We live in an era of technology where things move really fast. Everything is wired, digital and connected to the Internet. All these digital gadgets around us make our life easier and allow us to have new hobbies, to make a living in new ways. For an ’80s musician, making music was all about big studio, paying for studio time and investing large amounts of money producing an album. After the album was complete, the music marketing companies took the album and distributed it to their music shop network all over the country. Music piracy was also present, but it was really diminished compared to the sales. The game changed in the late ’90s, when Napster reinvented everything. People learned that they can download (illegal) music really fast from the Internet. The actual change in the industry was introduced later by Apple, with the iTunes Store, an online store that allowed people to legally buy their favorite artist’s song from the Internet. But a bigger change happened to the music marketing industry. If ’80s marketing was all about promotional concerts, TV ads and large budget music videos, nowadays it’s really easy to become a world wide music star. All you have to do is record a song in your own bedroom, create a music video with a friend’s camcorder or a smartphone and post it on YouTube. If the song is catchy enough, you’ll be boosted to online phenomenon in no time and you can start your music career with virtually few hundred dollars. How is that for a job opportunity?
Before getting your stuff online, you need to have the main product: the song. In order to make a song you need a home recording studio. It’s not that difficult to create a home recording studio on a low budget. All you have to do is read many reviews for every piece of equipment you intent to buy. Be aware, some reviews are paid and are not necessarily honest, that’s why you need to get informed from various sources.
How to start a home recording studio on a low budget
In order to start a home studio on a low budget, you need to have at least the following items:
- a PC or a laptop
- an audio interface
- a condenser microphone
- mic stand, and pop filter
I started with the idea that you will get only stuff you absolutely need, and you will fabricate everything else. Most people already have a PC or a laptop, so my assumption is that you already own one yourself. In this case, we just cut few hundred dollars from the entire home recording studio budget.
The audio interface is pretty important, because it connects the microphone to the laptop (the simple description). In fact, it transforms the analog signal received from the mic to digital signal for you to work with on your laptop. Saffire PRO 24 is probably the best audio interface under $300 and I truly recommend this piece of equipment.
Getting the proper condenser mic makes the true difference in any home recording studio. There are many great mics you can choose from, but considering our budget, I will probably opt for Rode NT1a, a great mic that also feature a pop filter. As a cheaper alternative, you can try AT2020, but you will not get the same quality as the Rode mic.
This setup is only for recording vocals. If you plan to create your own instrumentals, you will need to buy at least these items:
- a keyboard/midi controller
- a mixer (if you record multiple instruments)
- studio monitors
The final topic I want to talk about is the recording/mixing software. That’s the interface that will help you record vocals and instruments on a multi-track environment. The cheapest solution is Audacity (it’s free), but I recommend Cubase.
Here is an alternative home studio setup.