There is no better feeling than hooking up your gear correctly and being blown away by the sound. There is a sense of accomplishment when you see all those lights turn on and everything running like clockwork. What would your studios be without this stuff? Nothing that’s what! No, but seriously, try to make a beat with nothing hooked up. Not fun.
Luckily for you, there’s not a ridiculous amount of wiring needed for your home setup. Your workspace doesn’t have to be a tangled up mish-mosh of confusion that seemingly takes forever to sort out. Trust me I’ve been there, it’s really depressing (especially when nothing works lol).
Some standard cables that you may need include:
- 1/4″ instrument cables (TRS or TS) TRS vs. TS
- XLR cables. What is XLR?
- MIDI cables (if you decide on a midi device). What is MIDI? Nowadays, most newer MIDI devices do not require actual MIDI cables anymore. But I still have some!
- RCA cables.
These will be used to connect various instruments to your interface as well as other components of your rig. For me, they serve as the bridge between my studio monitors and my audio interface. They will most likely for you as well. There are two types:
- TRS (balanced)
- TS (unbalanced)
Just go with TRS here. They provide a better quality signal and noise reduction. Many folks say there isn’t a marked difference between TS and TRS, but I say why take the chance? TRS vs. TS
These are balanced and generally connect from your mic to your audio interface (the mic preamps discussed earlier). They can also provide the link from your interface to your studio monitors (mentioned above) by way of balanced TRS to XLR. If you were to go this route, you would need two wires to power each monitor. These will deliver the phantom power from your interface to your monitors. They can be found here:
In addition, these will connect from your mic to the front of your interface (male to female):
Because many of the newer interface models come equipped with combo inputs (accepting both TRS and XLR) your options become more versatile. If you want to record an instrument but don’t want to use an amp, an option would be:
TRS > Direct Box > XLR > interface
This setup affords you the luxury of not having to have two mics (one miking an amp and the other for vocals) and you can use it with any instrument that has a 1/4″ input or MIDI inputs (keyboard for example).
Most interfaces nowadays can be used to record an instrument without any other miscellaneous gear. The Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd gen is a great example.
These cables are introduced into your lab after you have decided on a midi controller such as a keyboard or some other sort of synthesizer. They connect to your MIDI device (audio interface), via male to male 5-pin connector. Remember, you will need two of these per midi device. One cable to transmit the digital data and the other to receive.
A lot of the newer MIDI devices use USB interfaces, so if you pick up one of those you won’t even need cables. However, it’s always nice to have some of these lying around in your studio just in case. I too once had a midi keyboard.
Chances are, you have some of these lying around in places you never even thought possible. Sometimes when I’m cleaning my room/studio, or looking for something else I will come across at least 2 or 3 bundles of these (The infamous Red, White, and Yellow). They have a huge influence on old electronics and used to be a mainstay in the house. They were primarily used for hooking up VCR’s, your camcorder, or your video game system to a display of some sort. Nowadays you can find them lying around collecting dust. It’s sad really, and it makes me feel old. Lol.
They are still useful, however. For example, my turntable uses red and white jacks with my basic speakers (left and right audio respectively). There are definitely still certain instances in which these guys will come in handy, or be used in some capacity, especially with regard to Amps & DACS.
You could also use an instrument cable to RCA adapter and incorporate these into your studio if you needed some wiring in a pinch.