Hi friend and Welcome!
Today I am going to lay out the foundation of building a home studio on a budget, starting with what you absolutely MUST have, as well as what’s nice to have but not completely necessary.
1) A CPU
This seems pretty obvious, right? How else are you going to record? I use a laptop, others may use a MAC or a PC. It’s all personal preference. The chances are good that whatever you have will suffice, as long as you don’t have one of these to your right. 😛
That’s an old IBM PS1, a great machine in its time. Check out a more in-depth description of choosing your DAW!
2) An audio interface
Nowadays these little boxes are absolutely essential because they give your mix that quality feel, and you don’t have to spend a fortune either!
Check out my necessary post on audio interfaces!
You can see mine pictured to the right and hooked up to my mic. You can also go here to see the review of the Scarlett 2i2!
You could get by without one if you were JUST looking to make beats or lay down a track in a sequencing program. The problem with that is that you would have to use your CPU or laptop’s internal sound card, and oftentimes those are complete rubbish. For $150 you can bypass these problems.
3) A Microphone & Cables
If you’re going to record anything, you will obviously need one of these! It enables you to say basically anything you want! You can curse up a storm, call out the president, compose a diss track to your enemies, or just simply record yourself making farting noises. It’s really up to you! 😀
Luckily, there are some really affordable options out there that will make all of the above worthwhile! Check out my post on 2 great options here!
Unfortunately, you will also need cables, but this isn’t a big deal. You don’t have to dread it. There are really only a few different types needed to build a home studio.
Check out all about cables and wiring!!
4) Sequencing Software
A lot of interfaces nowadays come bundled with software to get you started. For instance, The Scarlett 2i2 mentioned above comes with Ableton Live Lite, which I do not personally use, but have before in the past.
For a time I used Reason a lot, and still do on occasion. It’s a really great program if you’re starting out and is pretty easy to use. It also goes really well with the Korg padKONTROL, which you can read about here!
The program that I use the most frequently is Fruity Loops. It compliments my style the best at this point in time, and is also a lot of fun!
For laying down vocals, I use Steinberg’s Nuendo, which is pretty easy to set up as well.
Regardless of what you choose, you will need to learn the ins and outs of each program enough to be able to lay down a basic track. There are plenty of tutorials out there. I have a few as well in my knowledge base!
5) Some type of MIDI controller
How else are you going to make sounds!? I have used the Korg padKONTROL (mentioned above) in the past, as well as the AKAI MPD18. Again here is the side by side review of each!
Nice to have, but not mandatory
1) Studio Monitors. What are Studio Monitors?
Truth be told, I didn’t get a pair of these until years and years down the road. I wish I had sooner! A good pair will really help you improve your mixdowns and masters. I copped a pair of JBL LSR 305’s and they’re just over a year old and strong now! Check out my review here! You can also compare some different options here!
2) Mixing Headphones
I didn’t put these in the mandatory section because they aren’t truly necessary, well technically. I used the cheap MDR V150’s for the longest time and “got by”. But in actuality, my first big purchase towards my studio was a pair of Sony MDR 7506’s, and I never looked back.
After those broke (my own fault), I bought a pair of M50’s, and they have been going strong since January of 2013. I wouldn’t really recommend them for mixing anymore.
The HD600 to the right is just about the best purchase you can make. Find out why in my official Sennheiser HD600 Review!
3) A turntable
I use one of these for casual listening as well as sampling old vinyl, but you may not. It’s all personal preference, but I would highly suggest one anyways. They are just too cool! A great beginner option is the Audio Technica AT-LP60.
Well that’s about it my friend! If you have any further specific questions about how to build a home studio on a budget, I would be glad to answer them down below! You can also Contact me! Don’t hesitate as I may have missed something!
All the best and God bless,