How to Build a Recording Studio on a Budget
You may be surprised to find out how little you need to spend to get started
Part of our mission here at pearpop is, of course, to help you make money from your social capital. But we also want to help you be your best creatively, and having the right set of tools can make all the difference.
Musical trends change faster than J. Lo went from A-Rod back to Ben Affleck, but some things never go out of style. Like the importance of having a good basic recording studio setup. No matter how great your voice is, if your audio sounds ganky, you’ve lost the race before you’ve laced up your sneakers.
But until you fully take advantage of all the ways pearpop can build your followers and boost your bank account, you can’t just go buck wild shopping for pro audio gear. It’s important to shop smart, know where to invest your money in a few key pieces of gear, and slowly build the recording studio of your dreams.
A recording studio is not a single entity, but a series of interconnected parts. And your studio is only as good as its weakest link. The first thing you will need, of course, is a computer and that will probably be your biggest expense. If you can’t afford the latest Mac, don’t worry: you can probably get by with what you have now.
The next thing you need is a DAW--a digital audio workstation. Some of the most popular options include Pro Tools, Logic, Abelton and Cubase. This includes the software that will allow you to record your songs, edit and manipulate audio, and produce music.
The next thing to consider is an audio interface. The audio interface is crucial to sound quality, because this is where your audio signal gets changed from analog to digital. Apogee and Universal Audio make two of the best, but decent more affordable options are available from Solid State Logic and Focusrite, among others. Expect to spend at least $250 for a low end interface.
There are also some options that combine a DAW and an audio interface--consider brands like Presonus, Steinberg, and the Pro Tools Duet, if you want a single unit that serves both purposes.
The next most important tool in your recording studio is a microphone. While you can spend thousands of dollars on a fancy tube mic, unless you have an acoustically engineered recording studio, you may actually be better off with something simpler. We suggest the Shure SM7B--which you can get for less than $400. (This mic is similar to the SM7 which is what many of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits were recorded on.) For about half that price, you can also get the Rode NT1A, and if that’s out of your budget, get a Shure SM57, which only costs about $100. The advantage of these three condenser mics is they aren’t super sensitive: you have to sing directly into them, but assuming your studio is your bedroom and not perfectly soundproofed, the upside is you won’t pick up a lot of background noise. Oh, and don’t forget a mic stand--you will need both hands free to operate the computer.
After that, all you need is some studio monitors, a decent pair of headphones, and you’re ready to rock. For speakers, definitely consider self-powered monitors, otherwise you will need to buy a separate power amp. A great low-priced option are KRK Rokit 5 speakers--these are small, and offer professional quality for about $150. (You don’t absolutely need studio monitors, but it can get annoying to mix on headphones.)
For headphones, consider Sennheiser HD280 or Sony MDR 7506--both cost about $100 and are more than adequate.
The last thing you’ll need, which isn’t really a “must-have,” is a pop filter--basically a thin mesh screen that cuts out the pop sounds that occur when you sing the letter P and B. The Gator ROK-IT Nylon Pop Filter is only $14 and money well-spent.
With that, you have all the basic elements required to build a studio and make professional recordings. The only ingredient missing now? You. Bring your A-list songs, all your energy and talent, and we look forward to seeing you blow up on pearpop.com!