The Complete Shopper’s Guide to Setting up a Home Recording Studio
Are you freaking out about setting up your home recording studio because you think it will cost you lakhs of rupees?
Relax, getting started does not cost you 40-50L or even 10L and neither is as complicated as you may have first thought. Truth be told, you can do it with the most basic of equipment if you are on a low budget.
And in this step by step guide, we’ll tell you exactly what you need and where to buy it so you get your money’s worth and can have your home recording studio up and running within a week.
So let’s dig right into it.
1. A Laptop
This is the equipment that going to eat up a lot of your budget because for recording studio only power-packed laptop will do. So which laptop should you be going?
Before we give you our top pick, here are some of the features that a must in a laptop for music production and recording.
Little to no noise: Firstly, go for a laptop over a desktop as they are far less noisy. Secondly, choose a laptop which comes with an SSD. Since SSD’s have almost zero moving parts they the least noisy option.
Screen Size: Since you will be spending hour editing, mixing and recording audio with a (Digital Audio Workstation), the larger the screen the merrier. So got for a laptop with at 15-inches to 17-inches display.
Number of Ports: Well, for a home studio a laptop should have ample ports that will allow you to connect multiple devices and quickly transfer data as well.
Keyboard: A laptop backlit keyboard lets you work comfortably from anywhere even in the dark so there is simply no stopping you.
Apart from that, obviously, you need a laptop with a powerful and fast processor, a good amount of storage and a RAM for excellent speed even when multi-tasking.
This is why we recommend the Apple MacBook Pro. It has the following features
- 256GB SSD
- 2GHz 6-Core Intel Core i7 (turbo boosts to 4.8GHz)
- 15-inch crisp and clear retina display
- 16GH RAM
- 4 Thunderbolt 3 Ports
- 10-Hours battery life
- And a touch bar that will work a breeze
But if you are looking for a cheaper alternative, you can also go with the following
- MacBook Air
- Asus TUF FX504
- Dell Inspiron
- Legion Y530
- Lenovo Ideapad 120s (Beginners Pick)
And in case you cannot afford to buy a laptop just yet, kick-start the work with whatever you have even if it is a desktop and upgrade later.
While you will be needing tons of microphones in the future or varied purposes, to get things up running, 4-5 microphones are all you need.
Most people begin with recording vocals and for that a mic with a large diaphragm is perfect and our recommendation is the Rode NT1A Condenser Microphone.
To record high-frequency instruments such as Acoustic Guitar, Cymbals, Piano, etc. you need a small diaphragm mic aka a pencil microphone like the Samson CO2 Pencil Condenser.
With Multi-Purpose Dynamic Microphones like the Shure SM57-LC, you get the best sound quality for recording electric guitars, drums or percussions.
Instruments like kick drums, bass guitar, etc. have a lower frequency which only bass mic or kick drum mics can record with efficiency. So do not forget to add a mic like the AKG D112 to your armory.
As your home studio develops further also check out mics like Ribbon Mics, USB mics, Multi-Pattern Mics, Shotgun Mics, etc. that will help you take your studio to the next level.
3. Mic Stand
Now that you have decided on the mics you need the next order of business is to buy a stand for those microphones.
These stands can range from the commonly used tripod stands, desktop stands (which are perfect for interesting in regular podcasting) to overhead stands often used by professionals for recording at a high angle.
And each of these stands varies in cost. This means, even simple-looking stands require you to take dig deep and research to the value for your money.
The Samson MK10 is one of the most versatile and durable microphone-stands available but if you are on a really tight budget the Wright WP 101 offers the ideal alternative.
Next up are headphones and initially, one top-notch headphone is all you will need. So how do you find it?
For studio use, are 2 main designs you need to consider:
A Closed back headphone: These are often the go-to choice for beginners as they are cheaper and are mostly used for recording tracks.
The Sennheiser HD-280 Pro is one of the best headphones for those just starting out with their home recording studio in India.
Open Back headphone: These headphones are ideal for you when you are only recording instruments such as electric drum or keyboard without audio. It is also widely used for mixing (DJ’s in the house, this is the one you need).
The Beyer Dynamic DT 990 Pro offers a really comfortable fit, strong bass and a wide frequency range hard to find is headphone making it a no-brainer pick.
5. DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and Audio Interface
For all your mixing, editing and recording you will need a sound editing software, right? That is just what the DAW means.
And the Audio Interface is just the device that gets all your weapons connected to your laptop. Now, you can either go for a combo or buy them separately depending on your budget and needs.
If you are looking for a high-end audio interface and do not mind buying the software separately, then I would recommend the Behringer UMC202HD U-Phoria.
It delivers professional-grade audio quality and is compatible with popular recording software like Avid Pro Tools, Ableton Live and Steinberg Cubase.
Remember, buying them separately opens up a whole array of options to choose from as there are lesser combos available in the India market.
But if you would still prefer to go for a cheaper combo, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo USB Audio Interface which comes with the Pro tools offers the best bang for your buck and can be used straight out of the box.
6. Studio Monitors
While open back headphones are great for mixing, they are no match to the sound quality you can get with the right Studio Monitors or Nearfield Monitors?
Hey, but these look just like the speakers I have so why the fancy names?
Well, while they have similarities to the commonly used speakers at home in terms of design, they are very different when it comes to quality.
Regular speakers are primed to deliver excellent sound quality for which they are fitted with tonal enhancers whereas these speakers are designed to help you edit better.
For this purpose, these deliver a ‘flatter frequency’. This means you get a purer version of your mix so that you can effectively make edits for the best possible results.
The KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3 is one of the best-selling studio monitors around the world. That is because it is packed with top of the line features that making it a worthwhile buy for any newbie or mid-level DJ in India.
7. Pop Filters
If you have watched movies like Rockstar or watched videos like that of the song Kolaveri Di, do you remember there mesh around the microphone?
Yup, that is a Pop Filter. But these aren’t some fancy movie prop (although they do add to the feel). The aim of the pop filter is to eliminate sounds that experts refer to as ‘popping’.
This popping sound is created when the singer pronounces P and B sounds. So does that make these filters a must-have or can I do without them for now?
You can definitely get them later on. But even the best of pop filters like the Maono AU-B00 cost less than Rs. 200.
Thus never really hurts to have them if you have the cash to spare as they are a handy addition sure to boost up the sound quality.
8. The Right Cables
Buying new cables for every new equipment you get will be an ongoing process (get used to having hundreds of cables around) but to get things going initially, 3 cables are a must.
One of these is a smaller XLR cable while the other two are shorter XLR cables. So how do these help? The shorter cable is used to connect the mic while the other longer cables are used for the monitor
The Hawk ProAudio Gold Series XLR is the perfect cable for the mic. It is 3m long and offers exceptional durability and signal quality.
For the two longer cables, the MA XLR cable is best-suited. The maximum length available is 10m and has a 90% shield that is designed to keep away unwanted noise or humming.
Please note, some of the audio interfaces use TRS cables in which case those XLR cables are a waste so don’t forget to check this out in advance.
The best TRS cable is the Mogami Gold-TRSXLRM. It is 6-feet long and offers unparalleled connectivity and quality (a little expensive but a cable worth paying for).
9. A comfortable chair
Once you have your recording studio running full-time you are going to be spending more time your chair than anywhere else in the house combined.
This is why it is important to have the right studio chair. So what exactly is a good chair? Simply put, one that comes with adequate cushioning, adjustable lumbar support and an adjustable headrest.
This is because it will help prevent back and neck pain that comes from being seated for long hours.
A mesh back is also pretty handy if you happen to work in hot humid conditions as it helps wick away the moisture quickly.
These are exactly the benefits the Apex Chairs Apollo offers and yet, is available for less than 5k (no wonder it is one of the hottest selling office chairs on Amazon).
10. Train Your Ears
I know it is a little out of the box to have this on the list and neither do most guides recommend it but believe it or not, it is an absolute game changer.
After all, you can but the most expensive of headphones and the fanciest of accessories but in the end, the one accessory that matters the most are the ears.
And while most musicians can recognize chords, notes, etc. we want you to stand out from the pack by being able to recognize weak frequency bands from the stronger ones.
Hear the sound once and you will know exactly what needs to be changed giving your mixes more purpose and meaning (its time to go from a musician to freaking sound engineer).
How To Setup A Home Recording Studio In India - Complete Gear List For 2019