How to Set Up a Home Recording Studio for $1300 or Less

As technology has become more advanced and affordable, it’s finally possible to set up a recording studio in your home. Even better, you can do it right from the comfort of your home. All you need to do set up one of the rooms in your home for use as a studio, and procure the proper equipment from Amazon.com. This article explains how to do both.

Get your home recording studio equipment

1.      Computer

Macbook Pro Music Recording
Macbook Pro

These days, virtually everyone owns a computer of some sort, so we’re not going to include this in our total cost of setting up a home studio.  And most (if not all) modern computers are fast enough to process your raw audio files. I’d recommend that you use the computer you already have now. But if it’s too aged, you might want to upgrade. A classic example of the Macbook Pro. Other computers that are excellent for music production include the HP Envy and Dell Inspiron.

2.      DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

The Digital Audio Workstation refers to the main software used to record, edit and mix music on a computer. Studio software was originally designed to resemble the working of analog mixing boards that were used before the digital revolution.

Currently, Pro Tools is the most popular Digital Audio Workstation, ideal for all purposes of music production. However, it’s not your only option. Other great recording studio software includes Cakewalk SONAR, FL Studio, and Ableton Live.

Pro Tools
DAW – Pro Tools

Pro Tools, the household name in audio production, goes for $599, with annual renewals worth $99 after every 12 months. This software is simple enough for beginners, and yet rich enough for seasoned producers.

3.      Audio Interface

Now that you have the software, it’s time to get your audio interface, which is a hardware device that provides the connections to send your music IN to your computer for processing. The Audio Interface also provides connections OUT of the computer for playback. With most audio interface devices available in the market right now, you also get a ton of other features, including DI boxes, digital conversion, mic preamps, headphone amps, and monitor management.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo
Audio Interface – Focusrite Scarlett Solo

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools, which goes for $99 on Amazon, is ideal for your home studio.

4.      Microphones

Neewer NW-700 Studio Microphone
Neewer NW-700 Microphone

Microphones are a recording studio essential. Professional studios use different types of microphones to capture different sounds from different situations. But at this level, you don’t have to worry about these variations. The Neewer NW-700 Professional Studio Broadcasting Recording Condenser Microphone, available on Amazon.com for just $33.99, is ideal for your home recording studio. Even better, this microphone comes with its own stand, so you don’t have to spend more procuring a separate stand.

5.      Headphones

Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphones
Sennheiser HD280PRO

For the headphones, you’re well served by the Sennheiser HD280PRO, which is lightweight, and comfortable. This pair of closed-ear headphones goes for $99 on Amazon.

6.      Studio Mirrors

Studio mirrors are also referred to as nearfield monitors or studio monitors. Contrary to what the name suggests, these are not ‘mirrors’ but rather speakers that produce a flat frequency response. This way, the sound is played as it is, complete with flaws so that you learn about what flaws you need to iron out.

KRK Studio Monitors
KRK RPG53 Studio Monitor

The top-quality, KRK RPG53 Studio Monitor is available on Amazon at a cost of $299.

7.      Cables

While professional studios have dozens (even hundreds) of cables, you’ll just need two cables to start with for your home recording studio. Buy an XLR cable for connecting your microphone to your audio interface device, and at least two others to connect the audio interface to your studio monitors.

Mogami Silver Series XLR cable

The Mogami Silver Series XLR cable, which is top-notch quality, goes for just $27 on Amazon. That means you get at least 3 $81.

8.      Pop Filter

Pop filters are not ‘essential’ to your bedroom studio, but it doesn’t hurt to buy one. Your mouth expels strong bursts of air whenever you pronounce ‘b’ or ‘p’ sounds. While singing, these blasts are heard as low-frequency ‘thump’s known as pops. Pop filters are used to solve this problem and catch this blast before it hits the microphone’s diaphragm.

Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL

The Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL Pop filter goes for $55 on Amazon.com.

Now the maths

Assuming that you already have a computer, you need the following:

  • DAW (Pro Tools) – $599
  • Audio Interface – $99
  • Microphones – $34
  • Headphones – $99
  • Studio Monitors – $299
  • Cables – $81
  • Pop Filters – $55

Total – $1,266

Setting up your room for a recording studio

How well-designed your room is could make all the difference regarding whether you have a smooth sailing, or go tumbling down the road. This section provides some tips on how to set your room up so that it works great as your on-demand music recording studio.

  • Choose the right space – if you only have one room, the choice is simple. But if you live in a bigger house where more than one room is available to serve as your home recording studio, you want to choose the bigger room.
  • Noise – often, we are not aware that there’s so much noise around us. A microphone magnifies all this noise so that it’s a hundred times louder, so much so that you wouldn’t be able to record any meaningful music. When looking for a room or spot to use as your home studio, try as much as possible to avoid cars, neighbors, birds, plumbing, crickets, rain, wind, generators and even air conditioners. These can easily ruin your recordings. Another thing is that you want a silent place where you can make as much noise as you want without anyone getting bothered. If it’s not possible to choose a room where outside noise is minimized, you might have to do some soundproofing, which keeps inside noises in and outside noises out.
  • Flooring – for your home recording studio, you want a room that’s got hard flooring (concrete, hardwood, tiles, etc.). Carpeted rooms are likely to cause issues down the road. Typically, carpets have a negative impact on room acoustics. Also, avoid excessive foot noise from upstairs floors (that’s if you’re in a downstairs room).
  • Prepare your room – before you set up your home recording studio kit that you just bought, it’s important that you get everything you don’t need out of the room.
  • Set up your home recording studio equipment – do some experiment to find an arrangement that you like. There are no set rules for this. Basically though, the idea is to have two areas set up: 1) the mixing/desk area for the sound engineering, 2) the recording areas for the musician.

Improve Home Studio Room Acoustics on a Tight Budget

Conclusion

One of the biggest problems with home studios compared to professional ones is room acoustics. For now, you can just start with whatever best room you have. And then as you perfect your recording studio, you can invest in porous or resonant absorbers and other equipment to improve room acoustics.

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