The Essential Guide to Choosing Home Recording Studio Equipment
Filed under: Film & Production
June 1, 2018
Building a home recording studio can sound like a major undertaking, but it’s much easier if you know what you’re looking for from the start. So how do you decide what recording studio equipment you actually need? That depends on how you plan to use your studio. Will you be recording mainly vocals or incorporating instruments as well? Do you plan to synthesize sounds with your computer or rely solely on audio samples? What’s a budget you can afford?
No matter what your answers to the questions above, some home recording studio equipment pieces are valuable for nearly every studio—including those we list below. As you shop for your recording studio equipment, keep in mind that, while creating a studio on a tight budget is possible, your production quality will reflect the quality of the equipment you select.
Most likely, you already have a computer that has what you need for working in your studio. However, mixing and editing audio files is a memory and processor intensive process, so if you have doubts about your existing hardware, it may be time to research new computers. Either Mac or PC will work, although some audio professionals favor Macs for reliability and performance.
2. Audio Interface
Without an audio interface, the consumer-grade sound card built into your computer is likely to cause delays and interference in recorded sounds. An audio interface serves as a high quality, low-latency external sound card that organizes all of your inputs into a single device. When purchasing an audio interface, pay close attention to the number and types of inputs needed and compatibility of the output connections with your computer.
3. Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
A DAW is the computer application that allows you to edit and mix audio files. DAW software ranges from basic and affordable (Ableton Live - $100) to a variety of more professional and expensive solutions (Avid Pro Tools - $600).
The importance of a high quality microphone should be obvious even to the most casual of audiophiles. While professional studios use an array of microphones optimized for capturing different types of sounds (vocals, electric guitars, drums, etc.), your home recording studio can get by with one or two microphones depending on their versatility and the type(s) of audio you plan to record.
Comfortable studio headphones with accurate frequencies is another piece of must-have home recording studio equipment. When recording new tracks over an existing recording, using a set of high-quality, closed-back headphones is crucial for preventing the sound of the original recording from leaking to the microphone.
6. Virtual Studio Technology (VST)
Virtual Studio Technology (VST) allows you to create sounds using your computer that simulate drums, strings, choirs, and even full orchestras. While many studios still focus solely on sampled recordings, more and more studios profess the value of VST. If you decide to use VST, a variety of VST plugins are available to work with your DAW software.
7. Studio Monitor Speakers
Because most speakers are optimized for listening quality rather than objectivity of sound, they’re less than ideal as recording studio equipment. Studio monitors, on the other hand, are a type of speaker designed with a flat frequency response that provides a more objective assessment of recorded sounds—something that is critical for mixing music.
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