you have done some mixing. At least you keep your music to yourself, for now. Once you’re ready to listen to your work in full blast—then get a studio monitor.
Note that these speakers are more neutral and have a flatter frequency response compared to the other speakers that you have in your house. This is how they are designed so that you judge your music objectively. You get no enhancements and you hear it all raw.
- The Other Stuff
I just bundled the rest of the other pieces of equipment into one category—not that they are irrelevant. I just wanted you to pay a lot of attention to the first four items on this list.
So, what are the other things you need for your home recording studio?
You will need the following:
- XLR Cables – you need a long one (for your mic) and a couple of shorter ones (for your studio monitors)
- Mic Stands – you don’t want to keep on holding that mic as you record so you need a mic stand. I recommend the ones with a tripod rather than the ones that have those round bases. Tripods offer more balance and support.
- Pop Filters – these are the mesh screens that you see in front of microphones. You’ll need these when you record yourself singing or speaking. They get rid of the popping “p” and “b” sounds and some of the annoying noises that you tend to hear in the background.
- Computer – Why is the computer you record with in the “other stuff” category? Well, most likely, you already have one at home—and that one is already good enough. You don’t need a high end gaming type or video animation computer. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars for a dedicated recording computer—for now. Do your thing with what you have and then once you get the hang of it, then buy a dedicated computer for music recording.
And that’s pretty much it for this basic guide on how to setup a home recording studio. There are other things that you can add, but these are the very basics you will need to get started.