Here are the 15 best home studio equipment essential items everyone should have when building out their own home studio.
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Recording at home can be a great deal of fun. It can also help launch an incredible career in the music industry. Thanks to modern technology, it’s possible for anyone to have their own home studio, but most of us wouldn’t know where to start building this amazing set up.
Having the right equipment is one of the most critical components of exceptional home recording. It allows you to have clear, crisp sound that present you as a pro, even if you’ve never done this before.
Remember, though, everything takes time to get used to, so don’t get discouraged if your tracks don’t sound polished right away and don’t be surprised if some of the effects you add on during production (before the final mix) overwhelm your tracks. Simply remember to always back up every recording, experiment, learn, and grow.
You’ll have a lot of fun getting started, as long as you choose the right equipment. Now, let’s talk about the most important pieces to add to your new home recording studio.
Building a home recording studio can certainly take a fair bit of planning and preparation in order for it to be done successfully. In order to make this process a little easier, I’m gonna give you the 15 best home studio equipment items for everyone building a home studio for the first time.
Following this list will get you well on your way to enjoying your brand new home recording studio and hopefully save you a bit of time and money in the process. You have to consider everything to transform an empty room into a professional recording studio and control room.
Audio recording equipment, studio monitors, condenser microphones, bass traps, music production software, and ways to give it the acoustic treatment… the list is almost endless. So, without further delay, here are 15 of the best and most essential pieces of equipment for first time home recording studio builders.
Dell Inspiron Desktop Computer
There are some who may advise people to simply pick up an affordable laptop for their home recording studio, and that might be fine to some degree, but you want to build with the expectation it’ll grow (as you do) over time.
That’s why I highly recommend a desktop computer with expansion capability. The problem with most laptops, even those with Quad-Core processing is a limitation in processing speeds and internal memory.
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The Dell Inspiron with Intel i5 or i7 processor, 8 to 12 GB (gigabyte) RAM and a 512 GB SSD hard drive is a great decision for your first home studio.
There are plenty of other desktop computers out there, but this one is affordable and expandable and that’s what makes it a great option for your new home recording studio.
If you have the opportunity, consider running a second hard drive and using that for all of your recorded tracks (and the primary drive for your program and document files). Keeping them separate serves several purposes, of which you’ll learn as you grow with your studio.
Apple MacBook Pro
First-time home studio builders should first find a good laptop computer for their studio and many choose to go with an Apple MacBook Pro. The reason for this according to an article on the website ehomerecordingstudio.com is that “They’re ultra-fast. They’ve got lots of inputs.” The articles added: “They have a large screen with a detailed display.”
- Ninth-generation 6-Core Intel Core i7 Processor
- Stunning 16-inch Retina Display with True Tone technology
- Touch Bar and Touch ID
- AMD Radeon Pro 5300M Graphics with GDDR6 memory
- Ultrafast SSD
The only issue with most Apple laptops is that they’re rather expensive. However, you can save some money by buying a refurbished Apple MacBook Pro on Amazon.com. This may be a bit expensive for first-time home studio builders, but if you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed.
I can speak from experience, I’ve been using a Macbook Pro to do all of my home studio work since 2014. That includes editing music, voiceovers, movies, and all the work for three different businesses that I currently operate. It’s just one of those tools you need to invest in for the sake of speed and sanity.
2. Audio Interface
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface
Next, you’ll need an interface that will take the signal you want to record and convert it into digital so it can be written onto the hard drive (recorded). You can’t simply plug in a basic microphone and expect it to work well or even offer much in the way of quality.
- Bundled Software - Mac/Win/iPad Pro
- with 2 Mic/Line/Instrument Inputs
- USB 2.0 Audio Interface
- Switchable Air Mode
Focusrite Scarlett is a decent first interface that won’t overwhelm you with technical data or instructions. This is pretty much a plug and play device that is essential for a digital audio workstation (DAW).
This device provides two inputs and is very affordable compared to others, meaning it’s the perfect setup for first-time home recording studio builders.
It provides basic controls that allow you to trim the gains independently (if you don’t know what that means, you’ll learn … quickly) and also adjust monitor levels so you can maintain good control of your mix going into the recording software.
Speaking of which …
Now that you have a good laptop computer and digital audio workstation software, you now need an audio interface. These allow you to transfer all of your analog and digital signals into your computer.
According to an article on the website ledgernote.com, a good choice is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface. They say this because it’s affordable and it features “…six inputs and six outputs.” This is pretty much all first-time home studio builders will need and, thanks to its rather inexpensive price tag, your wallet won’t hurt too much after this purchase either.
3. Recording Software
The next piece of your new home recording studio you’ll need to add is your recording software. There are plenty of choices out there, from inexpensive and basic to all-encompassing.
Personally, I’m not a fan of going cheap just because you don’t have experience. I believe that when you’re building your home studio for the first time, if you’re serious about this, act the part.
- Full version, permanent License of Avid Pro Tools. Includes 1-Year of software updates and upgrades.
- Compose, record, edit, and mix high-quality music or sound for picture-on a Mac or PC-using Avid Pro Tools, the industry-standard audio production platform.
- Avid Pro Tools comes packed with over 60 amazing virtual instruments, effects, and sound processing plug-ins, so you can sound your best. Get the sounds of natural sounding spaces and classic stompbox effects.
- Software can be activated and used with iLok Cloud. iLok Key not included and not required.
Pro Tools is the industry standard. That means most professional studios around the world will have the capacity to take Pro Tools tracks and run them on their systems, so if you get a polished recording and want to professional mix it down, you can simply take your tracks to one of these pros for mastering.
The more important reason I recommend Pro Tools is that the interface is straightforward, it’s well-designed, and you also have the option of choosing different levels of this software.
It would be advisable to pick up Pro Tools First as a newbie to home recording, which is free for anyone, but it’s basic. However, basic is likely more than enough for you to get started, then you can jump up to the main Pro Tools packaged for a monthly subscription.
While you may begin recording guitar tracks, keyboards, or other instruments that could be plugged in directly, a solid condenser microphone is an absolute must for any serious home recording studio.
- Multi-purpose studio condenser microphone with large 19mm diaphragm
- Cardioid pickup pattern with excellent off-axis rejection
- Perfect for vocals, guitars, stringed-instruments, drums and more
- Rugged mic design with heavy-gauge mesh grille
- Gold-plated XLR connector
The Samson C01 is a solid choice that will provide incredibly crisp sound and the flexibility to use it for vocals, acoustic instruments, and even as an overhead microphone to pick up drum sets.
The C01 comes with everything you’ll need to get started, including phantom power (which is necessary for almost all legitimate condenser microphones).
Keep in mind that when you’re recording (whether it’s a voiceover track for a video, workshop, or even a webinar or podcast) condenser mics will pick up just about every sound there is, so you’ll want to soundproof your space as best you can and record these types of tracks at a time when your surroundings are as quiet as they can possibly be.
5. Shock Mount
Samson SP01 Spider Shockmount
A quality condenser microphone with phantom power is going to be so sensitive it will pick up almost any and all sounds, including the tapping of your foot on the floor that vibrates through the mic stand. A shockmount essentially provides and essential buffer against these extraneous sounds.
- For Samson's C01 condenser mic
- Spider shockmount
- Isolates mic from physical vibration, floor, and stand noise
- The art of high technology is best served by making excellence more accessible to everyone
- Also available for Samson's C03, CL7, CL8 and C01U condenser mics
The SP01 was specifically designed for the Samson C01 condenser mic, but there are other brands out there, and you should not pay more than about $20-$25 for one.
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone
When you’re recording with your new home studio, you’ll want a solid representation of the sound you’re bringing to your system. For that, quality headphones are absolutely essential.
- Neodymium magnets and 40mm drivers for powerful, detailed sound
- Closed-ear design provides comfort and outstanding reduction of external noises
- 9.8-foot cord ends in gold-plated plug; 1/4-inch adapter included
- Folds up for storage or travel in provided soft case
- Frequency Response - 10-20kHz , Impedance - 63 ohm
The Sony MDR7506 Professional offers a crisp sound and great clarity. They are also comfortable, which will become apparently important the more time you spend recording tracks, experimenting with effects, and mixing down.
The next item on our list of the best home studio equipment for people building their first home recording studio is the Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones. You’ll obviously need some way to hear the music you’re recording and you really can’t go wrong with these Sony headphones.
Going back to the great article from ehomerecordingstudio.com, they suggest this pair because “they’re affordable.” What’s more, “they’re durable.” The article also suggests that this brand of headphones is “popular” amongst professional musicians.
7. Studio Monitors
Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor
Incorporating a good studio monitor for your sound mixing needs is also essential for first-time home recording studio builders. One of the best products to use for this is the Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor.
A review posted on guitarfella.com backs up this claim by affirming that the “Yamaha’s HS series of speakers has become somewhat of a legend by now. Many producers, both enthusiasts and professionals hold these in high regard.”
This rather inexpensive studio monitor will not disappoint first-time home studio builders because it has all the features required for professional sounding recordings.
At some point in time, you’ll want to listen to your tracks or mix with something other than headphones. The Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor is held in high record by many professional and seasoned home studio aficionados.
As far as many studio monitors are concerned, the price tag for the HS8 is modest. It’ll offer a clear representation of your final mix and give you enough kick to determine optimal bass levels in your final mix.
Mogami Silver XLR 25ft (1x) and Mogami Silver XLR 6ft (2x)
First-time home recording studio builders only need three cables to start out with. The Mogami Silver XLR cables are your best option to satisfy this need.
- Silver Series XLR Microphone Cable 25 ft
- Mogami Silver is genuine Mogami microphone cable built for more economical budgets than Platinum and Gold assemblies
- Despite having an attractive price, each Mogami silver cable is made without compromise to quality using top quality connectors
- Every cable is hand assembled, then tested for performance before it leaves the assembly bench
- XLR to XLR cable with a lifetime warranty
- Silver Series XLR Microphone Cable 6 ft
- Mogami Silver is genuine Mogami microphone cable built for more economical budgets than Platinum and Gold assemblies
- Despite having an attractive price, each Mogami silver cable is made without compromise to quality using top quality connectors
- Every cable is hand assembled, then tested for performance before it leaves the assembly bench
- XLR to XLR cable with a lifetime warranty
According to Mason Hoberg, writing for equipboard.com, these cables are “…intended to be a more affordable option, aimed at musicians who can’t justify paying an incredibly high sum for their cables.”
The fact that these cables are affordable yet still one of the best-reviewed cables available make it perfect for first-time home recording studio builders.
It’s important to note that you’ll most likely need a 25 ft microphone cable, as well as, two 6ft monitor cables depending on how many monitors you plan on using.
To connect your Samson C01 condenser mic to your system, you’ll need cables. Now, there are some who believe any microphone cable is ‘good enough,’ the better the quality, the better the sound. In most likelihood, you’re not going to notice the difference now, but in time you may very well pick up on subtle noises that are embedding onto your tracks due to thin cables or broken cables.
Whatever brand mic cables you ultimately choose, it’s a good idea to have at least two six-foot cables and two 25-foot ones. Many DAWs have a wide selection of microphone and direct instrument cables for various recording options. For example, if you’re planning on recording a full drum set, you’ll be needing at least seven, if you’re to do it properly.
Another point to remember here is to always carefully and loosely wind your cables up. Tying them, cramming them into a bag, or other abusive action will, over time, cause the internal cables to start fraying, and that will lead to quality reduction.
9. Boom Stand
Samson MK-10 Microphone Boom Stand
Usually, first time home studio builders will only need one or two microphone stands and the Samson MK-20 Microphone Boom Stand is one of the best and most affordable options available.
- Lightweight microphone boom stand with tripod base
- Ideal for live stage and studio settings
- Roadworthy steel construction and sleek black design
- Easily collapsible tripod base for simple transport and height adjustment
- Includes mic clip
With its affordable price, you’ll certainly save a ton of money with this collapsible and rather a durable microphone stand.
There really isn’t a ton to say about this particular product aside from the fact that it’s inexpensive and many customers have given it many favorable reviews.
If you have a microphone, you should have a microphone stand. There are many different brands and types, but a tripod style base is highly recommended (over the round, heavy-weighted base). That’s because it offers better stability for a wide range of uses.
The MK-20 offers an angled boom and it’ll be one of the less expensive additions to your home studio. It’s easily collapsible, so you can store it without a fuss and cart it out, if needed.
10. Pop Filter
Avantone PS-1 PRO-SHIELD Studio Pop Filter
An often overlooked piece of equipment that home studio builders will need is a quality microphone pop filter. These products will significantly improve vocal recordings by eliminating those static bursts of air from hard “p” or “b” sounds when singing or rapping.
- The AVANTONE PRO-SHIELD is the finest studio pop filter in the world!
- The PRO-SHIELD allows close work on a mic to capture a more intimate / full sound without overloading the capsule with "plosive" blasts.
- The specially designed curved surface naturally follows the grill shape of studio mics for an efficient positioning that will yield optimum acoustic and aesthetic results.
- The PRO-SHIELD is constructed with an acoustically transparent metal screen that yields sonically superb results in studio applications. High-frequency details pass through to be captured in full while blocking the invasive blasts.
- Sturdy ALL METAL Construction. 5-Year Warranty!
One of the best products for this purpose is the Avantone Ps-1 PRO-Shield Studio Pop Filter. According to that same great set of articles found at ehomerecordingstudio.com, this particular product sets itself apart from the rest by, “Rather than sitting out in front of the microphone, where it’s vulnerable to being bumped and snagged. The PS-1 is designed to wrap snuggly around the microphone grill, so it’s out of the way.”
The author goes on to write that, “This also avoids the problem of singers constantly readjusting it, which wastes time and puts added wear and tear on the gooseneck.”
If you don’t add a pop filter to your arsenal, you’ll become frustrated with your vocal tracks pretty quickly. A pop shield is meant to be placed a few inches in front of your condenser mic and absorbs the sibilants commonly caused by ‘s’ and ‘t’ and ‘p’ type letters as we speak or sing.
Like microphone stands, there are plenty of decent options, so you can’t really go wrong, no matter which one you choose. Most run in the price range of $10 or so.
Z-Line Designs Cyrus Workstation
Now that you have all of your basic equipment needs to be settled it’s time to figure out how you’re going to set up everything in a neat and tidy way. The best way to do this is to purchase the Nost & Host Workstation.
- 【Ergonomic Monitor Shelf】Our computer desk features a large monitor shelf which has enough space for dual monitors. The monitor raiser also creates a storage room underneath that allows to put books, speakers and other office supplies. You may also put keyboard inside after finishing your work. Most important, the monitor shelf keeps you sit in a comfortable way and protect your neck and shoulder from stiffness and pain.
- 【Adjustable & Removable Shelves】This dual monitor desk features storage shelves under desk, the middle shelves are 3 height adjustable and removable. You have 4 choices to define your storage space at both sides. The flexibility allows you to store stuffs with different size like computer host, books, office stationaries and other small devices. The open shelves keep everything within easy reach.
- 【Recyclable & Durable Material】All our computer desks are made of premium P2 grade particle board, which meet the US CARB (California Air Resources Board) standards. After special surface treatment, the surface of this dual monitor computer desk is heat-resistant, scratch-resistant and waterproof. Most important, it’s totally harmless to the air and people's health.
- 【Natural Wood Texture Surface】With natural wood texture surface, its natural charm makes you feel like you're in nature. This 2-tier desk is easy to match with any type of office chair and create a modern style for your workspace.
- 【Clear Instruction & Free Service】Our computer desk comes with a straight forward assembly instruction and labelled parts and accessories. We provide lifetime customer support and guarantee 100% customer satisfaction.
This mixing desk will allow you to set up your computer and other equipment in a compact and tidy manner, making your recording studio looks and feel professional.
If you have a desk, that’s great, but what you should consider is a workstation just for your new DAW. The Nost & Host Workstation is compact and ideal for the new home recording studio. It has a great price and has plenty of space for dual monitors, your new desktop system, interfaces, monitors, and more.
Herman Miller Classic Aeron Chair
Another of the best home studio equipment items for everyone building their home studio for the first time is the Herman Miller Classic Aeron Chair. I’m suggesting this product because it’s absolutely one of the most luxurious chairs available.
- Your purchase includes One Herman Miller Aeron Ergonomic Chair – Size B, graphite color
- Chair dimensions: 41" H x 27" W x 16.75" D. Seat heights: 16”-20.5”.
- Tilt Limiter lets you set the recline range at one of three postures. Tension control lets you adjust the amount of effort needed to recline comfortably. Seat Angle Adjustment changes seat angle from neutral to engaged
- Try the Adjustable PostureFit Sacral/Lumbar support. Two individual pads flex independently and can be adjust to fit the curve of your spine
- Fully Adjustable Arms adjust from a height of 6.8” above the seat to 10.8 inches above the seat, slide backward and forward over a range of 2.5 inches, pivot 15 degrees outward and 17.5 degrees inward
With a price higher than a lot of other chairs, most people would say, “Why in the world am I going to spend potentially three times more for a chair than any single piece of equipment for my home recording studio (aside from the computer itself)?”
Well, to answer that simply: you’re going to spend a lot of time sitting down working at that system. You need to protect your back and avoid fatigue when hours pass that feel like minutes.
Hey, it’s going to feel like that, and it’s a great sign you’re thoroughly enjoying the process. Make a good investment in a quality chair.
You can obviously find cheaper studio chairs, but you undoubtedly impress visitors to your home recording studio with this fabulous chair.
13. Power Conditioner
Furman M-8X Merit Series Power Conditioner
These last few items are typically seen as optional, but I’m putting them on our list because they will certainly make your new home recording studio sound and look a lot more professional.
- Provides nine regulated, conditioned AC outlets-eight on the rear panel and one on the front
- Regulation capture range: 97 VAC to 141 VAC
- User accessible thermal circuit breaker protects against overload
- Standard level AC protection and filtering. 15 amp rating
- From the #1 brand in professional power conditioning. Perfect for instrument rigs, home recording, DJ equipment, pro audio rigs and home/commercial audio systems.
The Furman M-8X Merit series Power Conditioner offers “surge protection—to guard against lightning strikes and other voltage spikes.” It also offers “noise filtration to keep your audio clean and quiet,” according to an article ehomerecordingstudio.com
These are typically one of the top selling and highest reviewed option for power conditioners.
Furman is a well-known name in recording studios, and their power conditioners are a must for reducing noise and protecting your system against surges. A brown out, power outage, and even lightning strikes can cause damage to sensitive computer and electronic components, so set everything up through your new M-8X.
Rockville REQ231 Dual 31 Band 1/3 Octave Graphic Equalizer
Trust me when I say this: all your onboard system effects and EQs are going to be fine, but when it comes to polishing your sound for final mix, you would do well to add a dual 31-band EQ to your equipment. You’ll be able to refine the mix manually and make the highs sizzle and lows thump.
- Rockville REQ231 Dual 31 Band 1/3 Octave Graphic Equalizer With Sub-Output. Dual channel (31 bands per channel). Variable stage low and high cut filters.
- 1/3 octave filter sets (ISO centers). 20 Hz to 20 kHz effective equalization range. Constant Q filters. Selectable 6dB or 12dB cut or boost range. Output level LEDs (-10 to +17 dB).
- Bypass switch with status LED. Balanced XLR input/output. Subwoofer out. Channels: 2 (stereo). Connectors: XLR balanced inputs and outputs. Bands: 31 per channel.
- Frequency Centers: 20 Hz, 25 Hz, 31.5 Hz, 40 Hz, 50 Hz, 63 Hz, 80 Hz, 100 Hz, 125 Hz, 160 Hz, 200 Hz, 250 Hz, 315 Hz, 400 Hz, 500 Hz, 630 Hz, 800 Hz, 1 kHz, 1.25 kHz, 1.5 kHz, 2 kHz, 2.5 kHz
- Control Range: Selectable +/-12dB 0r +/-6dB. Input Impedance: 50k ohms. Output Impedance: 600 ohms. Maximum Output Level: +21dBLevel Control: +/- 10 dB. Signal to Noise: >93 dB. Distortion: 0.005%.
TCL 4K Smart LED TV, 43″ (43S435)
The last item on our list is the TCL 4K Smart LED 43” TV. This mountable flat screen TV will give you and your visitors and a nice way to take a quick break from recording.
- Dimensions (w x h x d): TV without stand: 38.2 x 22.4 x3 inches, tv with stand: 38.2 inches x 24.5 inches x 7.6 inches.VESA Walll Mount Pattern 200mm x 200mm
- Smart functionality delivers all your favorite content with over 500,000 movies and tv episodes, accessible through the simple and intuitive roku tv
- Pairs 4k ultra HD picture clarity with the contrast, color, and detail of high dynamic range (HDR) for the most lifelike picture
- Direct lit led produces great picture quality. Panel resolution 3840 x 2160. Accessible Menu System (CVAA) : Yes
- Inputs: 3 HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 (one with HDMI ARC), 1 USB (media player), RF, Composite, Headphone Jack, Optical Audio Out
You can mount this great TV in your home recording studio giving it a more comfortable and luxurious feel.
Artists often need a bit of distraction and creative breaks when recording and this will certainly allow for that. Today, most home recording studios have at least one TV in them in order to provide something to watch during breaks in recording and this particular TV is an excellent choice for that.
No, you’re not going to be watching TV or sports or movies while in your home recording studio; this TV will act as your main mixing console. The more tracks you have in place, the more sliders, the more effects, the easier it’s going to be to keep track of everything when you don’t have to lean in and squint.
Make sure your computer system (if you choose one besides the Dell I recommend) allows you to have two screens. You can lay out all your recorded tracks on one and your sliders and controls on the other.
Questions and Answers
Will I need a good computer for a home studio?
In a word, yes. Your computer is likely where you’ll be recording and editing your tunes. This places a lot of demand on your machine and requires a level of performance that you’re just not going to be able to get from a low-end computer. You also don’t want to be using an old computer and will want to keep it well up to date. Bugs and glitches can be really obvious on a recording.
Keeping that in mind, the next thing to think about is whether you should get a laptop or desktop. If you need to do any kind of work on the go, a powerful laptop can do the trick. That said, a desktop is going to be more powerful and give you more for your money.
Desktops also last a lot longer than laptops do. Laptops overheat more. Plus, if you’re carrying your laptop with you from place to place, it’s much more likely to get damaged than a solid desktop that stays in one spot.
Are you a Mac or PC? Does it matter? Most of the software you’ll need is compatible with both. Macs tend to be more reliable in general and are more widely used for home recording.
Does that mean if you’ve been a PC person your whole life, you need to embrace a Mac? Not necessarily. If you have a strong preference for PCs and feel comfortable using them, it’s not hard to make it work.
What computer specs do I need for a home studio computer?
This is actually a really important question because there’s a lot to consider. There are four key specs to look for and they are:
- Central Processing Unit or CPU. It’s responsible for some of the computer’s memory, data input, executing an instruction, and processing all the information in every program you’re running. If you’re going to be multitasking, having one with multiple processors is a good thing to have, too. So, what should you look for?There are two primary brands, Intel and AMD. If you are looking at a machine with an Intel process then get an “i” series processor, preferably an i5, i7, or i9.If you are looking at a machine with a AMD process then get one with a Ryzen 5, 7, or 9. Even better than those is AMD’s Threadripper processor.
- Random Access Memory, or RAM, is next. This is basically your computer’s short-term memory. According to Joe Gilder at Home Studio Corner, RAM is where the magic happens. More RAM keeps your programs running fast and smoothly.How much RAM do you need? You should get a computer with at least 8 GB of RAM but if you can afford 16 GB, get 16 GB.
- Hard Drive. This is your computer’s long-term memory and where your final recordings will be stored. Space and speed are equally important. You want something with enough space to hold large recording files but look for a solid-state drive (SSD), too.What’s so special about a solid-state drive? It uses flash memory instead of a spinning platter. In other words, there are no moving parts to slow it down.For the best performance, look for at least 500 GB with a solid-state drive. If you’re using a mechanical drive, get 7,200 RPM.
- Ports. You’ll need enough to plug in your audio interface (more on that later) as well as any accessories you’re using. Make sure there are enough ports to plug in everything you need.
What kind of software do I need for a home studio?
Once you have the right computer, you need to find the right digital audio workstation (DAW). We like how Rob Mayzes puts it: finding the right one is like finding a partner. You won’t be using a new one every time you sit down to record. You’ll learn this software inside and out.
Imagine an old recording studio or think of one you’ve seen in an older movie. There’s always a large console full of slides and buttons and a lot of gauges and meters. DAWs have replaced these. Now, you record, playback, edit, tweak and manipulate everything digitally.
As you’re essentially looking for a partner, it’s a good idea to do some research before you commit. Try some free trial versions if you can. Don’t just buy the first one you see. But, remember, they all do the same thing so the most important thing is to find one you’re comfortable working with.
What type of audio interface do I need for a home studio?
We promised we’d get to that and here we are. But we should definitely try to explain what an audio interface is in a way that’s easy to understand. Once you have your software, you need an audio interface to get the signals from your equipment into a digital form that your computer can decipher.
At its core, an audio interface is just a router. There are various slots to plug in your microphones and speakers and other equipment. It changes the input into a language your computer can understand. A good audio interface won’t add anything to or take anything away from the sound.
The more mic preamps you have, the more mics you can record at the same time. So, if you’re only recording vocals, you can probably get by with one. Recording with a full band? Then you’ll obviously need multiples.
Quality matters. Getting the most preamps you can afford isn’t the best strategy. Why? A low-quality audio interface will interfere with the sound that’s being recorded. Plus, it’s not something you can edit out—it’s always going to be there. Investing in a better quality audio interface is the way to go.
If you want to record an electric guitar or bass without an amp, make sure your audio interface has ¼” input. This is the only way to record without using an amp and it allows you to use software to enhance the tone of the instrument.
You need to be able to hear music coming out of your interface, too. A headphone jack is essential because it lets you listen without any interruptions. It’s also a good idea to make sure your speakers are compatible so you don’t have to bother with an adapter.
What type of microphones do I need for a home studio?
That’s a great question since microphones are the main thing you plug into your audio interface. Microphones convert sounds from instruments and vocalists and turn them into electricity that can be utilized by your interface.
There are a few mics you need to consider and one is a style you’re likely seen before. We often think of a large microphone with a large round filter or shield over it.
It’s tempting to think this image appears so often in film and television because it just looks great. In reality, that microphone is probably a large-diaphragm condenser mic and it’s the best kind of recording vocals. This is usually the first mic recording studios look for because it’s so important to the process. The one I like for my studio is the Samson C01. It’s affordable, easy to use and they’ve been making it for years (it’s battle-tested).
Small diaphragm condenser mics are important, too. These are the long thin ones that are sometimes called “pencil microphones.” They have a small diaphragm and are the perfect complement to a large condenser mic. They’re perfect for recording live music because they are incredibly sensitive.
Technically, you can do almost anything you need to with these two mics. It may mean recording different instruments and layers at different times and put them all together with your software. But it can be done. When you’re ready to upgrade, there are a few things to consider.
E-Home Recording Studio really does a great job of breaking down what’s available and whether or not you need it. Here are a few things that they suggest:
- A dynamic utility mic for recording an electric guitar, drums, and more intense rock vocals
- A bass mic to get a more authentic sound when capturing those really deep tones
- Multi-pattern mics when you’re ready for something omnidirectional and versatile
How important are studio monitors?
Once you know what a studio monitor does, you’ll understand how important it is to your studio. You might be surprised to find out that they look a lot like regular old stereo speakers but they’re actually a lot more advanced than meets the eye.
As StudioGearExperts puts it, they’re designed to provide honest feedback on what you’re recording. What you’re hearing is as raw as it gets. It will almost force you to fix everything and anything that might be off with your recording before you share it with the world.
Think of your studio monitor as that one friend who always lets you know when you have something in your teeth. It’s coming from a place of love and appreciation because, in the end, it helps you better yourself. It’s essential if you want to put your best face (or music!) forward.
Jason Moss has some great recommendations for the four things that really matter in a studio monitor.
- Active vs. Passive. This is pretty simple. To make sound, speakers need an amp. If the amp is built-in, it’s called an active speaker. If you need to use a separate amp, it’s passive. Active amps are recommended because they’re so simple to use. All you have to do is plug them in.
- Near Field vs. Mid/Far-Field. Near fields are what you want for a home studio. Mid- and far-field monitors are designed to be set up further away and are for large, open spaces.
- Frequency Response. The most important thing to consider here is how low a frequency the speakers can go. If they don’t go low enough, you might not be hearing all the aspects of your recording. Look for speakers that go to 40 Hz or lower.
- Connectivity. Obviously, you want your speakers to be compatible with your interface. If they’re not, they’re useless. You can get an adapter if needed but it’s best to get the right fit.
If I have good studio monitors, do I need headphones?
Even StudioGearExperts admit that headphones and studio monitors do the same thing but still recommend a good set of headphones. Why? Simply because it’s not always going to be possible to use your speakers.
Think about it. How much of your editing, mixing, and over-dubbing are you going to be doing at night or into the early morning? How many of your neighbors are going to be alright with listening to your recordings throughout all hours of the night?
But that’s not all you need them for. Headphones not only spare your neighbors or family a constant display of your talent, but they are essential when recording because they isolate precisely what is being recorded and block out any background noise.
What should you look for in a pair of headphones? Closed headphones are the best for recording because they fully enclose your ears so that no sound gets in or out. Not only does this let you hear everything without interference, it prevents playback in the headphones from being picked up by a mic.
I have all the basics. How can I take a home studio to the next level?
If you have more money to invest in the beginning or if you’re ready to go bigger, there are some great things you can add to take your home studio up a notch. These things aren’t necessary but they will make things easier and run more smoothly.
Do I really need a home studio workstation?
Not really. Honestly, any large tabletop or desk can be used as a workstation. But, if you want to have the best and most convenient setup you can get, a workstation made for a home recording studio really is a great investment.
StudioGearPros recommend getting a workstation that’s large enough to hold all of your equipment without looking too cluttered. You have to be able to get to everything easily so the last thing you want is a lot of congestion.
Another really important thing is to make sure your workstation is strong enough to hold everything without wobbling. The last thing you want is a workstation that rocks from side to side when you sit down to use it.
One of the biggest differences between a flat workspace like a desk or table and a studio workstation is the different level tiers that are available. You can easily raise your monitor to a more comfortable level and arrange everything into the perfect space.
In addition to a good workspace, a comfortable chair is a great investment. You’ll likely spend hour after hour recording and mixing and editing. You don’t want to do it sitting in a chair that doesn’t have enough support. A nice chair will prevent back pain and help you work longer more comfortably.
What if I don’t want to get a home studio workstation right now?
A studio workstation can be quite expensive so it’s understandable if you aren’t ready to make that investment. Don’t worry. There are still things you can do to make a desk or table more conducive to your needs.
As the StudioGearExperts suggest, monitor stands can really make a difference. These are simple stands with a small tabletop. What’s great about them is that they’re adjustable in height. You can tailor them to your needs and place your monitors at the perfect level.
The great thing about stands like this is that they do more than the free-up room in your workspace. They also keep them off of the surfaces and eliminates a lot of vibration. You can even add an isolation pad if you need to dampen the vibrations even more.
Is there anything I can do to improve the acoustics in a home studio?
This is such an important aspect of recording that a lot of people overlook it. In fact, Joe Gilder at Home Studio Corner believes that people will often upgrade their equipment to fix the sound of their recordings with the problem is actually the acoustics of the room.
If you’ve ever seen a real recording studio, you know that they’re soundproofed with foam and padding and are rarely rectangular or square in shape. In contrast, your home studio is likely in a spare room or your basement and with no insulation and parallel walls.
The shape of the room really changes the sound. It might be a little hard to believe, but even just recording in a box-shaped room with parallel walls can cause all kinds of manipulations in sound waves. These can completely change the sound of your recording.
So, what’s the solution? If you can afford it and are really serious, you can have professional companies come in and analyze your space. They’ll give you different suggestions as to what you can do to improve your space.
It’s not a stretch to say that this would cost a significant amount of money. If you were hoping to improve acoustics without a significant financial investment, there are a lot of things you can do.
How should I place panels in a home studio?
Philip Mantione of Pro Audio Files gives a great explanation of how sound travels and even provides diagrams for how to organize absorption panels in your home studio. Here are some of the things he recommends:
- Put your workstation along a short wall with a speaker on either side. Make sure to leave about one-and-a-half to two feet of space between the speaker and the wall.
- Place bass traps in all four corners. Bass traps are really important when it comes to acoustics because they even out the low-end frequencies. That may seem like a small thing but it makes a huge difference in the sound.
- Placing absorbent panels on the wall behind your workstation can be effective. Something that might be a bit of a surprise is that they’re actually more effective if they’re spaced four to six inches away from the wall.
- Use the mirror rule to place additional panels along the side walls. Home Studio Corner explains this process in a way that really helps you visualize what’s actually happening with the sound waves. Sit in your listening position and have a friend move a mirror along each wall. Anytime you can see your monitors in the mirror, place a piece of foam. This really gives you an idea of how the sound reflects around your room.
- Place a diffusion panel at the back of the room to help spread everything out evenly.
- Finally, add an angled panel above your seat at your workstation.
It’s worth mentioning that you don’t have to do all this at once. If you want your studio to eventually be professional quality, you’ll need to tackle all this eventually. But you can start out by just placing bass traps and positioning some panels. You’ll notice a difference in the quality of your recordings.
If I make a lot of upgrades to my home studio equipment, will I also need to upgrade my computer?
Don’t worry, if you’ve already invested a lot of money into a high-quality computer, you won’t have to buy a new one. What you probably should do, though, is get an additional hard drive.
Home Studio Corner suggests getting an external hard drive that you use only for streaming audio. The hard drive on your computer will work but because your computer’s operating system and all the other software you have is on the same hard drive.
Why does that matter? For one, you have less space because some of what’s available is already being used. But more importantly, it’s already working pretty hard. The harder it’s working and the more it’s responsible for, the more likely it is that you’ll start getting error messages and your system will freeze.
Getting an external hard drive alleviates this pressure from the one on your computer. That means that it can run its operating system and software more efficiently because it won’t have to also stream your audio files.
You don’t have to use an external hard drive necessarily. If you’re computer savvy, you can add a second internal hard drive to your computer. Internal drives are a little more efficient since they work directly with your computer but an external hard drive is more than effective for this purpose.
There are some perks to external drives, too. Primarily, you can simply unplug them and take them with you if you want to work remotely or take your recordings to another studio. Plus, if it runs out of memory, you can just get a second one.
What home studio equipment will I need when I start taking on bigger projects?
The StudioGearExperts have a lot of suggestions when it comes to moving up to a top-tier home studio. One of the first things you’ll need is a multi-channel microphone preamp. Why? It’s the best way to record bands or multiple musicians at the same time.
There’s a chance that the audio interface that you bought initially won’t have enough microphone channels. A multi-channel microphone preamp is the easiest solution to this problem. In addition to more channels, they also offer more features than you’ll need as you grow.
An external mix preamp can include things like phase reverse, pad switches, and low-cut switches. Plus, they offer superior sound quality and are great at eliminating any noise that you don’t want to show up in your audio.
We need to point out that this isn’t something you need to buy initially. Your audio interface will work just fine for basic home recording studio projects. But, if you want to grow and develop into more of a professional studio, you’ll want one eventually.
Should I get any virtual instruments for a home studio?
One of the best things you can get if you think you want to add virtual instruments is a MIDI controller. MIDI stands for “Musical Instrument Digital Interface.” MIDI is used in a lot of ways on your computer, but there are very specific applications for recording.
MIDI gives you a lot of control over what you’re producing. You record it just like normal audio, but you can make easily erase mistakes after it’s recorded. You can add notes in, too, without re-recording the whole thing. They don’t make the sounds themselves. But they do control them.
You can also change the sound of the MIDI notes. If you started with a piano but changed your mind and now you want a guitar, all you have to do is change the instrument that’s playing those notes. It’s pretty remarkable, actually!
Do you need it? Not when you’re first starting out. This is one of those things that you should consider adding if you grow your studio and want to take it to the next level.
Is there anything I need to consider when adding all this equipment to a home studio?
Assuming that your goal is to grow your studio, you will be continuously adding more and more equipment that is often more and more expensive. One of the things you should think about is power-related issues.
A single power surge could cause a lot of damage. One way to avoid that is to get a power conditioner. Basically, they consolidate all the power you’re using from all your equipment. They usually have various filters that remove noise from the powerline and keep it from your equipment.
Are there any extras or accessories that would come in handy?
Yes! There are some things that you can get that will make your time in your home studio more efficient and more effective.
- Good cables. Don’t use cheap cables. Cheap cables will add noise and interference that you don’t really want in your recordings. Think about it: everything in your studio is going to connect to your equipment with a cable. It makes a huge difference. High-quality cables will last a really long time so, in the long run, they’re likely more cost-effective. If they do wear out, most of them come with really good warranties.
- An equipment rack. Having a nice rack that has a place for everything will help you stay organized and look a lot neater.
- A stash of flash drives. They make it so easy to move files around without a lot of fuss.
- Speaker stands. Getting your speakers off of your workspace can lead to significant improvements in sound.
- A pop filter. This is such a simple little addition that can really make a difference if you record a lot of vocalists. All it is a mesh screen that sits between the singer and the microphone. It diffuses the air produced by certain consonants and makes the recording clearer.
So… Is that all?
For now! You’ll always find some new piece of equipment that you want to add. What we covered here is a great place to start and some ideas for how you can take your home studio to the next level.
The best way to start a home recording studio is to do it slowly. Don’t feel that you have to buy all the best equipment right at the beginning. Building a home studio that is close to the professional level should be done piece by piece over time.
Remember, every home studio is different. As you grow yours, you’ll figure out what you need and what you don’t. It really depends on what you’re recording and what you’re trying to accomplish.
We hope that we gave you some great ideas that you can use to develop your own home recording studio. It might seem overwhelming at first but if you follow our suggestions, you’ll be off to a great start.
A home studio is an amazing thing to build. It takes time. And, in time, you will expand it and make sure it grows with your skills and talents. The most important thing to remember upfront is that you don’t want to go cheap just to ‘get it’ as quickly as possible. Cheap equipment has the potential to kill your joy and frustrate you before getting the chance to discover how amazing it is to record at home.
Hopefully, this list of the best home studio equipment items for anyone building their home studio for the first time will help those constructing their first home recording studio. The products on this list are all highly recommended, though they might not be absolutely necessary for more inexpensive or basic home recording studios.
The choice of purchasing some of the more optional items on this list are certainly up to how much the owner wants to spend and what they deem more necessary. Purchasing all of the items on this list will cost you thousands of dollars, but will also go a long way in making your home recording studio not just sound professional, but look that way as well.
The articles referenced here are some of the best ways to gather even more information on these products as there were quite a few things I had to leave out. In order to educate yourself further on the home studio equipment listed here, I’d certainly recommend visiting the hyperlinks attached to this article.
Doing this will provide you with the most comprehensive information available and will undoubtedly help your decision making when debating whether or not to purchase an item. The more knowledge you gain through this type of research the better prepared you’ll be when starting to set up your first home recording studio.
Taking shortcuts and buying cheap equipment will make it incredibly hard to make quality music in your home recording studio. Following the guidelines in this article will get you on the right track and have you recording great professional sounding music in no time.