Twenty years ago, building an affordable home studio was pretty much an impossible task. Since then, there has been lots of innovation in the music recording technology industry, and building your own personal home recording studio is no longer a pipe dream. Astronomically priced gear still exists, but building a decent home studio for $1,000 or less is completely doable. Before I go into more detail, here’s a list of things you’ll need for a basic studio setup.
Someone and somewhere to record
An audio interface
A DAW (digital audio workstation)
Studio monitors and/or headphones
Cables and other accessories
If you’re reading this article at home right now, you probably have a computer. If you don’t, you’ll have to get one. Basic audio recording isn’t a very resource-heavy, even an entry Mac Mini or MacBook Air will perform the task just fine.
Someone and Somewhere to Record
This is probably obvious, but what are you going to do with a recording studio if you have no one or nothing to record? If you’re a singer songwriter, then you’re all set. If not, call some friends and ask if they want to sing or play guitar. Find someone patient because there will be lots of experimenting when you’re just getting familiar with your gear.
Try to find a quiet place to record. Some microphones are very sensitive, and capture even the slightest room noises. Some people may argue that it’s important to have an acoustically treated room, I firmly believe all of that stuff should come after you decided if recording music is something you want to pursue as a serious hobby. For now, just find a quiet place.
The microphone might just be the most important part of your home studio. Boutique microphones like vintage Neumann U87s can cost thousands of dollars, but there are great budget microphones as well for $200 or less. Before I give some recommendations, let’s talk about different kinds of microphones. As someone building his or her own studio, you’ll want to do some research about condenser microphones and dynamic microphones. I won’t go into the scientific and design differences, but here are a few pros and cons.
Dynamic microphones are ideal for loud sound sources, and are often used live. The Shure SM57 and SM58 have been industry standards for a long time, and you’ve probably seen a few of them if you’ve ever been to a concert. For the most part, they’re also more rugged and durable than condenser microphones. Since they are less sensitive, they don’t capture as much detail as condenser microphones.