Recording equipment and software can be pretty pricey, especially if you are not familiar with the brands and their products and don’t know what to look for or what makes a good deal. In this article we provide some useful advice on how to get maximum value for money and how to create your own home studio on a budget.
1. How to choose a workstation
Put some money into this. It’s something you’ll want to keep for the long term. Desktop PCs and laptops are acceptable options, while minimum CPU clock rates are at 2.5-3.0 GHz and RAM at 4-16 GB, depending on which type you select. A good quality set up will cost you $500-$800.
2. Choosing the right software
Try out a few free demo versions of the most popular DAWs like Ableton, Pro Tools, Cubase, Reason and Logic. For those on a really tight budget, FL Studio is an excellent package to start with, costing around $100-$300 depending on which edition you choose.
3. Purchasing an audio interface
Make sure your audio interface comes with at least one 24-bit line output and two high quality inputs for microphone and external instruments. One of the most popular set ups for beginners is the Focusrite Scarlett Solo, which costs around $100.
4. Setting up output devices
Make a choice between headphones or studio monitors and make sure they have a 20Hz - 20 kHz frequency range as this will determine their monitoring capabilities. KRK Rokit 5 is a good starting package for $300. If you prefer to use headphones, go with the Sennheiser series, such as HD280 Pro, costing around $100.
5. The importance of extra hardware
For vocal artists a proper studio microphone is an absolute must have. For home set-ups we recommend the Shure series SM57 or SM58 for $100. Purchase a midi keyboard to ease the melody creation process. M-Audio 49 is an excellent solution for $150. Finally, if you are more into acoustic sounds, get an electro-acoustic guitar or electric drum set for around $150-$350 depending on the brand you choose.
Total studio set-up costs depend heavily on what workstation you choose; as it’s the most expensive item in your home recording studio. If you follow this guide and build from scratch, $1500 should cover you. If you already have a studio-ready PC, you will get through with as little as $600-$900.
Remember to update your equipment regularly to stay at the top of your craft. Sell your old gear to get some extra funds for advanced studio tech and extra accessories. This will increase your enthusiasm as well as boost your motivation towards the concept of music production.