You Really Don't Need Much
Most people are told that you need that $5000 Neumann microphone, $1000's of dollars worth of acoustic foam treatment and only the top of the line equipment in order to make high quality recordings, but that simply isn't true. Sure, back then, about 20 years ago or so, music equipment was much more expensive and education was not nearly as accessible unless you went to an audio production school, but times have changed. You could build a professional Home Studio for just $350 or about $800 - 1000 if you need a PC.
Make sure you checkout my shopping list below where I compile the best home recording studio equipment for under $350!
All you truly need to make professional sounding music is as follows:
Desktop Computer or Laptop (Most People Already Have 1 of These)
Microphone Pop Filter
Studio Monitor Headphones
DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) ("Reaper" is Free)
Virtual Instruments (Many Are Free)
Below are optional items, but Beneficial to Getting That Pro Sound:
Microphone Shock Mount
Studio Monitor Speakers
Acoustic Foam Treatment
Microphone Isolation Shield
Live Instruments (Guitar, Bass, Acoustic/Electronic Drums, Percussion & More)
Automated Mixing/Mastering Plugins
1. Desktop Computer or Laptop
This is probably obvious to most people, but you'll need some kind of computer to get going with making music. Arguably, you could make music on your smartphone/tablet, but you would most likely be making electronic music, or music entirely composed of virtual instruments (nothing wrong with that, you're just very limited). It's difficult to get good recordings with a device that has such a tiny display screen with clumsy touch based controls and makes setting up microphones and other live instruments extremely unintuitive. You technically can set up midi keyboards, a Bluetooth keyboard & mouse for more traditional controls and also some mics and whatnot, but after setting all that up you might as well just have a dedicated place to hook up all your equipment to a normal PC, so you won't have to lug everything around. A laptop is the only other realistic option, if you're trying to save space, or have plans to play in live/DJ scenarios, but ultimately there isn't much difference between a PC and Laptop. The only other main differences is that you will spend much more money on a laptop due to its convenient features and you will most likely run into overheating issues and you will also find that you need to keep it plugged in to its power supply to get the full processing power (This unfortunately defeats the whole "portable" purpose of a laptop), which is why I always recommend a Desktop if your space permits it.
What About the Mac Vs. PC Debate?
It's honestly a waste of precious time trying to fight over which is better, since they both can give you the same exact performance. The main difference is that you're just going to spend more money on a Mac for the same specs when compared to a PC.
So What Kind of Minimum Specs Do I Need for Making Quality Music?
8 GB of DDR3 Ram (16 GB or more is preferred)
Intel I5 Quad Core or AMD A7 (Intel I7 Or AMD 10 is recommended)
500 GB Hardrive/SSD (1TB if you use lots of VST's)
15 inch monitor/laptop screen (Although, you should get a bigger screen)
Mouse & Keyboard (Comes with most Desktops)
2 USB 2.0/3.0 ports (4-8 ports allows more midi keyboards/ to be hooked up)
What about Graphics & Sound Cards?
The onboard graphics is more than enough (it comes built into your PC/Laptop's processor), since external graphic cards are more suited to video editing. You won't need to worry about the sound card, because you will be using an "audio interface" as explained below.
So what if I don't have enough money to buy a new computer?
Then simply just use what you have! It's better to take what you have and start creating music than to keep making excuses as to why you can't start making music. This type of poor thinking actually tends to plague all areas of life for some people, but I've noticed that this bad habit really halts your progress when it comes to music production! This actually is a well known thing among musicians called "G.A.S." (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) which I talked about in my last article that you can check out "HERE&q