Starting Your Home Studio on a Budget

by Ayanna Jacobs-El

For composers and producers, having a solid place to work from home is crucial. Buying studio time is costly and inconvenient and often times impractical. For students and those starting out in the industry, the thought of starting a home studio can seem impossible, but if you learn to prioritize and and be as creative when selecting your equipment as you are when making music, you’ll be on the road to having your home studio in no time! I setup my home studio over a year ago and the contents of this list come from my research and experience with each of the pieces of equipment.

1. Computer – I would recommend an older MacBook Pro- Less than $900

Most of you already have a computer, and when you first start out with your home studio you can most likely work off of whatever computer you have. Be sure that your computer isn’t bogged down with too many files and it is also useful to have a decent amount of memory so that your Digital Audio Workstation DAW and plugins will run smoothly. I currently work off of a 13 inch 2014 Mac Book Pro that has 16 GB of memory and it has served me well so far.

2. Interface – Focusrite Scarlett 18i8-$315

Having a solid interface is a crucial piece of equipment in any studio because it will be the foundation of your recording sessions and sound output. The Scarlett 18i8 is a good choice because of its quality sonic abilities, low latency, and enough inputs and outputs for any small recording projects.

3. Studio Monitors – Yamaha HS5 5in Powered Studio Monitor-$400 ($200 each) plus two TRS to XLR cables ($30).

These monitors will definitely give you the most bang for your buck. They have a very precise and honest reference, which is crucial when it comes to mixing. You will also need to buy two TRS to XLR Cables to connect your monitors to your interface.

4. Microphone – AKG Pro Audio C214 Condenser Microphone-$350

The C214 is the cost-effective alternative to the high-end, industry standard, C414. This microphone sounds great on vocals and numerous other instruments and has the ability to capture a wide dynamic range. The C214 is the perfect option for a professional sound at a budget price.

5. Keyboard – M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV-$170

There are a lot of options on the market for Midi keyboards. The M-Audio Oxygen 49 is a good option because in addition to 49 keys it has 8 trigger pads, 8 knobs, and 9 faders. The knobs and faders come in handy when mixing and manipulating plug-ins.

6. Headphones – Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone-$90

These headphones have long been the industry favorite for their excellent sound quality, comfort, and their reduction of external sound. Like the Yamaha HS5 Monitors they also provide a flat response.

7. Digital Audio Workstation – Logic Pro X– $200

One of the most popular and affordable DAWs, Logic Pro X is easy and fun to use and works perfectly with any MAC computer.

8. External Hard Drive(s) – WD 4TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive – $140

Having an external hard drive is crucial for saving and backing up your sessions. It also helps to keep your computer’s memory free, so that it can run at optimal speeds. I would recommend having more than one drive to duplicate all of your data, just in case a drive fails, gets damaged, or is lost.

 9. 3 XLR and Instrument Cables, mic stand, and pop filter- $68 total

These items will most likely be the most inexpensive things you purchase for your studio. I found the Musician’s Gear Standard XLR Microphone Cable ($17), Musician’s Gear Standard Instrument Cable ($17), On-Stage Stands 72010 Tripod Mic Stand with Boom ($25), and the Dragonpad Pop filter Studio Microphone Mic Wind Screen Pop Filter ($9) to all be good options.

These pieces of equipment or similar ones should help you start off on the right foot with your home studio. While a total price tag of $1,763 ($2,663 with a $900 computer) can seem pricey, the money and time you will save from working from home will be well worth the cost.

DO YOU HAVE A HOME STUDIO? LET US KNOW WHAT YOUR ESSENTIAL PIECES OF EQUIPMENT ARE IN THE COMMENTS!

 

 

 

About the Author

Ayanna Jacobs-El
Ayanna Jacobs-El is a composer, producer, songwriter, singer, alto and baritone saxophonist, and DJ dual majoring in Contemporary Writing and Production and Professional Music with a minor in Writing for TV and New Media. You can learn more about Ayanna and hear her music by visiting www.ayannajacobsel.com.