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If you want to set up a home recording studio or already own one, you need to make sure that your recording studio equipment is complete. Otherwise, the quality and output of your recordings won’t be the best that they can be.
Trust us when we say, every piece of recording equipment in this list plays an important role in the sound quality and overall recording studio experience. Before we go through each home recording studio equipment, let’s first go through the basics on how to even start a home studio setup.
Realistically speaking, setting up your own studio will cost a lot. The three major factors you will need to consider for your budget would be the recording space, recording equipment, and utility bills. With that said, there are usually four stages of evolution that recording studios generally go through.
For those who still need to save money before investing in a full recording studio setup, a bedroom studio is a way to go. Most budding artists and content creators start with a bedroom studio as it only requires a small room setup, the best mic for vocal recording, streaming, or intended application, and a computer.
Do not underestimate the caliber of a bedroom home setup though as the recording quality can still come out great provided that you have the right equipment and are able to set up your dynamic mics or condenser mics correctly. Hence, the emergence of a wave called bedroom pop artists.
Home studios differ from bedroom studios as this can only be done by people who have the leisure to dedicate an entire room or space for recording purposes. This allows you to invest in more equipment, studio microphones, amps, and instruments.
If you have more money to spare, you can even go as far as changing the room interior and investing in furniture and accessories to help with the acoustic treatment. Just make sure that you choose the right room at home, preferably one that is away from outside noise so you can prevent unwanted background sounds from being picked up.
Once you’re ready to upgrade from a home studio setup, then you can start building a semi-pro studio. If you choose to build this in your own home, you will be needing to a much bigger room to be able to accommodate multiple musicians, record live performances, and more equipment.
On the other hand, you can also choose a different location entirely and scout for a nearby recording studio to manage noise levels and possible complaints from people at home or with neighbors. After all, you now have room and the money to invest in electric guitar amps, more studio microphones, and possibly studio monitors.
If you want to achieve the best and most professional results for your recordings, then it’s time to set up a pro studio. These studios are usually located in commercial facilities and require big room space. Fitting in a full band, recording a live performance, setting up a vocal booth, and placing big instruments such as a complete drum kit would be no problem here.
The tools and equipment used and needed will vary depending on the recording studio you currently own.
It’s possible to achieve quality recordings even if you are starting in a bedroom studio. All you need are the following equipment:
Whether you are recording vocals, instruments, or music, most sound recordings are now digital. With that said, you will definitely be needing a computer where you can plug your mic of choice — be it a condenser mic or dynamic mic. Regardless if you are an audio professional or amateur, a computer is needed for music production and editing audio. Therefore, make sure that you invest in the right one that can primarily handle your load.
Going hand-in-hand with your computer is the Digital Audio Station or DAW. This is the software that you will be using for all things music production: recording vocals, editing audio, and mixing music. While these are digital, the design is patterned after vintage analog mixing boards that a professional recording studio may have.
In a simpler sense, an audio interface will allow you to connect your equipment to a computer for recording and allow playbacks to happen. However, there’s a lot more an audio interface can do. Depending on how advanced your audio interface then you can digitally convert recordings, connect mic preamps, connect DI boxes which are useful for recording your instrument, connect headphone amps, and even conduct monitor management.
It goes without saying that no studio will be complete, may it be a home recording studio or a professional one, without a microphone. Depending on your intended application, you will need to be able to choose the best one. There are microphones best for podcasts, best for gaming, best for vocals, and more so be sure to do your research before purchasing one!
Find out as well if you should opt for a condenser mic, dynamic mic, USB mic, or even ribbon mic as these can all affect your sound quality and the possible phantom power needed if applicable.
In order for you to closely monitor the quality of your recordings, you will be needing studio headphones. For professional standards, opt for closed-back headphones or open-back headphones.
Closed-back headphones have sealed ear cups so they make for great noise isolation and blocking out noise. Closed-back headphones are a great choice if you want to completely isolate the recording you are listening to from any unwanted external noise.
Open-back headphones will allow air to pass through the ear cups thus, allowing resonances and low-frequency build-up that may arrive from any rear enclosure to a thing of the past. If you are recording music or plan to record vocals on the natural side, then open-back headphones are a great choice.
Although they look similar to regular consumer speakers, studio monitors are used to accentuate a flat frequency response so audio professionals like engineers can hear a recording as is.
Similar to studio headphones, this equipment is important as it will allow you to objectively hear all the flaws of your recording and determine if you will need to do any editing or tweaking. So, make sure that you invest in a decent pair of studio monitors as they can go a long way toward the overall quality of your recording!
Unlike professional studios, bedroom home studios will only need three XLR cables. After all, this is your first studio so minimal equipment will suffice. Said XLR cables will be used for connecting a mic to the audio interface and the two others to the interface of your monitors.
While you don’t have a recording booth, it pays to have a mic stand in your bedroom home recording studio. Having a mic stand will help free your hands, avoid any desk vibrations, and prevent your mic from possibly falling.
Just because it’s your first studio, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be investing in noise-canceling accessories such as pop filters. A pop filter can help prevent plosives from being picked up in your recording. However, do check if your mics already come with pop filters as new models already have a built-in feature of such.
Aside from the aforementioned equipment needed in a bedroom studio, your home recording studio will need more things. Now that you have a bigger space and possibly have saved up enough for more tools, let’s go check out the essential items you will be needing for when you set up a home recording studio.
Unlike a work desk, your home studio workstation or desk needs to have ample space and length to be able to carry multiple equipment such as the aforementioned audio interface, computer, studio monitors, and more.
For this reason, some people opt to purchase a custom mixing desk, but this can be quite expensive. If you are not able to afford a custom mixing desk yet, then a sturdy and large desk would do. Just make sure to invest in stands so you can position each piece of equipment in its proper place.
Since you may be spending long hours inside your home recording studio mixing and editing music or splicing your home recording, you will need a comfy studio chair. Trust us, investing in comfort is always worth it! Not to mention, a studio chair can also help put your home recording studio together and give it a more professional feel.
To help with the acoustic treatment of your home recording studio, you will be needing bass traps. What makes them different from other acoustic foams is that they can absorb a wide broadband frequency spectrum no matter the size of your home recording studio thus, improving acoustic treatment.
A bass trap can also help in reducing any echoes from occurring or reverberation while also reducing any standing low-frequency sound waves that can be picked up in your recording. These items can also help prevent bass buildup from happening by absorbing bass frequencies. Such an occurrence can happen if your home recording studio is a bit small.
Overall, bass traps can help improve the acoustic treatment of your home recording studio so that your recording will not sound too colored, which means less audio processing for you.
To further help with the acoustic treatment of your home studio, you will be needing acoustic panels. This will be able to absorb low-mid to high-range frequencies while taming standing waves so sound reflections will not bounce. These are useful for home recording applications as most home studios are cubical in shape and size.
If you want your home studio acoustic treatment to achieve a natural sound while remaining vibrant, then place diffusers around the room. Diffusers inside your home studio will allow frequencies from your home recording to disperse throughout the entire room.
As an alternative to a vocal booth, you can put up reflection filters inside your studio to help in the acoustic treatment of your vocal recording. This tool will be able to capture sound reflections to give your vocals a more focused sound.
Monitor isolation pads will come in handy in creating a buffer between your desk, studio monitors, audio interfaces, and other equipment. Monitor isolation pads will help prevent any vibration and resonances from being picked up in your recording or even when you are monitoring your recording.
As studio monitors are expensive, you may not have had the chance to purchase studio monitor stands yet until now. To prevent your studio monitors from producing any vibrations or resonances because of their desk placement, then you will be needing studio monitor stands.
Aside from helping prevent vibrations when you monitor playbacks or hit that record button, studio monitor stands will allow your monitors to be at ear level with you, making your listening experience more accurate.
While a home studio is convenient in terms of accessibility and location, it may not be the best choice if you plan on recording multiple people, instruments, and a large group. Furthermore, having multiple instruments will require you a lot of input channels, audio interfaces, and other tools that a home studio may not be able to accommodate. If you find yourself in this predicament, then it may be time to upgrade to a semi-pro studio, and here is the essential equipment you will be needing.
If you want variety in your studio equipment, then you will be needing a rack mount. This amount will help you place your audio interfaces and other tools that can help you tweak your routing and signal flow to your preference and based on the intended application.
Not only is having plenty of power cables scattered on the floor a tripping hazard, but it’s also an eyesore. To be more organized and consolidate all power cables and instrument cables, you will be needing a power conditioner. Aside from helping your studio look more put together and avoiding future accidents, a power conditioner can also help in surge protection, voltage regulation, and noise filtration.
For extra input channels, a multi-channel microphone preamp will come in handy. This equipment will allow you to input your mic for vocals, instruments such as an acoustic guitar, and other tools needed for recording music and more in one preamp.
Since you have input channels care of the preamp, a headphone amp will take care of your output channels. This tool is especially useful for musicians as it will allow them to monitor their instruments. This means you can monitor kick drums, acoustic guitars, and MIDI keyboards at the same time, which is a major plus if you are recording music.
With a growing studio setup, you will also be increasing your studio monitors. With that said, monitor management will come in handy for more output channels. This equipment will also allow you to switch from one monitor and speaker to another so you may be able to isolate and zone in on a particular sound. An added useful tool also in support of your digital audio workstation.
While your studio is technically getting bigger, you may still not have enough space for grander instruments. With that said, you can invest in virtual instruments. This software will allow you to access numerous instrument sounds, which can sound as good as the real one while costing less. Consider this if you are into creating music but don’t have enough budget to invest in multiple instruments.
If you plan on investing in virtual instruments, then you may want to consider also purchasing a MIDI controller or MIDI keyboard. A MIDI keyboard will give you the experience or rather close to the experience of playing a real instrument rather than clicking your desktop keyboard and mouse. Although, there are MIDI keyboards that look like actual keyboards so it helps with the overall feel of playing an instrument.
As in most cases now, you record music or vocals digitally. Given this, the control room has evolved into a control surface where mixing is now done via a MIDI controller, sample libraries, and software.
While everyone loves a free version of a DAW, these can be quite limiting in features and functions. With that said, premium plugins and software such as Logic Pro, Ableton Live, Pro Tools, and FL Studio are a favorite among professionals. If you want to upgrade your overall audio quality, then consider investing in these tools despite the price tag.
In case you have a few more cables scattered around, then snake cables can help in further organizing your space. This tool can help combine several cables together without them getting tangled.
There’s nothing worse than having your power go out in the middle of a session. Not only can it stop a really good take and ruin the flow of everyone in the room, but it can also lead to losing material that cannot be retrieved again.
We all know that a good take cannot be repeated so we want to prevent this from happening to invest in an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). This equipment will serve as a backup battery to your computer so that even if a blackout occurs, all your files will be safe.
To prevent any unbalanced instrument-level signal and from microphones picking up any feedback, direct boxes are needed. Not only will this be useful in preventing signal noise to happen, but it will also be useful for those who plan to record vocals and instruments, such as guitars, at the same time.
For the full and professional setup, we have the Pro or Full Studio. Reserved for those who not only have the budget but are also planning to go professional in their craft. Once you have all the other 29 pieces of equipment listed above, here are the last 4 to complete the list of essential items to have in a studio.
Further, upgrade your audio interface with digital converters. These tools will help you convert analog audio into digital and vice-versa. This is a useful piece of equipment for upgrading and improving your overall audio quality.
Audio master clocks are used to help you monitor the synchronization between the desk, converters, and other digital outboard units. It also provides the timing information you will need when you do samples or technical recordings that require you to be aware of the waveform and analog signal.
Analog hardware will come in handy when you are producing music where you want to manually monitor the EQ and compression levels of your recordings. While this is a more intricate process than digital software, professionals tend to keep analog hardware for music production.
While technically all studios in the list will require space, a Pro or Full one will need more. After all, you cannot build one and fit all 33 items such as a microphone stand, monitors, desks, instruments, and more if you don’t have space, to begin with.
Building and setting up your own space to record instruments, vocals, and more is costly and will take time. For enthusiasts, it’s best to do this in stages so you can properly invest in the proper items that are suited for your space.
However, if you have the leisure to go full-on from the get-go, then investing in all 33 items right away will help you in producing the best material!
The best software will vary depending on preference, budget, occupation, application, and level of expertise.
For beginners, the best software is Avid Pro Tools Artist, and Ultimate as these are compatible with Mac and Windows PC. More popular and premium software are Pro Tools, FL Studio, Logic Pro X, and Ableton Live, which would range in the $200 to $500 price tag.
However, do explore your laptop or PC as most of these already come with free DAWs. Mac or iOS for one has Apple GarageBand, which is great and already contains plenty of features that you can tinker around with when you are editing music and recordings.
There is no definite answer to this as all items are important. Some would argue that a microphone is the most important piece of equipment since without it, you won’t be able to record in the first place. However, a laptop or a desktop is just as important as it is the device that will store the sound.
On the other hand, some would argue that the monitors are the most important tools because they will be used in gauging if the recordings are of quality.
With that said, there is no single item or equipment that can be hailed as the most important one. There are essential and staple items that every place should have; a computer, DAW, audio interface, microphones, headphones, monitors, cables, microphone stands, and some pop filters.
This will vary depending on the location, services used, and duration of the session. Most will charge an hourly rate of $30 but high-end places can charge as costly as $100 due to more fine-tuned acoustics, premium equipment, and software, plus the engineer manning the place.
If you plan on scheduling multiple sessions for a long and in the foreseeable future, try to compute if it will cost you more or less to set up your own or avail of a service.
The cost of building a professional and full record space will vary depending on the brand of equipment one will purchase. Although, typically this can range from $30,000 and go as high as $400,000. As this is costly, it’s best to invest in equipment one at a time because there is rent or space plus utility bills to still think about.
For this reason, the hourly rate and charge for using studios are quite high. Should you plan on opening up your record space to the public, then you can also compute and balance out your expenses to get a return on investment.
There are numerous ways how you can find and scout a place that’s right for you.
A quick Google search and social media scan would be the first one so you can limit it to places that are near you. Through this method, you can also read reviews of people who have already recorded in said place.
You will also be to find out if they have the equipment and instruments you need, the rates, and even the specs to achieve that high-quality sound you are aiming for. There are also specific places known for their respective expertise and a Google search can tell you these.
Another way is to ask around people from your circle if they have any recommendations. Word of mouth is a powerful tool as these people can genuinely let you know their experience, what you can expect, and so on. That way, you more or less know what that place can offer and if it’s a good fit for you and your recordings.
You can also check out your favorite artists and read through the credits of their videos and songs as some of them will place the locations where they recorded these.
Arguably, the most famous one is Abbey Road. Synonymous with The Beatles, Abbey Road has turned into a global icon and has transcended from just being a place to record music but now also being a legendary place where other great artists have recorded.
Notable ones are Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Oasis, Radiohead, Sam Smith, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Adele, and Amy Winehouse.
To determine the best room to record music and audio in, you can use the Greek Golden Mean Proportions of 1:1.6:2.6, which is height x width x length. This will help you find out if the room is optimal for your acoustics.
Connecting monitors to an audio interface can be done by simply plugging the output connectors of the monitor into the input connectors of the audio interface. This can be done by using any of the following: stereo cable, mono cable, balanced cable, unbalanced cable, TRS connector, RCA connector, or an XLR connector.
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