If you’ve ever tried to set up your own recording studio at home – whether to lay down demo tracks, or just give your podcast an air of professionalism – you’ll be well aware there is a head-spinning array of equipment on offer that can quickly tip you over budget.
That’s why it makes sense to strip everything back to basics, and only get the gear you really need.
We’ve managed to whittle it down to just five essential items, so here are the only things you’ll need to set up a studio at home.
- A laptop
A good quality laptop will probably be the most expensive item on your home studio shopping list, but it’ll be the most important piece of kit you’ll own – the place where you’ll store, mix, share and stream your demos and podcasts.
Opt for a laptop instead of a desktop as not only will this mean you can take your recordings with you wherever you go, but laptops are generally now powerful and fast enough to do everything you’ll need.
It’s also worth bundling in an external hard drive, for extra storage space and backing up files.
- A microphone
A good microphone is the next thing you’ll need. If you feel a bit overwhelmed by the vast array of microphones on offer, try to resist the temptation to buy multiple microphones to get you started, and instead go for the one that best suits your needs and budget.
If you’re looking to buy your first microphone, the audio experts at Eastwood Sound and Vision recommend the Rode NT1A, a classic large diaphragm condenser microphone that is perfect for recording vocals.
And, while you’re at it, it’s worth bundling in a pop filter, to get rid of the unpleasant popping sound that appears with the pronunciation of ‘p’ and ‘b’ – though you might be able to make your own using a wire coat hanger and a stocking.
If you’re recording your own podcast, or your own song vocals, there’s a good chance much of the recording will be done alone, certainly at first anyway. There are two types of headphones most recording studios will have – closed back headphones and open back headphones – but if it’s your first pair, we suggest closed back headphones, as they are better for isolating sound.
Headphones vary wildly in price, and although it can be tempting to cut costs with a cheaper pair, we recommend going for the best ones you can afford.
- Studio monitors
You may be tempted to use any old speakers when mixing your tracks, but if you want to get the job done properly, you’ll need to get yourself a good set of studio monitors. The reason for this is that home speakers are designed with tonal enhancements, but real studio monitors have a flatter frequency response, to offer a more neutral, sound to help you objectively judge your mix.
- DAW/Audio Interface Combo
With all your audio equipment now in place, you’ll need to hook it all up to your laptop, which means you’ll need an audio interface. And once you’re connected, you’ll need digital audio workstation (DAW) software to record, edit and mix your creations.