What Do You Need For A Home Recording Studio?

What Do You Need For A Home Recording Studio?

Every time that I booked a session in a recording studio, I would become a little more frustrated.

The inconvenience of commuting to and from my place of work and the expense of the sessions continually upset me.

I would try to feel creative while at the studio, but it never felt like at home where inspiration usually struck.

What do you need for a home recording studio?

The basic equipment that you need for a home recording studio includes a decent computer, an audio interface, a DAW, one or more microphones, a studio audio monitor, and acoustic padding – just to name a few. This list is considered the bare minimum for a recording studio; you should expect to purchase plenty more items once you become more experienced and have a need for it.

Many professionals in the field wish that they could work from their own home recording studio.

Unfortunately, the problem that usually stands between them and their home studio is just a lack of knowledge.

Most people that try to create their own studio just start buying and hope that it’ll work out, but it rarely does. It requires planning and focus. Read on to find out the details.

What You Need For a Home Recording Studio

Gear For Podcast

When it comes to creating your own home recording studio, there are several factors to consider, as well as items to purchase and things to do.

This includes purchasing the equipment at the lowest price that you can get it without sacrificing quality.

You will need to carefully examine your budget and avoid the urge to splurge on that one special piece of equipment that you just can’t afford, even though you wish you could.

Remember, there’s always time for luxury later. Start out by focusing on the basics. The minimum purchases for your home recording studio should include:

  • A decent computer
  • An audio interface
  • A DAW
  • Microphone(s)
  • Studio Audio monitor
  • Acoustic Padding

Without getting into every single item that you might want in an ideal studio, make a short list of what you need for your purposes.

Some essentials will probably include a decent computer, an audio interface, a DAW, a good microphone (probably most importantly), decent headphones, and an audio monitor.

A decent computer is a must for any home recording studio, but this is an area that you may be able to save money in.

Most modern computers are perfectly capable of doing the job. An I-Pad will have more than enough processing power to handle the needs of most recording studios.

A 2 channel (or more) audio interface that can accept input from both a microphone and an instrument is a must.

Without this, you won’t be able to perform some of the most basic recording tasks, like recording in stereo.

A studio with the best equipment and no audio interface will be useless for most common recording needs.

A DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) will play a key role in recording, mixing, and producing your product.

I would recommend picking your audio interface first, as many audio interfaces come with a decent DAW preinstalled.

A good microphone is the workhorse of any recording studio.

You may need several, depending on your exact needs: a condenser mic for your vocals, a drum mic for your drums, even a ribbon mic for a more “authentic” sound.

Don’t skimp here. A home recording studio without a mic is just an expensive closet.

A mistake many people make is thinking they can transition their home speaker system into a studio audio monitor.

The fact is those home theaters are designed with very different needs in mind.

Buy the best independently powered studio speakers that you can afford; the better you can hear the sound you produce, the more you can improve it.

Another item to consider is acoustic padding. It can be tempting to blow your whole budget on high-end equipment. Nothing looks more impressive than the best, shiniest toys.

However, nothing sounds less professional than background noise during a session. Don’t forget to budget for acoustic padding.

There are, of course, dozens of other items that you could add to this list, from headphones and amplifiers to a nearly unlimited list of secondary audio equipment like DI boxes and personal mixers.

Your needs in a home recording studio must come first. Prioritize what you need, and the above will serve as a guide for most readers.

How Much Does It Cost to Build A Home Recording Studio?

Man Showing Empty Pockets

The short answer to how much it costs to build a home recording studio is: “How much do you want to spend?”

Equipment generally ranges from $5 to $5,000. Environmental considerations also must be factored in.

The sound quality will be much higher with some decent foam acoustic padding installed than it will be with an old mattress propped against your door.

The key is to know what you want. Next, we examine your required equipment: firstly with an eye towards economy; secondly with an eye towards quality.

How much does it cost to build a home recording studio?

The range between the lowest prices and the highest prices are notable.

The following price comparisons are lowest to highest.

  • A decent computer                   $0            $2500
  • Audio interface                        $75          $1100
  • DAW                                         $0            $2500
  • Microphone                              $70          $530
  • Studio Audio Monitor              $110        $350
  • Acoustic padding                      $150        $550 per unit
  • Total                                         $ 405       A ridiculous amount!

An economical computer is pretty easy to find.  Long story short, if you can access this website, you already have an economy computer capable of doing most of what a home studio requires.

If you are looking at higher-end computers, I would recommend the Apple MacBook Pro, which runs about $2,500 depending on what options you get.

A good buy for an audio interface would be the Focusrite Scarlett, which you can get new for around $150 or used for around $75.

Focusrite Scarlett

For truly high-quality digitization of sound, you can’t go wrong with the Modu 24. $1,100 might sound like a lot for a single piece of equipment, but, without a decent interface, you may as well record with your phone.

A DAW might be included with your audio interface or you could try Audacity. It’s open source, it’s versatile, and, best of all, it’s free!

Free is great, but you get what you pay for. The SAW software suite is another choice available for $2,500, and it had better give you quite a bit.

This isn’t an area to splurge unless you have truly deep pockets, shop around within your budget.

There are several budget microphones available, but I would recommend the MXL-990. At $70, it simply can’t be beat, especially considering it comes with its own shock mount and mic stand adapter.

If looking to splurge (and this is a product where you should spend if you can), go for the Rode MTK. $530 is a bargain considering the quality you get with this item.

The winner for the budget studio monitor award is, without a doubt, the KRK RP5G3 ROKIT 5, G3 5” 2 Way Powered Studio Monitor. It is a $110 powerhouse.

A reasonable choice for a high-end monitor is the Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor at $350.

Economy shoppers will love acoustic padding. The Auray RF-5P-B Reflection Filter is like an acoustic room, just for your microphone, and at $150, it’s a steal.

If you’re using the philosophy that more is more, a set of Auralex Acoustic Studiofoam 2 Inch Pyramids (Charcoal Gray) at a whopping $550 each certainly qualify.

Of course, in reality, almost everyone reading this will end up purchasing more towards the economy end of things, so assume $405 will be enough to get a bare-bones studio up and running if you have a space to set it up in and the expertise to set it up yourself. 

Keep in mind, if you want to upgrade, you can later.

Money Saving Tips for Home Recording Studios

Money And Microphone

Affording a home recording studio can seem like an unrealistic idea.

Even the term ‘home-recording studio’ sounds expensive. Consider these 9 tips for making just a little more affordable:

  • Set up your home recording studio at home
  • Buy used
  • Get it free
  • Share costs
  • Rent equipment
  • Turn out the lights
  • Book some clients
  • Do some freelance work

We will examine, point by point, how to avoid having your costs inflate as your project progresses.

Create your home recording studio at your home. The point might sound obvious, perhaps even redundant, but it needs to be said.

If you have a space to work from in your home that you think will make a good recording studio, great.

However, if you plan to rent a space, remodel your home, or build a room to accommodate your studio, plan on costs snowballing rapidly.

Much of the equipment you need is available used from locations like Amazon, Craigslist, or even your local music supplier.

You can buy used home recording studio equipment for pennies on the dollar.

Even better than buying something used is getting it free. Repurpose your home laptop for use in your studio and download a free Digital Audio Workstation off the internet.

DAW On Internet

You can even do a google search looking for broken or old equipment that you could repair or repurpose. You’d be surprised at what you can find if you’re willing to spend the time looking.

You might also know someone you can share the costs with. It’s unlikely that you decided to build a recording studio out of the blue.

It’s likely that, if you looked around, you could find a friend or colleague who would be willing to split some of the costs with you in exchange for regular recording privileges.

Renting equipment is also an option in some cases. I’m not suggesting you rent acoustic padding, but some expenses could reasonably be split between two studios.

If you are only going to need that high-end drum mic when your friend’s rock band records, perhaps you can make a deal with another studio to rent it during off hours.

Power is a small consideration, but it’s still a consideration. If you are spending tens of thousands of dollars on your studio, the cost of powering it will be negligible.

If you are on a shoestring budget every penny counts – so just turn off the lights when you are done a recording.

If, after making a list of equipment and examining your budget, you still can’t afford to create your home recording studio, consider making a deal to rent it out.

Many artists will agree to book a space well in advance of it being ready. Their deposits will help you go the extra mile in preparing a space they will be glad they paid for.

Finally, consider picking up some freelance work to pay for the finishing touches on your studio. Once you’ve set up your studio, you should be able to find an income utilizing your talents.

You could try voice over work, audio mixing, even laying down background music over existing audio. These are jobs that are always in high demand for freelancers with the proper equipment.

How Long Will It Take to Build My Home Recording Studio?

Live Podcast

Before you cancel your session with your current studio and certainly before you start booking sessions in your hypothetical home recording studio, you should give some thought to how long it will take to build and set up your own home recording studio.

The equipment takes time to procure. Even if you ordered it off Amazon, it can take time to arrive (sometimes months for the more specialized equipment).

If you are planning on finding a good deal, buying it used it could take even longer. The equipment also takes time to set up and assemble.

We all think we are tech wizards who can splice wires and initialize software with the best of them, but most of us can’t assemble a model airplane without making a mistake.

Some of these items have complex setup procedures. Plan for at least a couple of days; even weeks of learning their ins and outs and getting them set up properly.

Your home recording studio will be somewhere in your house. That room is almost certainly already being used for something.

Whether it is a man cave, an extra bedroom, or even just a room to keep your winter clothes in, you will need to repurpose it as a home studio. Plan on this taking time.

If you are building a home recording studio, the least of your worries will be how long it takes Amazon to deliver your mic.

Get a contractor, get an estimate, and then plan on it taking longer and costing more than that estimate.

Whenever building anything, accidents can happen. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.  

Don’t forget to account for whatever zoning laws may be specific to your area. Electrical and plumbing considerations could also delay a construction project along with a ton of other issues.

Long story short, if you are constructing a home recording studio, plan on it taking longer than you plan on it taking.

Should I Build a Home Recording Studio?

While making the decision of whether to carry out this task in your own house or not, you should consider the following:

Home Recording Studios the Pros and Cons:

Pros

  • No commute.
  • Less expensive than you might think.
  • You will be truly in charge of your environment and work hours.
  • None of the common workplace distractions will apply to you.

Cons

  • Construction can take up the time you save on the commute.
  • Less expensive doesn’t mean free.
  • Overseeing your work hours can be toxic for people who lack motivation.
  • All the common at home distractions will apply to you.

In the final analysis, a home recording studio can be a great choice if you know what you need and actively work toward it.

A home recording studio is an investment in your future, so you should treat it as such. If you make a precise plan with concrete steps that end in a common goal, you will succeed.