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How to Build a Cheap Home Recording Studio

Posted In Audio Devices - By JohnScript On Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 With 0 Comments
Cheap home studio

Whenever I have a special state of mine, I like to find a song that boost that specific feeling. Music is a true companion in major moments of our lifetime, and it was present in every important historical moment I can think of. In the last 100 years, music has changed a lot especially thanks to computer development. If we talk about the golden era of music, it was all about live instruments, acoustic guitars, rough drums and unaltered vocals. Nowadays, music is digital and it’s all about numbers and bits. Some will argue that this is a natural evolution and some will argue that it has lost its essence, its soul.

Obvious, not all things are dark in this area. Although music tapes and CDs can be a thing of the past, the vinyls are still praised by music fans all over the world. There are multiple groups on the Internet packed with people that are tracking old vinyls, thus making them amateur music historians. This could be a sign that classic ways of listening to music will not die, and a way for us to remember that music is not about technique and technology, but it is all about inspiration and feelings.

Nowadays, most artists use YouTube as the main channel of marketing. I am not sure if you are aware, but Youtube has the power to convert an unknown artist to a world-wide phenomenon. And it is not just that. I am also talking about money here, since it has a feature that allows you to monetize your content as long as it is original. If an artist manages to create few million views from one of his Youtube songs, he might be able to quit his job and follow his dream thanks to those Youtube earnings.

So, I bet that I have raised your interest by now and you are thinking about ways to create those views. Well, first thing’s first: you need a good song. But if you are reading these lines, it means that you have a bigger problem. You need to build your own home studio in order to record that song. Next, I am going to share a home recording setup that I love based on my 15 years experience in home recording and based on other user reviews.

How to Build a Cheap Home Recording Studio: The recording setup

Many people start buying recording equipment without having a plan or the basic knowledge about it. Before starting to scout and buy home studio equipment, you need to know what is the minimum requirement for a home recording studio. Don’t be hasty, take your time to prepare and get the list ready before you start this endeavor. Here’s what you need in order to build a cheap home recording studio:

  • PC/Laptop – this is the core of your home studio, the “brain” where every signal is processed. The best part is that most people already own a laptop or a PC so you don’t have to invest much in this particular area.
  • Condenser Microphone – if  the PC is the core, the microphone is definitely the sensory system of your home studio, because it will capture most of the sounds needed for your project. Depending on the music genre you plan to record, you will have to capture the vocals, the instruments, even the drums.
  • Audio Interface / Preamp and SoundCard – this device is very important, since it converts the analog signal received from the microphone to digital signal for your recording software. In most cases, it powers the microphone with that 48+ Phantom Power.
  • Monitors – they have an important role int he mixing and mastering process and they can have a great impact on the way the song sounds in the end.
  • Headphones – some people don’t bother too much with the headphones, but you do need to have them when you record vocals or instruments through the mic.
  • Mic stand, pop filter, acoustic foam – these items will enhance the capabilities of your microphone, some of them are necessary.
  • Recording Software – used to mix everything together (vocals, instruments, instrumentals) and polish the final product

Rode NT1A Condenser Microphone

Let me start with the first piece of equipment in the recording chain. One of the best condenser microphones you’ll ever find is Rode NT1A. This Anniversary Model features a fresh redesign of the legendary NT1 classic studio microphone, used by many artists today. You will notice the difference if you will compare this microphone with any of its competitors. It just sounds better than other mics in its price range. This 5 stars microphone comes with cables and a popfilter. A real bargain.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2 In/2 Out USB Recording Audio Interface

Any condenser mic requires some sort of phantom power and some sort of analog preamp. Every time someone asks me about the most affordable audio interface on the market I usually recommend 2i2. Mainly because it is a cheap solution with outstanding specifications: it bears phantom power, it features two award-winning Focusrite preamps, and it can be used with any laptop. That means more mobility for you, right?

Makie CR3 Series Monitors

Home studio monitors are pretty important when you are in the tedious process of mixing your songs. Makie CR3 Series is a pretty good choice. The price is under $100. Headphones are not that important, so buy something that fits your budget. Don’t forget to buy a mic stand and some sort of acoustic foam. You can use a home made acoustic foam created from egg crates.

You can use a free recording software like Audacity or something commercial like Cubase. Check their official website for more info.

A cheaper solution: Blue Yeti USB Microphone

Are all these items to pricy for you? The simplest and the cheapest alternative to this cheap recording studio setup is an USB microphone. If you decide to buy this USB mic you can forget about the audio interface/preamp equipment. Getting an USB mic brings you additional portability. I have compared all USB microphones on the market and Yeti beats them all without a doubts. It is a versatile affordable USB mic that’s the closest you will ever be able to buy to a standard studio microphone.

Are you not satisfied with my recommendations? Here is a collections of studio mics that you should also consider:

Don’t forget that making a song is more than recording the vocals or the instruments. You need to have the project mixed and mastered. Why pay someone else to do a job that you can do yourself? Learn how to mix your songs on home recording microphones

Conclusion
I’m reading various articles about folks trying to put together a simple home studio in a budget around $300-$400. Let’s face it, it’s not that difficult to get that amount of money, but it’s really complicated to put it to good use. If you’ll manage to establish what are your actual needs versus your budget, you will be able to buy the perfect equipment for a music project like a home studio. Usually, people get confused and they don’t know what to buy. Such scenarios end up with them buying recording devices that have poor value while better options can be found on the market at similar prices. In time, they will have to invest more money in order to upgrade everything by getting the right stuff they should have bought the first time. So, I feel legitimate to ask this question:
Why use the second chance, when you can get everything done proper the first time?

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