Here are the 15 best home studio equipment essential items everyone should have when building out their own home studio.
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Recording at home can be a great deal of fun. It can also help launch an incredible career in the music industry. Thanks to modern technology, it’s possible for anyone to have their own home studio, but most of us wouldn’t know where to start building this amazing set up.
Having the right equipment is one of the most critical components of exceptional home recording. It allows you to have clear, crisp sound that present you as a pro, even if you’ve never done this before.
Remember, though, everything takes time to get used to, so don’t get discouraged if your tracks don’t sound polished right away and don’t be surprised if some of the effects you add on during production (before the final mix) overwhelm your tracks. Simply remember to always back up every recording, experiment, learn, and grow.
You’ll have a lot of fun getting started, as long as you choose the right equipment. Now, let’s talk about the most important pieces to add to your new home recording studio.
Building a home recording studio can certainly take a fair bit of planning and preparation in order for it to be done successfully. In order to make this process a little easier, I’m gonna give you the 15 best home studio equipment items for everyone building a home studio for the first time.
Following this list will get you well on your way to enjoying your brand new home recording studio and hopefully save you a bit of time and money in the process. You have to consider everything to transform an empty room into a professional recording studio and control room.
Audio recording equipment, studio monitors, condenser microphones, bass traps, music production software, and ways to give it the acoustic treatment… the list is almost endless. So, without further delay, here are 15 of the best and most essential pieces of equipment for first time home recording studio builders.
Dell Inspiron Desktop Computer
There are some who may advise people to simply pick up an affordable laptop for their home recording studio, and that might be fine to some degree, but you want to build with the expectation it’ll grow (as you do) over time.
That’s why I highly recommend a desktop computer with expansion capability. The problem with most laptops, even those with Quad-Core processing is a limitation in processing speeds and internal memory.
The Dell Inspiron with Intel i5 or i7 processor, 8 to 12 GB (gigabyte) RAM and a 512 GB SSD hard drive is a great decision for your first home studio.
There are plenty of other desktop computers out there, but this one is affordable and expandable and that’s what makes it a great option for your new home recording studio.
If you have the opportunity, consider running a second hard drive and using that for all of your recorded tracks (and the primary drive for your program and document files). Keeping them separate serves several purposes, of which you’ll learn as you grow with your studio.
Apple MacBook Pro
First-time home studio builders should first find a good laptop computer for their studio and many choose to go with an Apple MacBook Pro. The reason for this according to an article on the website ehomerecordingstudio.com is that “They’re ultra-fast. They’ve got lots of inputs.” The articles added: “They have a large screen with a detailed display.”
The only issue with most Apple laptops is that they’re rather expensive. However, you can save some money by buying a refurbished Apple MacBook Pro on Amazon.com. This may be a bit expensive for first-time home studio builders, but if you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed.
I can speak from experience, I’ve been using a Macbook Pro to do all of my home studio work since 2014. That includes editing music, voiceovers, movies, and all the work for three different businesses that I currently operate. It’s just one of those tools you need to invest in for the sake of speed and sanity.
2. Audio Interface
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface
Next, you’ll need an interface that will take the signal you want to record and convert it into digital so it can be written onto the hard drive (recorded). You can’t simply plug in a basic microphone and expect it to work well or even offer much in the way of quality.
Focusrite Scarlett is a decent first interface that won’t overwhelm you with technical data or instructions. This is pretty much a plug and play device that is essential for a digital audio workstation (DAW).
This device provides two inputs and is very affordable compared to others, meaning it’s the perfect setup for first-time home recording studio builders.
It provides basic controls that allow you to trim the gains independently (if you don’t know what that means, you’ll learn … quickly) and also adjust monitor levels so you can maintain good control of your mix going into the recording software.
Speaking of which …
Now that you have a good laptop computer and digital audio workstation software, you now need an audio interface. These allow you to transfer all of your analog and digital signals into your computer.
According to an article on the website ledgernote.com, a good choice is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface. They say this because it’s affordable and it features “…six inputs and six outputs.” This is pretty much all first-time home studio builders will need and, thanks to its rather inexpensive price tag, your wallet won’t hurt too much after this purchase either.
3. Recording Software
The next piece of your new home recording studio you’ll need to add is your recording software. There are plenty of choices out there, from inexpensive and basic to all-encompassing.
Personally, I’m not a fan of going cheap just because you don’t have experience. I believe that when you’re building your home studio for the first time, if you’re serious about this, act the part.
Pro Tools is the industry standard. That means most professional studios around the world will have the capacity to take Pro Tools tracks and run them on their systems, so if you get a polished recording and want to professional mix it down, you can simply take your tracks to one of these pros for mastering.
The more important reason I recommend Pro Tools is that the interface is straightforward, it’s well-designed, and you also have the option of choosing different levels of this software.
It would be advisable to pick up Pro Tools First as a newbie to home recording, which is free for anyone, but it’s basic. However, basic is likely more than enough for you to get started, then you can jump up to the main Pro Tools packaged for a monthly subscription.
While you may begin recording guitar tracks, keyboards, or other instruments that could be plugged in directly, a solid condenser microphone is an absolute must for any serious home recording studio.
The Samson C01 is a solid choice that will provide incredibly crisp sound and the flexibility to use it for vocals, acoustic instruments, and even as an overhead microphone to pick up drum sets.
The C01 comes with everything you’ll need to get started, including phantom power (which is necessary for almost all legitimate condenser microphones).
Keep in mind that when you’re recording (whether it’s a voiceover track for a video, workshop, or even a webinar or podcast) condenser mics will pick up just about every sound there is, so you’ll want to soundproof your space as best you can and record these types of tracks at a time when your surroundings are as quiet as they can possibly be.
5. Shock Mount
Samson SP01 Spider Shockmount
A quality condenser microphone with phantom power is going to be so sensitive it will pick up almost any and all sounds, including the tapping of your foot on the floor that vibrates through the mic stand. A shockmount essentially provides and essential buffer against these extraneous sounds.
The SP01 was specifically designed for the Samson C01 condenser mic, but there are other brands out there, and you should not pay more than about $20-$25 for one.
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone
When you’re recording with your new home studio, you’ll want a solid representation of the sound you’re bringing to your system. For that, quality headphones are absolutely essential.
The Sony MDR7506 Professional offers a crisp sound and great clarity. They are also comfortable, which will become apparently important the more time you spend recording tracks, experimenting with effects, and mixing down.
The next item on our list of the best home studio equipment for people building their first home recording studio is the Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones. You’ll obviously need some way to hear the music you’re recording and you really can’t go wrong with these Sony headphones.
Going back to the great article from ehomerecordingstudio.com, they suggest this pair because “they’re affordable.” What’s more, “they’re durable.” The article also suggests that this brand of headphones is “popular” amongst professional musicians.
7. Studio Monitors
Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor
Incorporating a good studio monitor for your sound mixing needs is also essential for first-time home recording studio builders. One of the best products to use for this is the Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor.
A review posted on guitarfella.com backs up this claim by affirming that the “Yamaha’s HS series of speakers has become somewhat of a legend by now. Many producers, both enthusiasts and professionals hold these in high regard.”
This rather inexpensive studio monitor will not disappoint first-time home studio builders because it has all the features required for professional sounding recordings.
At some point in time, you’ll want to listen to your tracks or mix with something other than headphones. The Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitor is held in high record by many professional and seasoned home studio aficionados.
As far as many studio monitors are concerned, the price tag for the HS8 is modest. It’ll offer a clear representation of your final mix and give you enough kick to determine optimal bass levels in your final mix.
Mogami Silver XLR 25ft (1x) and Mogami Silver XLR 6ft (2x)
First-time home recording studio builders only need three cables to start out with. The Mogami Silver XLR cables are your best option to satisfy this need.
According to Mason Hoberg, writing for equipboard.com, these cables are “…intended to be a more affordable option, aimed at musicians who can’t justify paying an incredibly high sum for their cables.”
The fact that these cables are affordable yet still one of the best-reviewed cables available make it perfect for first-time home recording studio builders.
It’s important to note that you’ll most likely need a 25 ft microphone cable, as well as, two 6ft monitor cables depending on how many monitors you plan on using.
To connect your Samson C01 condenser mic to your system, you’ll need cables. Now, there are some who believe any microphone cable is ‘good enough,’ the better the quality, the better the sound. In most likelihood, you’re not going to notice the difference now, but in time you may very well pick up on subtle noises that are embedding onto your tracks due to thin cables or broken cables.
Whatever brand mic cables you ultimately choose, it’s a good idea to have at least two six-foot cables and two 25-foot ones. Many DAWs have a wide selection of microphone and direct instrument cables for various recording options. For example, if you’re planning on recording a full drum set, you’ll be needing at least seven, if you’re to do it properly.
Another point to remember here is to always carefully and loosely wind your cables up. Tying them, cramming them into a bag, or other abusive action will, over time, cause the internal cables to start fraying, and that will lead to quality reduction.
9. Boom Stand
Samson MK-10 Microphone Boom Stand
Usually, first time home studio builders will only need one or two microphone stands and the Samson MK-20 Microphone Boom Stand is one of the best and most affordable options available.
With its affordable price, you’ll certainly save a ton of money with this collapsible and rather a durable microphone stand.
There really isn’t a ton to say about this particular product aside from the fact that it’s inexpensive and many customers have given it many favorable reviews.
If you have a microphone, you should have a microphone stand. There are many different brands and types, but a tripod style base is highly recommended (over the round, heavy-weighted base). That’s because it offers better stability for a wide range of uses.
The MK-20 offers an angled boom and it’ll be one of the less expensive additions to your home studio. It’s easily collapsible, so you can store it without a fuss and cart it out, if needed.
10. Pop Filter
Avantone PS-1 PRO-SHIELD Studio Pop Filter
An often overlooked piece of equipment that home studio builders will need is a quality microphone pop filter. These products will significantly improve vocal recordings by eliminating those static bursts of air from hard “p” or “b” sounds when singing or rapping.
One of the best products for this purpose is the Avantone Ps-1 PRO-Shield Studio Pop Filter. According to that same great set of articles found at ehomerecordingstudio.com, this particular product sets itself apart from the rest by, “Rather than sitting out in front of the microphone, where it’s vulnerable to being bumped and snagged. The PS-1 is designed to wrap snuggly around the microphone grill, so it’s out of the way.”
The author goes on to write that, “This also avoids the problem of singers constantly readjusting it, which wastes time and puts added wear and tear on the gooseneck.”
If you don’t add a pop filter to your arsenal, you’ll become frustrated with your vocal tracks pretty quickly. A pop shield is meant to be placed a few inches in front of your condenser mic and absorbs the sibilants commonly caused by ‘s’ and ‘t’ and ‘p’ type letters as we speak or sing.
Like microphone stands, there are plenty of decent options, so you can’t really go wrong, no matter which one you choose. Most run in the price range of $10 or so.
Z-Line Designs Cyrus Workstation
Now that you have all of your basic equipment needs to be settled it’s time to figure out how you’re going to set up everything in a neat and tidy way. The best way to do this is to purchase the Z-Line Designs Cyrus Workstation.
Referencing the batch of articles from ehomerecordingstudio.com this mixing desk is great because it features, “rollers on the bottom for easy moving and a large bottom shelf for computer towers/external hard drives.”
This mixing desk will allow you to set up your computer and other equipment in a compact and tidy manner, making your recording studio looks and feel professional.
If you have a desk, that’s great, but what you should consider is a workstation just for your new DAW. The Z-Line Designs Cyrus Workstation is compact and ideal for the new home recording studio. It has a great price and has plenty of space for dual monitors, your new desktop system, interfaces, monitors, and more.
Herman Miller Classic Aeron Chair
Another of the best home studio equipment items for everyone building their home studio for the first time is the Herman Miller Classic Aeron Chair. I’m suggesting this product because it’s absolutely one of the most luxurious chairs available.
With a price higher than a lot of other chairs, most people would say, “Why in the world am I going to spend potentially three times more for a chair than any single piece of equipment for my home recording studio (aside from the computer itself)?”
Well, to answer that simply: you’re going to spend a lot of time sitting down working at that system. You need to protect your back and avoid fatigue when hours pass that feel like minutes.
Hey, it’s going to feel like that, and it’s a great sign you’re thoroughly enjoying the process. Make a good investment in a quality chair.
You can obviously find cheaper studio chairs, but you undoubtedly impress visitors to your home recording studio with this fabulous chair.
13. Power Conditioner
Furman M-8X Merit Series Power Conditioner
These last few items are typically seen as optional, but I’m putting them on our list because they will certainly make your new home recording studio sound and look a lot more professional.
The Furman M-8X Merit series Power Conditioner offers “surge protection—to guard against lightning strikes and other voltage spikes.” It also offers “noise filtration to keep your audio clean and quiet,” according to an article ehomerecordingstudio.com
These are typically one of the top selling and highest reviewed option for power conditioners.
Furman is a well-known name in recording studios, and their power conditioners are a must for reducing noise and protecting your system against surges. A brown out, power outage, and even lightning strikes can cause damage to sensitive computer and electronic components, so set everything up through your new M-8X.
Rockville REQ231 Dual 31 Band 1/3 Octave Graphic Equalizer
Trust me when I say this: all your onboard system effects and EQs are going to be fine, but when it comes to polishing your sound for final mix, you would do well to add a dual 31-band EQ to your equipment. You’ll be able to refine the mix manually and make the highs sizzle and lows thump.
TCL 4K Smart LED TV, 43″ (43S435)
The last item on our list is the TCL 4K Smart LED 43” TV. This mountable flat screen TV will give you and your visitors and a nice way to take a quick break from recording.
You can mount this great TV in your home recording studio giving it a more comfortable and luxurious feel.
Artists often need a bit of distraction and creative breaks when recording and this will certainly allow for that. Today, most home recording studios have at least one TV in them in order to provide something to watch during breaks in recording and this particular TV is an excellent choice for that.
No, you’re not going to be watching TV or sports or movies while in your home recording studio; this TV will act as your main mixing console. The more tracks you have in place, the more sliders, the more effects, the easier it’s going to be to keep track of everything when you don’t have to lean in and squint.
Make sure your computer system (if you choose one besides the Dell I recommend) allows you to have two screens. You can lay out all your recorded tracks on one and your sliders and controls on the other.
A Digital Audio Workstation is an amazing thing to build. It takes time. And, in time, you will expand it and make sure it grows with your skills and talents. The most important thing to remember upfront is that you don’t want to go cheap just to ‘get it’ as quickly as possible. Cheap equipment has the potential to kill your joy and frustrate you before getting the chance to discover how amazing it is to record at home.
Hopefully, this list of the 15 best home studio equipment items for anyone building their home studio for the first time will help those constructing their first home recording studio. The products on this list are all highly recommended, though they might not be absolutely necessary for more inexpensive or basic home recording studios.
The choice of purchasing some of the more optional items on this list are certainly up to how much the owner wants to spend and what they deem more necessary. Purchasing all of the items on this list will cost you thousands of dollars, but will also go a long way in making your home recording studio not just sound professional, but look that way as well.
The articles referenced here are some of the best ways to gather even more information on these products as there were quite a few things I had to leave out. In order to educate yourself further on the home studio equipment listed here, I’d certainly recommend visiting the hyperlinks attached to this article.
Doing this will provide you with the most comprehensive information available and will undoubtedly help your decision making when debating whether or not to purchase an item. The more knowledge you gain through this type of research the better prepared you’ll be when starting to set up your first home recording studio.
Taking shortcuts and buying cheap equipment will make it incredibly hard to make quality music in your home recording studio. Following the guidelines in this article will get you on the right track and have you recording great professional sounding music in no time.