Music recording used to be something that was only done by professionals in large studios full of expensive equipment. To learn the trade, a person generally needed to enroll in a specialized program or apprentice in a studio, giving them access to this equipment.
But in this age, things have changed! Rapid advances in digital technology over the past decade have made home recording not only possible for basically anyone, but affordable as well. The following guide is a basic roadmap for newbies navigating the world of home recording, with the help of those equipments and some research, you can make great music too!
The computer is without a doubt the most important part of any home studio. It’s the “brain” of the entire operation; without it, few of the other components are of much use! Whether you prefer a laptop or desktop, Mac or PC, is less important than the specs of the machine itself. One general rule to follow is though — to get as much RAM as you can afford.
2. Recording Software/DAW(digital audio workstation)
The digital audio workstation (DAW) is the software you’ll use to record, edit, mix, and master audio, create MIDI arrangements, and perform anything else you can imagine. Everything happens in the DAW, so pick one and learn it well!
Pro Tools, which has long-been the most famous DAW, great for studios of all levels…but it is by no means the only option. Depending on your budget and style of music, there are plenty softwares you can choose from. We will get more into details of best DAW Softwares in another article
3. Recording Audio Interface
If you’re using a computer as the center of your recording studio, you need a way to plug in the microphones and other gear you will be recording with.
In the simplest sense, it provides I/O for your studio and sends audio signals to your DAW for recording, commonly via USB.
For many home recording set-ups, two inputs are enough. One of the highly recommended interface is Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, but you can also check the followings, and choose one that fit your needs and liking best.
- Universal Audio Apollo Twin
- Mackie Onyx Blackjack
- M-Audio M-Track Plus
- Apogee ONE
- PreSonus AudioBox
- Lexicon Alpha
- Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6
As your studio matures over time, you will eventually amass a collection of dozens of different microphones, each for different purpose, but for now,
you likely only need one quality microphone that you can put to use recording lots of different sound sources. So you will want to pick a versatile model that sounds good recording a wide range of frequencies.
There are two types of microphones you’ll work with most often: dynamic mics and condenser mics. Typically, condensers provide a more articulate frequency response, while dynamic microphones are robust and more tolerant of high-volume sound sources. The recommended condenser mic is Rode NT1-A while Shure SM57 is favorited by musicians as dynamic mic.
In a typical pro studio, you’re likely to find hundreds of cables, with dozens of connectors that you’ve probably never even heard of. And the time will come when you own more cables than you can count. However, in the beginning, you will only need 3 to do the job:
- One XLR cable to connect a mic to your audio interface.
- And two more to connect the interface to your monitors.
But before you buy those monitor cables, double-check that the stereo output of your audio interface has XLR connectors.
When you listen back to your recordings, you want the sound to be as accurate as possible so you know what you want to change in your mixes. A good pair of studio headphones is often the most cost-effective option for beginners. Closed-back headphones are for monitoring when recording (or mixing on the fly in public places). Open-back headphones are for mixing.
For your first pair, go for closed-back headphones. Studio headphones can vary greatly in price, but for the first pair, you do not need to break the bank, choose from Audio-Technica ATH-M40x and Sennheiser HD 280 PRO Studio Headphones , which both are highly rated products that deliver good accuracy at a beginner-friendly price.
Though some may argue that you do not need monitor if headphones are equipped, but monitor plays an important role if you want to get a good mixing for your music. Large studios usually are equipped with far-filed or mid-filed monitors, for home studio, a small set of near-field monitor designed for desktop use are a good option. Mackie’s CR3 montiors and JBL’s 305P MKII monitors are both strong options in this category.
With these gadgets mentioned above, you will be able to make a pretty good home studio, but as your skills advance, you will find yourself in need of more/better equipments, but as for now, they are all you need!