How to Set Up A Home Recording Studio

As many recording artists know, paying for studio time can be extremely expensive and become a bit of a hassle.  Most musicians who are unfamiliar with the recording process may feel overwhelmed with a mixture of excitement for recording new music and stress due to the cost of the venture, the time spent recording, and the actual outcome of the process.  On average, studio time can cost anywhere from 30 to 150 dollars an hour.  To put this number in perspective, imagine the number of hours that it takes for a band to record, dub over, mix, and master a song.  If you add in any time that is spent making changes to the song, troubleshooting any problems that happen with equipment, or even just socializing with the recording staff and other band members, you will notice that the recording process can become a tremendously time-consuming project.  With every hour spent working on new tracks, comes the financial burden of making a good quality song.

An obvious alternative to paying for studio time is to set up a home recording studio.  Many artists like the idea of saving money and also enjoy the freedom of expression that a home studio can offer.  However, not many musicians know how to set up a home studio or know what equipment they would need in order to create the best quality music that they can afford.  Here are a few pieces of equipment that a band would need to create their own studio and a number of ideas they need to consider in the process.

Recording Software:

The first item your band needs to consider is what kind of recording software to use.  The software will be the place where you lay down vocals, record instruments, mix/master songs, etc.  There are many options available for recording software at many different prices ranging from 50 up to 800 dollars.  Some common recording software includes Garage Band, ACID Music Studio, FL Studio, Cubase, Ableton, and, the industry standard, Pro Tools.  It is important that the recording artists research the software before buying it and become familiar with how to operate it.  Every type of recording software is different, therefore what fits your bands needs may be different from what others use.

Recording Interface:

The recording interface is what allows a microphone to transmit signals to the computer, which allows the software to capture a recording.  Interfaces range from 50 to 500 dollars, but great deals can be found around the 80 to 120 dollar mark.  Again, understanding your band’s needs will be key in determining what interface you need to purchase, as interfaces may work with microphones and guitars, but not always both.

Microphone:

Microphones are what actually capture the sound of an artist’s voice or instrument.  Microphones can be very pricy if one is not careful and does not do the proper research.  Great bargains for professional quality vocal microphones exist at around 80 to 300 dollars.  Another thing to consider is the types of microphones a band may need for different types of instruments.  For example, recording drum tracks may require a different type of microphone compared to that of a guitar or vocal track.

Other Hardware: 

Some other items a band may need to consider purchasing are pop filters, headphones, microphone stands, XLR cables, etc.  Because every artist and every studio is different, many of these items will depend on the needs of that entity.  Pop filters are what protect vocal microphones from recording “peaks” or loud noises; these are fairly cheap ranging from 20 to 50 dollars.  Headphones are another necessity in the studio environment as they provide the listener with feedback for sounds and the level of the mix.  However, just because headphones are necessary does not necessarily have to be expensive.  Good quality headphones are available starting from 50 dollars.  Microphone stands are needed to hold the microphone in a steady position in order to best capture sound; they can be purchased at as low as 10 dollars.  XLR cables and the like are typically inexpensive, but are needed to transmit the sound of microphones to the computer.  The average price for such cables is about 20 dollars.

Other Software Options:

In this area lies endless possibilities for the band’s sound production and quality.  What most artists do not understand is that vocals and the like do not come out sounding like something you might hear on the radio.  Instead, mixing, mastering, and adding effects is what makes the song more appealing for an audience.  In the past, a band may have had to purchase actual hardware in order to convey a certain effect or sound.  However, as technology has expanded, so have the effects that are available through computers and software.  Common effects may include reverb, delay (echoes), compressors, etc.  A band must have a very clear vision before purchasing any kind of sound kits or recording features, as these may not even be needed and may be confusing to use.  It is important for the band members to explore their recording software, as many of these effects and much more will be included with the software and at the band’s disposal.

Listed above were some of the important necessities that band must consider when setting up a home recording studio.  It is important for the band to do the proper research when deciding to purchase equipment and to make sure that the equipment fits the needs of the band.  If one does the proper research and makes wise purchasing decision building a home studio can save the band members a large amount of money and perhaps provide a more creative environment to create the best possible music.

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About Justin Harrison

Justin Harrison is an intern at Riff Academy and a student of the Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program at Kennesaw State University. Justin has been a songwriter since the age of 7, with a particular focus on hip hop and rhythm and blues. Using less than 500 dollars, Justin created his own home studio at the age of 17, which he still uses to this day. As an artist, Justin has performed all over North Georgia, including the Masquerade in Atlanta. As a student, Justin is currently a junior at Kennesaw State University and is majoring in Business Management with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

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