The Starter Home Studio

basic home recording studio

A very common question out there is “what gear do I need to start recording audio at home?

This is a re-post of something that get asked all the time.  It is a question asked on Yahoo! Answers several months ago, though some form of it seems to be asked and answered almost daily.

How Would I Make a Starter Home Recording Studio?

Below is a very interesting post from Yahoo Answers.  As usual I am perplexed by the answers some folks give to folks who are obviously just starting out.

One person’s advice was to have the guy go spend well over $1,000 to get started.  What?! CRAZINESS!

At the end of this post is my answer, which should be starting to get pretty familiar by now to the readers of this blog.

Q:  If I want a to make a home recording studio, what will I need as a equipment? Also, what does this equipment do (the more technical things)? What stuff can I buy that is good but that is not too expensive?
(this question does not include instruments, just equipment) so don’t worry about that.

The (Questionable) Winning Answer

A: There are a couple different ways to approach this.
1) You buy an “all-in-one” system like the Roland VS stations. They cost about $2,500 on up for anything decent. The advantage is that they have everything you need to go from a mic to making a CD. The drawback is that they are not as flexible and difficult to upgrade (as in they are the only ones who offer upgrades and you may not like what they offer).

2) Next, you buy a computer system, that offers you the most flexibility, but can be more confusing. For a computer system you need a) A computer that can handle audio recording (Pentium IV or higher with 1G of ram or higher and lots of hard drive space, preferably two hard drives) b) An audio interface in which many come with the software to record. Some suggestions are Digidesign’s Mbox2 (ProTools) or Presonus Fire series. You can really go cheap with some interfaces, but it is up to you. c) You need a mic to get sound in and speakers to get sound out.

In regard to a computer system you can spend anywhere from $1000 on up. It depends on how many inputs you need and what software you want to run. If you want separate software the is meant to be really easy to use, I suggest Mackie’s Tracktion software. They also sell audio interfaces.

Those are the basics, you may want to consider these other items:
– Pop filter
– Studio monitors
– External hard drive (firewire preferred)
– Auralex foam for a vocal booth (or just record in your tub!)

Most of all – have fun!

Here is the Home Brew Audio answer:

First of all, DON’T spend more than $100 if you’re just starting out.  Wacky huh?  If you are just learning you can do all you need to (by which I mean learn multi-track recording, basic audio editing, and final production) with an average computer, any mic (even the cheap plastic computer mics will do).

So if you don’t have a mic, you can get a pc mic for about $5.00.  The recording software is free (Audacity).  That’s all you need for the learning part.  As a matter of fact, you can do quite a lot with this equipment with a little skill and guidance.  But I would stop short of saying you could produce pro quality audio at this price point.

Next, what price-point must you attain to actually produce pro quality audio?  Meh, I’d say about $40-$50.  Oh yes, you heard right.  Just moving from a $5.00 mic to, say, this USB mic: The Samson Q2U will allow you (again with the right skills) to turn out audio quality that I would call “minimum professional level.”

I go into much more detail in our mini-course, How to Create a Home Recording Studio.

If you want to learn some of these skills I mention quickly, come give our video tutorials a try at: Home Brew Audio Tutorials



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