Let's Face it:
Building a studio can be extremely fun but also a confusing nightmare...
...And without the correct knowledge, you could end up paying a lot of money for stuff you don't need.
That's why I have created this guide.
It is designed to help you get started and make it easier to get your studio up and running.
This guide will explain all the basic necessities you will need.
And the extras that will make your life easier along the way.
But, enough chitter chatter.
If you are lucky enough to have a choice which room your studio is going to be.
You will want to think carefully, as the shape and size of the room are going to either going to benefit or hinder your creativity.
Typically you will want to go for big, tall and misshaped...
...And you should avoid square and small rooms.
However, don't be discouraged if you're stuck in one room.
Like my old studio:
After producing in it for a while you will eventually learn how your room sounds.
And be able to compensate for that.
It will just take a little longer and harder work.
Before getting yourself loads of gear, you will want to treat your room.
Especially if you are going to be buying studio monitors.
Which you should do.
But, don't worry:
You don't have to knock any walls down or build new ones.
All you need to do is put up acoustic panels.
They help reduce reverb in your room allowing you to hear more clearly what is coming out of your monitors.
Also reducing the chance of noise cancellation.
Which is a big NO NO...
Before you start thinking about where to put these in your studio.
You need to know how you're going to apply them to the wall.
Doing this can actually be harder than you think.
And is a discussion that is debated a lot.
I have done this a few times because of moving and have found some good applications.
The easiest and quickest way for sticking acoustic foam to your wall...
...Is also the hardest to remove.
This is perfect if you know you're not going to be moving for a long time or at all.
Otherwise, I wouldn't recommend doing these unless you want to spend a day scraping broken bits of foam off your wall and painting your room afterward.
I would suggest you skip this part and take a look at the non-permanent fixtures.
The best ways I have found are:
Any of them should work.
Although if your double sided tape isn't strong enough the foam might fall off...
...But the paint will also come off when you peel the tape.
Any of these will leave marks on your wall when removed.
The cleanest option is to go with nails.
Small nails will do.
Just put them in each corner and they will stay up for a lifetime.
Cleanup is a breeze as well, as it's just a matter of using a bit of filler on the small holes.
You will want to be careful though as you can ruin the foam hammering the nails in too much.
So leave them hanging out a little to make life easier for yourself.
Here's the kicker:
You can't hammer into a brick wall.
So, you will need to use a different adhesive for brick.
For the quickest, easiest and strongest application.
I would recommend going with liquid nails:
Use a little bit on all four corners and put into place.
Once you have put them on the wall there is very little time for wiggle room.
If you don't want to use liquid nails.
Adhesive sprays work well too:
Just bear in mind, I have used adhesive spray in the past and after a while they do seem to fall down.
If you are renting, leaving marks on the wall is something you will want to avoid.
This makes it much tougher to apply acoustic foam effectively.
And there aren't many options.
I would recommend you stick the foam onto some cardboard that has been cut to the correct length...
(You can use any of the permanent fixtures)
...And then apply the cardboard to the wall.
Either with nails.
Or if you are going for a DIY free zone.
You can use 3M command strips.
Just make sure to use enough to hold up all the acoustic foam.
You could use nails on each panel if you wanted to.
As when you take them down all you need is a little bit of filler and a spot of paint.
And the wall will look as good as new!
Typically you will want to try to cover roughly 40-50% of your room.
so you don't lose all the natural reverb.
As that will sound unnatural for your ears.
Placing your foam acoustic panels in the right places is crucial.
You will want to place them evenly on each wall at ear level for maximum efficiency.
Good coverage behind your speakers is a must...
...And also the first reflections points need to be covered as well.
If you don't understand:
In my post "Where To Place Acoustic Panels Making Your Room Sound Incredible"
I go over everything you need to know when setting up acoustic panels...
...And where to strategically place them for the best results in your studio.
Acoustic panels go on the flat sides of your wall.
But bass waves love to hang around the corners of your room...
...And normal acoustic foam isn't thick enough to deal with the low end.
That's why you are going to need to get some bass traps.
Every home studio will need traps in the corners.
If you don't believe me, try this:
Play a song with a lot of bass and walk around your room especially near the corners, you will be able to hear the bass get louder and softer.
This shows the bass is not being controlled in your studio...
...And can have devastating effects to your mixes.
Contrary to acoustic panels, the more bass traps you have...
Especially in smaller studios...
...And you will want to try to fill as many corners as you possibly can.
I recommend you read my post "Do I Need Bass Traps? The Truth Revealed".
As it goes into much more detail, telling you everything you need to know about.
For music production and recording, the sound card in your PC will never be good enough.
What you need is an audio interface.
This allows you to connect your speakers, guitars, microphones and basically anything...
...To your PC, allowing you to record anything.
An audio interface converts an analogue signal into a digital signal so your PC can read and understand it.
Here's the thing:
Different factors of your circumstances will affect what interface you will need.
Live drum recordings
Recording whole bands
Recording just yourself
Here are some of the different types you can get:
If you are tracking drums or wanting to record a whole band.
You're going to need an interface with a lot of inputs.
An audio interface like this is great to have even if you don't need all the inputs at the moment.
As you never know what will happen in the future.
So if you want to future proof yourself and be ready for anything.
Get yourself an interface with at least 8 inputs.
If you don't want to go that large and spend that much money.
I get it.
It's a purchase later down the road.
What you will need to get is a smaller more compact interface with 1 - 2 inputs.
These will actually satisfy your needs and cover you 90% of the time.
So they're great for beginners.
I'm going to show you two audio interfaces that I think are great and perfect for someone just starting out:
The Focusrite 2i2 is perfect for anyone just starting out and not too expensive either.
It comes with two inputs, which should be more than enough unless you want to record drums.
Focusrite always has great build quality...
...So you can be confident this device will last you years.
This interface is super simple to use...
...And because of that and its great quality, it is the bestselling audio interface in the world!
For something a bit more heavy duty, with up to 16 inputs...
...You can't go wrong with the 18i20.
I know what you're going to say:
Focusrite makes some phenomenal pieces of gear and this is no exception.
All of Focusrite's audio interfaces have very low latency.
So low in fact, Focusrite claim and I quote:
"Scarlett 2nd Generation interfaces have lower latency than any other USB audio interfaces".
If you are wanting to record drums or use more than 2 microphones at the same time...
...This is a great choice!
The best thing about all these interfaces is they're as easy as plug in and play...
...And maybe a driver download that takes less than 2 minutes.
If you don't know what studio monitors are.
Basically, they're your speakers.
However, studio monitors for mixing are a little different from traditional hi-fi speakers.
This is because of the EQ that is built into them.
Usually, HiFi speakers will have some form of a smiley face EQ.
This boosts the high and low end.
Giving more excitement and punch.
Here's The Kicker:
Studio monitors are built with the EQ as flat as possible.
Don't think of it as a bad thing though.
Yeah, studio monitors can sound duller without the EQ.
However, it gives you a true representation of what you are listening to...
...And this is critical to not only creating a great mix.
But to make it sound good on every type of speaker.
The placement of your studio monitors is important when mixing...
...And not to be overlooked.
The distance from your ears to the speakers need to be the same.
Also, the distance between the two speakers needs to be the same as the others.
Resulting in an equilateral triangle.
This allows for the sound to hit your ears at the same time.
And reduce the chance for noise cancellations.
It's wise to put them a few feet away from the wall behind them.
The further the better.
But since most of our home studios are small, this isn't always achievable.
Your studio monitor height is next on the list to tweak.
The tweeters on your near-field speakers need to be the same height as your ears when you are sitting down.
This means the sound waves will be directed straight to your ears.
The easiest way to achieve the exact positioning.
Is to use studio monitor stands.
If your desktop is small enough and the room is big enough.
Full height speaker stands are the best option.
If your desk is big enough you can get some small desktop speaker stands.
Although, they're not as good in my opinion as they take up real estate on your desk but do the job just fine.
Get yourself some isolation foam pads to put under your studio monitors to stop the vibrations.
Ultimately the final decision comes down to you and your preferences.
But if you are just starting out and looking for your first pair or monitors.
I always recommend KRK Rokit 5 G3.
They're not too expensive and are brilliant speakers for producing music.
If you have a higher budget.
Yamaha HS8 would be a perfect choice and will last you for a lifetime!
If you have the money, it's worth buying better quality equipment as they will last you for years to come.
For a more in-depth look at these two studio monitors and many others...
...Take a look at my review of the 5 best studio monitors for 2018.
Professional studio headphones are perfect for anyone in a homemade studio.
Especially with roommates or neighbors.
Not only do they give relief to the ones around you...
...But they have a totally different sound to your studio monitors.
And that's why you should have both.
Using headphones gives you a better sense of your stereo image.
As well as, any EQ problems your mix might have.
There are 2 different styles of headphones you can get.
Open back headphones have a perforated outside allowing air to pass freely.
This gives you a natural sound.
And one that sounds much more open.
Think of it like your not listening to the headphones, but the whole world.
Here's the downside:
The trouble with open back headphones is the lack of sound isolation.
They work great in quiet environments.
But public or loud places are a no go for this kind of headphones.
Closed back headphones are completely sealed all around the outside.
To stops any outside noise getting in or and bleed from the headphones themselves.
Here's the kicker:
As they are completely closed off the sound quality is not as natural as their open back companions.
Just like everything else on this website.
There is not just one sure answer.
It depends on a number of factors, Such as:
I will give two great recommendations that you can't go wrong with.
In different budget categories.
The HD 650's are a great pair to add to anyone's collection.
They have really nice clarity, deep bass, and a smooth flat response.
Making them perfect for just about any mixing project.
The HD 650's are open back.
So, they're not great for public places but are great for there intended use.
The Shure 1840's are the most expensive of the two.
This shows in the build quality.
As everything is made out of top quality components.
They are extremely comfortable.
So comfortable in fact, you may forget they're still on your head!
The sound quality and clarity are phenomenal...
...As well as, the airy highs and natural openness you get with these headphones.
The 1840's are open back headphones.
Meaning, unless you are in your quiet studio, these aren't going to be your best bet.
The best part?
Shure also do a close back version if these headphones for the same money!
It doesn't get much better than that!
If you are looking to buy some Professional studio headphones.
Check out my post on 9 Amazing Headphones For Music Production.
I think you will agree:
Every studio needs at least one microphone.
But, is that one microphone able to record the best sound from every instrument?
...However, it's a good idea to use just one microphone first and understand how to get the best sound you possibly can from it.
And learn how different micing techniques can drastically change the sound.
Once you have figured out that...
...Then, it's worth messing around with better and more expensive microphones.
The fact is:
You should never have less than two microphones in your studio.
Learn the microphones that you already have first.
Or you could have 100 different mics and not know how to use any of them.
Even worse, only use one all the time and forget about the rest!
You can get 3 different types of microphones.
Condenser microphones are used most often in the studio and are used a lot on drum overheads, vocals, and acoustic guitars.
They require Phantom power (48V) which can be turned on and off using your audio interface.
And have amazing clarity thanks to its ability to react faster to sound.
Dynamic microphones are used more often in live performances.
But they also are very popular with drums and distorted guitars in the studio because of their big sound and ability to handle explosive content.
Ribbon microphones are a bit different as they have a metal strip that produces the sound.
They MUST be handled and used with a lot more care because of the very thin ribbon inside and cannot handle large amounts of energy like a dynamic microphone.
However, they do sound really good with vocals or to capture the room sound.
Choosing the right microphone for you and what you want to use it for can be a difficult and frustrating process.
As I am going to help you to find the perfect microphone.
Firstly, you will want to be looking at a condenser or dynamic microphone. As these are the most common and widely used.
Second, Don't go for the cheapest option as it will create more problems than anything. Spend a little more on your microphone and it will last you for many, many years to come.
Third, Go with a well-known brand, such as:
An excellent all-rounded microphone to go for is the Aston Origin.
It's extremely versatile.
And works well with many different instruments.
Take a Look at this video to see what I mean:
Perfect for a first microphone or one to add to the collection.
Although The SM7B is a little more expensive.
It is an exceptionally well-made microphone.
The low end is creamy and satisfying.
While the high end is clean and warm.
It's a perfect microphone for not only singing but podcasts and YouTube as well.
Check out this video of the SM7b being used on all the vocals by a band called pomplamoose.
Here's the kicker:
You need at least 60dB of clean gain going through this microphone.
And to do that you will need to get yourself something like the cloudlifter.
Bringing the price up higher.
All in all:
If you have the money this is a lovely microphone to own.
And a recommendation from me.
If you would like to learn more about what microphone to get...
...Or see other microphones I recommend.
Take a look at my review 5 Best Microphones For Amazing Vocals.
Your digital audio workstation or (DAW) for short.
Is probably one of the most important parts of your recording Equipment.
As if you didn't have one, it would be a lot harder to record and mix your songs.
If you're just starting out it is likely to be one of the most expensive.
If you want to get your feet wet, an all in one solution is great...
...As it comes with all the necessary recording equipment and well as a demo version of a DAW.
And let's face it:
once you have played around with the demo for a while, your going to want the real thing!
It's a purchase we all have to pay to be able to mix and master.
Just know that your DAW is your canvas for every piece of music you write.
And it always will be.
In the long run, the investment will be worth it.
Take a look at this video from Produce Like A Pro, And see Warren create a song only with the Focusrite bundle:
Just like everything else in this guide, it should come as no surprise when I say there is not a "best DAW".
However, they all do the exact same thing, just a little differently and different layouts.
The best way to find the DAW you like is to try them out and see what suits your work style the most.
And there are many reasons you might want to use a different DAW.
Here are some of the most well known DAWs:
For audio recordings, Many professionals use Pro Tools.
It is also the industry standard.
I personally use Cubase
Because it's what I started with and really enjoy using it.
Once you get used to one, stick with it.
You will find it will make your life much easier.
Have a look at these 3 DAWS if you don't know which to choose:
See which you like to look of best and go with that.
Warning: Logic is for mac only, Pro Tools and Cubase can be used on mac or PC though.
You know what I’m tired of hearing?
Which is better mac or PC?
In my opinion, they both have their pros and cons.
I am a PC fan myself.
But a good Macintosh is a powerhouse for music production.
If you have had your computer for more than 5 years, I would recommend you upgrade it.
The thing I like about PC is because I could just upgrade the ram and that might be enough.
Making it easy, fast and cheap to do.
Here's the kicker:
For all you mac lovers out there.
To upgrade your Mac will mean buying a whole new one.
Well, that's up to you...
...You're going to be using it.
I would say, however:
If you are working with clients and want to look professional, or don't have much desk space.
Go with a Mac.
If you love PCs...
...They can look just as professional and can also be extremely compact and small.
Ultimately, the choice is yours.
If you want to upgrade your Mac:
Extras and accessories are like the icing on the cake.
But, are definitely not to be overlooked.
They can help make your life a ton easier...
...While saving many hours of wasted time for one simple fix.
Recording vocals without a pop shield is one of the easiest ways for your mix sound amateur.
This is because of the "Plosive" sounds P's and B's make.
They are very hard to remove post recording...
...But are extremely simple and cheap to prevent by using a pop filter.
Another Extra you will very likely need are microphone stands.
You probably already know this:
But I would never recommend recording with the microphone in your hands.
There will just be too many inconsistencies.
Even if you think you can hold it really still.
It's still one more thing you have to think about.
Get different size microphone stands, as it makes it much easier to record equipment such as amps and kick drums.
Also having more than one stand will give you more versatility.
And many more.
If you really want to improve your mixing capabilities...
...You will want to train your ears as fast as you can.
This can be done simply by mixing and mastering songs.
A quicker and easier way is to use a separate program entirely.
One that solely focuses on training your ears.
There are two programs that I find are really good at this:
SoundGym is great for improving your ears.
It has many different workouts to improve your ear, such as:
Not only that:
It is all gamified making it a much more enjoyable experience.
And actually makes you want to complete the workout every day to grow your overall score and even get free prizes!
You do have to pay a monthly subscription for it...
...Although, you do get your money's worth.
The games you play are very limited and doesn't let you customize them in anyway way.
But they do have levels that get increasingly harder as you climb up the ranks.
TrainYourEars focus only on one thing.
This allows them to be much more thorough.
Allowing you to customize everything however you wish.
Ultimately learning the way you want to learn.
Train your ears is also Just a one-time payment giving you lifetime access.
And I like that a lot.
Take a look at my review for Train Your Ears.
It goes into much more detail explaining how to use everything and my personal opinions.
And, the big question "Is it worth it?"
So it all adds up to this:
You know everything you need to get all the equipment for your studio and get up and running...
...And now it's your turn to take action.
The next thing you need is "25 insanely easy tips to help your mixes sound incredible!"
And would you look at that...
We have got just the thing.
Just enter your email below and I will send it to you right now!