A Guide to Building Your Home Recording Studio
Early in my early professional career, I worked out of a lot of different studios and venues. What was interesting to me was that these facilities provided all the tools and acoustical layouts. All I had to do was my job and go home, and after a while I realized I could do a lot more from home. Especially, since recent developments in audio mixing and editing software have made it so much easier for the amateur. Once I had myself a two bedroom apartment, I dedicated one of the rooms as a home recording studio.
While you can record yourself playing a keyboard or strumming a guitar into a laptop, the quality is probably going to be pretty horrible. If you want to do anything better, you’re going to want to invest in some proper gear. Here’s a list of things I started out with in my second bedroom:
Computer: I highly recommend a MacPro, but you can also be fine with one of the Pro line of laptops. Just be sure to max out the RAM and be sure to have enough HD space. PC’s are fine as well, but remember, Mac’s were originally made with the artist and musician in mind. This in my opinion, makes for a much better working environment for us creative types.
Audio Interface: Now you can crank audio through your computer via the built in sound card, but an audio interface will give a lot more options when it comes to connecting devices such as MIDI keyboards and microphones. You can choose between either USB, FireWire, or Thunderbolt interfaces. You will be fine with USB, but again, I recommend getting the fastest as this will future proof your investment and your recording studio. We’re big fans of Apogee here.
MIDI Keyboard: This is a must if you plan to play your own MIDI samples or notes. M-Audio makes a great and relatively cheap USB keyboard for around $99.
Microphone: You don’t have to get all fancy here. Shure SM58 is a perfect all around microphone that’s priced nicely at $99. This will cover most of your needs and then some.
Speakers: You could always use your computer speakers, but then again, what fun would that be? Especially, if you already invested an audio interface. A good set of speakers will give you an idea of the quality of your sounds and recordings. KRK Rokit5’s are a great fit for a small recording studio.
Headphones: The main point for headphones is so you can listen to guide tracks — as such, you want a pair with good coverage, so sound doesn’t leak into your microphone. Not to mention for use on those late nights when pumping up the speakers is a no go. Your neighbors will be thankful, trust me.
That pretty much sums up the basics. There are plenty of accessories that you’ll also want to get your hands on – some important like cables, and some not so important like dual computer monitors. One other thing I will mention, however, is that you need to be mindful on how you place all of your newly purchased equipment. Speaker placement is essential, so be sure to keep a triangle between you and your monitors for proper monitoring.