This Is All You Need to Build a Professional Home Recording Studio for under $350

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:


  1. Desktop Computer or Laptop (Most People Already Have 1 of These)

  2. Audio Interface

  3. Condenser Microphone

  4. Microphone/XLR Cable

  5. Microphone Stand

  6. Microphone Pop Filter

  7. Studio Monitor Headphones

  8. DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) ("Reaper" is Free)

  9. Virtual Instruments (Many Are Free)

 

Below are optional items, but Beneficial to Getting That Pro Sound:


  1. MIDI Keyboard

  2. Microphone Shock Mount

  3. Dynamic Microphone

  4. Studio Monitor Speakers

  5. Acoustic Foam Treatment

  6. Microphone Isolation Shield

  7. Live Instruments (Guitar, Bass, Acoustic/Electronic Drums, Percussion & More)

  8. 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?

 
  1. 8 GB of DDR3 Ram (16 GB or more is preferred)

  2. Intel I5 Quad Core or AMD A7 (Intel I7 Or AMD 10 is recommended)

  3. 500 GB Hardrive/SSD (1TB if you use lots of VST's)

  4. 15 inch monitor/laptop screen (Although, you should get a bigger screen)

  5. Mouse & Keyboard (Comes with most Desktops)

  6. 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".

 

2. Audio Interface

 

The audio interface is realistically going to be your first purchase (assuming you already have a PC, which is the most important tool to making music). The reason why you need an audio interface is because the built in sound card on your PC just isn't powerful enough to run virtual instruments (VST's) without an extreme amount of latency (lag/delay) and you aren't able to effectively connect live instruments to your PC without the XLR/1/4 inputs that the audio interface provides. Technically, you could hook up your microphones and instruments by using the XLR/1/4 to 3.5mm headphone jack connection, but you will experience extreme latency issues since it still connects to your PC's onboard sound card. There are also "MIDI to USB" cables that connect a midi keyboard to your PC, but you still run into the issue of latency, unfortunately. If you don't think the lag/delay is that bad, trust me, it is. I tried the "MIDI to USB" method for myself and learned the hard way. The latency was so horrible that it ruined any possible way for me to record anything in acceptable time. I would be forced to input each note separately inside the "piano roll" function in my DAW, which I will cover that in more detail in a different blog post. Once you have your audio interface properly hooked up to your computer and set up in your Digital audio workstation, (DAW) you can hook up your midi keyboard through USB because it will be using the audio interface's sound card to process your connection. You most likely will be experiencing 1-2ms delay at best or around 5-6ms delay with a slower PC (delay/latency also depends on your audio interace's sample rate and block size settings). These Delay speeds are more than doable when performing live recordings.

 

In Summary, "STAY AWAY" From Devices Like This MIDI to USB Cable. They Are Cheap & Useless.


 

Also This "1/4 to 3.5mm Male Cable" Plugged Straight into your PC Will Not Work Properly.


 

3. Condenser Microphone

 

A condenser microphone is what you should purchase next, assuming that you want to record your vocals. The reason why you would want a condenser for vocals over a dynamic microphone is because a condenser is more sensitive and picks up more detail. Sometimes a dynamic microphone can work very well for vocals like the "Shure SM7B", but a condenser is what most professionals use in most situations. I also suggest going with the "$100 Mic Rule", which simply means that if the price of your microphone is at least $100 than you can use it for recording professional tracks. I've seen plenty of people use cheaper mics and get just as good results, but going with this rule can help you invest in a microphone that will be good quality in sound and that has a durability that will last you.

 

4. Microphone/XLR Cable

 

So, once you buy that nice mic, you'll need a XLR (External Line Return) cable to connect to the audio interface. "Monoprice" has some really great cables for very cheap, but most $10 - $20 cables will suffice. Don't worry too much about "Gold plated" vs. "regular" cables, just go with Gold plated cables if you want your cables to be protected from corrosion/oxidization.

 

5. Microphone Stand

 

Stands can be had for pretty cheap, but you're going to want to get a stand that can support the weight of the microphone effectively along with the pop filter and especially if you're going to be adding a "microphone isolation shield" (discussed in more detail below). Most boom stands will work just fine. You can also get a stand that attaches to your desk if that works better for you.

 

6. Microphone Pop Filter

 

Pop filters are another essential item that should be added to your home music studio shopping list. Pop filters soften sibilances, which are high frequency/sharp noises from high pitch sounds (such as words with s, sh, t, k, letters) and they also