Setting up a home recording studio is nothing as complicated. In this part, I will provide you with knowledge of most essential home recording studio equipment list for beginners. I’m sure that with just these equipments you will set up a quality home recording studio for yourself with rational fee. Here we go!
What Is the Most Important Thing In The Recording Studio?
Assuming you have thousands dollar Preamp, Genelec speakers, a legend Reverb or newest, most up-to-date plugins, et cetera. However …
- High quality Preamp can’t produce good sound when you put Microphone straight to guitar resonant hole.
- Genelec Speaker can’t help you with accurate mix when your ears don’t recognize the sound.
- Legend Reverb can’t make you a lively, awesome mix when you don’t have enough experience.
Now you know what I mean, right? The most important thing in recording studio is not the high quality devices I mentioned above, it’s the people who run the devices, equipments, yes, it’s you who perform that recording.
You need to remember this important thing, in producing music, people are the most vital element, who decide the quality of the product, not expensive equipment. Good music recorded through cellphone is obviously more welcome than bad music recorded in high-class studio. Don’t you agree?
The Essential Home Recording Studio Equipment List for Beginners
Depends on each person needs, numbers and types of basic equipment for a home recording digital studio may vary.
- If you open a large-scale professional studio, you’ll need a lot of expansive sophisticated equipment.
- If you want to make music at home, chances are you just need a powerful computer, music software and cheap computer speaker in order to do that.
- If you want to set up a quality home recording digital studio that can be compared to commercial studio, the equipment below are must-have.
Here is 6 essential equipment list (and one optional equipment) help you make a complete home recording studio. The equipment list I introduce in this guide contains the most basic and essential equipment of a home recording studio.
The first equipment I want to talk about is computer. This is the “heart” equipment, it has a very important role in nowadays digital recording studios. From small studio to large-scale studio, most of them have to have computer.
You can use laptop or desktop for your home recording studio but if you want to follow professional path, I recommend you invest for a powerful desktop. The desktop which is especially produced for multi media, also called workstation is the best.
If you don’t use workstation computer, you can buy new or upgrade your computer
to as strong as possible. So how much is the configuration of the computer to comply with home recording studio? Your computer processor has to be at least core i5, 8G RAM, 500G HDD because raw recorded data requires large capacity. For example, you need several G capacity of HDD to record a song with 5 minutes duration.
Additionally, a at least 1 G not on board VGA (Video Graphic Adaptor). So, what’s the use of this VGA while you mostly work with audio signal? Obviously, the purpose of VGA is to produce more detailed, beautiful image, so what if you need more than one screen for your studio? When? With some DAW software, they work better when you use two screens: one screen for parameter monitoring, one for controlling equipment. Or sometimes, you need to edit videos, correct images, a not on board VGA will be useful to you.
Beside, for the computer to run smoothly, I recommend you to buy a SSD, then install the platform and other software in that SDD. About the HDD, use them for data storage. With just this little change, you will see a big difference in your computer speed.
One more thing, if you can afford more, use MAC for your home recording studio, it is extremely fantastic. MAC’s strong point is its deeply integrated hardware and software, which make it runs very smooth.
And because of that, many people claim that making music and recording with MAC produce better sound, but be aware, it’s just impulsive and proofless talking! Why? You will understand more in the next parts.
If you search for keyword “recording studio” on Google, you will see many great pictures of big studios from over the world. They have equipped so many expensive-hardware-equipments such as a large mixer table with hundreds signal lines on it.
But this is 21 century, you’ll have a good home recording studio, full of functions just like them but all-in-one computer. That means most of the hardware equipments are replaced by software. And of course, your expense is much lower.
Purchasing a strong computer or upgrading your computer and you’ll complete one important stage in setting your home recording studio.
2#: DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) Software
Second important equipment in home recording studio equipment list that I want to talk about is music making software (DAW –Digital Audio Workstation). When I say “equipment”, you shouldn’t get it in narrow concept as just hardware equipment, remember software can also be called equipment.
As I said, a powerful computer helps you a lot in music producing process. But, it alone can’t do the work because computer is just the environment for the software to work. And the real thing which actually makes sound, music are DAW softwares.
Talking about DAWs, I remember dozens-page-long debates on sound/audio forums over the world about which DAW is the best. The only thing we can conclude in those debates is the deeply analyzed list of the advantages as well as disadvantages of each DAW. But it’s not much of a good thing for beginners since they can’t filter the useful information or otherwise from those debates.
Choosing DAW software is not difficult if you know clearly what you need and what your preferences are. I’ll have separate instruction about choosing DAW in the next parts.
3#: Audio Interface
Audio Interface is an intermediate device helps your computer connect with other devices such as Studio Microphone, Studio Monitor, Studio Headphone, Midi Controller, et cetera. It’s a bridge carries audio signal from this device to that device.
Audio Interface helps you transmit audio signals from microphones, electronic musical instruments to computer. It also receives audio signals from computer then sends them to headphone and monitor. Audio Interface is very important equipment in home recording digital studios. Nowadays, you just need to spend $150 – $300 to buy a good enough audio interface for your home recording studio.
Choosing numbers of input and output on audio interface depends on your practical need. But, you should prioritize quality than quantity. This problem will be discussed more in the next parts.
4#: Studio Microphone
Studio microphone is a device helps you with recording external sound into computer like singing voice, piano, drum, guitar sound, and so on. Studio microphone takes first place in audio signal sequence so it has big affect on input recorded sound. You can easily differentiate the sound from high-grade microphone and normal microphone immediately. Therefore, try to buy quality microphone from the beginning, it helps a lot for later process.
There are three types of common studio microphone: Condenser, Dynamic and Ribbon. Each types have their advantages and disadvantages as well as are suitable for particular situations.
Even with one type of microphone, for example, condenser microphone, two condenser microphone with the same model can produce sound with a hell of difference. So, knowing about types of studio microphone as well as their function in different use is very useful for your later professional music recording process.
When purchasing microphone, you should buy pop filter which helps you filter the sound of [p], [tʃ]. This accessory is essential if you usually record singing, … don’t hold your purse to tight!
5#: Studio Monitor
Show off speaking, it is checking-sound speaker. Simply speaking, it’s just speaker which you listen to.
Mission of studio monitors is to produce as truest sound as possible. This is one of the vital device in your home recording studio. Your music products can be heard stably in different sound systems or not depends on studio monitors heavily.
But you need to be on alert a little bit. These are not normal speakers which are just for listening to music. You should remember, we’re recording, mixing, mastering not listening to music. Understanding, controlling accurately how things happen, how things sound is vital. Listening sound from studio monitors is more original so that you’ll know what is your mix missing, lacking or what are your mix’s problems.
If you record, mix, master with normal speakers, even with high quality speakers, it will be hard to train your ears because the sound you’re listening to is erroneous due to the normal speakers. Moreover, you musical products are hard to work stably on different sound systems.
In short, what is the most important mission and feature of studio monitors? It is to bring you as true and objective as possible sound environment, not “spoil” the ears, not distort or make artificial sound.
6#: Studio Headphone
Studio headphone and studio monitor has the same criteria in choosing. It is the trueness! You should not use headphone which “please” your ears to much like deep bass or smooth treble, et cetera.
Studio headphone have two main functions:
- Serve the recording process, help us hear the ground sound, audio signal in process of recording voices or musical instruments.
- Help us mix music. But, serve the recording process is more important.
Another big advantage of studio headphone compares to studio monitor is the privacy and separation. You can make music in noisy places or at night without the worry about bothering nearby people .
7#: Midi Controller (option)
If you’re keyboard, piano player, composer, beat maker or want to be a DJ, midi controller will be utterly useful.
Midi Controller does not just help you with controlling virtual musical instruments on computer but also helps you control other software, hardware when you install correctly. I’ll discuss more about midi controller in the next parts, it’s features as well as show you some common midi devices.
I’ve already went over 6 popular equipment and one other optional – midi controller for home digital recording studio. With just these equipment, and a little digging, you’ll soon produce quality music products.
If you watch YouTube, you’ll be surprised at watching many people record and mix very well with just the home recording studio equipment list for beginners I talked above.
Remember, the core is people, not equipment. Good music recorded through cellphone is obviously more welcome than bad music recorded in high-class studio. Don’t you agree?