The future of music

How to Record Songs at Home: Easy Guide

December 29, 2023
How to record songs at home

If you want to learn how to record songs at home, you’ve come to the right place.

In today’s article, we will tell you everything about getting the right audio equipment and recording your first song.

Whether you want to try recording for fun or you’re an aspiring musician with big dreams, we’re here to help you get things started.

Building a Home Studio

Before digging into specific steps for recording a song, we want to make sure you have all the necessary equipment.

As you might assume, sound recording equipment can be quite expensive.

But you don’t have to break the bank to build a home recording studio.

It all depends on your goals and budget.

If you want to make a quality recording and learn how to mix and master music, you don’t need an expensive microphone or extra loudspeaker.

If you’re a beginner, you can start with the essentials.

So, let us take you through everything you need for a simple home recording studio.

1. DAW

There are several ways to perform multi-track recording at home, but using a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is by far the easiest one.

A DAW is a piece of software that producers use to create, record, and edit audio files.

So, a DAW is where the music production actually takes place. 

There are many DAWs available, both free and paid, but they have more or less the same features and functionality. 

But if you’re just starting out, we recommend checking out the following DAWs:

  • Apple Logic Pro
  • Steinberg Cubase
  • PreSonus Studio One
  • Ableton Live Lite

It’s important to find a DAW you’re happy with, as this software will be the foundation of your music-making process, especially in the final stages.

You can use any kind of computer or laptop to install and run your DAW, so a computer should be the first thing on your home recording essentials list. 

2. Microphone

If you want to record songs at home, you should get a good microphone.

You can also use the built-in mic on your laptop – and this works well for many people.

This is a good option for beginners, especially if you’re on a budget. 

However, if you want to capture the best quality audio, investing in a microphone might be a good idea.

Using a microphone to record songs at home.

You don’t need anything super expensive, but getting a nice, quality mic will certainly pay off in the long run.

Recording studios often have multiple microphones, which allows them to record multiple things at a time.

But for now, a simple, cost-effective microphone for your home studio will do just fine.

Check out my guide on the best microphones for vocals.

3. An Audio Interface

If you want to connect your microphone (or whatever you’re recording from) to your computer, you’ll need an audio interface.

The thing is, built-in ports are not designed for high-end audio use, and that’s why music producers use an audio interface.

They usually come with audio drivers, and they contain high-quality hardware and software.

That said, a reliable audio interface should definitely be a part of your home recording studio equipment.

And of course, the more money you invest in your audio interface, the better the quality of the sound is going to be. 

Check out my guide on the best audio interfaces.

4. Headphones

Owning a quality pair of headphones is a must for every music producer.

So, if you want to make music at home, we suggest investing in one.

Headphones will allow you to listen to your track without distractions, but they will help you to work on your music without distracting others.

Moreover, studio headphones are essential for recording songs because they allow you to record another track over something you’ve already recorded without any bleeding.

Bleed is when a microphone that is intended for a particular sound (instrument or vocals) picks up on other sounds during recording. 

With that in mind, headphones are pretty much a necessity. 

5. Extra Gear 

Apart from the basic parts of a home recording studio, there are some other tools and gear you should consider buying.

For instance, getting different kinds of programs such as virtual instrument software and drum software would be very helpful. 

These programs contain sampled sounds, so you don’t have to play and record a real instrument.

The software simply allows you to play anything you want via MIDI – you can connect your keyboard to your computer and DAW and then use it to play the sounds in the software.  

This way, you can choose from thousands of sounds to complement your song. 

Another piece of recording gear many people get is monitor speakers. 

Monitor speakers are optional, but they can come in handy in the post-production phase (mixing and mastering) because they allow you to hear everything more clearly and accurately.

Check out my guide on the best studio monitors.

When it comes to a home recording setup, many home studios also include:

  • Amplifiers
  • Microphone stand
  • Pop shield (pop filter)
  • Extra cables (TRS, XLR, Thunderbolt…)

How much building a home recording studio will cost you depends on your goals and abilities.

You can build a home studio for $20,000, but you can also build it for less than $500.

As a beginner, you don’t need to spend a lot of money – especially if you’re not sure whether recording songs is something you want to do in the future.

And when you gain some experience, you can invest in high-end gear and up your game.  

How to Record Songs at Home

Now that you need what equipment you need to record songs at home, you’re ready to get things started.

But what your recording session is going to look like depends primarily on your wishes and the idea of what you want to record.

Generally, there are two recording approaches:

  • Songwriting approach – where you’re recording as part of the process of writing your song and developing your song 
  • Tracking approach – your song is already written and you want to record it and release it

You can also combine these two approaches – this approach will allow you to be prepared while giving you space to change some parts.

But regardless of what recording approach you opt for, there are seven steps you’ll have to take to prepare, record, and finalize your song.

1. Set Up Your Home Recording Equipment 

Before you record anything, you need to set up your equipment.

This normally involves:

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

When everything is set up, you can create a short recording to check if your sound sources sound just the way you want them to.

2. Run Your DAW

Running your DAW requires understanding how your DAW works.

And that’s why we recommend reading a manual or watching YouTube tutorials beforehand.

Getting to know your DAW properly will save you a lot of time and frustration later on.

Generally, getting your DAW ready for making music should include:

  • Creating a new track in the DAW
  • Setting the track input(s)
  • Setting the levels by launching the mixer view and monitoring the level of the meter
  • Enabling monitoring (the ability to hear what you are playing) 
  • Setting the tempo/metronome if necessary 

When you’re ready, you just need to press the button and start recording!

But there’s something you need to do first.

3. Decide What to Record

If you want to learn how to record songs effectively, you need to do some preparations first.

In other words, you should organize what to record.

Deciding what you’re going to record and how will ultimately help you go through the whole process more smoothly.

You can make the necessary preparations by planning and putting everything in order.

Some producers prefer to start with the drums, and others like to begin with a rough chord structure.

It all depends on your preferences and style.

In the beginning, you can stick to a common recording order that works for many artists and producers:

1. Base track
2. Rhythm section
3. Harmony
4. Melody/vocals
5. Background vocals/fills

4. Start Recording 

Once you organize what to record, you can start with the most exciting part – the actual recording of your song.

If you familiarize yourself with your DAW and your equipment, you shouldn’t have any problems with this part.

The most important thing is to stick to your plan and do everything one step at a time.

You can start with creating your foundation, which is usually the beat.

To set a rhythmic base to your song, you can download a metronome, use a pre-recorded drum loop, or whatever suits you best. 

You can then proceed with recording:

  • The harmonies – this part consists of one or many instruments, usually recorded separately 
  • The melodies – this part usually contains lead vocals or lead guitars 

With multi-track technology, you don’t have to record everything all at once.

And that’s why it’s possible to record a song by yourself – you just need to put some time and effort into it.

5. Finalize Your Song

Once you’re done with recording, you need to finalize your track and get it ready for the final stages of post-production.

In this phase, you should add to your song whatever you believe is necessary – background vocals, percussion fills, sound effects, and so on. 

And when you’re done with the finishing touches, you can start with mixing and mastering.

But before doing anything, it would be wise to create folders that will keep your different tracks (rhythm, harmony, melody, and effects) separate.

Organizing your tracks will also help you remove any unnecessary noises and sounds more easily.

Cleaning your tracks is important because it will make the next step much more efficient.

6. Mix and Master 

Mixing and mastering are the most important parts of music post-production.

If you want your song to be fluid and coherent, you need to use appropriate digital tools to mix your track.

Some of the tools producers use to mix their tracks include:

  • EQ – manipulates the frequency and shapes the sound
  • Compressor – helps you even out dynamic spikes and adjust the volume
  • Reverb – provides a sense of space and natural depth

The next step is mastering – the final step of post-production that will prepare your track for distribution.

In music production, mastering usually includes enhancing the overall sound and optimizing the sound quality, and it’s completed with tools such as equalization, compression, limiting, and stereo enhancement.

See also: Best Online Mastering Services

7. Export Your Song 

When your track sounds consistent and polished, it’s ready for export.

But before exporting your audio, listen to your song one last time to make sure everything is right.

And if you think you can’t add or take away anything to make the song better, your song is finished. 

How to Record Songs at Home – Final Thoughts 

With user-friendly editing programs, digital tools, and affordable sound equipment, recording songs at home has never been easier.

However, learning how to record a song with high quality takes some time.

But for starters, you should get the necessary equipment to build a simple home studio.

And you should familiarize yourself with every step of the process, including creating a plan, setting up your equipment, recording, and mixing and mastering. 

And as you improve your skills and expand your recording studio, you’ll make better tracks. 

You may also like: How to Release a Single

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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