The other day my wife received a text message from a former member of our worship team. This individual had moved on to another church and is trying to be a music producer. He told my wife that she should start recording her own worship music. She read the text message to me and I could see the wheels beginning to move inside her head, and she looks at me and says, “Can we build our own home studio?” Dollar signs began flying around in my head and I got a bit overwhelmed. I have no idea how to set up my own recording studio. I do know about software and a little bit about the recording process from a class I took in college but not much. I began thinking that it would take months of research, planning and preparation, so I should start on this right away.
So, I began researching what the essentials were for recording your own music. If we are going to do this, I want to start out simple and work our way up to something more complex. I am choosing to start simple because I don’t want to have a disaster by trying to learn everything all at once. I had originally thought that this was going to be very hard and complex, and I didn’t want to get overwhelmed. However, after I started researching the bare essentials I started to see that it was far easier than I originally thought.
Here is the list of equipment that I found to be necessary as the bare essentials in home recording.
- A Computer
- DAW Software
- Audio Interface
- Microphone and Stand
- Necessary cables
- A Computer
If you don’t already have a computer this is going to be one of the largest expenses that you will have to purchase. You don’t need the fastest computer, or even a brand new computer, you can purchase a used Macbook or iMac from GainSaver.com for a lot cheaper than buying a brand new one directly from Apple. Most computers nowadays can handle home recording however, look for a computer with the fastest processing, largest hard drive space, and portability that you can afford. I already own a Macbook Pro that I had purchased a year ago so I was already ahead of the game here. The only thing that I do not like about my Macbook Pro is that it lacked ports and I end up having to purchase a bunch of Apple adapters, like the Thunderbolt to VGA adapter I had to purchase a few weeks ago in order to connect to a projector and use our projection software.
2. DAW Software
DAW stand for Digital Audio Workstation and is the software you will use on your computer to record, mix and edit the music that you are recording. Examples of good software include, Presonus Studio One Professional, Ableton Live, Cakewalk SONAR, Propellerhead Reason, Cubase and Apple Logic Pro X. If you are looking for something that is free I would recommend Audacity.
3. Audio Interface
An audio interface is a piece of hardware that connects your computer to your gear. It also upgrades the sound output of your computer. Your computer’s hardware isn’t intended for recording and production. An audio interface will ensure that your sound is of high quality. The audio interface can be purchased on it’s own but it can also be purchased with your DAW Software and sometimes is cheaper to purchase them together.
I recommend getting good over the ear headphones. There are two types of headphones, closed-back or open-back. Closed-back headphones are pretty standard and are a necessity for home recording. Open-back headphones though nice to have for recording they aren’t necessary right away. I own a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones and run around $170 online.
5. Microphone and Stand
As your first microphone for recording instruments I would recommend purchasing a Shure SM-57. For recording vocals I would recommend getting a Shure SM-58. Both of these microphones are very versatile and pretty cheap coming in at $100. Sometimes you can purchase these microphones as a combo with a microphone stand and an XLR cable. Overtime you will probably acquire more microphones or maybe you already have them in your gear list, but these two will get you started quickly. Also, purchase a good sturdy microphone stand. You don’t have to purchase the most expensive stand out there, but don’t be cheap buy one that is sturdy, you will thank yourself later.
6. Necessary Cables
After time you will accumulate a bunch of different cables. Maybe you already own a bunch of XLR cables, if you don’t you will need a few. A good premium brand of XLR cables is a company called Mogami. Also, some of your equipment or monitors if you have them could use TRS, so look out for that also and purchase them as necessary.
This is it. The basic working studio perfect for anyone who is just starting out in home recording. The equipment listed will get anyone started with minimal invest and able to build upon later down the road when it is affordable and necessary.
Here are some other things you can add to the list if you find it necessary for now or later down the road:
Studio monitors, acoustic treatment, software plugins, virtual instruments, a midi controller and direct boxes.
There are a lot more different things you can purchase for your home recording studio. What are some of your favorite things you have purchased or want to purchase for home recording? Let us know by leaving a comment.