Getting Started

With so many game changing music and entertainment platforms out there, such as Spotify, Youtube, SoundCloud, and CdBaby, getting your music out to the masses has never been more obtainable.

 We are literally in the middle of an indie music revolution.

All over the world, indie artist JUST LIKE YOU, are rising up and liberating them selves from the control of major record labels and the torture of hopelessly waiting around to be discovered by them.

They are taking their craft, their dreams and their futures into their own hands and living boldly by the mantra “Do it yourself,” DIY!  And they are.

And you can too!

No matter if you’re a musician, singer songwriter, sound engineer or you just want to start recording podcasts.

This blog is for you!

Now I know your probably thinking, “Yeah it sounds good but where do I start?”

Well, don’t worry because I’m about to walk you through, step by step, how to construct your own DIY home recording studio, so you can turn your home into a hit factory.

I’m going to tell you exactly what equipment you’re going to need, give you the best rated options on what to buy and the best part is, do it all for under $500 dollars.

So are you with me?

Cool, lets get started!!! 

Digital Audio Workstations

The most important element of every recording studio is the DAW. 

A DAW, or Digital Audio Workstation, is an computer program or application used for recording, editing and mastering audio files. And often times it can be a lot of work trying to figure out which DAWs are the best.

 But you’re in luck!!

 The following are the top 3 rated DAWs to choose from, if you are just starting out.

 And the best part is, they are FREE!!!

 

Audacity

Audacity is an easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems.

Pros:

·       Operating systems PC/Mac/Linux

·       Offers 16 and 32 recording bit rate

·       Simple to navigate

Cons:

·       Display kind of looks a little outdated

·       Audacity can’t make background music

·       No real time processing


Reaper

REAPER is a complete digital audio engineering and production application for computers, offering a full multi-track audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering toolset.

Pros:

·       Highly Customizable

·       Supports unlimited number of tracks

·       Very Low CPU usage

·       Comes with 300 free plug-ins

·       A lot of features but basic recording and production can be learned in just a few hours

 Cons:

·       In my personal opinion there is very little to be disappointed about when it comes to Reaper.

 For a free software it is definitely enough to get your studio up and running.


Garageband

GarageBand puts a complete music studio on your computer, so you can make your own music to share with the world. Whether its recording vocals or making instrumentals, Garageband can unleash your musical creativity, no matter whether you’re a pro or a beginner.

 Pros:

·       Can record using the microphone on your computer

· Real instruments, for audio recordings such as voice, guitar, bass, or any instrument that can be captured by a microphone)

·       Allows you to create your own background instrumentals

·       Comes with a sound library, instrument plug-ins and loop kits

Cons:

·       Only works on mac

·       Only allows 2 effects per track

All 3 of these DAWs are incredible options to get you started. Once you become more familiar with them you can always upgrade to some of the more premiere DAW suites.

But I will talk more about those in a later blog.

Studio Microphones

Selecting the right studio microphone can literally make or break your studio recordings.

With such a wide variety of studio microphones, selecting the right one can be a full time job all in its self. And when you factor in a budget that just makes your decision even more overwhelming.

Fortunately, I have done all the heavy lifting for you and the microphone options I have will definitely give you the best return on your investment!

 

Audio Technica AT2020… $99

The Audio Technica AT2020 is a mighty contender when it comes to performance vs. price. At only $99 this mic offers 16mm low-mass diaphragm with a smooth 20Hz-20kHz frequency response. The low self-noise is ideal for digital recordings, plus it has a high 144dB SPL handling.

 Pros:

·       Nice Design

·       Brand Quality and performance

·       Versatility. Works well on everything from vocals to drums, and podcasting.

Cons:

·       No shock mount

·       No attenuation pad or polar pattern selection switch.


Behringer B1 Studio Condenser… $100

The Behringer B1 Studio Condenser is a suitable addition to any home studio. This mic is high quality and highly affordable. At only $100 the Behringer B1 Studio Condenser will capture your sound with incredible realism, sensitivity and accuracy.

 Pros:

·       Good sound clarity and quite linear frequency response up to 5 KHz. So you can expect a good balanced recording with this mic.

·       Comes with nice features such as 10 db padding and a Bass cut-off switch. Therefore, you can use this mic to capture sound from a variety of sources.

·       Comes with a carrying case, windscreen and shock mount (unlike the Audio Technica AT2020). So you wont have to buy these accessories separately.

Cons:

·       Top end of audio files stands out the most in recordings. So you will just have to be mindful of it and EQ it in your mix.

·       Does not come with a pop filter so you might have to buy one.


MXL 990… $70

This large diaphragm microphone has a vintage style with a contemporary reputation. The MXL 990 is still considered one of the most groundbreaking microphones of its class. And at a price point of $75 dollars you can’t beat its performance.

 Pros:

·       FET preamp and a large diaphragm

·       Provides smooth high end and retains tight, solid low and midrange reproduction

·       Includes custom shock mount, mic stand adapter & carrying case

·       Perfect for home studio recording

Cons:

·       Close up vocals come off kind of warm

·       Mid-range frequency could use a little more definition.

Now once you have decided on which studio mic suits you best the next thing you’re going to need is an audio interface.

Audio Interfaces

An audio interface is a piece of studio equipment that improves the sonic quality and capabilities of your computer. Audio interfaces come with a variety features and the more money you spend the better the features.

So making sure your audio interface has the features you need to produce the highest possible sound quality is a must.

The follow audio interfaces are some real heavy hitters and are sure to meet all of your needs as you get started producing great material.

 

Mackie 402 VLZ4-Channel… $99

The Mackie name says enough!

The Mackie 402 VLZ4-Channel is one of my personal favorites.

Aside from the fact that the mic preamps in this little beast holds clout throughout the music industry, the price point alone makes it a must have addition to your DIY home studio set-up.

At only $99 I know your probably thinking what’s the catch. Well hate to break it to you but there isn’t one!

 Pros:

·       Includes Mackie's industry-proven Onyx preamps for crystal-clear sonic clarity.

·       Sealed rotary controls resist dust and grime

·       Built Like A Tank! Made to keep on working no matter what gets thrown at it. Features like a nearly indestructible steel wrap-around chassis makes the Mackie VLZ4 mixer a solid investment.

Cons:

·       You’ll need RCA cable adapters to connect directly to your desktop or laptop.


Focusrite Solo… $108

The Focusrite Solo is another interface that bears the brand of some of the industry’s most well known juggernauts. Focusrite is known for its award winning mic preamps that produce a sound quality that is second to none.

And the Focusrite Solo is no different!

 Pros:

·       Award winning preamp built in

·       Very portable and well built.

·       Direct monitoring.

·       Halo Light System

·       Super-low latency for better performances

·       USB powered, no bulky power supply

Cons:

·       Combined headphone/monitor output

·       Unbalanced outputs


BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UMC202HD, 2-Channel Audio Interface… $79

Last but not least amongst my top picks for quality audio interfaces you have the Behringer U-Phoria UMC202. This audio interface can be summed up in one word…SOLID! With its world class Midas designed mic preamps and +48 phantom power. This audio interface has one job and that’s GET BUSY!!

 Pros:

·       2x2 USB 2.0 audio interface for recording microphones and instruments

·       Audiophile 24-Bit/192 kHz resolution for professional audio quality

·       Compatible with popular recording software

·       2 state-of-the-art, MIDAS designed Mic Preamplifiers with +48 V phantom power

·       Zero-latency direct monitoring while recording

Cons:

·       Single phantom power switch for all channels (all 4 either on or off)

·       No internal effects for use during low latency monitoring

Now so far we’ve discussed three essential pieces of hardware and software needed to be able to produce your very own musical masterpieces.

But with all the thought and effort put into selecting just the right equipment: what good would it do you if all the cool features that you’ve researched and paid for just got lost in the playback?

That’s right, you guessed it…NONE!

So that brings us to the next staple piece of hardware in our DIY home studio setup.

Studio Monitors

Producing great quality music often means producing music full of dynamics. So in order to get the dynamics of each song just right, having high quality playback devices is a must. That’s where studio monitors come in.

A good studio monitor needs to be sensitive enough to express all frequency ranges from highs, mids, to lows but be rugged enough to let you feel every ounce of that bass.

So in order to ensure that your home studio has what it takes to help you produce those hits, I have selected three studio monitors that are sure to give you a run for your money.

 

 Mackie Studio CR3 $80

These guys are studio quality sound made affordable. The Mackie Studio CR3s pump out 50W of pure undistorted stereo sound from two 3" woofers and two ferrofluid-cooled 0.75" silk tweeters, and they have a wide frequency response range of 80Hz–20KHz.

 Pros:

·       Comes with 2 studio monitors

·       Delivers studio quality sound performance with a wide frequency range between 80 Hz to 20 kHz.

·       Great for vocal and instrumental performances with clear stereo separation and crystal clear details.

·       Front panel aux input for your smartphone or tablet

·       Headphone out and volume knob that doubles as an on/off switch

Cons:

·       While the Mackie CR3s provides clear and clean studio sound performance, the bass is slightly weaker compared to some of the higher priced monitors.


PreSonus Eris E3.5… $100

When it comes to performance the PreSonus Eris E3.5s are definitely a viable contender. These bad boys come with 50W class AB amplification and a 3.5 Kevlar woofer to generating a quality low-end with minimal bass distortion.

 Pros:

·       Comes with two studio monitors for the price

·       3.5" Kevlar woofers deliver solid low-end sound with minimal bass distortion

·       Solid construction and quality components for superior sound

·       Controls for accurate playback in any studio environment

·       Powerful enough for any studio, yet affordable enough for any budget

Cons:

·       The cables it comes with are not the best quality


Tascam VL-S3… $99

Now when it comes to studio monitors that pack punch the Tascam VL-S3 studio monitors are definitely where it’s at. With its 3” woofer, rear ported design and a 1/8” stereo mini jack that allows playback from your smartphones or MP3 player, $99 seems unreal.

 Pros:

·       Great sound quality

·       Has a 3″ Woofer

·       Has a 0.5″ Tweeter

·       Also a 1/8” stereo mini jack for playing from smartphones or MP3 players

Cons:

·       None that I could find, quality monitors.

The Wrap Up

So there you have it! The four most essential pieces you’ll need, to construct your own DIY home studio.

We discussed them, we reviewed them and now the rest is up to you.

Your days of Google searching “recording studios near me” are about to be a thing of the past!

All you have to do is decide. And the best part is your studio can be up and running for well under $500.

Now there are some accessories that you also have to invest in, but trust me they definitely wont be breaking the bank.

Those are…

Mic stands

Microphone Pop filters

Headphones

Mic cables

and…

RCA or XLR cables depending on which audio interface you go with.

For these items ill definitely leave some suggestions but as far as mic stands and pop filters go, any one will do the job.

So, for the headphones, RCA/TRS to XLR cables, and microphone cables, check these out!

 

Studio monitor TRS to XLR cables

When connecting your studio monitors to your audio interface you will need TRS to XLR cables. The Tisino 1/4 Inch TRS to XLR Male Balanced Signal Interconnect Cable Quarter inch to XLR Patch Cable is pretty solid. It will definitely get the job done for an affordable price.


Microphone cables

When connecting your microphone to your audio interface you will need to purchase a quality microphone cable/cables. Its important to make sure that the cables you purchase wont distort your audio sound, if they move or get bumped, while trying to record new music. So with that being said, I strongly suggest you check out these Mogami CorePlus Microphone Cables. Mogami is a very reliable and trusted brand and I have been using them for years.


RCA Cables

If you do decide to go with the Mackie 402 or any mixer type audio interface you will need to purchase RCA adapter cables to run your mixer directly to your laptop or desktop. These RCA Dual Shielded Gold-Plated 3.5mm Male to 2RCA Male Cables will do the trick. Plus they are only $8. Steal!

Headphones

Last but not least headphones! No way around it, you’re going to need a pair. Now headphones are one of those things where the more money you are willing to spend on them, obviously the better the quality. But there are a number of affordable options out there to get you started. The LyxPro HAS-10 Closed Back Over-Ear Professional Studio Monitor & Mixing Headphones are definitely a good place to start. Personally, I think the sound quality of these are pretty good and they are over the ear to help block out sound, which is preferred for tracking music.

So that wraps it up. Hope this has been helpful and good luck on you DIY Home Studio journey. I can’t wait to hear some of the magic you’ll cook up in your new studio! On behalf of DIYHomeStudios and No Beat Is Safe Entertainment. I would just like to say thank you and see you around.