SETTING UP A HOME STUDIO – It’s a typical situation: someone wants to start producing tracks and has no idea of what basic audio/music equipment is needed. One can get lost with the huge amount of equipment brands, features, etc.
In this tutorial, we will approach the basics to set up a home studio.
Before you buy any equipment, there are a few points to consider:
– The music genre you want to produce: it will define the type of gear and software you will need. There’s no point in buying a midi keyboard if you’re just recording acoustic guitar tracks.
– Your music background: the more skilled you are at your instrument, the more you will take off of your recordings. One common myth is that music gear will replace the required music knowledge. So, practice and study the most you can about your instrument and music theory as well. It will make your life much easier.
– Your audio background: the discussion about music education applies to audio as well. Practice, study, and research the most so that you can reach good recording results. It will help you to choose the equipment that better fits your needs as well as to get the high quality you want.
– The physical space available: it won’t be wise to buy a lot of equipment if you don’t have where to place it.
– The number of simultaneous tracks you will record: if you want to record an acoustic drum, you will need an audio interface with more than two analog inputs.
– The amount of background noise: it will define whether you can record using mics or not. So, if you intend to record vocals, for example, you will have to consider ways of avoiding background noise.
– The available budget: people usually evaluate financial costs first. It is not bad, but you might want to consider to wait a little more before buying equipment and get a better option than buy that cheap gear and regret it later.
– The possibility to test the equipment: always request a test drive. It will definitely help you to choose better.
With that said, let’s see the basic equipment for any home recording studio:
1) Computer – it is the “heart” of your studio. It will be basically the music recorder, effects processor, mixing console, and sound generator as well. So, look for the best configuration of RAM memory, CPU speed, HD capacity and physical ports (USB, Firewire, etc.).
2) Audio interface: you will need a dedicated audio interface to record at a minimum audio quality. Your computer onboard soundcard won’t handle it. You will find cool equipment from brands like M-Audio, Presonus, Focusrite, Apogee, Motu and Roland. What you need to consider: the number of analog inserts and phantom power supply.
3) Monitors: after recording the tracks, the next step is to start the mixing process. You will need near-field studio monitors which can reproduce audio frequencies as clearly and accurately as possible. Good brands are Yamaha, KRK, Genelec, Presonus, JBL, Mackie.
4) Microphones: you will only consider buying a mic if you need to record vocals or any acoustic instrument. There are condenser and dynamic mics. The first one will require phantom power to work, while the second won’t. Best brands are Audio Technica, AKG, Shure, Blue, Marshall, and Neumann.
5) Headphones: you will need it for both recording and mixing, so look for a headphone with a wide frequency range and some isolation. Good brands are AKG, Sennheiser, Pioneer, Shure, Audio Technica and Sony.
6) Midi controller: it can be just a control surface or a keyboard-type. You should consider it if you will produce electronic music or compose entire pieces using just music software.
That’s it! The idea is to address general concepts about home studio setup.
In the next tutorial, we will take a look at basic software choices to your home studio.