Build a Home Recording Studio Without Breaking the Bank
Today’s audio professionals can make and record quality tracks almost anywhere, including at home. The Black Keys recorded in a tire factory, and Bon Iver’s first solo album came together in a secluded hunting cabin. The primary factor that influences production quality is equipment. If you want to build a home recording studio that turns out next level audio, you’ll want to invest in some recording essentials.
To help you get started, here’s the quick and dirty list of things you’ll want to have:
- A decent computer
- Recording and editing software
- A well-positioned and dependable microphone
- Quality headphones
- Some soundproofing materials
Not sure what we mean by “decent” computer or “quality” headphones? Read on for more specifics.
Choose the right computer for home recording
Finding a decent computer for your home recording studio doesn’t always mean finding an expensive computer. The main things you’ll need to have are:
- Enough ram — 4 gigabytes is enough but, 8 gigabytes is ideal.
- A solid processor — For a laptop, you’ll want something at least in the 2.3 GHz range.
- Hard drive space — Although an solid state drive (SSD) is expensive, having access to that kind of speed might be better for your use in the long run. If SSDs aren’t in your price range, look for something with at least 7200 RPM or purchase an external fast drive.
If you’re trying to stick to a budget, consider purchasing a refurbished computer that you can update to meet your needs. Not only are refurbished computers less expensive, but they’re also the environmentally friendly choice.
Consider your software and hardware needs
A digital audio workstation (DAW) is the software you use to record, mix, and edit music on your computer. One of the top reviewed DAWs is Adobe Audition. It’s compatible with a variety of other programs and also user-friendly.
While the DAW is the software, the interface is the hardware that connects your equipment to your computer. If you need both, you might purchase them as a combo for a better deal. Avid and PreSonus, companies that offer a DAW and interface combo, are among the best in the business. Plus, buying a bundle means you’ll have secure, quality tech support in one centralized location.
Select a dependable microphone
Although the topic of quality microphones is a broad topic subject to much debate, the answer to the question ultimately lies in what kind of audio you will be recording.
If you’re a podcaster or vlogger: the ATR2100 is an excellent choice for those just starting out. They are handy and versatile, being both XLR and USB. The dual output means you can plug directly into your computer as well. For other options, this guide by The Podcast Host is really helpful.
If you’re a musician: consider the AKG P170 as it’s great for capturing very rich and versatile, high frequency sounds like guitar and cymbals. For more suggestions, this Beginner’s Guide to Recording Studio Microphones is excellent.
Use quality headphones
When setting up a recording studio in your home, it’s not immediately necessary to purchase monitors. Especially if you’re limited on funds. For this reason, many opt for a nice pair of headphones. There are many great options on the market today, but ultimately you’ll want at least two pairs:
- 1. Closed back headphones for better tracking and sound isolation
- 2. Open-backed headphones for mixing, when you need to achieve better overall sound quality
The difference between the two types is as simple as their names: open back headphones allow for the flow of sound out into your surroundings, meaning bigger, fuller sound and closed back headphones isolate the sound within your ears like it’s playing in your head.
Consider soundproofing your space
In whichever room you decide to build your home recording studio, it’s never a bad idea to invest in some soundproofing materials. We can’t all record in an isolated hunting cabin. After a few incidents of background or ambient noise, your recording is compromised. Anyone serious about recording in their home will appreciate the benefit of a little soundproofing.
If you’re a podcaster or vocalist, you might also invest in pop filters. They attach to microphones and help filter out the harsh sounds of letters like “P” and “B.” While they might not be a must for someone who records instruments, people who talk or sing into their microphone typically use them.
If you’ve set out to build a home recording studio without breaking the bank, you’re not alone. Home studios are starting to outnumber commercial studios, and for a good reason. It’s more affordable than ever to gather what it takes to produce professional quality sound. While this list is by no means exhaustive, it’s a solid place to start.
Do you record from home? Please join us in this conversation and share your tips or suggestions in the comments. We’d love to open a conversation about your stories and successes.