8 Must-Haves For a Killer Home Recording Studio

What Equipment do you need for a Home Recording Studio?

With all of the advances in digital audio workstation (DAW) technology, all you really need to make music is a reliable internet connection and a computer strong enough to run it. But if you really want to make a career out of audio engineering or music production, you’ll want to fill out your home recording studio with a little more gear than that.

Recording Connection 2019 graduate Shamar Kuteyi in his home recording studio
Recording Connection 2019 graduate Shamar Kuteyi in his home recording studio

And while you may not need everything the top music producers in the world use at home, you should begin to build your home studio with an eye towards learning the necessary gear now and adding to your “collection” as your skills and experience grow. Let’s take a look at the eight must-haves for a killer recording studio.

1. An Audio Interface

An audio interface is what takes in all the vocals and instrument sounds and converts them to digital data for recording purposes and use in your DAW. The sound then gets sent back out through the interface to your headphones or monitors. It takes a little bit of time (milliseconds) for all of this to happen, although some interfaces can send this information directly to the outputs.

Audient iD14/iD22

With a crisp sound and a decent price tag, the Audient iD14/iD22 is praised for its low noise and depth. While there are two onboard mic preamps, the iD22 interface has optical in/out abilities (the 14 only has optical in) but only a single headphone output. The iD22 can add additional outputs, but you’ll need additional software and hardware to do so. It’s a nice piece of gear that comes in hundreds of dollars less than the Universal Apollo series. $299-$599

2. Recording Studio Microphone

A microphone translates sound vibrations in the air into electrical signals that can be recorded. There are an incredible amount of microphones on the market, both new and technologically advanced, and units that are decades old. Each has its benefits but it doesn’t hurt to spend a little bit on one of the most important pieces of equipment you’ll own.

Blue Baby Bottle

This clear, wide diaphragm condenser microphone is ideal for vocals but is also a good option for a room mic, acoustic instruments, overheads, amp cabinets, and more. The natural high end is good for wind and string instruments and the fast transient response is a real plus when recording drums. $399

3. Studio Monitors

Monitors used for audio engineering and music production are speakers specifically designed to relay an accurate reproduction of the music being produced. This allows the engineer or producer to hear the music exactly how it sounds to detect any technical imperfections in the music. Typical stereo speakers enhance the music, whereas studio monitors let you clearly hear what’s there.

Yamaha HS5

This monitor mimics the flat response of the discontinued Yamaha NS-10 studio monitors and is self-powered so all you need are the appropriate cables. If you want to hear exactly what you’re producing, and don’t want to break the bank, this is an ideal monitor. $199

4. Monitor Pads

In order to get the most accurate sound from your monitors, you’ll want to do everything you can to control the acoustics in the room. This includes where your monitors are placed. On a hard surface, the monitors may produce a low rumble of sorts due to the vibrations. Monitor pads absorb those vibrations.

Auralex MoPad Isolation Pads

This is an inexpensive way to control the bass reflections caused by vibrations from the monitor. They are designed to hold almost any sized monitor up to 100 pounds and provide a variety of listening angles. $49

5. Audio Cables

For crystal-clear clarity, every aspect of your home recording system must have some measure of quality. As they say, a chain is only as strong as the weakest link. In many cases, that weak link is the cable that’s being used. Trust us: Not all cables are created equally.

Mogami Cables

These cables won’t break the bank but will ensure clean tones during recording. You’ll want to have some flexibility in your cables, so we recommend getting two XLR and two instrument cables so you’ll be prepared for any situation. One short (6-10 feet) and one long (15-25) of each should do the trick. Planet Waves is also a reliable brand. $80

6. Headphones

While monitors flood the room with sound and interact with objects within the room, headphones will localize the sound, injecting it straight into your ears. Noise-canceling headphones remove all audio distractions, allowing you to hear exactly what you’re producing. This is an ideal environment to pick out pitch issues and other glitches.

AKG K240 Headphones

Used in recording studios around the world, these headphones have everything you need for isolated listening and are relatively inexpensive. They deliver a “wide dynamic range, increased sensitivity, and high sound levels” for optimum mixing and mastering. Their semi-open design creates very clear highs and a strong bass range. $69

7. DI Box

DI (“Direct Inject”) boxes were first used sixty years ago to bridge the gap between electric instruments that were quickly gaining favor with artists of the time and existing studio equipment. Basically, they take an unbalanced high-impedance sound and translate it to a balanced low-impedance signal.

Whirlwind IMP 2 Standard Direct Box

This durable unit is used by professionals around the world, providing an economical way to produce reliable, high-quality recordings. Its toughness will come in handy when you’re on the road or constantly moving your gear around. $60

8. Mic Stands

A staple for any recording studio, whether it’s the basement of your childhood home or a multi-million dollar setup. Flexibility is key with microphone stands, allowing you to hold mics in place from a variety of positions for a wide range of sounds.

On Stage Tripod Stands

The tripod design provides incredible stability in most environments. These stands handle mic clips, booms, and other accessories and can be adjusted to different heights, from 32 inches to almost 62 inches. When not in use, the stands can be folded flat for easy storage. We suggest two of these stands for increased flexibility (and it never hurts to have a backup). $50

There you have it. For less than $2,000, you’ll have the gear you need to start producing music like a pro. And, by virtue of having it in your home, you’ll be ready to go when inspiration strikes and you’re ready to work.

Are you interested in learning more about how to create your own music? Check out Recording Connection’s wide range of music courses including our audio engineering school, hip hop music school, DJ school, and more. If you are looking to find a Recording Connection music school near you visit our school location page to find the recording studio to take your music skills to the next level.

Get your music production certification and build your music production and audio engineering skills by learning with an industry professional near you.