home recording studio setup

Complete Home Recording Studio Setup Guide for 2020

Do you get jealous and inspired at the same time when you see someone posting a cover or an original track online, and it just sounds so good (or not) that it makes you want to do the same? Hoping that you could have your own home recording studio setup.

 How often do you find yourself saying, “I want to record my own songs” or something like “how I wish I had the same setup at home!”

 The only problem is that you don’t know where to begin, what exactly to buy, and how much to invest.

 Well…

 You are in for a treat because I will guide you through everything that you need, and it won’t be about the most expensive gears on the market. It’s how to build your home recording studio on a realistic budget you can afford.

Home Recording Studio
A Comprehensive List of Things

Home Recording Studio Equipment List

 Expensive gears can give you an advantage, but with enough practice and the desire to improve you will produce a decent sound even with just a few decent gadgets.

 Here is the list of materials you will need to have for your home recording studio.

Now that you have the list, it’s time we elaborate on the essential details about each item on this list.

A Computer

Desktop or Laptop

It's a must!

This one is pretty obvious. You simply can’t do a digital recording if you don’t have a desktop or a laptop to work on. 

 But… How should I know that my computer or laptop specs will be enough to help me get started with my home recording setup?

Desktop or Laptop Minimum Requirement

Instead of discussing how much to spend on a computer or laptop, let’s instead discuss the minimum computing power requirement or specification of the computer or laptop you will need for recording.

 The specs I will be sharing here will only be an average or a general overview of the minimum requirement. The higher the specs you can get, the better.

Regardless if you are a Mac or Windows user, the following should be the minimum specs:

Now that you have these specs visit your local computer shop and ask how much it will cost you to have a computer or a laptop with these requirements.

Mainly, you want to have the fastest computer or laptop that is within your budget.

Audio Interface

home studio recording setup

A crucial part of your home recording setup is a piece of device that captures and produces the sound of your recording. The quality of your recording is entirely anchored on the quality of your audio interface.

“The Garbage In Garbage Out” Concept In Recording

The biggest mistake that beginners commit when they are still starting in their music production is trying to fix everything in the editing phase.

Never do that!

You have to understand that to be able to get a sound output, the input or the capture of audio should be right from the start. Editing is more about enhancing than fixing.

That is why you must invest in a quality audio interface.

The Built-in Audio Interface

Your desktop or laptop computer has a built-in audio interface. I started my recording career with the only audio interface available for me at that moment.

I was able to create some decent output (although not as good as today), but I was ready to start producing music!

For example, you can use Realtek High Definition Audio, which is a pretty common audio device that comes with your desktop or laptop computer.

It’s good to know that you can create recordings of your music with your computer’s audio card if you don’t have the funds to buy an external audio interface for the time being.

The ASIO4ALL Audio Interface Solution

If you find yourself working on your built-in interface and it sounds like crap, don’t despair. There is a piece of software that helps you emulate a proper ASIO to help you create better recordings and help you run your DAW smoothly.

A German programmer who goes by the name of Michael Tippach back in 2003 decided to help those who didn’t have a native ASIO. So, he launched ASIO4ALL

It’s a piece of software that emulates an ASIO environment so that your DAWs will work on your computer even if you don’t have an external audio interface. 

What are the benefits of using ASIO4ALL?

The External Audio Interface

Using an external audio interface for your home recording setup gives you better quality output for your music and more customization settings in capturing your audio.

There are plenty to choose from in the market, but here are two examples of audio interface I have been using over the years.

I am not sure if they still produce this item, but it sure is a powerful single-channel audio interface. I was able to create hundreds of recordings in my early days with this little bad-ass of an interface.

micro usb interface

Focusrite 2i2 Bundle

Focusrite 18i20

Again, there are plenty to choose from in the market today, but I love to use these two devices mentioned above.

DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

Using an external audio interface for your home recording setup gives you better quality output for your music and more customization settings in capturing your audio.

There are plenty to choose from in the market, but here are two examples of audio interface I have been using over the years.

I am not sure if they still produce this item, but it sure is a powerful single-channel audio interface. I was able to create hundreds of recordings in my early days with this little bad-ass of an interface.

Pro Tools by Avid

Here’s a free version called Pro Tools First

Cubase by Steinberg

Logic Pro by Apple

Studio One by Presonus

Get there free version called Studio One Prime

Garage Band by Apple

Reason

Ableton

FL Studio

Now when it comes to choosing which DAW perfectly fits your need, it all boils down to the following requirements:

There are still a lot of DAWs out there in the market, try which one suits you.

Midi Keyboard For Home Studio Recording Setup

Keystation 88 m-audio

Like we’ve mentioned, most DAWs come with free sampled libraries, and these libraries can be used in your music production using a midi keyboard. 

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A midi keyboard allows you to play those sample libraries from your DAW.

We won’t be going into the nitty-gritty side of what MIDI is and where it came from, all you need to know right now is that it can help you produce your music in the recording process. 

You can create an entire orchestration or just a simple piano track using just your midi keyboard.

The one I’m using is an M-Audio Keystation 88

Can I use A Yamaha, Roland, Or Any Keyboard As A Midi Keyboard?

Yes, you definitely can, and all you need is a midi USB interface that will connect your instrument to your computer.  

Something like this.

Best Recording Microphone For Your Home Studio

For your home recording studio setup concerns, I recommend you start only with one or two microphones. Eventually, you will be collecting more microphones as you progress.

The subject of Microphones is a very broad one that it requires an entirely separate post to cover everything. Right now, we only need to know what are some microphones I can recommend for you to use for your beginning home recording studio setup.

What Can You Record At Home Using Microphones

A Reminder About Recording Drums At Home for Beginners

The topic of recording drums is a complicated subject because you need to consider many things.

Unless you already know the nuances of capturing quality sound out of a drum kit, I recommend you use a virtual drum or a drum patch from your DAW’s sample library.

Moving on, here are some of the microphones I’ve tried which you can definitely use at home for those who are still starting their home recording studio.

Condenser Mics That Needs An Audio Interface

Scarlett Microphone

Scarlett Studio CM25

at2020

Audio Technica AT2020

Rode NT1A

These microphones are recommended microphones because they aren’t that expensive, and the sound quality they produce is excellent.

USB Microphones - No Need For An Audio Interface

For people who don’t have the funds to buy an audio interface as of the moment, USB Microphones are an excellent option. They are plug and play microphones that saves you the hassle of setting up more connections to record audio. 

A USB Microphone has the following advantage

Should I Use A USB Mic or an XLR Mic?

The short answer is, it depends upon your personal preference. Most podcasters, beginner producers, and those that want to have a more manageable set up will probably choose a USB Microphone. 

On the other hand, XLR microphones offer more adjustability and capability when it comes to production. Usually, people who started with USB microphones tend to upgrade to XLR as they gain more experience. 

Examples of USB Microphones

Some microphones offer the best of both worlds – both an XLR and a USB Mic

What Are The Main Differences Between XLR and USB Microphones?

If you are currently confused about which type of microphone to buy, here are some considerations you can consider to help you make a purchasing decision.

XLR Microphones
USB Microphones

Pop Filters

When you are recording on a condenser mic, chances are you are going to get lots of artifacts in your recording especially for vocals.

These artifacts can be the sound of a singer’s breath or the plosives you get from certain letters like P or B and sibilance from words that begin with letter S.

A pop filter is the solution for all of these concerns. When you buy a microphone, some mics come with a free pop filter in the package. If it doesn’t then you need to buy one.

By the way, just in case you are interested to learn more about singing, I wrote the following articles.

How To Judge A Singing Competition Accurately
Important Step In Preparing For A Singing Competition

Headphones For Monitoring Or Mixing

Headphones are a crucial part of a home recording studio setup. When you are recording your vocals, you need headsets so you or the singer can sing along with the music. 

There are many brands of headsets out there in the market, each with different features for each brand. 

There are two main types of headsets that you need to know.

Closed-Back Headphones

 – we use this for recording. If you are on a budget, any headphones will do as long as you can monitor the music for recording or any audio for the same purpose.

Open Back Headphones

– we use this for mixing. Although you can also use it for monitoring, it’s mainly used for mixing, and it is more costly than closed-back headphones.

Examples of Recommended Headphone Brands

For a home recording studio setup, most headphones can do the job, but if you do have the funds to purchase a decent one, check out any of the mentioned brands.

Headphones For Monitoring Or Mixing

Open-back Headphones, as we’ve mentioned, are used for mixing your recordings, but if you have the funds to buy studio monitors, then I recommend you do so.

Can I Use Any Speakers At Home for Mixing?

Studio monitor speakers are not your average consumer speakers that already have various tonal enhancements. 

Studio Monitors are calibrated to provide a flatter response than the usual consumer speakers or stereo speakers you have at home. Studio monitors provide a pure, uncolored sound, which is crucial in your mixing decision makings.

How much should I spend on studio monitors?

It depends. Your main goal of purchasing one is to ensure that you hear your audio as flat as possible so that your mixes travel well.

The one I’m using right now at home is an M-audio BX8 Studio Monitor.

M audio bx8

There are a lot of studio monitors out there in the market today and here are a few of them if you want to check them out.

Acoustic Foams or Acoustic Foam Panels

Room acoustics go far beyond placing acoustic foams or related materials on the wall of your home studio. It’s a science of how your room would react to specific frequencies, and these reactions can affect the sound of your mixes. 

We will not be covering that area in this article. For every home recording studio setup, acoustic foams can help control some problematic areas of your room.

In my case, my room would have this little reverb, which gets in the way of my recording, so I had to place acoustic foam to lessen the reverb and get a more dry sound.

Start Building Now

These are my list of of essential gears you will need to start creating music in the comfort of your home. If you are going to ask me how much will you be spending, that will totally depend on the specs of gear you will be buying. Your personal preferences and a bunch of other factors that will help you make that purchasing decision.

So, what do you think should I add to my list that I missed? Let me know in the comments.