Home Setting Up A Home Recording Studio | An Introduction

Setting Up A Home Recording Studio | An Introduction

by Stuart Charles Black

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Updates
  • 3/29/19.
  • 1/10/19. Headphone Updates.
  • 1/15/19. Image replacement.
  • 12/24/20. Added updated studio image and some words.
  • 1/12/21. Updated headphone collection.

Hey there friend!

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Building a home studio can seem like a daunting task. Whether you are a vocalist, a beatmaker, or any sort of musician, you have probably thought about what it would be like to have your own equipment. A studio to call your own. I too dreamed of having my own space filled with all of the musical things that make me tick. Over the years I have accumulated a lot of stuff. Some of it I still have, some of it I sold because either I upgraded, or didn’t need it anymore.

The setup I have now suits me very well and is meant to show beginners that you don’t need any fancy pants state of the art equipment. You can derive great sound from affordable products.

Below is my current headphone collection followed by the lab in different stages!


Headphone Collection!

Dusty.

The gang’s all here.

Crisp.

Pictured left to right: Sennheiser HD25, Philips SHP9500, Audio Technica ATH M40x, V-Moda Crossfade M100, Sennheiser HD 558, Sennheiser HD 600, Sony MDR V6, Audio Technica ATH M50, Samson SR850.

Not pictured:

1/10/20 Update: I have sold most of my headphones in the above pictures. The only ones left are the Sennheiser HD600, Philips SHP9500, and Skull Candy Uproar Wireless (for the gym). I have also since bought an AKG K702 & K612. Updated pictures to come. 🙂

1/12/21 Update.

  • Current headphones (from left to right): AKG K240M (600 Ohm), AKG K260, AKG K612, K702, Koss KPH30i, Philips SHP9500, Sony MDR101, Philips SHP9600, Sennheiser HD600, HIFIMAN DEVA, Koss KSC75 (lower shelf).
  • Not pictured: Skull Candy Uproar Wireless, HIFIMAN TWS600.


The Lab

Circa 2007

Circa 2007

Gear

  • PC: Gateway (Can’t remember the model)
  • Monitor: 19″ Lextron
  • Turntable: N/A
  • Drumpad: KORG padKONTROL (Old/White)
  • Interface: M-Audio Fast Track Pro
  • Keyboard: Roland (Can’t remember the model)
  • Studio monitors: N/A
  • Speakers: Logitech R-20
  • Headphones: Audio Technica ATH M50
  • Microphone: Samson C01
  • Stand: On Stage MS7701B
  • Tank: Fish XD
  • Desk: My old desk from when I was young. It was a great desk in its time.
  • Chair: Computer

December 2014

December 2014

Before I sold that laptop and those KRK ST6’s.

Transitioning from the old laptop to the new (Lenovo T510)

Gear

  • Laptop: Lenovo Thinkpad T510
  • Monitor: 24″ used Dell Monitor ($10 at the thrift store, lol).
  • Turntable: Audio Technica AT LP60
  • Drumpad: KORG padKONTROL (Old/White), AKAI MPD18
  • Interface: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (1st gen)
  • Studio monitors: JBL LSR 305.
  • Speakers: Generic
  • Headphones: Audio Technica ATH M50
  • Microphone: Samson C01
  • Printer: HP DeskJet 3632
  • Camera: Nikon D3200

May/December 2016

May 2016

December 2016

December 2016

Gear

  • Laptop: Lenovo Think Pad T510 (upgraded to 8GB of RAM)
  • Monitors: Dual ASUS PA248Q Monitors (amazing btw, highly recommended)
  • Turntable: Audio Technica AT LP60
  • Drumpad: KORG padKONTROL (New/Black)
  • Mouse: Wired
  • Interface: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (1st gen)
  • Studio monitors: JBL LSR 305. Don’t arrange them as I did. I don’t have room on my desk to place them properly, and the only way to do so is to get a new desk or make modifications to the existing one. I experimented with rotating the monitors up and was able to fit them on either side. But I didn’t like the way the screen was, as it resulted in less space. So there they are. 😛
  • Speakers: Generic
  • Headphones: Audio Technica ATH M50, Sennheiser HD600
  • Microphone: Samson C01, Blue Yeti, Audio Technica AT2020
  • Stand: On-Stage MS7920B
  • Printer: HP DeskJet 3632
  • Camera: Nikon D3200

December 2020

More images to come!

December 2020

After getting the display port. Thanks, dad!

I’m kind of starting over with recording gear. A lot of it was sold, but come 2021 I will be getting a bunch of new stuff because I plan to record more guitar covers, raps, and get back into making beats. I will be recording my YouTube videos in this space as well, and I’ve got some more shelves and stuff to build.

As you can see, the May 2016 setup with the top part of the desk wasn’t economical at all, so I scrapped it and built the 2 shelves you see on the left and right. I situated them in such a way that when I get new studio monitors, I can place them in an equilateral triangle towards my head at ear level.

Because I got a new laptop, I have to also match it with the appropriate display port as the X1 is very picky about what you use. It’s a work in progress! Also keep in mind that I don’t own all of those Amps & DACS, haha. I’m fortunate enough that companies send me them to demo and review!

Gear

  • Laptop: Lenovo X1 Extreme (32GB RAM)
  • Monitors: 24.1″ Dual ASUS PA248Q
  • Display Port: Plugable USB 3.0
  • Turntable: Audio Technica ATLP60
  • Drum pad: KORG padKONTROL
  • Mouse: Logitech G305 (main), Logitech M325 (backup)
  • Speakers: Generic
  • Microphone: Blue Yeti
  • Amps & DACS: iFi Neo iDSD, Topping A50s/D50s, Creative SoundBlasterX G6 and G3, FiiO BTR3K, AudioQuest DragonFly Red, iFi hip-dac, iFi Zen, iFi Zen Blue, iFi Zen CAN Signature 6XX, FiiO E10K, K3, and K5 Pro.
  • Headphones: AKG K612, K702, K240M (600 Ohm), K260, Philips SHP9500 and 9600, Sennheiser HD600, Koss KPH30i, Koss KSC75, HIFIMAN DEVA.
  • Printer: Lexmark Interpret S405
  • Camera: Nikon D3200
  • Lens: AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8G
  • Figurines: Travis Bickle, Snake Plissken, Lego men, Generic Troll.
  • Posters: Jerry Garcia (left) J Dilla (right)

As you can well imagine, your studio space will go through lots of changes over time due to, well, life. Don’t be in a hurry to get everything exactly how you want it, because there are always adjustments to be made. Just be grateful for what you have at any given moment, and always work to improve!

The following guide is designed to get you started in the right direction. It is meant to be clear and organized while giving suggestions about how to start a home studio (with what I know works). The last thing I wanted to happen when I began my journey was to get confused. Although I did on occasion, eventually I figured it out by doing endless amounts of research while in the process having about a gazillion browser tabs opened. I want you to avoid that!

Let’s get started…

[Setup]

First things first. You’re going to want to choose a comfy place to record your sounds or craft your beats. I chose my bedroom, as it is the most convenient and comfy place I know of! Here I can escape the world and drown out all my troubles with music.

The only place I wouldn’t recommend is a bathroom setup. That area is designated for other tasks and wouldn’t be ideal.

Choose some furniture…

My awesome chair is now peeling 🙁

Take it from me, there’s nothing worse than being uncomfortable in your studio space. I’ve experienced some of the worst seating in the business. The feeling you get from sitting in a crappy chair for 6 hours is like sleeping on concrete.

I’d recommend going with something similar to my super awesome, extra comfy, uber soft executive chair that you see to your immediate right. 😛

Next, I would decide on a desk. An L shape is ideal because it provides ample room for gear and lots of space for other stuff as well. It also makes you feel like a mother f*cking executive! When I plop down to make a beat, I feel like a king. You should too. I can’t recommend my own desk since I got it so long ago, but you should definitely go with something that makes sense for your particular set up. Always keep in mind the type of room that you will be using.

(Storage)

I have a desk with drawers, but if I didn’t, I would probably invest in some plastic storage containers. I currently just use cardboard boxes for all of my misc. wires.

They are a great way to keep things organized and can be had for cheap. In addition, you may want to add an over-the-door coat hook. I can’t even begin to tell you how much time was wasted in the past untangling chords and trying to figure out what’s what. Save yourself the trouble.

Continue to Choosing a DAW

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24 comments

Roman December 27, 2014 - 6:53 pm

First of all, your website really impressed me on the first glance. Awesome layout and feel to it. Certainly fits your niche.
Second of all, very good article with even better internal links.

Keep it up! 😀

Reply
Stu December 27, 2014 - 7:03 pm

Thanks Roman! I really appreciate the kind words. I will be updating it so keep checking back!
-Stu

Reply
Nichole December 31, 2014 - 5:08 am

Hey Stu,
Love the look of your site! I have to admit I know nothing about home studios but I wanted to set one up I know where to go. You have everything layed out nicely and easy to follow with so much excellent information.

Nichole

Reply
Stu December 31, 2014 - 5:27 am

Thanks Nichole! yeah I’m actually in the midst of editing and adding to it as well. Keep checking back!
-Stu

Reply
Ship January 7, 2015 - 8:04 pm

I have to say your website looks fantastic. It is weird my daughter was just playing me something she mixed for school. I am sure she will love this site you have some great content but I have a feeling it is going to cost me a fortune. 🙂

Reply
Stu July 9, 2016 - 4:30 am

Nah not a fortune Ship! Fortunately, you can obtain the necessary gear all for around $1000. When you take into account that there are single pieces of gear costing a grand, it’s not that bad. 🙂

Reply
Lindsay February 6, 2015 - 2:22 am

Hey Stu,

I love the site. I love the graphics and short paragraphs.
Keep up the good work!

Lindsay

Reply
Stu February 6, 2015 - 7:56 pm

Thanks Lindsay.. I appreciate it! 🙂
-Stu

Reply
Brad February 6, 2015 - 2:41 am

You have a lot of good information on setting up a home studio! I’m definitely going to be checking back often since I’m looking to set one up in my spare bedroom

Reply
Stu February 6, 2015 - 7:56 pm

Please do Brad! Seriously 🙂 Thanks for stopping by
-Stu

Reply
Erik June 1, 2015 - 5:32 pm

ay good stuff brotha! im going to be picking up a new computer this summer and i might need to come to you for some advice

Reply
Stu June 2, 2015 - 1:44 pm

Thank you sir, don’t hesitate to reach out!
-Stu

Reply
Carrie January 5, 2016 - 3:44 pm

Wonderful. Very clear and well explained each step. Thank you!

Reply
Stu January 6, 2016 - 1:13 am

Thank you Carrie!!

If you have any questions contact me!

Reply
Santa March 5, 2016 - 12:08 am

Thanks for the amazing and helpful info you’ve been sharing with us and btw I too had gazllion tabs opened when i started bro xD .. it’s all for the sake of what we love .. Thanks again

SanTa

Reply
Stu March 5, 2016 - 4:35 am

Hey there!

Thanks so much for the kindness and love. I really want to show people that building a home studio isn’t as hard and daunting of a task as people make it out to be. I’m really glad you are enjoying the site. Please don’t hesitate to reach out again, or Contact me!
All the best,
-Stu

Reply
K.Frat October 23, 2017 - 5:36 pm

I stumbled upon this website in an effort to find out which mic I should buy and was given so much more information about, well everything!! This is actually really helpful since I’m trying to start my at home studio.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black October 23, 2017 - 9:53 pm

Thank you much!

Please let me know if you need specific help with anything down the road or whenever!

Blessings,

-Stu

Reply
Jw September 7, 2018 - 12:46 am

You have been really helpful Stu! Thanks bro do you have any other social media? Definitely want to keep in touch I’m always gonna have questions! Again thanks

Reply
Stuart Charles Black September 7, 2018 - 3:28 pm

Yeah man the links are all to the right! I’m on Instagram more so than Twitter though. Definitely check me out on YouTube as well. Got a lot of good stuff coming. Thanks so much for stopping by..
-Stu

Reply
lufolufo September 16, 2018 - 7:25 am

Stu I really appreciate you writing all these unbiased reviews and articles so a newbie like myself can learn! They are all very clear and straightforward. May I know if you would also have recommendations on in-ear earphones that are more neutral/balanced/honest? I have tried the Westone UM Pro 10,20 and 30 and I really like them as I can hear everything but the bass is not heavy at all. But I personally like the Sennheiser brand. Recently I also bought the Nexum Aqua+ wireless dac+amp. Thanks for your time and again, you got an awesome website, keep it up!

Reply
Stuart Charles Black September 17, 2018 - 1:40 pm

Hey bud! Hmm I like the Shure SE215 have you heard that one? It’s incredibly clean, detailed, and crisp. I don’t have as much experience with IEM’s but I would take a look at the Etymotic ER-4S as well. That would be an example of something more balanced. Let me know if that helps!

Thanks so much for the warm comment. Let me know if I can get permission to put it on the front page! 🙂

-Stu

Reply
Phil H November 29, 2018 - 6:29 pm

Hey Stu, I am relatively new to the audiophile world, and your site is one if not the best sources of info I have run across. I love your analytical approach, and matter of fact review and tutorials. Thank you very much. I do have some questions regarding headphone cables and would appreciate your input.

I have the Senn HD 700, but for my uses I need a shorter cable with either the 2.5 TRRS balanced, or the standard 3.5 mm to use with the FiiO x5iii, and also through a DAC and my computer. The DAC uses a 1/4 connector. My first question is do higher quality cables, really make much of a difference as marketed through the other websites, or it basically just snake oil? Do the $30 ones on Amazon deliver the same sound as the $300 high end ones? What would recommend?

Also what terminal ends would you recommend? I will need adapters to use the TRRS balanced (or is not really worth it?) and the 3.5mm connectors for my amp, and also the 1/4 plug.

Also, I don’t understand the significance of balanced cables (4 connectors) when you have to use a 1/4″ adapter which only has 3 conductors. Wouldn’t it defeat the purpose of the separate ground wire, if they are just both terminated to a common ground through the adapter? So much to learn. Thank you in advance for your input..

Reply
Stuart Charles Black November 30, 2018 - 6:34 pm

Hey Phil!

Thanks for the kind words!

1) I would just go with the cheaper cables to start. You’re not going to hear much of a difference. I’ve heard an Optical cable in the thousands and yeah it sounded fine, but there’s no real perceivable difference between it and a cheaper cable. Just my opinion. I would recommend just getting a cheaper cable.
2) I like 1/4″ but it’s just preference. It doesn’t really matter, and mostly depends on what I have in front of me. If the amp requires a 1/4″ plug I just use an adapter. So for you if I’m understanding correctly, just use a 1/4″ to 3.5mm for the X5.
3) Not too sure what scenario exactly you’re referring to in your question. I use TRS to XLR in my Studio Monitor set up and the balanced cables cancel out any noise from reversing the polarity. That’s really the only experience I have with it.

Let me know!

-Stu

Reply

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