The future of music

10 Home Recording Studio Essentials for Beginners

August 4, 2023
home recording studio

Are you tired of making beats using only your laptop?

And you’re ready to start making high-quality music at home?

Well, you’ll be happy to hear that building a home recording studio is easier (and more affordable) than you probably think.

And in today’s article, we’ll show you what pieces of equipment you need to get things started.

With these home recording studio essentials for beginners, you’ll start making your own professional-sounding music in no time.

Building a Home Recording Studio – Where to Start 

When it comes to audio production and recording gear, there’s always something new on the market.

And with so many digital tools, ever-evolving technology, and long studio equipment lists, it’s easy to get confused or overwhelmed. 

But the truth is, setting up a home studio for music production doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive endeavor.

Either way, if you’re just starting out with audio production, it would be best to build a simple recording studio first.

So in the beginning, keep things simple.

Find a nice place to set up a small studio and learn the craft.

You can also search for online production courses and tutorials that will help you expand your knowledge and become familiar with the equipment and basic production tools and techniques.

Once you gain more experience, you can upgrade your studio and get more items.

But for now, stick to the basics and get beginner studio essentials that will help you start your music-making journey in the right way. 

The 10 Home Recording Studio Essentials 

1. Computer or laptop

First and foremost, you need to have a functional computer or preferably a laptop.

This is the most important piece of equipment – if you have some experience in music production, you know that it’s possible to create a song from start to finish just by using a computer or laptop.

A man using his Laptop

With a wide range of software programs and editing tools, making music has actually never been easier.

You can add melodic elements to your track with just one click.

But since you plan to build a home recording studio, you probably don’t want to stick only to virtual instruments and samples.

If you want to produce good music, effects, and loops will help you improve your music, but they will not be its foundation.

That said, let’s move on to other pieces of equipment you’ll need to create your own music.

2. DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

If you want to learn how to make music at home, you need to find a good DAW.

A DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is a piece of software that music producers and audio engineers use to create, record, and edit audio files.

In essence, a DAW is where the music production actually takes place, and it’s a hub where all your hardware and software instruments will be combined.

That said, a DAW became an essential component in any home studio. 

Some of the popular beginner-friendly DAWs you can check out are:

  • Apple GarageBand
  • Ableton Live
  • Logic Pro
  • FL Studio

All of these DAWs are commonly used and well-designed.

But not all DAWs can work with any device so you need to get the one that meets your needs and is compatible with your computer/laptop.

Regardless of what you opt for, take your time to become comfortable with your DAW.

You should read a manual or watch YouTube tutorials to learn how everything works – getting to know your DAW properly will save you a lot of time and frustration later on.

However, the best beginner DAWs are relatively easy to use; it just takes some time to become fully comfortable with them.

3. Audio Interface

Another essential component of home studio equipment is the audio interface.

An audio interface is a piece of hardware that converts microphone and instrument signals into a format your computer and software recognize.

So an audio interface will allow you to record any instrument or vocals into your laptop.

A Focusrite scalett solo

Moreover, an audio interface ensures that your DAW is running efficiently and smoothly.

And when choosing an audio interface, you should consider the following factors:

  • Build quality
  • Durability
  • Price
  • Features
  • Sound quality

You should buy a reliable audio interface with a quality sound that fits your goals and the items you’re planning to record. 

See also: Best Audio Interfaces

4. Microphones

If you want to record music at home, you need to get a microphone or ideally two (or more) microphones.

With time, you’ll probably build a collection of microphones.

Now why would you need so many microphones for recording?

Well, each microphone has its own purpose, and you’ll probably use two mics for every instrument.

Recording producers and engineers usually use two mics for drums, one mic for vocals, two mics for acoustic guitar, and so on.

And some professional recording studios have a hundred or more. 

So, how many microphones you’re going to buy depends on your plans.

But if you’re just starting out, getting one or two microphones is enough.

Just make sure they’re reliable and durable.

There are many good microphones on the market right now, and some of the most popular ones include Rode NT1A, AKG P170, and Shure SM57.

See also: Best Microphones for Vocals

5. Headphones 

Good studio headphones are essential for every aspiring music producer.

They will allow you to listen to your tracks, edit, and mix.

But headphones also allow musicians to hear the backing track while recording.

They have many purposes in audio production, and you should definitely include them in your home studio, regardless of what type of music you plan to make.

A woman using microphone, earphone and laptop

There are two main types of headphones for music production to consider:

  • Open-back headphones
  • Closed-back headphones 

Open-back headphones are designed for optimal sound quality, while closed-back headphones provide good sound isolation.

That said, closed-back headphones are often used in recording studios to allow musicians to hear their instruments as well as the backing track and to generally avoid leakage from the headphones into the microphones. 

Some of the best closed-backed headphones are Sennheiser HD280 Pro and Sony MDR 7506.

Additionally, you should also consider getting a stand for your microphones.

Mic stands can get quite pricey, but you will also come across some affordable mid-range microphone stands you can add to your home studio.

6. Studio monitors

To make your home studio more complete, you should also get good studio monitors.

Many producers mix their tracks on headphones though, and some people simply can’t get studio monitors for various reasons, including lack of space, noise, and so on.

However, studio monitors will allow you to hear your music differently and help you edit it more effectively.

Plus, they fit well in a home studio, don’t they?

room studio, desktop, speaker, piano, monitor,

When choosing studio monitors for your studio, the biggest factor will probably be your budget.

Studio monitors can be really pricey, but you can also find some affordable options for beginners out there.

Some of the good entry-level studio monitors you can check out include the Pioneer DM-50D, KRK Rokit 5 G3, and PreSonus Eris E5.

See also: Best Studio Monitors

7. Cables

Besides getting basic recording gear, you’ll also need to get some cables to connect everything.

Just like microphones, your collection of cables will probably grow with time.

For starters, you can purchase two or three audio cables, such as one long XLR cable (to connect the mic to the audio interface) and two short XLR cables (so you can connect your audio interface to your studio monitors) – and that should be enough for now. 

Generally, there are many types of cables, including analog cables, digital cables (MIDI, interface cables, etc), balanced and unbalanced cables, and so on. 

And as you gain more experience, you’ll learn more about different types of audio cables and why they are important for the audio production process.

8. A pop filter

To make sure your recordings don’t have any popping sounds, you should get a pop filter.

A pop filter is a shield of nylon or metallic mesh that you can easily attach to your mic, and it’s used when recording a voice directly in front of a microphone.

Pop filters are really handy because they eliminate all the unwanted noises and airblasts caused by the pronunciation of “P” and “B” sounds, and they ultimately improve sound quality.

Mircophone

Luckily, pop filters are rather cheap, so you can easily incorporate them into your home recording studio.

9. MIDI controller 

Another piece of equipment we recommend getting is a MIDI controller.

A MIDI controller can be a piano-style keyboard, but some MIDI controllers also have knobs, pads, and buttons mapped to software controls.

A MIDI controller keyboards generate no sound on their own, but they trigger sounds from an external source.

So, they are used to send MIDI data to a computer or other hardware – if you push a key on the MIDI keyboard, you’ll send a message to your computer.

In music production, MIDI controllers are better than using a mouse because they’re more tactile and intuitive and they make the workflow more musical.

And although you can make music without them, MIDI keyboards will add more nuance, expression, and dynamics to your beats.

monitor, and beat maker equipment

This is an optional piece of equipment, but having a MIDI keyboard will ultimately make your sounds more complex.

Plus, you don’t need to know how to play the piano to use your MIDI keyboard.

On the other hand, having basic knowledge of music theory would be helpful.

The same goes for making music in general – you don’t need to have music skills, but they would ultimately make the whole process easier and even more enjoyable.

That said, you should get a MIDI controller that suits your abilities and goals.

MIDI controllers come in all shapes and sizes, from portable MIDI keyboards to full-size 88-note models with weighted hammer-action keys.

As a beginner, you should get something basic; there are many beginner MIDI controllers out there worth checking out.

10. Mixer 

An audio mixer (or a mixing console) is another optional but very useful piece of home studio equipment. 

In the beginning, you’ll probably use your DAW, cables, and audio interface to make music.

And many people decide not to use a mixer in order to save space at home. 

But as you add more external gear, getting a mixer might become necessary.

A home studio mixer will make your workflow more creative and your recordings more unique, and once you learn how it works, it will make the whole music-making process easier and more exciting.

hand of a person and beatmaker

With a mixer, you can blend multiple audio signals together from different sources and you can polish each sound independently.

And there are many mixers you can choose from depending on your goals, style, and budget. 

How Much Does a Home Recording Studio Cost?

Now that you know how to build a home recording studio for beginners, you can start browsing and looking for the right equipment.

This part can be tricky for newcomers as you’ll probably come across some pricey stuff.

However, don’t get discouraged – it’s possible to build a home studio without breaking the bank.

But how much does it cost to build a home recording studio?

The prices of a home recording studio vary – it can cost anywhere from $300 to $20,000.

The exact price depends on several factors, including the type and quality of equipment.

So how much you’re going to spend primarily depends on how much you’re willing to invest.

If you want to build a budget-friendly home studio, you can save some money by using the laptop you already have and buying only the essentials. 

In that case, you don’t have to get expensive monitor speakers (you can use your headphones) or multiple microphones.

It all comes down to your budget, goals, and interests.

Extra Gear 

When you’re ready to upgrade your home studio, you can buy additional pieces of gear depending on your needs and interests.

It’s important to do it slowly so you can become familiar with each piece of equipment.

But when the time comes and you’re ready to up your game, you can consider getting the following items:

  • A better desk/workstation
  • Bass traps
  • Acoustic panels
  • Diffusers
  • Reflection filters
  • Monitor isolation pads
  • Studio monitor stands

You should also consider purchasing new plugins.  

All good DAWs offer free software plugins as part of their package, but as you improve your skills, you’ll probably want to get better plugins. 

They can make a big difference in your production process, especially if you’re familiar with more advanced tools and techniques. 

And when you’re ready to take things to another level, you can expand your studio by purchasing instruments, a new MIDI controller, a control surface, and so on. 

studio with full of music equipments.

You can also consider selling some pieces of your equipment and replacing them with something better.

Buying high-end gear and expanding a home record studio can be pricey, but if you do it gradually and if you do your research before purchasing anything, you won’t regret it.

After all, you’re doing it because you’re passionate about making music and/or you want to invest in your future.

How to Produce Music at Home 

You never know – building a home recording studio may turn out profitable for you.

But even if you just want to make music purely for your own enjoyment, you’ll have to gain certain skills and learn more about the whole audio production process.

After all, the quality of your music depends primarily on your skills and experience. 

So, how do you start making music at home?

1. Set up your equipment 

Before recording anything, you need to make sure your equipment is ready for recording.

This usually involves:

  • Installing your chosen DAW
  • Connecting your audio interface
  • Connecting your microphone
  • Checking for levels (on your mic)

You can also make a short recording to check if your sound sources sound just the way you want them to.

Also, run your DAW and take some time to get comfortable with it.

You can also watch YouTube tutorials about your chosen DAW or enroll in an online course that will help you master the basics.

2. Learn music production

Online courses are also a great way to learn more about each stage of music production.

Music production is a multi-stage process that includes the process of creating a song from start to finish.

So, the music production process includes:

  • Songwriting
  • Arranging
  • Recording
  • Editing
  • Mixing 
  • Mastering
home studio, desktop, microphone and speakers

Being a music producer requires a special set of skills.

However, music producers don’t have the same role in the music industry as audio engineers and audio producers.

So, what skills you want to focus on depends on your goals and interests.

If you’re interested in music technology and recording, you should consider taking an audio engineering or music technology course.

And if you’re interested in songwriting and the artistic side of making music, you should learn more about composition, songwriting, and music in general.

Learning basic music theory is also helpful, regardless of your abilities and goals.

Some other skills and steps you can look into include:

  • Learning how to write melodies
  • Learning how to write lyrics
  • Gaining technical skills
  • Taking music lessons

Either way, learning how to produce good music takes time and practice.

3. Practice 

Once you learn the basics of audio and music production, you can start practicing and honing your skills.

Creating and recording music at home is a very exciting and rewarding experience.

And the more you practice, the easier it gets.

The most important thing is to start –  the best way to learn how to make great music is to just start making it.

So, think about what type of music you want to create or what goals you want to achieve and make a plan.

a hand of a person using beatmaker with piano

You should stay organized and consistent, but you should also switch up your practice routine once in a while.

Also, don’t be afraid to explore different genres and methods and get out of your comfort zone.

This also includes reaching out to fellow producers and artists and seeking their advice.

And you never know where this journey is going to take you – maybe you start making awesome beats and decide to distribute your music.

Nevertheless, don’t forget to enjoy the process.

Making music is all about having fun, boosting your creativity, and discovering new ideas. 

4. Take the next step

If you believe in your music and your skills, you can take the next step and distribute your music online.

There are many ways you can distribute and promote your music nowadays, including:

If you want to get your music out so the world can hear it, you should take advantage of all the tools and possibilities you have at your disposal.

But even though recording and distributing music by yourself has never been easier, becoming a successful artist is not so easy. 

This is a very competitive field, and you need to find ways to get yourself noticed.

For starters, you can create a powerful online presence, and that includes creating a website, being active on social media, running paid promotions, and creating engaging content. 

And if you’re passionate about making beats, you can try to sell your beats online.

Also, don’t forget about making connections and networking.

But what your next step is going to be depends on your goals and specific music-making skills.

Either way, if you want to share the music you made in your home studio, you should go ahead and do it – you never know what might happen!

Home Recording Studio – Final Thoughts

Thankfully, it’s absolutely possible to build a home recording studio in an easy and affordable way. 

You’ll just need to make sure you get all the home recording studio essentials such as microphones, headphones, an audio interface, studio monitors, and a mixer. 

You also need to have a computer/laptop to install a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), the software that will allow you to record, edit, and process audio.

This basic recording equipment will allow you to get things started, and you can then start expanding your studio, piece by piece. 

You may also like: How to Record Songs at Home

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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