How To Build A Home Recording Studio



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Building a home studio can overwhelming and expensive to build. Building in your bedroom, or any private room space for a studio setup will give you the needs and skills to grow.

This practical guide will help you choose the right home recording studio equipment for your needs. Here’s how you can build your own recording studio right at home.


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1. Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

A DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is a digital system designed for recording and editing digital audio. You may hear this term often called audio hardware, audio software, or both. Some popular DAW programs many artists and audio engineers use are software such as Avid Pro Tools, Cubase, FL Studio, Logic Pro X, and Ableton Live. There are other platform-specific DAW programs that you can use for Windows and Mac OS X. All DAW’s come with different features to how many tracks you can record, plug ins that come with the software, and instruments that can be downloaded to your DAW’s library.

Free vs Paid DAW’s:

FREE DIGITAL AUDIO WORKSTATION (DAW) –

Garageband (MAC): Garageband is a popular DAW for a starter that offers a selection of virtual instruments, MIDI, and mixing plugins with the software. Garageband's design makes it easy for beginners to learn before moving on to bigger programs, such as Logic Pro X.
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Audacity (WINDOWS, MAC, LINUX): Audacity is the most popular open source programs. This DAW is compatible with Windows, OS X, and Linux operating systems, giving access for all users no matter what operating system you’re on. Audacity offers both a multitrack and editing options, which many engineers have liked to tried out before making an investment for a bigger and more expensive DAW software.
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Cakewalk by BandLab (WINDOWS): Catwalk is currently available for Windows users at no cost. You got that right, FREE! Cakewalk is designed to replicate the layout of an analog console, where you can upgrade your channel strip to an expandable library of ProChannel modules that ranges to and from convolution reverb, resonant filtering, dynamic compression, powerful EQ to tape and console emulation, peak limiting, and tube saturation.
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Cubase by Steinberg (WINDOWS, MAC): Cubase LE supports 16 audio tracks, 24 MIDI tracks, and 8 physical inputs with recording quality up to 24-bit/192 kHz. This free version does not support 32-bit plug-ins, but this software comes with 180 presets, so you can dive headfirst into producing music. EQ, compression, delay and other basic plugins that are needed for a great mix to get you started.
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Avid Pro Tools First (WINDOWS, MAC): With Avid being the leading DAW in the professional audio world, Avid released their first free version for music starters called Pro Tools First. The free version includes a playback for up to 16 audio tracks and allows recording of up to 4 tracks simultaneously. This free DAW supports 16 MIDI tracks, 16 instrument tracks, 16 auxiliary tracks, 23 included plugins, and the use of unlimited busses.
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PreSonus Studio One 5 Prime (WINDOWS, MAC): PreSonus Studio One 5 Prime offers unlimited audio and instrument tracks, virtual instruments, FX channels, and  single-window work environment with quick and easy drag-and-drop functionality and multi-touch support. Over 2 GB of bundled loop and musical content, powerful Presence XT virtual sample-player for keyboard and synth sounds, and is only supported on 64-Bit operating systems.

PURCHASE DIGITAL AUDIO WORKSTATION (DAW) –

Logic Pro X (MAC): Logic Pro X is knowing to helping artists mimic a production studio, all straight from your own Mac computer. Logic offers gives the tools to write, record, edit, and mix that are all free of download if you purchase the software.
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Avid Pro Tools (MAC): Pro Tools is the most popular DAW in the professional world among many artists and audio engineers. Avid is known an industry standard software that is known for professional mixing and editing. Pro Tools is best to use for studio recordings.
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FL Studio (WINDOWS, MAC): FL Studio is a DAW that is extremely popular among many electronic music producers. This program is known to be very easy to use and has some great composition features, however; it is known not to be a good software when it comes to audio. FL Studio gives you everyone you need to write, arrange, record, edit, mix and master quality music.
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Ableton Live (WINDOWS, MAC): Ableton Live is also known as the top electronic music program that a lot of producers like to use. If you want to try out Ableton before you purchase the software, you can try Ableton’s Lite version at no cost and still get all of the features of Ableton Live Suite free for 30 days.
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Cubase (WINDOWS, MAC): Cubase has been around for a long time and still continues to remain a very popular DAW. This software is known to be put out by Steinberg, offering great audio quality, and has a collection of highly advanced audio and MIDI tools.
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Reason (WINDOWS, MAC): Reason is own by the company called Propellerhead. This DAW is known to be great for electronic music producers that love the feel of an analog. Reason offers virtual instruments that are both powerful and versatile, and also offers a great selection of tools for collaboration. You can try our Reason before you buy with a 30 day free trail.
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REAPER ( WINDOWS, MAC): Reaper is a digital audio production application for Windows and OS X, offering a full multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering toolset.
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PreSonus Studio One (WINDOWS, MAC): PreSonus Studio One offers unlimited number of tracks, numerous kinds of editing tools, and advanced virtual instruments. PreSonus offers three different versions of their DAW's; Studio One Prime, Studio One Artist, and Studio One Professional.
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2. Headphones

Once you have your DAW downloaded, set up, and ready, the next important purchase is headphones. Why should headphones be among the first products to purchase, and how important do you say they are? Very important because using headphones is one way engineers use to mix songs. Headphones are the ultimate need when it comes to recording. They even come more in handy as headphones can serve a purpose for mixing for a room that isn't treated yet. In many studies, earbuds are really are really unhealthy for your hearing. Having headphones that go over the ears gives better quality, and comes out better overall for the good of your health.

Some headphone companies we'd recommend -

Sennheiser: Sennheiser offers different models for over the ears. Over-ear headphones create a protected, secure space around the whole ear where they unfold a soundscape for you to explore.
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Sony: Explore Sony's extensive range of noise cancelling headphones. designed to help you enjoy your favorite music.
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Shure: Developed by a brand trusted for music history’s greatest moments, the Shure Headphones deliver extended range audio with enhanced high-frequency response, and come at a more affordable price.
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Behringer: Whether you’re mixing a recording, or just sitting back enjoying your favorite MP3, you want headphones that deliver high-definition bass and super-transparent highs across an ultra-wide dynamic range.
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Audio Technica is a brand that seems to specialize in building quality headphones at low prices. Audio Technia's headphone models ATH-M20x, ATH-M30x, and ATH-M40xrange affordable prices anywhere from $50 to $100. 
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PreSonus has gradually expanded their line of products over the years to include virtually everything. PreSonus headphones come at an affordable price with their two headphones models, HD7 can be found for under $50, while the HD9 can be more costly around $80. 
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3.) Microphone

To record vocals and live instruments, the next important item to get is a microphone. Studio microphones come in two different types known as a condenser and a dynamic.

What is a Dynamic Mic?

Dynamic microphones are the perfect stage microphone. All they require is an XRL, and have an acceptable frequency response. Dynamic Mics known to be used for recording live studio sessions for drums, guitar amplifiers, and vocals.

What is a Condenser Mic?

Condenser mics are more fragile, where you will also find their output also being louder. Condensers do have really good frequency and transient response being able to pick up noise in the high end. Often times these mics are categorized by the size of their diaphragm known for large or small; where large is great for lower frequencies, and small for higher. To get this microphone working, you’ll be needing a power supply.

What are some good microphones to recommend?

The Shure SM58 is a classic dynamic microphone for live shows.
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Audio-Technia is know to hold a wide brand lines of condenser microphones. Their models AT2020, and ATR2500-USB run about around $99.

AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Microphone: The AT2020 is the standard for affordable side-address studio condensers.
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ATR-2500-USB Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone: ATR2500-USB is great home live recordings, voiceover, field recording, and podcasting. This cardioid condenser mic plugs right into your computer’s USB port, and operates with your favorite recording software.
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AKG Microphones are known as the leading edge design for innovated, world class acoustics. AKG carries both a variety of line of dynamic and condenser microphones. AKG dynamic mics are more affordableranging anywhere from $50 - $200. While their condenser mics can be a bit more pricey starting at $100+.
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Blue Snowball Microphone offers an affordableUSB condenser microphone, offering the option of both patterns in cardioid and omnidirectional. The Snowball is a great way to capture studio-quality audio for vocals, music, multimedia production and gaming.
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If you ever would love to further invest in a great microphone, Neumannis famously known as the top industry microphone. Click here to learn more about their microphones and to compare their models.

Microphones under $50 -

Shure SM48-L: Connects by an XLR port, so in the case of wanting to use your computer, you’ll need to buy an adapter or an audio interface. This mic is known for sound isolation since it has a built in pop filter.
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The Behringer Ultravoice XM8500 is one of the cheapest microphone models under $50 worth looking at. Behringer is also known for their low priced yet decent quality audio solutions. It comes with a built in shock mount system, as well a pop noise and wind filter.
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4. Audio Interface

An audio interface is a piece of hardware that expands and improves the capabilities of a computer. An audio interfaces give you the ability to connect microphones, instruments and other kinds of signals to a computer, and output a variety of signals as well such as MIDI. You will need an audio interface if you plan on recording MIDI, vocals, and live instruments into a DAW.

Best Audio Interface's around near and under $100 –

Scarlett Solo: The Scarlett Solo is a single-input interface that is great for recording vocals, and guitars. Being powered by USB, the next step to recording is just plugging a mic and guitar straight in, and voilà! You’re all set and ready to write your next and awesome song.
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PreSonus AudioBox: This audio interface is a handy mix control that allows users to adjust the level between the input signal and your computer’s playback, and MIDI I/O lets you connect a synthesizer or a controller. Though this product has been discontinued, you read more about the product by clicking here. Even though this product has been discontinued, you are still able to located the product online for purchase at available retailers; Guitar Center, Sweetwater, and Amazon.
Buy Online Guitar Center
Buy Online Sweetwater
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Behringer U-PHORIA UMC202HD: This audio interface is a 2-channel USB 2.0 recording interface for your Mac or Windows PC. The combo inputs with MIDAS preamp lets you plug in any mic-, line-, or instrument-level gear+48V. The phantom power lets you use studio condenser microphones and consists switchable input pads. With studio-quality 24-bit/192kHz resolution, direct Monitor function provides latency-free input monitoring. Includes Tracktion DAW and 150 downloadable instrument/effect plug-ins.
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Behringer U-PHORIA UMC22: Even though this audio interface is limited to 48 kHz sample rates, the MIDAS-designed preamp is bigger compared to other models, and also has a 1/4″ input for directly recording bass, guitar, and other instruments. This audio interface is very affordable and can be found for under $50.
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Steinberg UR12 USB Audio Interface: This interface offers a full iPad connectivity and the outstanding D-PRE mic preamp, the UR12 redefines quality for its class of 2-in 2-out USB interfaces. Buy Online


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5. MIDI Keyboard / Controller

Any keyboard can be converted into MIDI if the keyboard has a MIDI input option from and to your Audio Interface. Many MIDI keyboards also come equipped with knobs and sliders, which can be programmed to control different parameters of your virtual instruments. They are great sending MIDI signals or commands over a USB or a MIDI 5-pin cable to other musical devices or computers to your chosen DAW.

Best MIDI Keyboards –

Alesis V25: Alesis offers the features of 25 Keys (Synth-Action), 8 Backlit Pads, 4 Assignable Knobs, 4 Assignable Buttons, 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend, Modulation), 1 Pedal Input, and comes included with the DAW software programs of Xpand!2 and Ableton Live Lite.
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Novation Launchkey Mini 25: This is your portable all-in-one Ableton music production controller.. Featuring 25 keys (mini Synth Action), 16 pads, 8 knobs, dedicated buttons: Octave Up/Down, and includes the DAW of Ableton Live Lite. Keyboard works with Ableton Live, FL Studio and Novation’s Launchpad iOS app.
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Novation Launchkey: The workflow of the Launchkey is designed specifically for Ableton Live, however, it will map with any major DAW. This keyboard includes 25 Keys (Synth-Action), 16 Pads, 8 Knobs, 9 faders, dedicated Buttons: Octave Up/Down, Record, Play, 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend + Modulation), and 1 Pedal Input.
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Akai MPK249: This controller has both semi-weighted keys. It features 49 keys, 16 Pads, 8 Knobs, 8 faders, 8 Assignable Buttons, dedicated Buttons: Octave Up/Down, Play, Stop, Arpeggiator, and Latch, Displays screen, 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend + Modulation), MIDI in/out, 2 Pedal Inputs, and includes the DAW of Ableton Live Lite and Pro MPC Essentials. Akai carries a wide brand of MIDI keyboard controllers that you can check out by clicking here.
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M-Audio Axiom AIR Mini 32: This is an easy plug-and-play mini MIDI keyboard. It allows you to customize your setup from the keyboard, however, it has no editing software required. This mini controller features 32 Keys (Mini Synth-Action), 8 Knobs, 8 Pads, Octave Up/Down, Pitch Bend, Modulation, Sustain, and includes the software Ignite. This keyboard will need mapping to your favorite use of DAW. M-Audio is another famous company that offers a wide brand of keyboard controllers that you can check out by clicking here.
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6. Powered Monitors

What’s the difference between regular speakers and monitors?

Speakers are made to enhance the sound in particular ways that sound good for listening, which can boost the low end. While with studio monitors, they are more flatter. This allows you to accurately hear your mix better. Studio monitors are a must if you serious about producing and mixing great music.

When position you monitors, make sure you position yourself in the middle of the two monitors at ear level. Each of your monitors should form a perfect triangle (see image below). This is the optimal monitor placement.


If you are looking to invest in some really good studio monitors, the top and best studio monitors are KRK’s ROKIT. KRK'S studio monitors have been the most popular choice for accurate monitoring. Though they can come pricey, you can check out each of their five models by clicking here.

Another great set of studio monitors are ADAM AUDIO. Click here to see the different selection of studio monitors ADAM AUDIO produces.

Studio Monitors for under $100 –

M-Audio AV32: This studio monitor is great for Entry-level. They are a compact desktop monitor to form basis of a small home studio. The M-Audio AV32 is very flexible, and has uncovered speaker cones for improved sound quality featuring a 3-inch woofer, and 10-watt per channel amplifier.
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PreSonus Eris E3.5: These monitors are a steal! With a 3.5-inch woven composite drivers, it produce a more powerful bass response with a more accurate overall sound. This enables you to get pristine sound quality in any room. Crossover Frequency has a 2.8 kHzStereo aux input, headphone jack, volume, and power On/Off are located on the front panel.
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Edifier R980T 4: These monitors are suitable for desktops, and laptops. There is no need for an amplifier or receiver. It has a 24 WATTS RMS powered output with calibrated, flared bass reflex port in the front.
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7. Miscellaneous

All studio need some essential audio accessories. Keep in mind you will always need extra equipment and items such as XLR cables for your mics, ¼ inch cables for your guitars and pedals. Balanced ¼ inch for your balanced synths and drum machines, and MIDI cables to sync everything together. Also, make sure to consider getting Mic stands, pop filter for clean vocal recordings, and keyboard stand(s), If you are a traveling musician, it's always important to also have traveling cases for your gear. Extension cords and power outlets are going to be a MUST NEED for having your own home studio. Make sure your extension cords/power outlets come with a surge protector just in case a storm rolls through and you have a power outage. Most importantly, having a proper desk and chair for your workstation should be a top priority.


Click here to learn more on how you can apply acoustic treatment to your home studio!