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Home Music Recording Equipment – What you should know!

Excited about starting your very own music career? Can’t wait to record that rockin’ new guitar riff that have always been playing on replay in your head? Well then, maybe you should start looking at some home music recording equipment.

If you are unfamiliar to the world of recording music, your head must be filled with some questions:

  • What is home recording?
  • What do I need to get started?
  • What other factors do I need to consider?

For a start, home recording basically means, well you’ve guessed it; recording sound at the comfort of your own home! You might hear people using terms like “project studio” or “home studio” and they both actually mean the same thing. Those are terms used to indicate that someone has audio recording tools and equipment at home in order to make it function like a studio. Although this usually means that their “studio” is often a downsized version of an actual professional recording studio.

The kinds of people who practice home recording ranges from indie bands and singer-songwriters, to podcasters andHome Studio Setup documentarians, all the way to even top-name acts. The popularity of home recording is ever increasing, and this is largely due to the steady drop in cost for professional audio equipment in the past decade or so. Independent artists or budding musicians also have more access to professional recording techniques nowadays, thanks to the internet!

Home Music Recording Equipment

Great! You already know what home recording is all about, and are ready to start your musical career! But before you start coming out with a budget for your dream home studio, it’s best to find out what do you actually need.

Now, if you are reading this article, I’ll just go ahead and assume that you are a newbie. If not, then bugger off! (Just kidding) I’ll keep this section fairly simple and not go into too much technical detail. So here’s what you’ll need:

  • Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
  • Monitoring Equipment (Speakers and/or Headphones)
  • Input Devices (e.g Microphones)
  • Instruments (Duh!)

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

Back in the 70s, there are no other way to record music other than on low-quality tape recorders or on large and expensive “reel to reel” tape machines. Then in 1979, the first small, four-track tape recorder was invented and quickly gained popularity through out the 80s. Soon after, these handy analog recorders became outdated and replaced by digital recorders and computer-based digital audio workstations (DAWs).

A (DAW) consists of:

  • Personal Computer (almost everyone has it nowadays!)
  • Hardware Audio Interface (for Analog to Digital conversion)
  • Digital-editing software

The audio interface is needed for routing of audio signals into the computer and also for play back through studio monitors (external speakers/headphones). Some good examples of audio interfaces that you might want to check out are “Presonus AudioBox”, “Avid Mbox” and “M-Audio Fastrack Pro”. These devices come with microphone pre-amps (with microphone inputs) for recording with microphones.

Audio Interface

Audio Interface / Photo by Nicolas Esposito / CC BY 2.0

Furthermore, they can be connected to your computer via USB or Firewire and allow you to record multiple audio tracks (depending on the product) simultaneously. So if you want to record yourself singing and playing guitar (which uses two separate microphone signals), you can now do that!

Audio Editing Software

Digital Editing Software / Photo by Recording Connection Audio Institute / CC BY 3.0

Digital-editing software is now widely available at different prices, and sometimes they may come bundled together with an audio interface for free. You are going to need this software in order to edit the audio tracks with various tools (called plugins) and to export your masterpiece into a digital audio format, so you can then show off to your friends! Examples of these software include “Ardour”, “Pro Tools”, “Reaper”, “Ableton Live”, “Cubase”, “Sonar” and “Reason”.

Studio Monitors

Photo by Matt Vanacoro / CC BY 2.0

Monitoring Equipment

These are simply your regular speakers and headphones. However, the more experienced you get in recording and mixing, you might find that your parent’s age old speakers they use for karaoke, would not be suitable any more (not for an aspiring grammy award winning producer at least). Hence, if you have the budget, look into studio monitor companies such as “Yamaha”, “Genelec”, “Tannoy” and Focal.

Input Devices

What I am talking about here are generally microphones. The three main types of microphones you will mainly see are “Condenser”, “Dynamic” and “Ribbon”. Dynamic microphones are normally used to record distorted electric guitar sounds, snare drums and other loud instruments. As for condenser microphones, they are suitable for softer instruments like acoustic guitar and also for vocals.

Instruments (Connectors)

Depending on your instrument, you might require a variety of cables with different connectors to use for recording such as, “XLR”, “TRS phone”, “RCA” and some keyboards and synthesizers even allow for “USB” or “MIDI” connections.

XLR Connectors

XLR Connectors / Photo by Omegatron / CC BY-SA 3.0

So yeah, that’s about all you need to start your own little home recording studio! There are other equipment used by more experienced or professional producers and sound engineers out there. Other aspects of home recording are also not covered here. However, in this article I would only like to highlight the fundamental things that you need to get your own music production started!

Have a great day and don’t forget to leave comments or questions!

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Farhan

When I'm not rocking out to great music, I'd prefer to be sleeping on a field on a windy day =)

8 Comments

  1. Hi Farhan
    Well, I told you to say that I am a regular music lover, I like listening and occasionally I like to sing. After some attempts to record my songs I realized it was a difficult task, but after reading your excellent comment I realize, as you say, should not be so hard to record music as it was in earlier times.
    Thank you very much for sharing your experience in the audio industry. Any suggestions where I can purchase this equipment at low cost? you have any idea of the necessary initial budget? I’ll appreciate your advice.
    renan.

    • Hey Renan, thanks for your comment. If you are just starting out, I would recommend checking out Hardware Audio Interfaces that come with a free music editing software. This will allow you to have a good idea of using music editing tools. I would recommend you check brands like “steinberg” and “M Audio”. M Audio and Yamaha also have pretty affordable monitor speakers that you can start off with first. You should not have to spend more than $500, or at most $600 to start your own recording. I’ll try making more articles on the respective equipment soon and add some suggestions on where to buy them online.

  2. Thanks for your advice on how to setup home music recording equipment. I know that you have made a few recommendations that I will further explore, but what is your advice on computer platforms? It is my understanding that Macs are the best for audio applications. Do you agree? Furthermore, what makes a Mac better than a PC for recording? I plan to buy one as ASAP.

    • Hey there Christian. thanks for dropping by. You asked a very good question and I will try my best to keep it brief here. In truth, there is no “better” platform per say, it is only an issue of which platform (Mac or Windows) that you are COMFORTABLE working with. Most music editing software out there, are available for BOTH Mac and Windows. Some things you want to consider before buying, are budget constraints and work load. How much audio production work will you be doing? And based on that, decide if buying that Mac (which is most of the time more expensive than its PC counterparts) would be necessary. I’ll try to come out with an article on this some time. Thanks again!

  3. Hey! This is one great articl about music production!

    I always wanted to produce my own music and show t to world! I think i had a pretty good idea now how to do it.

    I have read a couple of articles about music production but here i can see that you have been explaining it in a very good way that everyone can understand. And i likd the concept of your website. I think you may grow in a good way if you work on it. Keep the good work up!

    • Hey Tyler, thanks for your valuable input. I have decided to make the information on this website to be very accessible to people who are new to the relevant topics. I’m glad you got something out of it!

  4. Hi!
    Thank you for this great article, it was really clarifying!
    I was searching for an article in this topic just to be familiar with the whole stuff. My son and his band has recenty decided to upgrade their recording set. To be honest, I would like to help them financially, but in a moderate way. 🙂 Would you be so kind to tell me which of these things has the lower average price?

    Thanks for your answer in advance! 🙂

    Adam

    • Hello Adam, thank you for dropping by!

      It’s great to know that you enjoyed reading this article. About your question, it is really hard to say which has the “lower average price”. This is because, audio equipment have a rather wide price range depending on quality and functionality.

      If I knew what exactly your son’s band are using right now (in terms of recording equipment), I can have a better understanding of things, and can point you towards the right direction.

      However, I do understand that you are working with a rather limited budget here. Hence, I would highly recommend you check out the current product reviews that I have below:

      Audio Interface – http://myaudioeducation.com/focusrite-scarlett-18i

      Studio Monitors (Speakers) – http://myaudioeducation.com/yamaha-hs5-review-grea

      Microphone – http://myaudioeducation.com/akg-c214-review-an-ide

      All these products provide good value for money, and are definitely affordable.

      Do let me know if you have any more questions!

      Good luck =)

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