Gear That You Need!
In order to start a home studio, it’s important to have the right gear. Of course, many of the items listed below may not apply to your specific genre of music. That’s what makes individual music production such a wonderful thing. However, my personal style of music involves recording my acoustic instruments into my computer rather than producing music completely digitally. If you’re reading this, you’re obviously interested in home studios and maybe even want to purchase some gear to begin your amazing journey into home recording. But, there are some things you should keep in mind.
Where to Start?
If you want to record your music, you’ll need some place to store what you record. Sure, a regular ole’ MP3 recorder is good for capturing ideas and riffs/motifs on the go, but odds are you’re going to want some high quality sound. In order to achieve a great, high quality sound to your recordings, you’ll need several pieces of crucial equipment.
1. A Microphone
The most important thing that you’ll need to start recording your own music, podcast, or pretty much anything else is a microphone. There are 3 main types of microphones: condenser mics, ribbon mics, and dynamic mics. These names refer to the actual method by which the microphone captures sound. Microphones of all 3 types are usually tailored to specific audio environments. For example, vocal microphones are designed to capture the range of the human voice, whereas instrument microphones are tailored more toward the range of instruments.
My vocal microphone, the MXL V67G HE Heritage Edition Large Capsule Condenser Microphone ($130) gives me great range and sounds clear and crisp, plus it came with a pop filter, carrying case, and a shock mount (watch out for a review). However if you don’t want to jump right into fairly expensive gear, the Behringer Ultravoice Xm8500 is only $20 on Amazon right now and has great reviews.
My instrument microphone, the Shure PGA98H-XLR Cardioid Condenser Gooseneck Instrument Microphone with 15′ XLR-XLR Cable ($130) is another great condenser microphone but the benefit is that I’m not forced to record my saxophone at one specific angle, plus it makes live shows a breeze. There are tons of other kinds of microphones, varying in quality by brand in price, but vocal microphones will capture a pretty wide range of sounds so that’s a great place to start.
Now, you will also need a stand to put your microphone on. I personally use On-Stage gear because I like how robust and affordable they are. The MS7701B from On-Stage is a boom stand which means you can angle the microphone pretty far away from the base of the stand in case the base doesn’t fit where you need to record. Another option is the DS7200B desk stand, which just sits right on your desk. This would be ideal for podcasts.
2. A Capture Device
Now that you have your microphone, you need something to capture the audio that you record. If your microphone has an XLR connector, it probably needs phantom power (this is 48 volts that is sent through the XLR connector, separate from the audio signal cable) but each microphone varies. I personally use the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface ($100) which connects directly to my computer via USB but there are many alternatives like the BEHRINGER XENYX 502, ($50) however the catch is that it is an analog mixer. That means you will have to send the sound from your microphone through the mixer, then through another device in order to capture it with a computer. Once you connect the device to your computer, you will probably need to install some drivers. Once that is done, you are ready to begin recording!
It goes without saying that you’ll need a computer to do any serious recording, and your tastes and personal preferences will vary widely on this one. However I recommend anything with a good amount of processing power, such as an Intel i5 or i7 processor. However the real deal-breaker with music production is software. While it’s true that you could use the native recording software to make music, it becomes much easier with dedicated software. I find that the industry is split between Ableton, Logic, FL Studio, and Pro Tools. I decided to buy FL Studio because I liked the interface better, but try each one and see which is best for your workflow. However, an amazing open-source program exists called Audacity. It is great for just capturing raw microphone input and has some great effects and tools available, and it’s free!
Hopefully you learned a thing or two from this overview of home recording, and if you want to hear how it all comes together, check out my SoundCloud!