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Home Recording Studio-Equipment Essentials
Recording your own audio projects from the comforts of your home studio is closely akin to an artist working oils or sculpting in their home environment. It is undeniably the most creative atmosphere an audio guru can ask for.
Gathering helpful tools that will work in harmony toward accomplishing your desired outcome is essential. Bad gear often translates into sabotage and turning a working of love into a work of frustration.
Thankfully setting up a home recording studio isn’t as difficult or expensive as you might think.
When investing in a home recording studio, keeping your studio affordable means knowing what you need, and why you need it. With that in mind, the Solo Music Lab team is here to help you sort out your home recording studio equipment list.
Prior to investing in the best home studio equipment, you should know well ahead of time that you really are committed to learning how to use it. It’s possible that your natural raw talent could serve you well, but I wouldn’t recommend relying on that alone.
So here is what I do recommend – there is a book that I absolutely cannot recommend any higher called “Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio” that I would really encourage you to check out. I’ve referenced it often, and it’s one of the absolute best resources available.
Watching tutorials and putting time into training your ear will go a long way toward capturing successful recordings rather than ending with a disappointing and frustrating experience.
So here is our home studio equipment list in order of importance!
Top Home Recording Studio Essentials
Best Home Recording Studio Equipment
Right at the top of the list of important home recording studio gear is your music production laptop. Simply put, recording and processing audio files is demanding, and a bargain basement laptop will not record, playback, or process your audio smoothly.
Your audio computer hosts your DAW software and connects to your audio interface. Before you finalize any decisions, it’s vital to know your audio music production laptop is compatible with your interface.
Here’s how to sort that out:
Today’s top audio laptops connect to your audio interface with the ultra-fast USB-C type connection. That is a super important detail, as USB-C ports are not available on every conventional laptop on the market. Without USB-C, your recording quality could suffer dramatically.
Another really important detail is the processor speed. The processor is the brain within your music production laptop. We prefer to see processor speeds well above 3 GHz and more than 4 GHz is even better.
Laying down multiple tracks on your DAW and playing them back requires a powerful processor, as well as sufficient RAM. We recommend looking for a audio laptop with 16GB DDR4 RAM, as that’s what most DAW software is going to utilize to maintain quality audio integrity.
One of the beautiful things about home recording studio’s is their portability. You can capture different sounds by changing rooms throughout your home, or wherever else you want! With modern laptops getting downright huge, pro audio gurus prefer smaller designs for their easy setup and portable nature.
Here is a solid option for anyone in the market for a pro-audio laptop:
- Powerful & fast for effortless on-the-go computing: 8th generation Intel Core i7-8565U processor, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD & 16GB RAM
- Durable & reliable: meets the ultra-demanding MIL-STD-810G military standard for reliability and durability, undergoing a punishing testing regime
- Long battery life: powered by a high-capacity battery that won’t let you down
- Exclusive ErgoLift design: an engineering masterpiece designed to automatically tilt the keyboard to the most comfortable typing position, plus it improves cooling and audio performance
- Professional Grade: use Windows your way with Windows 10 Professional and hardware TPM security
Certainly you could buy your audio interface and DAW software separately, but why do that when many are offered as a DAW-Audio interface combo for the same price?
You can also get more functional benefits from DAW software that is designed to function with the hardware features built into your audio interface.
So lets get into how all that works together.
Choosing a fitting audio interface will depend on how you want to use it. If you need to record a live band, then you’ll want as many inputs as you can get. If you are layering tracks yourself then you might get away with only just a handful of inputs and outputs.
Once you have your music production laptop or desktop, installing the DAW software that comes with your audio interface is pretty straightforward. Most Audio interface/DAW combos should walk you through the process.
You’ll want to connect your audio laptop to your audio interface via USB-C whenever possible to provide the fastest data transfer speeds you can. USB-C reduces lag and helps to ensure your audio quality doesn’t suffer from pops and clicks.
From there, you can record a pile of simultaneous live tracks, or lay down recordings of vocals and instruments, or virtual instruments (VSTs), one at a time on separate tracks that you can edit later.
The beauty of playing back your tracks, while writing and recording others cannot be described. You can try out any number of instruments or vocal arrangements. The sky is the limit!
This audio interface is available with various input/output models:
- Mobile-ready, bus-powered 2-in/4-out USB-C audio interface; no power supply needed (USB-C to C and USB-C to A cables included).
- Loaded with 2 pristine XMAX-L solid-state mic preamps to capture every detail.
- Studio-grade converters allow for up to 24-bit/192 kHz recording and playback.
- Contains 2 high-headroom instrument/line inputs to record guitar, bass, and your favorite synths.
- Over $1000 of recording software included: Studio One Artist, Studio Magic plug-in suite, and Ableton Live Lite.
When it comes to important home studio gear, a reliable pair of clear and accurate recording headphones will prove to be a helpful investment time and time again.
Whether you are laying down vocal or instrument tracks, or need to edit, mix or master your mix, recording headphones are a vital tool in the studio. There are a few details that you should keep in mind when looking for a set of headphones.
Accurate sound quality is pivotal. Applying any variety of VSTs, EQ, or compression is pointless with headphones that don’t accurately translate the true impact to your ears. If it sounds vastly different when you listen on another device, then what have you accomplished?
For the sake of convenience or easy movement around the studio, you might be tempted to purchase a pair of Bluetooth headphones. Bluetooth headphones are not recommended for all studio applications, as Bluetooth technology uses a for of compression to transfer wireless sound. While it may be convenient, Bluetooth will degrade sound quality.
If you have your heart set on Bluetooth headphones for your home studio, there are options available but we recommend only using them for tracking purposes and never for more demanding needs like mixing and mastering.
When you are spending long hours in the studio recording or editing down tracks, a comfortable pair of headphones is super important to prevent fatigue. Soft materials on your ears, and a comfortable headband make a big difference when you’ve been working hard for a lot of hours.
Here is an affordable and reliable pair of recording headphones:
- Designed for studio, broadcast and mobile applications, and carefully crafted with key metal components for lasting durability
- Uses the same large aperture drivers as ATH M50x headphones, delivering exceptional clarity, extended frequency range, and accurate bass response
- Low profile, closed back, on ear design provides excellent sound isolation and a great fit
- Memory foam ear pads and headband provide excellent comfort and durability
- Comes with 3 interchangeable cables (1.2 meter, 3.0 meter coiled, 3.0 meter straight, and 1.2 meter straight each with a 3.5 millimeter (1/8 inches) mini plug)
Using the right microphone to capture particular sounds is an essential piece of producing a professional recording in your home studio.
In most cases, certain mic designs find their application within a group of instruments and sounds, while other instruments need more specific microphone types and placement to get you where you want to go.
With that said, some mics shine in home studio application because they are remarkably versatile and perform quite well in a variety of roles.
For most home studio music producers, a large diaphragm cardioid condenser mic is the place to start. Large diaphragm cardioid condensers capture an incredible range of frequencies and sounds, including some that high-end sizzle and shine that makes vocal recordings stand out within your mix.
Even so, it’s important to look for versatility within any type of microphone. Lesser large diaphragm condenser mics won’t handle high sound pressures from percussion instruments very well, and will have a much narrower application in your home studio. On the other hand, some mics in this class offer attenuation switches that allow for a wider variety of instruments with or without high sound pressure levels.
As we’ve already mentioned, percussion instruments like drums often require very specific types of microphones. More specifically, small diaphragm condenser mics are often used to capture cymbals and those percussion instruments that produce sounds with more sizzle and sparkle.
For more percussive applications with really high SPLs, like toms or electric guitar cabs, dynamic mics are the classic go-to microphone. Though dynamic mics aren’t technically a specific class of microphone, they are so well-known as for handling harsh transient attacks and high pressure sound waves, that they might as well be.
A few classic electric guitar mics:
Here is our favorite drum mic kit:
If you need a great mic for vocals and acoustic guitar, you can’t go wrong with the Rode NT1-A:
- Large diaphragm 1” gold-sputtered capsule
- Cardioid polar pattern
- Ultra-low noise, self-noise of only 5dB (A)
- Includes Rode SM6 shock mount, pop filter and dust cover
- Internal capsule shock mounting
You might have noticed that all professional recording and mixing studios fature high-quality studio monitors. There’s just no getting around the need to accurately reference your sounds and mixes, and reliable studio monitors deliver.
Pouring hours and days into tracking, editing, and mixing a song is a ton of work. The last thing you want is to realixe the final prodcut sounds entirely different when you listen in your car, or on hi-fi speakers. It’s a hard lesson to learn, and we really suggest avoiding it.
That’s why studio monitors are a must-have. Good recording headphones will only take you so far, and then you’ll need the transparency and clarity that only good studio monitors can provide.
One you have invested your hard earned cash into a good set of studio speaker monitors, you’ll want to make sure that your monitors are placed appropriately to optimize your listening experience. That’s going to require studio monitor stands that provide angle adjustment capabilities.
Essentially, you want your studio monitors to form an isosceles triangle in relation to your ears. But you also want the tweeter speakers to be at the same vertical level as your ears in order to hear your mix in detail and with accuracy, so its’ important to be able to adjust the height of you monitor stands.
Another option is to in vest in monitor stands that offer angle adjustment. This way you can accomplish that same objective by tilting the monitor speaker so the tweeter speaker is pointed toward your ears.
- The new powerful yet efficient custom Class D power amplifier drives the speakers evenly and more efficiently at reduced operating temperatures and improves audio integrity
This Video Covers Home Music Studio Equipment Essentials:
Getting your home studio started on the right foot will help you to reach you goal of producing professional level recordings much faster. As is the case with all professions, the right tools make all the difference. Having your studio furnished with some of this important home recording studio equipment will raise the overall quality of your projects immensely.