A look at the equipment and set-up you might need.
Every artist reaches a point in his/her life where they decide to really take their craft seriously and start walking the path of perfecting their talent. If you’re at this stage in your music career and you would like to start investing in yourself, then it might be a good idea to start your own home recording studio. All the biggest players in the industry have done this, from Dr. Dre to John Legend and as you can see from their results, it can really work out.
There are, however, some considerations that you need to make before you start, like what your budget will be, what equipment you’ll need (or should start with), and how to get the best deals on everything. Luckily for you, this article is geared towards helping you figure it all out, from giving you money-saving tips to advise on what you should look out for when starting your own studio. The good news is that building a home recording studio these days is not as expensive as it used to be, and one of the secrets to building a really great studio on a budget is to focus on the essentials.
What You Should Know Before You Start
Okay, before we start let’s get one thing straight. We know that the desire to own every piece of cool tech is very tempting but that may not be the most logical thing to do, especially if you’re still starting out. To help prevent you from falling into that trap, we’ve compiled a list of the most essential music equipment you’ll need to get started with making music in your home recording studio.
Computer for Music Production
Right off the bat, we start with the basics here and as any modern-day music producer will tell you, your computer will quite literally be the heart of your entire music recording process. This doesn’t mean that you should go and buy the most expensive computer on the market in order to make good music, but of course, if your budget allows then getting the best one won’t hurt. However, the most important thing is to get a computer that’s fast, with lots of space and a powerful processor.
Digital Audio Workshop
The second-most important item in your list of essential tools is the type of DAW that you will decide to use, and this will largely depend on your computer’s operating system as well as your own preferences. If you’re not quite sure which one to choose, consider trying out different ones to get a feel of which one goes best with your musical style and flow.
To help you along, here are a few quick reviews of the most widely utilized options.
- Logic Pro: Logic Pro is one of the oldest DAWs on the market and is usually where most artists start, regardless of their genre. This is mostly because Logic Pro is really simple and straightforward to use, and has all the essentials you’ll need to compose and even master your music. Included in this DAW are numerous editing tools, loops, instrument samples and some really dope sound effects that when used right, can take your music to a whole other level.
- Ableton Live: Ableton Live is a favorite among electronic music artists as it doesn’t require the use of a MIDI controller in order to produce music, and because it’s based on loops EDM musicians can easily play around with sounds throughout the production process. Plus, the output on Ableton is much faster as well, thanks to its efficiency in arranging and programming.
- FL Studio: FL Studio is jam-packed with a lot of unique sound effects and VSTs which make it an ideal DAW for EDM artists that want to have an easier workflow as well.
- Pro Tools: As the name implies, Pro Tools is the tool most used by music professionals today and you’ll see it in most places from universities to commercial recording studios. Most artists use Pro Tools to perfect the sound of their music during the post-production and mastering phase.
The Best Audio Interface for Beginners
The best way to record audio that’s true to the original sound is to use the right tool, and for most musicians, that’s the audio interface. This piece of equipment will enable you to get the most accurate sound possible from analog instruments like the keyboard or guitar, and then transfer those sounds through your computer to your monitors and/or mixers. In order to do all this, a good audio interface needs to have a built-in, high-quality microphone pre-amps and even a MIDI interface, although the latter is not absolutely essential. Choosing an audio interface is one of the hardest steps you will take when starting a home music production studio because there are several different options to choose from, and most of them are really good too. One way to distinguish the best option for your needs is to base your decision on your particular style of music.
Studio Headphones and Studio Monitors
Good quality studio headphones are an ideal solution for emerging artists that are just starting out and are struggling with their small budget. Also, if you can afford premium studio monitors from the start, then you should definitely invest in those because they’ll really come in handy when you want to get the mixing and mastering done right. Here is a list of good studio headphones.
The microphone is one of those items that you have to go all-out on. You simply cannot afford to compromise on it due to the price. Besides, a quality microphone will literally last you a lifetime, and since you’ll be using it repeatedly then it’s probably a good idea to get something solid. Whatever you do, don’t buy a cheap microphone or something that’s new and quirky just because it’s being marketed a lot. Rather choose a solid microphone from a good, known brand.
The audio mixer acts as the pathway that the sound takes as it travels towards the signals, and it is at this stage that an audio engineer works with the available audio to enhance the sound, which can be done by adding special effects, filters, equalization and recording mixes. Since you’re building a proper music production studio, you need to have a large mixing board so that you can record and mix different songs at the same time.
Virtual Instrument Plugins, Libraries, and Samples
VSTs are more of a nice-to-have in the beginning because you’ll still have plenty of loops and samples to explore in your DAW. But after some time, you’ll want to add more range, depth, and diversity to your sound through additional virtual instruments and samples, which is when you should start looking for more VSTs.