RECORDING: Home Studio Setups At Various Costs, For Noobs

Home recording is becoming more and more affordable… it’s ridiculous just how affordable it’s becoming. My #1 inspiration these days (musically, and music-business-wise) is Jack Conte of Pomplamoose… he said it best (and I’m paraphrasing because I don’t remember his exact words… something to the effect of):

“There has never been a better time to be a musician. All the tools are there. You’d be a fool not to use them.”

With that said, I’ve done a lot of thinking about setups, and eventually I’ll put up some YouTube videos talking more about it, but in the meantime… let’s do three levels of home studio budgets… from the VERY bottom/minimum ($350-450)… to $1500. Let’s assume you use a laptop, and not a desktop… so we’ll narrow the audio interface choices to USB interfaces, instead of internal PCI cards (though I highly recommend PCI interfaces over USB interfaces — less recording issues, usually, but these days, USB interfaces are quite stable).

Chances are, you already have a guitar and/or keyboard or piano… so, that’s one less thing (or two) to buy!!

Ultra-Low Budget ($350-450)

– Computer (you already have it… cost: FREE)
– Recording Program (aka DAW)
For PC: Reaper recording software (download it legally and for free, HERE)
For Mac: Garageband (comes free with your Mac)
– Audio Interface (spend no more than $150)–
recommendations (the first six I highly recommend above the others):
Alesis M1 Active 320 USB Monitors/Audio Interface ($90) – not much bass, but speakers PLUS audio interface in one! Plus they sound great!
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface ($149)
Presonus Audiobox
USB Audio Interface ($149)
Tascam US200
USB Interface ($149)
Tascam US122 MKII
USB Audio Interface ($109)
NOTE: some people have had problems with Tascam, but I dig their stuff.

Yamaha Audiogram USB Audio Interface/Mixer ($129)
Lexicon Lambda
USB Audio Interface ($119)
M-Audio Fast Track MKII USB Audio Interface ($119)
Roland Tri-Capture USB Audio Interface ($129)
– Sennheiser HD202 headphones ($30) – they sound great, they’re lightweight and cheap
– a decent, cheap condenser mic– don’t spend more than $130! (recommendations: MXL V67g, Octava MK-219 (available used/ebay only, for around $130), MXL 770, Studio Projects B1, CAD GXL2200, MCA SP-1, etc)
– mic stand (preferably a boom mic stand), pop filter, mic cable (total $40)

Low-to-Medium Budget ($600-800)

all the stuff I listed above, plus:

– a pair of cheap, powered/active studio monitors (if you don’t buy those Alesis M1s (recommendations: Behringer MS16 ($75), Samson MediaOne 3A ($100)
– a midi keyboard (recommendations: Alesis QX49 or M-Audio Oxygen 49 – each is $150) if you like to lay down ideas on a keyboard or mainly write on a piano, or…
– a midi pad controller (such as the Korg PadKontrol (highly recommended – $170) or Akai MPD18 – $100) for all you hip-hop producers and beatmakers out there

Higher Budget ($1250-1500)

all the stuff I listed above, plus:

– a good mic preamp (try to spend $500 or less)
recommendations:
Presonus TubePre Version 2
($130)
Golden Age Pre73 MKII ($350)
Focusrite ISA One ($500)
used/ebay: M-Audio DMP3, Art MPA Gold (good luck finding one, no one wants to part with theirs), True Systems P-Solo
– a second widescreen flat-panel monitor for your computer if you don’t already have one ($150). Once you go dual-monitor, you never go back to a single.

BONUS: The Hip-Hop Beatmaker Budget (up to $1500)

WITHOUT an “MPC” – you don’t need one, and you’ll waste money and time if you invest in one (even used). Stick to software and MIDI controllers… more RAM, more storage, more possibilities, and much faster to put together beats than the “traditional” way. Any hip-hop producer worth his weight and know-how would agree. I will put up a video on YouTube sometime in the future clearly demonstrating the difference and why software is better.

– Computer (you already have it… cost: FREE)
– Recording Program (aka DAW)
For PC: Reaper recording software (download it legally and for free, HERE)
For Mac: Garageband (comes free with your Mac)
– Audio Interface (spend no more than $150)–
recommendations (the first six I highly recommend above the others):
Alesis M1 Active 320 USB Monitors/Audio Interface ($90) – not much bass, but speakers PLUS audio interface in one! Plus they sound great!
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface ($149)
Presonus Audiobox
USB Audio Interface ($149)
Tascam US200
USB Interface ($149)
Tascam US122 MKII
USB Audio Interface ($109)
NOTE: some people have had problems with Tascam, but I dig their stuff.

Yamaha Audiogram USB Audio Interface/Mixer ($129)
Lexicon Lambda
USB Audio Interface ($119)
M-Audio Fast Track MKII USB Audio Interface ($119)
Roland Tri-Capture USB Audio Interface ($129)
– Sennheiser HD202 headphones ($30) – they sound great, they’re lightweight and cheap
– a decent, cheap condenser mic– don’t spend more than $130! (recommendations: MXL V67g, Octava MK-219 (available used/ebay only, for around $130), MXL 770, Studio Projects B1, CAD GXL2200, etc)
– mic stand (preferably a boom mic stand), pop filter, mic cable (total $40)
– a pair of powered/active studio monitors (recommendations: Behringer MS16 ($75), Samson MediaOne 3A ($100) or if you really want to go all out, get KRK Rokit 5s for $300/pair (I love mine).
– a midi keyboard (recommendations: Alesis QX49 or M-Audio Oxygen 49 – each is $150)
– Native Instruments Maschine MIDI pad controller/software ($600)
– a collection of vinyl records, and/or royalty-free sample libraries

Be sure to read everything on www.tweakheadz.com and also, join the forum at www.gearslutz.com, to get very helpful tips and advice on how to get started if you’re completely new to this!

Advertisements

About chriscaulder

music.film.books.food.sleep.

Posted on February 21, 2012, in midi controllers, recording. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: