Updated: Sep 28, 2019
Choosing the right gear for your home studio can be quite the tricky task.
Read on to go from Gear Torn to Gear Porn...
Choosing the right equipment for your home studio can be quite daunting, especially if you're a musician with basic recording knowledge. Dynamic, Condenser, phantom power, AD/DA and jitter. You see these terms and you wonder what the hell do they mean. Well worry not, we are here to clarify that for you and break down what you need to get yourself started without breaking the bank.
With all the different brands out there, it gets difficult to choose what you want. Some brands have been proven over the years to deliver the best in audio technology, while other new ones cut down on cost by using lower quality parts, and that translates to poor recordings. Now you might see a $10,000 microphone and think to yourself THIS is it, but the truth is that the recording isn't as good as the mic alone.
You will lose most of the detail that the mic's circuitry can offer if you pair it with the wrong gear.
For example, lets say you plug a $5,000 mic into a cheap $100 interface, most of the headroom and detail of that mic will be lost in the crappy mic pre and cheap AD converters. So there's no point investing all your budget into an expensive mic, then matching it with a cheap interface.
From our experience, the converters are the most important phase in the recording chain.
So we highly recommend good converters in this case, to get a good sound with your recordings.
An Audio Interface is what lets you record your music into a computer.
It's basically 3 stages put into one box.
First stage is the mic pre (Pre-Amplifier), which boosts the low mic signal into a Line Level signal.
Second stage are the converters. This is where you transform the electrical signals of your mic into digital 1's and 0's, so that they can be stored on your computer's hard drive. This particular stage is very crucial to the sound as we mentioned earlier. It's where all the detail and headroom of the recording come out. This will be a detailed topic to cover on a separate blog post.
And finally there's the monitor section, where you can control the volume and headphone output.
Most professional studios have separate mic pres and converters, to enhance the sound and get the cleanest possible recording. Although some mic pres have a distinct sound, and can be used to reach a desired effect.
Let's take a look at what you'll need.
Here is what you'll need
1. Microphone (Preferably a Condenser)
2. Mic Cable (XLR) & Stand
3. Audio Interface
4. Studio Monitors or Headphones
5. DAW (Recording Software)
6. MIDI Controller (Optional)
With this gear, you will be set to record your demos.
There have been many audio companies offering recording bundles, for example the Focusrite Scarlett recording bundle : https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Scarlet2i2SG2--focusrite-scarlett-2i2-studio-recording-bundle
This offers you a quick and cheap way to start recording out of the box.
For most cases, you won't need more than 2 inputs on your interface, meaning you could record your guitar and voice simultaneously for example.
Now will this recording chain sound amazing, probably not. But that's not what you're after at this point.
Let's look at some good quality options you have that won't break the bank.
Rode NT1-A : https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/NT1AAnniv--rode-nt1-a-large-diaphragm-condenser-microphone
Audio-Technica AT2020 : https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AT2020-20x--audio-technica-at2020-microphone-and-headphones-pack
AKG P120 : https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/P120--akg-p120-large-diaphragm-condenser-microphone
UA Arrow : https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Arrow--universal-audio-arrow-2x4-thunderbolt-3-audio-interface-with-uad-dsp
Focusrite Clarett 2Pre : https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Clar2PreUSB--focusrite-clarett-2pre-usb-10x4-audio-interface
NI Komplete Audio 2 : https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/KompAudio2--native-instruments-komplete-audio-2-usb-audio-interface
It's important to make sure your audio interface will be compatible with your laptop or computer.
Don't buy discontinued interfaces like Firewire for example. Instead stick to what has been around and has been proven to work, like USB. On that note, there are many variants to USB, like the new USB C connector.
Again, this is a topic that warrants another blog post on its own.
With this gear, you will be set to start recording at home and hone your production skills.
It might also be worth it to invest in sound treatment for the room you will be using.
If the room is very large with marble floors, you will most probably have a large echo emanating from the room. In this case you could invest in some Absorbers to dampen the echo and control unwanted noise.
We hope that this guide has helped you and made things more clear.
Now go and record that #1 hit single, and make sure to credit us !