Alright... This one's gonna be a doozy. Below is navigation
There are quite a few aspects to recording.
I will be covering the medium-no budget at home studio, not focusing on high budget items.
Everything is broken up below, and each section will have the most expensive at the top with the least expensive at the bottom.
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but I think they are a great company and have some of the best customer service that I have ever experienced with any company ever.
What You Need
DAW Digital Audio Workstation
What I Own
I have found that it is often better to spend a little bit more on something better than to go cheap. There are many other DAWs out there, but these are ones that are used in a professional capacity. I highly recommend checking out these DAWs and doing research to see which of these fits your needs. Many of them have free options or trials (with some limitations) so you can really get an idea of what you like before purchasing the full version.
Other Popular Semi-Pro/Pro Level DAWs
All of these free DAWs are very capable programs. There are obviously some limitations, and I highly recommend upgrading if you plan on taking things to a more professional level, but if you are just producing/recording for fun, or just want to try some different programs out to see what you like, the above options are programs that are able to get the job done.
There are quite a few different types of microphones. Some work better for different instruments. This website is a great resource to quickly and simply understand what the different types of microphones are. Gearank
DON’T GET A USB MICROPHONE. They aren’t worth it. Get a pre-amp and a decent microphone. Trust me. You will think the USB microphone is fine until you try a good mic and then you will have an “Ohhhhhhhhhh, THAT’S what it can sound like” moment.
Below are some perfectly capable microphones for relatively affordable prices.
What I Own
I have found that it is often better to spend a little bit more on something better than to go cheap. There are many other mics out there. I highly recommend checking out these mics and doing research to see which of these fits your needs. Below are some other microphone brands that have been recommended to me.
There are many different interfaces out there. Some are obviously more expensive than others. Many of you out there just need something that has a decent sound to it, is reliable, and affordable. Here I am only going to be talking about “at-home” USB interfaces.
I highly recommend getting at least 2 ins and 2 outs. Having only 1 can very quickly limit you. If you need more than 2, then get more! For example, if you want to record 2 singers and 1 guitar at a time, that is a minimum of 3 ins (recommended 4 if dual mic-ing the guitar). So think about what you will be using it for before purchasing, then stick with that.
I personally record only 1 or 2 mics at a time at my home studio, so I opted for 2 ins 2 outs.
What I Own
There are many different monitors out there. Some are obviously more expensive than others. DON’T GO CHEAP. I repeat… DON’T GO CHEAP. If you don’t get reliable monitors, then there isn’t much point in having monitors at all. If you can depend on your monitors to get a solid mix, then what’s the point? How often have you mixed something, then plugged it into your car, and then it sounds COMPLETELY DIFFERENT (and terrible…)? Many monitors out there don’t accurately portray the sound that is coming out. Sound treatment is also a factor in this, as good monitors won’t do a great job with poor sound treatment, but poor sound treatment ON TOP OF bad monitors are just asking for trouble.
When purchasing monitors, the less money you spend, the more you should avoid PORTED MONITORS.
What are ported monitors (also referred to as bass reflex or reflex loaded)?
Monitors that have holes in the cabinet that makes the whole box resonate with the speaker’s drivers.
This can help you feel like it has a great low end response, but it comes at a cost. Many speakers come with a frequency response chart. Ported speakers will help level out visually, but can be creating some mid-range resonances that make your monitors less reliable. The best way to see these is with a waterfall plot. Below you can see many different studio monitor waterfall plots, that not only show the frequency response, but how long those frequencies hang around.
What we want to avoid is resonant frequencies in the mid to high range.
Take a look at my Alesis M1 Actives (3). Not bad. The low end lingers (as expected). There is a bit of resonance around the 300Hz mark, but not too bad.
The (4) Apogee CSM-2, (9) Auratone 5C and (5) ATC SCM20A look AMAZING.
Now take a look at (7) AVI NuNeutron and the (10) Behringer TRUTH B2031. They have some pretty strong resonances that are going to mess with how we perceive our mix and make them unreliable.
These aren’t all of the studio monitors out there, and you will always have to balance your budget with quality, but if possible, try to find a waterfall plot for the speakers you are looking at and make sure that you don’t see any crazy resonances.
What I Own
Some Other Great Monitors
There are many different studio headphones out there. Some are obviously more expensive than others. Many of you out there just need something that has a decent sound to it, is reliable, and affordable. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t ONLY mix with headphones. There are frequencies you are going to miss and you aren’t going to get a live sound with them. Mixing should be done with monitors. That being said, there are some great headphones out there and some amazing tools that you can use to get the most out of your headphone mix. HEADPHONES
One plugin that I HIGHLY recommend for mix engineers that are on the road, or need something somewhat reliable for those late-night at home mixes, or you just don’t have reliable monitors at this time.
Check out Abbey Road Studio 3. This plugin uses your webcam to track your head movement and give you a live mix sound, straight from your headphones. I thought it was going to be ok, but this tool is incredible. It also has headphone eq compensation for common studio headphones INCLUDING the ones that I use (Sony MDR-7506).
What I Own
This is a relatively important step toward trying to get the best idea of what your mix sounds like. That main aspects that you need to focus on are sound isolation and early reflections (reverb). If you are getting a lot of noise in your recordings and you can hear the sound bouncing off of the walls, then your recordings are going to be sub-par. DON’T JUST GO OUT AND BUY A BUNCH OF FOAM AND COVER ALL OF YOUR WALLS (unless you like to waste money).
Your mix will also suffer if your mixing room isn’t treated well as different frequencies build up depending on where you are in the room, and the size of the room. Here are a few articles/videos to help with treating your home studio.