I know, 50 pieces of equipment is a whole lot for it to be in the “essential” category. This list is not only about the essential recording equipment. It includes products that are non-instruments, accessories, furniture, and anything that will help you boost productivity and have fun.
I will divide this list into four categories. First will be the essential furniture you need for setting up the music studio. The second category includes all of the recording equipment essentials. The next list will consist of all the accessories for improving recording and optimizing workflow. And lastly, I will show you the fun little non-instrumental products for decoration and inspiration.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
STARTER OR PRO GEAR
Whether you are a beginner or pro in music production, most of the equipment on the list will be quite useful and essential for the overall aspects of having a home recording studio. This article will show you most of what you need to know, and most of what you need to own when setting up your home music studio.
For beginner music producers, I will show you the best gear and equipment if you are getting into music production. If you haven’t decided. If you want to take it to the next level, the beginner gear is just for you. The essential equipment for starters does not necessarily have to be inferior, but rather be equipment that is easy to learn and easy to use.
Beginners should get suitable equipment for long-term use while learning at a reasonable price. You do not want to buy expensive pro equipment that you won’t learn how to use and might end up under your bed or in your closet. However, you can always sell used gear on eBay, Craigslist, or even guitar stores that buy used equipment.
As much as possible, you don’t want to end up selling equipment that you have not used that much for a lower price than what you paid for. Items you have applied for a short time and with little to no signs of wear can be sold for a slightly higher price but not as much as the brand-new market value.
If you are a pro and already have the essential equipment, this list can still help you with ideas for non-instrument type gear that can optimize your recording sessions. The list not only includes material for recording but also contains items for maintenance and ergonomics. It will also include some fun items you might not think you needed in your home music studio.
You can click on the categories to jump through sections and read about accessories, other helpful ideas to keep your studio clean. I will also include tips about how to land clients and get your first gigs if you like to play your music live.
Your bedroom setup will depend on the space you have. You can set up a functional studio if you have desk space and a little extra room for movement. A more prominent place is excellent for setting up a studio, as you can fit more equipment and still be able to move freely.
A room with that room full of clutter may block your thoughts, especially in the recording process, make sure you always keep your room tidy. By tidying up your room, it gives the room the ambiance and vibes it needs to look like a professional studio. A tidy workspace can optimize your workflow. Your bedroom studio is a creative space where you can transform your ideas into audio tracks.
1. Desk Workstation
The desk is vital in all kinds of studios, including your home music studio. If you are more dedicated to music production, you should own a more massive desk that can accommodate a lot of recording equipment. A desk workstation is a staple of music production for beginners and professionals alike.
a. L Shaped Desk
This L shaped desk is perfect for a recording workstation. It can accommodate up to two computer monitors, your studio monitors and all the other gear you want on the desk. The other side of the desk is where you can place your keyboards and samplers. If you have a larger space, I say go for a bigger desk for your gear.
(Product Dimensions: 60” x 20” x 45” with the 20” extension)
b. CYRUS WORKSTATION
If you happen to have less space for your home studio, you can try this desk. The cherry finish and black accents make it look a lot more expensive than the actual price. It has a glass top, a sliding keyboard deck, a bottom deck, and an upper deck for your monitors. With the extra sliding deck, you will have more extra space for your midi keyboard.
(Product Dimensions: 48 x 26 x 36 inches)
To be able to produce music on a desk, just like any other office, you will need a comfortable chair. You will want a suitable chair that you can sit on for hours. Recording sessions can last a whole day, including the mixing and mastering process, so I suggest you get an ergonomic chair that has the suitable cushions and lumbar support.
a. DURAMONT ERGONOMIC OFFICE CHAIR
This Chair features state-of-the-art adjustable features. The height and angle of the headrest can be adjusted to suit your height perfectly. You can also change the depth of the lumbar support that helps you keep good posture. The Duramont Office Chair has a weight capacity of 330 lbs.
3. Side Table
A side table is perfect for placing other items you may need while you are working, such as drinks and snacks. You don’t want to spill liquid on your expensive gear accidentally. A good rule is not to drink any liquid glasses near your equipment.
Helpful tip: If you want to drink liquid near your equipment, try using a reusable water bottle with a lid. It will lower the chance of spillage, and because it is re-usable, it is good for mother earth.
To save space on your desk surfaces, you can buy effect racks for your effects, compressors, and preamps. As a beginner, you may not need this at first, but it is always good to know that you have an option.
5. Gear Containers
To extend the life of the gear that you will not use very often, you can buy gear containers. Storing your equipment in a sealed container can protect the material that you don’t use very often. Having a lot of gear lying around may collect dust and might damage its function.
For more furniture options, click here.
ESSENTIAL RECORDING EQUIPMENT
Computers are crucial because they will serve as the brain for the recording operation. All your recording software will run on the computer, so does all of your files and recording clips. It does not matter if you have a Mac or Windows computer for recording as long as you have the required specs.
A suitable computer for recording music should have at least 4GB of ram, and a quad-core processor. Most new Apple computers have the required specifications. When choosing a PC, you will have to purchase one with the right specs.
On tips on how to choose a computer for your home recording studio, click here.
A DAW or a digital audio workstation is the computer program or mobile app. It allows you to record, edit, mix, and master your tracks. and turn it into a full song. Producers have their DAW of choice. Different DAWs have different features and controls, but almost always have the same function, which is to record and produce music.
There are several free DAWs such as Garageband for Mac and Audacity for both Mac and PC. Mostly, paid DAWs to have a lot of more built-in instruments and features than free software. However, you can still download free VST instruments and FX for open source software such as Audacity.
8. VST PLUGINS
Virtual Studio Technology or VSTs have a wide variety of types such as effects and instruments. There are several fantastic free VSTs that you can download to enhance the quality of your tracks.
a. Virtual Instruments
Virtual instruments are VST plugins that emulate real devices in digital form. Some play recordings of real instruments by using the computer keyboard or your Midi Controller. The best virtual tools are the synths, which sound fantastic.
b. Virtual Effects
You can use VST FX to enhance the audio of your recording. Paid DAWs have a wide selection of effects such as delays, reverbs, and many more. You can make your tracks more interesting with the use of virtual effects. These effects are essential in mixing and mastering an audio track to make it sound better.
For a list of FREE Software and VSTs, click here.
9. AUDIO INTERFACE
An audio interface is used to record vocal tracks with a microphone. It is also used for recording guitar by plugging in the guitar directly using the 1/4″ jack input. The audio interface translates the live audio into a language the computer can understand and record. Some guitar amplifiers, effects, and mixers have built-in audio interfaces you can use for recording.
Here are some examples of suitable audio interfaces for your home music studio:
a. IK MULTIMEDIA iRIG PRE HD
(price: $99.99) Besides the compact size, it can record fantastic audio. It can also connect it to your mobile phone and record music wherever you are if inspiration strikes. This audio interface is a small but powerful interface for computer and mobile recording.
• Headphone jack
• Amp output
• Guitar input
• LED indicators
• Gain control
b. M-AUDIO M-TRACK 2×2
(price: $99.99) This device is a high-quality signal capturing audio interface. It is compact so; it won’t take a lot of space on your desk, and you can also use it for mobile recording. The low-noise feature is essential for getting the most out of your record.
• 2 inputs
• XLR input
• Crystal power preamp
• ¼” guitar input
• 24-bit/kHz response
c. FOCUSRITE SCARLETT SOLO
(Price: $99.99) This brand has been well-known throughout most professional music producers. It has low latency, a preamp, and outstanding qualities for its low price. The 24-bit sample rate is best for recording guitars and vocals.
Key Features: • 2 inputs
• XLR preamp input
• ¼” guitar input
• Indicator lights for levels
• Gain Control
• 24-bit sample rate
10. MIDI CONTROLLER
Choosing the right Midi controller for your home music studio will depend on the size, features, and the aesthetic that pleases you the most. There are a lot of different styles of Midi controllers nowadays so it might be hard to choose the right one. I suggest that you base your choice on the size, features, and the real feel of the keys and pads.
Keyboard controllers look like a regular keyboard, and you can use it to play virtual instruments on DAW or VST plugin in keyboard fashion.
A DJ Midi controller emulates the functions of a turntable. Instead of switching out the platter with vinyl records, you can easily switch the songs with the DJ software such as RekordBox DJ, Serrato Pro, and many more.
Midi Pads are just like the keyboard controller, but instead of hitting keys to play virtual instruments, you strike the responsive pads. You can use the pads to trigger one-shot samples and loops.
d. Controls Surface
A control surface is a Midi controller that consists of knobs and faders. The variety of knobs can control the levels of effects and master volume of your mix without having to use a mouse or keyboard on a computer.
Click here to learn more about how to choose a Midi controller for your home music studio.
11. Keyboard/ Synthesizer
Another addition to your home studio is a keyboard or synthesizer. Unlike Midi controllers, a synthesizer can produce sound with the built-in sound engine. Sometimes, it is much easier to use a physical device to create synth sounds when recording. A synthesizer is a stand-alone instrument that you can play without a laptop or computer. Some of the modern analog synths have a USB port so you can use them as Midi Controllers.
To learn more about how to choose a keyboard for your home music studio, click here.
In my opinion, a real guitar will sound so much better than virtual guitar instruments. Although you can play guitar with a Midi controller, it will be difficult to emulate the sound of a guitar strum or picking on a keyboard. The tricky part is perfecting how to record a guitar in a studio.
For tips on recording guitar in your home studio, click here.
Software synths and instruments have tons of electric bass sounds, but an organic sounding bass sounds a lot better depending on the genre. String instruments like guitar and bass sound better when you play it how it is supposed to be played.
14. Guitar Effects Pedals
If you are a guitar player, you will need some guitar pedals for live performances as well as recording. You can buy software effects for recording, but having physical guitar pedals to tap dance to, gives you more expression and control.
If you have a big enough room to place a drum kit, you can purchase a drum set. If you are a drummer, I’m sure you would want to record real drums on your track instead of Midi drum programming. An acoustic drum set will require more space than electronic drums, so make sure you choose a kit that is suitable for you and your room.
For tips on how to choose the right drum kit for you, click here.
Another essential item in your home music studio is a microphone. You will need a high-end mic to record quality vocals. A high-quality microphone can sound good even without a preamp and minimum acoustic treatment.
A condenser microphone is suitable for recording soft vocal tracks. It will capture the quietest of sounds.
A Dynamic microphone is commonly used for live performances. It is suitable for recording guitars, bass, and drums.
If you want to record multiple tracks at once, you can use a mixer. A mixer can have as little as three inputs up to 20+ inputs. Producers like to use mixers to adjust inputs. Most mixers have a preamp that gives the vocal track an extra boost.
Studio monitors are essential for monitoring the quality of your tracks. A suitable set of monitors must have an accurate frequency response. Studio monitors are one of the must-have studio equipment for getting better quality tracks.
a. MACKIE CR5 5-INCH MONITORS:
This set of monitors will look great for your small studio space. It has Bluetooth connectivity so you could eliminate the use of wires. Furthermore, its 50W power of clear and articulate stereo audio allows you to get the best out of these monitors. These monitors are very compact and will not take a lot of space in your corner music studio.
b. PRESONUS SCEPTRE S8 STUDIO MONITORS
These monitors are not the most expensive, but they hold up against any monitors three times their price. They are not quite famous monitors, but they have good reviews.
The PreSonus Scepter sounds very pure and natural. It has a punchy bass that is suitable for small bedroom studios. These monitors might look different in large rooms, but for your bedroom, they won’t disappoint. The mid and high frequencies sound good as well.
Despite the minimalist aesthetic of these monitors, it has a very crisp and powerful sound that you can feel when you are listening. The highs and lows are easy to distinguish because of how clean these speakers sound.
In the place of studio monitors, headphones can also be a useful tool for monitoring your sound. Testing out your tracks on studio monitors and headphones is a good trick because the audio might come out differently. A quality track should sound good on both.
a. AUDIO-TECHNICA ATH-M20X
These headphones are an excellent choice for monitoring your audio tracks. It has enhanced low-frequency performance so you can hear the lowest bass frequencies. The single-sided cable is convenient and won’t get in the way when working. The design is elegant and tasteful.
b. AUDIO-TECHNICA ATH-M50X
The ATH-M50x professional studio headphones are critically acclaimed and praised by pro audio engineers and producers for its accurate frequency playback. This set of headphones is durable because of the copper-clad aluminum wire coils. The frequency range on these studio headphones is exceptional.
• Clear sound and clarity
• Excellent sound isolation
• Professional-grade earpad comfortable for hours of use
• 90-degree swiveling earcups for one-ear monitoring and portability
• 45mm driver
• 96 dB sensitivity
• 1600 MW of power
You will need the right amplifiers mainly if you record guitar tracks with a microphone. An actual tube amp will sound a lot better than any amp modeler out there. Its raw power is significantly noticeable in the quality of your guitar tracks. There are four types of amplifiers:
• Solid State Amplifiers
• Tube Amplifiers
• Amp Modelers, and
• Hybrid Amplifiers
Having functional cables is vital in a recording studio. Better quality cables give out a more precise signal and less noise on tracks.
Guitar Cables Guitar pickups create dynamic sounds that can produce high-gain audio. Distorted guitar sounds might generate a lot of unnecessary noise like feedback. You should consider getting low-noise and heavy-duty cables that you can use for your gigs or recording studio.
MOGAMI GOLD ¼” GUITAR CABLES
This guitar cable provides a crystal-clear tone with noise reduction. The construction of this cable is durable using, a conductive polymer shield and an Ultra High-Density spiral shield for low noise, low feedback, and heavy-duty use.
Investing in quality patch cables for your guitar effects signal chain can make a significant difference in noise reduction. Consider the option of getting better, low-noise patch cables.
MXR PATCH CABLE 3 PACK
The MXR patch cables are durable and flexible. The flat angle of the ends is a pedalboard space saver. These patch cables are equipped with a spiral shield for lower noise.
XLR cables are the 3-pin cables for your microphones. XLR inputs and outputs have a more precise signal than the regular ¼” jack.
RCA cables are used with other devices such as mixers, samplers, and vocal amplifiers. It is usually red and white cables for stereo speakers.
USB Type B Cables
These types of cables are used to connect a Midi device and an audio interface to a computer. It transfers the data faster for little to zero latency on an external device.
Helpful tip: To find one of these cables, you can look for your old printer because they use Type B USB the same as Midi USB devices.
22. Direct Input Boxes
A Direct input box is essential for two things. One, it will give you more inputs and work as an extension cord for live musical inputs. And number two, it can eliminate the use of long wires. Using long cables can affect the latency of a signal because the signal will travel a long way to get to its destination.
23. Power Conditioners
Using a power conditioner can protect and extend the life of your gear. It regulates the power usage of all the equipment that you plug in. The electronics won’t get a short circuit if plugged in through a power conditioner.
FURMAN P-2400 AR POWER CONDITIONER
Power Conditioner lessens the noise of your recording. The Furman P-2400 can regulate voltages of 20 amps combined. This power conditioner is an optional item for your rig, but it will help you get better in music production.
A hardware compressor is an excellent addition to your home studio. It will cost a lot more money than software compressors. However, mastering your tracks with real hardware compression makes your music sound a lot more professional. If you are a beginner, I suggest learning the basics of compression on software before purchasing a hardware compressor.
ART SCL2 COMPRESSOR
This compressor is on the lower end of studio compressors. It is a suitable starter compressor if you are getting into the basics of compression. The idea of compression is to make your tracks more coherent and seamless by adjusting the audio on consistent levels. It is an excellent tool for mastering tracks and making the radio material.
25. Mic Preamp
A microphone preamp enhances the sound of any mic. Even the low-end mics can sound better with a preamp. I suggest that you still buy a suitable mic for exceptional quality.
FOCUSRITE ONE CLASSIC PREAMP
Audio interfaces would generally have a built-in mic preamp, but having a separate preamp for microphones can enhance your vocal track significantly. A preamp can improve the sound of any low-end microphone to make it sound considerably better for vocals or guitar recording. A preamp will make any microphone sound better with the right tweaking.
26. Sustain Pedal
A sustain pedal is an excellent addition for your Midi controller or analog synthesizer. It will give you extra modulation and automation when recording synth and piano tracks. Adding sustain on specific points of a song provides the sequence with more character and emotion.
27. Headphone Amp
A headphone amp is essential if you will be recording some clients. It increases the outputs of your rig and lets you connect more headphones so that several people can monitor tracks at the same time.
28. Monitor Amp
Your tracks will sound different depending on the monitor. A monitor amp lets you connect more speakers for output. Dedicated music producers have this in this item in their studio to compare how their tracks sound like on different sets of monitors and speakers.
A sampler is a device where you can add or create sample tracks for your recording. You can load up the sample with your desired tracks and instantly play the tracks with a press of a button. This tool can help optimize your workflow.
Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator
This tiny sampler module can make samples up to 40 seconds. It is an excellent product for beatmakers and producers alike.
• Built-in microphone for recording
• 1/8” headphone and output jack
• 8 melodic sample slots for triggering samples chronologically
• 8 drum sample slots for playing drum samples with one shot
• 16-step sequencer for arranging patterns
• Ability to create and save complex sequences
• Built-in speakers
• Battery efficient
KORG Volca Beats Analog Drum Machine
The Volca Beats is an analog type of drum machine that creates real analog sounds that resemble classic rhythm machines. The unique keyboard style of this drum machine can be either a trigger pad for samples or use it as a keyboard and press to play.
• 16-step style sequencer
• Built-in speaker
• Optional battery power for on-the-go playing and mobile recording
• 6 editable parts
• One knob per function for more straightforward editing
• Stutter function for repeating triggers in different styles
Roland Rhythm Composer TR-08
The TR-08 is the ultra-light and compact version of the classic Roland TR-808 drum machine. This drum machine retains the sound, aesthetic, and overall character of the Roland TR-808, but in a smaller and compact build.
• Hands-on control of tone, level, tuning and decay
• Added effects like compressor, gain, tune and Pan for selected instruments
• Programmable trigger keys
• Battery operated
• 10 separate outputs
• USB output
Most DAWs have built-in equalizers and compressors. But back in the day, you will need hardware effects that cost thousands of dollars. Fortunately, for us, we can get digitized versions of that expensive equipment at a significantly lower price. Equalizers are used for filling all the empty spaces of a track by adequately adjusting the frequency of records. It helps make a single track distinctive in a mix.
BEHRINGER MINIFBQ 9-BAND GRAPHIC EQ
This EQ is an ultra-compact graphic equalizer that you can use for studio and live performance applications. It is a suitable startup equalizer that you can master how to use a hardware EQ for a meager price.
DBX 1231 DUAL CHANNEL 31-BAND EQ
The DBX EQ is an advanced studio equalizer that is best for highly skilled music producers. It has a built-in limiter with LED lights, so you have a visual indication of what the limiter is doing. The performance of this equalizer is nothing short of incredible. Aside from the revolutionary capabilities of this device, the design is very sleek and straightforward. You can get the DBX 15-band for $289.
31. Acoustic Foam Panels
Acoustic foam panels are essential in shaping the tone of a room. The room tone can affect the quality of live audio recording such as vocals.
ACOUSTIC FOAM PANELS 12 PACK
This pack is excellent for setting up a better acoustic environment for your studio. You can install them in the vocal booth, and the control room where you will be monitoring your sound. Remember that the improving acoustics will not only improve your recording, but it will improve monitoring as well.
(Product Dimensions: 12″x 12″ x 1″)
Diffusers help create a warm natural ambiance for your studio. Diffusers scatter the random echoes of a room. Diffusers are significant in bigger rooms.
BXI SOUND DIFFUSER
This large panel is a suitable diffuser panel you can install in your music studio. This high-quality wooden panel is made from anti-aging and corrosion-resistant materials. The designs and patterns of this diffuser are not only functional but also decorative as well. You can use this panel to remove acoustic defects such as flutters and echo.
(Product Dimensions: 26″x 25.5″x 4.4)
33. Isolation Shield
Vocal isolation panels are best used for a room with minimal acoustic treatment. This studio accessory is designed for vocal recording. By using a tool like this reflective panel, you will only need little acoustic treatment for your home music studio.
AOKEO PROFESSIONAL MICROPHONE ISOLATION SHIELD
This tool can help eliminate audio interference. The AOKEO PROFESSIONAL has a foldable design so you can save space when you are not using the accessory. Most isolation shields can connect to most mic stands.
34. Bass Traps
Bass traps are specially designed to absorb low frequencies. It helps control a room’s reverb. By removing the natural reverb, it will be much easier to control the room reverb with VST FX.
NEW LEVEL BASS TRAPS
Bass traps are specially designed to absorb low bass frequencies. However, they can absorb medium to high rates as well. I would suggest that you purchase and install bass traps in your music studio first because of its all-around acoustic treatment qualities.
35. Monitor Isolation Pads
Placing your monitors on your desk can compromise the accuracy of your studio monitors. Acoustic treatment helps a lot with the frequency output of monitors, but monitor isolation pads can improve the sound to the next level.
36. USB Adapters
USB adapters are essential in a home music studio because a lot of your equipment does not have the same size of ports. If you want all your devices consolidated, you need to get some USB adapters for lightning cables, USB C, etc.
37. Studio Monitor Stands
Studio monitor stands can work the same as isolation pads. Because the monitors are elevated, the sound will not get absorbed by the surface of the desk. The sound coming out of the speakers will sound more accurate, plus, you can save some space on your desk.
38. Pop Filter
A Pop filter is useful for recording vocal tracks. It is used to stop any bursts of air from pronouncing words such as the “P” or “B” sounds. The mesh filter will prevent the rapid air from bursting into your microphone that causes clipping. You can get a pop filter for under $10 on Amazon. Any mesh pop filter will pretty much work the same.
39. Mic Stand
You will need a proper mic stand for recording vocals. When recording vocals, it is best when you are standing up to have more force from the diaphragm. It is also useful for recording guitar by placing the mic stand facing the guitar amp speaker.
a. Mic Arm
A mic arm can be very flexible and used for a lot more functions such as recording podcasts, guitar amps, etc.
b. Mic Clip
Mic clips are best for recording acoustic drums. You will need multiple pieces to record each section of your drum kit individually.
40. Wi-Fi Plug
The GO SOUND SMART PLUG (Price: $30) is a fun and useful item for your bedroom music studio. If you leave the house and you are not sure if you left your gear on, you can quickly shut it down with the use of your mobile device. No matter where you are around the globe, you can control what is plugged in. It is also compatible with Alexa. A simple voice command can turn your studio on and off.
Helpful tip: Do not leave your equipment plugged in when you are out of the country.
41. Bluetooth Mouse
A Bluetooth mouse is helpful when you are editing in your DAW. Wires can get in the way, so having a Bluetooth mouse can eliminate the use of cables for a more efficient editing session.
42. Bluetooth Keyboard
Just like the Bluetooth mouse, a Bluetooth keyboard eliminates the use of wires so you can quickly move it around.
Another fun item to optimize your workflow is to get a whiteboard. List down your daily goals and cross them out.
44. Cleaning Equipment
For proper gear maintenance, you will need these accessories.
A clean brush can be useful for dusting off the surfaces of your gear to prevent guck from building up.
b. Compressed Air
A can of compressed air is useful for cleaning hard to reach spots.
c. Contact Cleaner
The contact cleaner is suitable for cleaning your hardware. It reduces the oxidation and rust of your metal equipment.
Always have rags available to wipe your gear.
Helpful tip: Schedule a day once or twice a month dedicated for maintenance and cleaning of your equipment.
Having a clock in your room can help you improve time management in recording sessions. Your computer and phone already have a clock, but having a separate clock you can look at with a glance is more comfortable.
46. USB Hub
Sometimes your computer does not have enough USB ports for all of your USB devices such as midi controllers. A USB hub is beneficial in solving that problem.
47. Laptop Stand
A laptop stand is not only for your laptop. You can use it for angling your midi controllers and pads for better accessibility.
48. Portable Hard Drive
Stefan Guy (Producer)
“Data does not exist unless it exists in two places.”
A portable hard drive backs up your files, as well as store your data if you have low memory on your computer or laptop.
49. Velcro Cable Ties
Cable ties are best for managing all of your cables. Having all the equipment on this list can equal to tons of cords. You will need this item to manage your cables for a more organized workspace.
50. Tablet or Mobile Phone
A mobile device such as an iPad or iPhone can be used as an extension remote for your DAW. It can help you control and do some tweaks on your audio tracks in the comfort of your bed. If you use LOGIC X PRO as your main DAW, you can download Logic Remote for iOS and unlock more features.
• Do I have to buy everything on the list?
No, you do not have to buy everything on the list, but you can think about buying some items if you think it can help you get your work done. Some things are intended for beginners and some for pros. The details will also depend on what kind of producer you are. Purchasing the equipment will depend if you are a beatmaker, a producer, if you play an instrument in a band, or if you are a DJ.
• Is hardware better than software instruments and effects?
It depends on the product itself. Some hardware or actual instruments are significantly better than virtual instruments, and some software instruments sound better than the real tools. The sound will depend on the brand and type of device. The performance will also depend on how to use it.
For example—in comparing physical guitar amps and pedals, the real amps and pedals are more comfortable to manipulate when playing live because of the physical functions such as footswitches and knobs. Software guitar amps and pedals, on the other hand, are way easier to record because you do not have to set up a mic for capturing audio out of a real amp.
In terms of portability and convenience, software instruments are better because you do not have to carry or wire tons of devices for recording. A good example is having hundreds of physical synthesizers are very much difficult to carry around vs. having hundreds of virtual synths on your computer.
• Acoustic Drums VS Electric Drums
Acoustic drums, in my opinion, and experience in terms of sound quality. However, acoustic drums are much harder to arm for recording because of the many factors to consider. They are much louder, takes up more space, and it is more expensive to record. You will have to purchase several high-quality mics and set up an acoustically treated room to get the best drum sound on a track.
Electric Drums are a lot easier to record on a track because you can record the sound directly through the audio interface. The better option is to record electric drums via USB Midi. This method allows you to edit the Midi on the piano roll for a precise drum track. E-drums also do not take up much space and make a lot of noise, so neighbors or housemates would not complain.
If you are recording on Mac OS, there are several drum sounds to choose from for your E-drums. If you are on Windows, you can try the MT POWER DRUM KIT 2 plugin for free.
o MT POWER DRUM KIT 2
This drum plugin is an amazing acoustic drum simulator. This plugin is excellent for creating rock and roll drum tracks. You can adjust the velocity of the drum tracks to make it sound more realistic. It comes with several drum patterns if you’re experiencing writer’s block.
The drums on this plugin are already pre-mastered and mixed to sound well in any mix. This virtual drum kit sounds very realistic; it seems as if you recorded authentic organic drums.
You can choose over thousands of different rhythms in the comprehensive groove library. Sometimes you need the right drum track to start recording, and the MT POWER DRUM KIT 2 has you covered. You can adjust the levels of the drums individually—for example, you can make the bass or kick drum louder and more distinguished in the mix.
This plugin is suitable for music genres that use acoustic drums such as rock, pop, jazz, blues, funk, etc.
• How do I transition to being a PRO?
The transition will depend on you and your skill level. If you are confident enough to try and market yourself as a Pro, you can go ahead and look for your first client. In my opinion, your first client should be yourself when practicing.
In terms of gear, if you have mastered the starter equipment and want to upgrade to pro equipment, I say go for it! Transitioning to PRO will depend on your definition of a pro. You can be referred to as a pro if you are good at what you do, or you get paid to do what you do. Sometimes, being a professional does not mean you are an excellent producer; sometimes, it just means that you are getting paid.
STARTER HOME STUDIO
A starter home studio is usually comprised of the necessary essential equipment such as a computer, and audio interface, studio monitors, and headphones. When you are just starting you don’t want to overspend on expensive audio equipment that you are not familiar with.
The essentials of a starter set up are suitable enough for a beginner producer to record high-quality tracks while learning and improving. Usually, starter music or recording studios can fit in a section of your bedroom.
The essential equipment for a starter studio may consist of the following:
c. VST plugins
d. Midi controller
e. Audio interface
f. Studio monitors or Headphones
h. Primary instruments such as Guitar, Bass, Keyboard
i. Minimal Acoustic treatment
j. Basic music production skills
m. Skill level, deeper understanding with the use of equipment
n. Acoustically treated room
INTERMEDIATE HOME STUDIO
Now that you have mastered how to use the essential equipment, you might want to upgrade or expand your gear arsenal to a more intermediate studio set up. It is up to you if you’re going to move to a bigger space than a corner of your room to accommodate the gear you plan on buying.
Being on an intermediate level of producing music does not necessarily mean you have more gear or need to buy more equipment. It can also mean you are close to mastery and might want to expand more on knowledge and experience using pro-level tools and software.
An intermediate or dedicated producer should have these items in their home studio:
a. Computer or Laptop
b. Advanced DAW
c. Quality VST Plugins
h. Midi Controller
i. Audio interface
j. Mic preamp
o. All of the listed accessories
ADVANCED HOME STUDIO
For me, an advanced studio setup should have more hardware tools such as compressors, power conditioners, effect racks, and preamps. All of the equipment can also be plugins or virtual studio technology (VST).
Do not spend a sum of money to get large and bulky equipment if you do not know the purpose. Take time to acquire extensive knowledge of what the machine does to improve your audio tracks. There is free software you can download to have an understanding of how you can utilize these effects. Most of the large and expensive effects are meant for advanced mastering and mixing.
For the advanced home studio setup, you should have most of the equipment listed above. You must be confident with your skills and have a career mindset before spending a large amount of money and buying all of the gear you need. It is helpful to startup with the beginner studio setup and builds up your skills and client network before taking it up a notch.
Here are some free plugins you can download to see what it can do to help you:
ROUGH RIDER (FREE)
This free compressor plugin is free to download, but despite that, it works great. It adds a vintage and warm kick to your tracks. It is perfect for adding compression to drums, guitar, synth, and vocal tracks. It is essential to add uniformity to your sound levels.
IZOTOPE VOCAL DOUBLER
Recording excellent vocals can be tricky as it has to blend in well in the mix. Vocals have to stand out in the mix without compromising the sound of the instruments. Good thing there is a free plugin like the Vocal Doubler. This plugin is perfect for recording vocals and adding a touch of spacey reverb. You can use this plugin to create multiple vocals and harmonies to enhance the sound of vocals on a track.
VINYL BY IZOTOPE
This free plugin is a vinyl simulator. It is excellent for creating lo-fi hip-hop tracks. It features advanced filtering, modeling, and resampling. It creates an authentic vinyl simulation. It’s like listening to audio straight from a record payer.
MFREE FX BUNDLE
Melda Productions offer a variety of modulation effects for free. All the effects in this bundle are free to use, and you won’t believe how well they are.
Here are some of their free effect plugins:
This plugin is an auto pitch software perfect for vocal tweaking. You can adjust the peaks of vocal tracks to stay in tune, so you do not have to go and record it all over again. It does not sound so robotic and digital that it would be obvious. It is not like the autotune. It has a more natural pitch correction.
Auto Pan is an excellent effect for modulating the stereo sound of your audio track. You can make your records warp around from left to right or the other way around through surround sound or headphones. This effect adds a little spice to your tracks.
This effect explores different textures and distortion. It is a distortion effect not only for the guitar but for other instruments as well. It is a fun distortion that has different parameters to explore, unlike the traditional distortion for guitar.
The MFLANGER is an excellent free flange effect that creates spacey tones for your recording. This effect has several parameters like the mix, tone, pattern, and many more.
You can bring your monotonous clean tones to life with this phaser effect. It is not only suitable for guitar, but it is also great for vocals, bass, and synths as well. You can go and try to experiment with different instruments with this as well.
The MTREMOLO is an interesting tremolo effect that will sound great with guitar tracks. It can give your guitar tracks an incredible stutter effect.
You can add dynamic range to your tracks with this subtle vibrato effect. You can adjust the mix and level to match what you want to hear. Almost every effect of this free bundle sounds fantastic.
The Nova 67-P is a visual eq tool you can use for both compression and equalization. It is a suitable add-on for your DAW. This effect is not that easy to understand at first, but when you get the hang of how to use it, it will help you polish your tracks.
If you have learned how to use the free mixing and mastering effects, you can try some of these paid mixing and mastering software. Usually, paid software has a lot more features to offer than free software.
The iZotope RX Elements is an Audio Restoration and Enhancement app that is perfect for improving the quality of our audio tracks. Unlike the simplicity of the ERA pack, the RX is much more precise when it comes to adjustments. Some of the features are the De-clip, De-hum, De-click, and De-noise.
It works the same as the ERA, with many more options than just one knob. This plugin makes the process more comprehensive.
ERA 4 SOFTWARE BUNDLE
The Era Bundle is a collection of cleaning plugins that are very easy to use. The plugins have single knobs for simplicity. By purchasing this software bundle, it’s the easiest way to master your audio tracks hassle-free. For best results, the raw audio tracks must be error-free and recorded well.
The bundle comes with:
• Noise remover
The noise remover easily cleans up and reduces unwanted noise on your audio track, like electric hums, fans, and any other background noise.
• Reverb Remover
The Reverb Remover easily removes the unwanted reverb from the room acoustics. The excessive reverb is quickly reduced to bring focus to your tracks.
• Voice Leveler
This one-knob voice leveler easily compresses and limits the sound of your vocal tracks.
• De- Esser
This fantastic app can quickly fix the speech of your vocal tracks. Sometimes the lyrics are hard to pronounce, and you over-pronounce syllables, but this excellent app can fix that problem.
• Plosive Remover
This plugin minimizes the pop-ups and excessive thumps from your vocal tracks. Sometimes breathing on your microphone when recording is unavoidable. Good thing there is the plosive remover.
You can instantly reduce audio clipping with the De-Clipper. The high volume can be chopped off, so you have consistent sound levels in seconds.
A minimalist studio is a smaller studio setup that consists of all the essential equipment. Having a minimalist studio focuses more on virtual instruments you can install on a laptop. A minimalist studio consists of the essentials such as a laptop, DAW, VSTs, a small Midi keyboard, and headphones. It is better if you can fit all of the equipment in a backpack so you can do mobile recording when you need to. Click here to learn more about how to set up a minimalist music studio.
To make your gear last longer, you must always clean them as well as the room where they are stored. Recording equipment such as mixers and keyboards are prone to dust. Make sure you use the right cleaning supplies so you would not damage your precious gear. It is always a sad day when one of your equipment ceases to function.
To learn more about how to extend the life of your gear, click here.
• ACOUSTIC TREATMENT
Treating a small music recording studio inside of your bedroom is more comfortable than large bedrooms. You will only need a few materials for acoustic treatment. I would suggest, installing a couple of acoustic foam panels on the wall facing the area where you will be recording vocals.
To soundproof your bedroom recording studio, you must find all the possible gaps where sound can travel out of the room. It is either on the side of your door and window. You can use high-density materials such as padding to block the gaps.
• MAXIMIZE GEAR
Always maximize the utility of the gear you purchase. To do this, you should read the manuals. Some people tend to not read the manuals before diving straight into using their equipment. Sometimes there are important details, functions, and shortcuts you may miss if you do not understand the manual.
• BUY USED GEAR
You can always save money from buying used gear. There are tons of used clothing, especially starter equipment on eBay or Craigslist. You can even purchase used gear at Guitar Center and Pawnshops. The people that started out using beginner gear are selling the gear they started with.
Helpful tip: Always make sure that in buying used gear, you check them out if they are working first. If you purchase equipment that does not work anymore on eBay, you can always send a dispute so you can get your money back.
If you are an aspiring producer, getting paying clients will take a while, not unless you get fortunate. The first thing you need to do is create a lot of songs and compile a portfolio. Another way to get your name out there is to create social media accounts for networking.
Creating a Linked In account looks a lot more professional than Facebook or Instagram profile. However, it is still better to set up accounts on all the popular social media platforms to get your name out there. Your portfolio will serve as your samples for your potential clients.
Helpful tip: If you are going to create a portfolio, make sure you put an audio watermark so that no one can illegally use your material. Make sure you hone your skills before you market yourself too high. You might not get your first client if you demand a high price in the beginning.
Gigs are a lot easier to book. If you have a band or you are a solo artist, creating a social media presence helps a lot. Now that you have a functional recording studio at home, there is no reason for you not to make any demos.
Back in the day, being able to record high-quality demos were difficult. Studio time was pricey in those days, so bands and artists had a tough time marketing themselves if they did not have a lot of money.
You are lucky if you happen to get paid on your first gig. When I started gigging with my band back in high school, we had to pay money to let us play. I’m glad that it is not a thing anymore. We did not spend money directly, but we had to sell a certain amount of tickets so that we can play at the “Whiskey A-GO-GO” in Hollywood, CA.
As a new band, we did not expect people to buy tickets. As kids who wanted to play an Iconic club where bands like Guns and Roses and The Doors started to play, we bought all the tickets we did not sell.
All the gear and equipment I suggested on the list are equipment that had good reviews. And some of them, I have used for years. When I started producing music in my bedroom, I started with beginner products and software before buying better gear. The only thing that you need to make sure of is to enjoy what you are doing and make the most of what you have. These items are merely suggestions that can help you create the best music you can make. ENJOY!