When planning to build your very first home recording studio setup, it can seem overwhelming. You want the best quality gear, but because you are getting started or testing the “waters”, you are most likely on a very tight budget. Many people fail to even get their home studio started, as they look around online they see the high dollar cost of recording equipment and then decide it is just too much.
Prices Are Getting lower on Home Studio Equipment
I am living proof that it is quite possible to get your first basic home studio together at a surprisingly low cost. Many people are very surprised to learn that they can get very high quality recordings, with recording equipment that cost them less than $400. Technology has advanced so much that, prices are falling quickly on very high quality components, which has allowed small, entry level musicians, broadcasters or voice over artists to jump in and create, and record for no where near the cost it was to do so just a decade ago.
Start With The Basic Quality Recording Industry Standards
Before we start, digging into this project, I want to mention just a couple of things. These products are only my recommendations. You may choose to upgrade a component, you may also chose to downgrade and save a little more money. The thing to remember is, in order to be taken seriously in the recording industry you must have the very basics when it comes to quality of your recorded product. Keep in mind as well, that when it comes to studio recording equipment, it has been my experience that, just because this component costs more, it’s better quality. Not always true. Many times you’ll only be paying for a brand name.
Reinvest In Yourself By Reinvesting Your Profits Into Better Recording Gear
You will also need to know that this build is just the very basics, enough to get you started. I highly suggest that as you gain experience and earn a little profit, that you reinvest in your home studio and upgrade your gear as you go.
Your Studio Computer
In this build I am completely assuming, that since your are reading this post you have a computer of some kind. Notebook, desktop, all-in-one, Mac or Windows based computer it really does not matter, usually any computer you have on hand will be enough to get yourself started. If you need, or want to get a computer that is designated for your studio, I would suggest an all-in-one setup. They seem to be nearly silent, small and can easily be transported or moved, and should you later have a need for a vocal booth, it can be quickly installed and does not take up much space.
Digital USB Audio Interface
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2nd Gen. is, as you probably already know, is my number one entry level choice in digital audio interfaces. Cost is about $99, and you get a rugged, amazingly clear and noise free quality, and it is very simple to learn to operate. Another great feature is it comes with both Protool’s and Ableton DAW’s with your purchase. Which means you get industry standard, software with just this one purchase. The Scarlett Solo also comes with plenty of other tools in it’s software bundle. It’s just the best most affordable way to get everything you need to get your home recording studio started. I wrote a review featuring the Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2nd Gen.
The Samson CO1 Studio Condenser Microphone. This was my very first large diaphragm condenser mic I ever bought, more than 15 years ago, and it is still just as good as the day I bought it, and I still use it quite often. I recommend the CO1, because it is first of all only about $69, and it is a great entry level microphone that can be used for recording vocals, acoustic instruments, or used as an overhead. It can also take a beating, which if you are new to recording, or want to put together a mobile setup it is important to have gear that can take an occasional fall bump, bang or ding and still keep working. 15 years in my gear box, proves this microphone can last. This mic is phantom powered, and connects via an XLR connector. I do not recommend the CO1U which is a USB microphone.
Upgrade Your Studio Microphone If You Can
Note, that when it comes to microphones depending on your intended applications, and budget, this is an area you could splurge and go to a higher quality and more expensive mic.
Studio Monitoring Headphones
My ultimate favorite studio headphones is the KRK KNS-6400. I love them for their comfort, and their audio quality. Price for these headphones currently is about $94. I tried these on in a pro studio and just had to have them. A great feature of the KNS-6400 is all the pads can be replaced, and they have a detachable cable, unlike some of the other more expensive brands the cable gets broken internally and the entire headphone has to be replaced. With the KNS-6400 you simply replace the cable and you’re back in business! This also makes it easier for safe storage as you can just disconnect the cable and fold up the headphones and you’re good to go!
Boom Mic Stand
The Samson MK-10 Boom Mic Stand. I highly recommend getting a boom mic stand versus a desktop stand or a straight standing mic stand. A boom stand can be used in many applications, it can reach into an instrument, it can be used to record overhead, or can b adjusted as a straight stand. Desktop stands are okay, except you are putting the mic on a hard flat surface so you will be getting some reflections into your recording. You will need to pad that surface to help eliminate those reflecting waves. Cost is about $20.
The pop filter. With some technique you can really do away with a pop filter. Pop filters are designed to block plosives, those T’s and P sounds that cause pops in recorded audio. You can train yourself to record slightly to the side of your mouth and completely avoid those plosive sounds all together. Another benefit of the pop filter is it protects the microphone capsule from the occasional spittle that get ejected from the mouth as we sing or speak. A pop filter for the most part is just a pop filter and will cost around $15.
XLR Microphone Cable
Last but not least you will want to cable your microphone to your digital audio interface with a quality XLR mic cable. I suggest at least a 25ft cable to give enough length to get your mic where it needs to be. There are many cheaper cables available, but you will not want to skimp on this very vital piece of gear. I always pay up for a quality cable. Price about $25.
The Totals For This Home Studio Setup
Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2nd Gen digital usb audio interface… $99
Samson CO1 Studio Condenser Microphone…. $69
KRK KNS-6400 Studio Monitoring Headphones… $94
Samson MK-10 Boom Microphone Stand… $20
Pop Filter… $15
XLR Microphone Cable… $25
Total cost of this entry level home studio.. $322
Cheap Acoustic Treatments To Get You Going
From here, there is more work to do fine tuning your home recording studio set up. This is only the start of your journey into home studio recording, you will want to try out different rooms, and working on acoustically treating those rooms. I wrote a post about cheap acoustical treatments you will probably want to check out.
I have made a PDF download with all the gear listed for this build, the price, and the links to purchase everything I have listed.