15 Best Products For Starting Your Home Recording Studio
This my not be your current situation or that of anyone else starting or expanding their home recording studio for that matter. Just bear with me for a minute. What we will be doing in this article is sketching a fictional scenario that will actually help you find out what exactly you need for your studio setup next.
The following scenario takes place where you have an empty room and a fixed budget. You are allowed to choose 15 objects with which to start building your own home recording studio. But, you are limited to $200. Every component, object or piece of furniture must cost less than $200.
The whole idea is to help realize how much more affordable a studio can be than you thought. Not only will you find out how much quality you can actually get from an inexpensive piece of equipment, but also how important the cheaper parts of your recording studio actually may be. (A $20 piece of material may contribute more to the sound quality of your studio than $200 component.)
The 15 Best Products
Now lets get to the 15 products. They were chosen in no particular order of importance and may play a critical of completely significant part in the success of your studio setup. Each component is also ushered in by a "tongue in cheek" heading, not to be funny, but just to try and make you think a little differently about its importance and the role it plays in your studio.
1. Your Command Post - Boss Office LeatherPlus Chair
If you are a serious home studio artist or user, chances are pretty good that you spend hundreds of hours per month in your studio, and more specifically in your chair.
Just taking the amount of time you spend sitting into consideration, the importance of a good supportive chair cannot be emphasized enough.
Not only is it supposed to be comfortable and help you keep you active and productive, it must also support you in all the correct areas to promote a healthy body and good posture.
The Boss Leatherplus provides you with a durable and comfortable seating position. At the same time it provides excellent back support, and "waterfall seat design" to eliminate leg fatigue. Don't forget to invest in a good quality chair when starting or expanding your studio.
Get more information and pricing on the Boss Office LeatherPlus Chair here.
2. Let Your Voice Be Heard - Audio-Technica AT2035 Microphone
If you have read some of the other articles on this website, you will know that I regard the microphone by far the most important piece of equipment for any recording studio.
What you may not know is that you do not need to spend a small fortune to get a really high quality microphone. The Audio-Technica really impresses with not just a very solid and high quality feel. It delivers professional studio quality sound, matching microphones more than double its prize.
(This maybe one of the reasons I use this microphone as my own personal microphone for home use.)
Read more about the Audio-Technica AT2035 here.
3. The Brains Of Your Operation - The Desktop Computer
The heading is no metaphor. The computer is literally the brain and heart of your whole setup. It houses all your recordings, its your Digital Audio Workstation that you do most of your work on, and also acts as the interface with your various input and devices.
There are many reasons why I feel so strongly about using a desktop computer over any other computer or mobile device. So many in fact that a whole article is dedicated to it. Simply follow the link below to find out more.
Read more about the advantages of desktop computers here.
4. Equipment Placement In Style - Z-Line Claremont Desk
It is safe to assume we all have a desk we work from and place our equipment on. I don't recommend placing your speakers/studio monitors and microphone directly on it for reasons already well documented in other articles on this website.
This leaves you with fairly compact but sturdy space requirements necessary to fit everything. Your desk needs to be stable and contain as little as possible multiple flat surfaces. (More flat surfaces equal more areas to reflect and distort sound.)
The Z-Line Claremont Desk is compact and very sturdily build, with quality material used throughout the design. Don't let the glass surface fool you. It is made of a highly durable 6mm thick tempered glass. This solid surface is able to absorb sound and vibrations far better than many wooden surfaces.
As a bonus the Claremont Desk has a very aesthetically pleasing look and design. When you go for a quality desk, why not include some style and good looks while you're at it?
Get more information and pricing on the Z-Line Claremont Desk here.
5. Make The Connection - Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface
Your audio interface provides the vital link between your microphone/instruments and your computer and Digital Audio Interface. It accepts XLR, TSR balanced and other connections, and output it normally via high speed a USB2 interface to the computer and your DAW software.
It also provides the amplification of signals through its build-in preamps, as well as providing phantom power to condenser microphones and DI Boxes to name a few.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 provides all these necessary features. It is also made of a high quality steel construction with a solid feel to all its knobs and switches. Sound quality is also exceptional with the well known Scarlett preamps delivering accurate, crisp and clear sound.
Read more about the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen here.
6. Stop The Shaking - TMS Mass Loaded Vinyl Acoustic Barrier
It is not just your speakers and microphones that are sensitive to vibrations and shocks. Vibrations and knocks to your desk can be disruptive and interfere with your computer and audio interface situated on your desk.
Whether you have a carpeted, tiled or wooden floor, you are still going to experience some knocks and bumps from sources inside and outside your studio. One way of making sure you isolate it as much as possible, is by using a thick sound-and-shock-absorbing material like TMS Mass Loaded Vinyl.
This 1/8 inch thick vinyl comes in roles of multiple lengths that you can cut to size and place underneath your desk and other work spaces. The thick vinyl absorbs almost any notable vibrations that may be emitted through the floor, while providing some added stability and sturdiness to your desk as well.
It is a very affordable material that can make the world of difference to your recordings.
Get more information and pricing on TMS Mass Loaded Vinyl Acoustic Barrier here.
7. Your Digital Producer - DAW Software
This is the heart of your recording setup. Your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is responsible for capturing your recordings, edit and process it, and finally output the final production to digital media.
You get a variety of choices when it comes to DAW software. From premiere fully-featured packages, to limited editions and free versions, you will always be able to have access to DAW software.
I would just urge you to get started as soon as possible. It doesn't need to be the final software you end up with. The important thing is that you start gaining experience as soon as possible. The one asset you simply cannot put any price on, is experience.
The principles among most DAW software are the same, and the more time you spend working with the software, the easier it will be when it comes to actually start producing recording in your home recording studio.
Read more about DAW software here.
8. Stretch And Adjust - RODE PSA1 Microphone Boom Arm
I already touched on the subject of not placing a microphone directly on your desk or any other flat, hard work space due to surface vibrations and knocks. You would legitimately be wondering how to place and position your microphone if your desk is not an option.
This is where your microphone boom arm comes in this. This adjustable arm can be bolted to your desk or even against an object against the wall. The microphone is attached to the end of this arm and suspended in mid-air without any direct contact with the desk.
This make a boom arm, like the Rode PSA1, ideal to place the microphone in the correct position in front of your mouth or instrument. The arm absorbs most of the vibrations from the desk, and can even hold a shockmount to further eliminate any remaining shocks.
Get more information and pricing on the RODE PSA1 Microphone Boom Arm here.
9. Take A Stand - On-Stage SMS6000 Speaker Stands
You will only really appreciate the importance of studio monitor stands once you used them and realized just what a difference they can make. Freed from the reverberation and sound distortion caused by a desk or any flat hard surface, placed optimally at ear level and properly angled at the user/microphone - your speakers/studio monitors will really shine when properly placed on a pair of stands.
The On-Stage SMS6000 stands has all the attributes that is required. Providing a sturdy and solid base, the stands are also height-adjustable while the platform has a non-slip pad that prevents the speakers from moving around. All these features also at a very palatable price.
Read more about speaker placement and the On-Stage SMS6000 stands here.
10. Save The Mic - Harlan Hogan Pop Microphone Filter
Chances are pretty good the microphone you are using in your studio is a condenser microphone. With its ability to pick up the smallest detail due to its sensitive diaphragm, the microphone is especially prone to loud sounds, especially explosive ones like pops and cracks. Not only can these pops and cracks overload the mic and distort the sound quality, it can actually lead to microphone damage over the long term.
One effective and affordable way of preventing this is by using a pop filter. This mesh covered circular filter helps to protect the microphone in more than just one way. The thin mesh material filters out the loud popping sounds while letting through almost all other sound frequencies, not degrading the sound quality in any way.
A condenser microphone is not only prone to loud sounds, but also the environment, especially moisture. And as much as some of us hate to admit it, we all produce some form of saliva or moisture when speaking or singing. A pop filter shields the microphone from any saliva or other airborne objects.
The Harlan Hogan Pop filter is a good example of a pop filter doing exactly what is asked of it. Providing good insulation from harsh sounds and moisture, while not interfering with the sound it needs for a quality recording.
Get more information and pricing on the Harlan Hogan Microphone Filter here.
11. Silence The Echo - Acoustic Room Treatment
I covered the importance of proper acoustic treatment in quite a few other articles already. I need to emphasize it again however. It has the ability make all the difference in the world to sound quality by eliminating reverberation from a studio and neutralize the unfavorable dimensions of small square studio.
The best part about acoustic treatment, is that its one of the most affordable parts of a studio. This allows you to add all the acoustic materials you need to sufficiently cover your studio in one go. In a small studio it doesn't even take that much acoustic material to begin with, but its nice knowing that you will run out of material before running out of money.
Knowing just what a vital role it plays and taking its affordability into account, you really don't have any excuse not to make your studio acoustically sound.
All you need is the know-how, some of which you can get from the linked article below.
You can read an in-depth article about acoustic and its importance right here.
12. Catching Every Little Detail - Sennheiser RS120 Headphones
This was a revelation for me personally. I must be honest and admit that I am not the biggest fan of headphones. As long as they provided me with enough feedback on the detail and quality of the audio, I was happy.
That was until a "spur of the moment" purchase of the Sennheiser RS120 headphones after spending some time in the music department of a store. It didn't take me long to realize what a difference a high quality pair of headphones make. After hooking it up to my setup I was literally taken into a new world of rich sound quality and clarity with a level of detail I never experienced before.
Even though you can pick up all the detail you need on a normal set of headphones, like my generic Sony headphones I used in the past, the level of detail and the small nuances in sound that can be picked up by high-end headphones are invaluable to help you fine-tune and streamline your audio production.
As a user who almost always put more trust on the feedback of speakers/studio monitors than headphones, I now make sure my audio are completely acceptable through both monitoring devices.
Get more information and pricing on the Sennheiser RS120 Wireless Headphones here.
13. A Golden Connection - Monoprice Premier Gold Plated Cable
"A chain is as strong as its weakest link". We all know the saying and what it means. This is especially true in your recording studio. You spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on the best equipment to record the best possible sound. Yet, when I ask you how they are connected, the chances are pretty good you used the nearest cable available. (Or the one that came bundled with your device.)
The loss in sound quality from a poor cable connection can be more costly than the value of your equipment. That doesn't mean you need the best pair of cables money can buy, but you need a good enough cable to make sure your signal makes it all the way from one device to the other without any significant loss in quality.
The Monoprice Premier XLR cables make sure this quality transfer of signal happens by using cold plated connectors alongside other quality components. No, the use of gold is not a status symbol of any kind. It's a mere fact that gold promotes the transfer of a signal with the least amount of resistance. The use of gold is just one of many components used in a quality cable to ensure the best possible connection between devices.
Get more information and pricing on the Monoprice Premier Gold Plated XLR Cable here.
14. Make Some Noise - Kanto YU2 Powered Desktop Speakers
One of the most important aspects of recording and editing your audio, is the ability to monitor it at all times. Using your headphones simply isn't enough. You need a pair of high quality speakers/studio monitors to hear what it sounds like to an audience in an open space.
The sound from the speakers filling the space in a studio will give you an accurate indication of what your audience will experience. And especially in a small studio, this is exactly what the compact Kanto YU2 speakers will do.
It packs a pretty big punch, and the clarity and precision with which mid-and-high tones are reproduced really impress. It is important to note that the bass is not sub-par and more than good enough for studio use. (Only when pushed really hard may the lack in physical size become really apparent in the low frequencies, but that's not an important function for a recording studio.)
Get more information and pricing on the Kanto YU2 Powered Desktop Speakers here.
15. Untangle That Nest Of Cables - Spiral Cable Wire Wrap Tube
If you look behind your computer work desk right now, chances are pretty good you will find a nest of tangled cables that build over the years. In a recording studio you build and expanded over years, the situation might be a lot worse.
These cable are not only dangerous as it can cause electrical short-circuits and even result in an electrical fire. It also becomes a headache when it come to changing equipment and its cables. The time and effort wasted on this seemingly endless process, takes its toll on productivity. And even though it may be hidden behind a desk or another object, it doesn't make the problem disappear and will only get worse when not addressed.
Using a cable organizer like the Spiral Cable Wire Wrap Tube, is a simple but very effective way of keeping your cable together, neat and tidy without any tangling. It also also allows different cables in the "tube" to exit at any point to be directed to the appropriate device.
It is never too late to start, and once you have your cables lined up next to each other neatly in a single tube, it will be much easier to add and remove cables at any point. And simply from a aesthetic point of view, you will be forever grateful for not having to look at an unsightly nest of unorganized cables ever again.
Get more information and pricing on Spiral Cable Wire Wrap Tube here.
And there you have it. 15 Products or components in no specific order that will make a difference in your home recording studio.
The whole idea was to kick-start your though process around the needs of your studio, and help you look at your priorities in a different and maybe more productive point of view.
At the very least, you may discover a valuable piece of equipment or material that may just make that difference you needed in your studio.
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Catch you in the next article and happy recording!