MUSIC RECORDING GEAR
Looking to fill out your home recording space?
This is your one-stop shop for all things home-recording.
Let's get started...
what gear do I need to record at home?
You'll need a relatively new computer - preferably one dedicated to audio and not other uses. Your computer will need considerable processing power and RAM. I highly recommend any new MacBook Pro model, MacBook Air, Mac Mini, or Mac Studio. I'm not an expert on PC machines, but you can do some research to find ones that have enough power for what you need.
Make sure that your computer has a minimum of 16 GB of RAM, and if you're buying a Mac, then get the M1 processor or better.
DIGITAL AUDIO WORKSTATION
Your DAW is your recording software. You'll need to learn how to use it well in order to record yourself and/or others. I personally recommend Logic Pro, which is an apple-only software, but there are others that work well on both PCs and Macs such as: Pro Tools, Cuebase, and others.
Logic Pro can be purchased for $200 in the App Store on your Mac or by clicking here.
If you're going to record a singer in an isolated environment, get a condenser microphone. If you can't guarantee a quiet, isolated environment, record with a dynamic microphone like the SM58 listed below.
The best DIY vocals are recorded in acoustically dead spaces. Absorbent panels, closets with lots of hanging clothes, or thick blankets are just a few tools that can help you accomplish that. This aspect actually makes a bigger impact than choice of microphone. A good microphone in a bad-sounding space is worse than a poor microphone in a good-sounding space.
Extra microphone details:
Condenser mics are generally crisp, clean, and highly detailed. Cheaper ones may be noisier, less detailed, or strident. More expensive ones tend to be a lot cleaner, softer, and balanced. Generally avoid a condenser microphone that costs less than $100, and It's best to get a recommendation before purchasing. You'll need an audio interface for a condenser mic with an XLR cable.
This type of condenser will receive power from your computer via USB connection. These microphones generally are not considered capable of pro-audio standards, but are great for podcasts, non-professional projects, demos, or practice tracks.
Very delicate, generally does not use phantom power - phantom power can destroy some ribbon microphones. Sources recorded on ribbon microphones tend to be warm and fuzzy, rather than crisp and clean. Ribbon microphones tend to be used on bright sources because the darkness of the ribbon mic calms the original source down. Beginners probably won't use a ribbon microphone.
These microphones are best for stage use. They do not require phantom power - instead they use the energy of the sound itself to create an electrical signal to be recorded. They tend to be less sensitive and darker/smokier than a condenser microphone. This lack of sensitivity makes them more immune to feedback issues, which is what makes them popular for stage use. They can also be good for home recording in which your environment isn't perfectly quiet. The dynamic microphone will pick up what's a few feet in front of it, while the condenser might pick up your neighbor singing in the shower.
When using a microphone with a singer, make sure to use a pop filter. This shields the microphone from the pressurized breath of "B" and "P" sounds which violently overload a microphone.
The job of an audio interface is to connect microphones to your computer and recording software, and receive signal from your computer to send to your studio monitors (speakers).
When the analog signal from your microphone reaches the audio interface, it will pass through a preamp which will amplify the weak signal into something more audible and usable. A knob on the front of the interface will allow you to choose how much you amplify that signal. If the sound is buzzing, you likely amplified the signal too much, and you'll need to lower that knob.
After being amplified, the signal passes through an ADC (analog to digital converter). This transforms the voltage in the analog signal coming from the microphone into a digital format that your computer and DAW can read and work with. A good interface uses good converters so that the information is converted as faithfully as possible. Entry level interfaces tend to be a little cheap on the ADC which means a less-than-faithful translation of data.
After that digital information is recorded, edited, and processed in the DAW, the DAW sends that signal back out to the interface. The signal then passes through a DAC (digital to analog converter) which translates the digital signal into an analog electrical signal which is then sent out to the speakers. The speakers then receive that analog signal and convert it into pressure waves which travel into the room into our ears.
We use audio interfaces because they are higher quality than the sound cards in our computers, and their ADCs and DACs are designed to give us faithful audio quality.
You need an audio interface if you are using microphones with an XLR connection, or if you want to send a better audio signal to your speakers.
Entry Level: Focusrite Scarlet 2i2
Intermediate Level: Focusrite Clarett Models
A midi controller is a device that controls midi. It may look like a keyboard, a device with pads, rotary knobs, or faders.
These devices usually do not produce their own sounds - usually they control sounds inside your computer/DAW, and will need to be connected to your computer via USB or (midi cables through a converter) in order to function.
Some digital pianos have the ability to send out MIDI information in addition to being an actual digital instrument. These can work as midi controllers, but tend to be less portable and heavier.
Midi controllers that take the shape of keyboards come in many varieties. Some have just a few keys, and some have 88. Some have non-weighted keys, some semi-weighted, and some are fully-weighted to emulate the touch of a piano. I use a weighted 88-key midi controller, but I also own a tiny one with 32 keys that I've taken on vacation with me.
Check out additional gear and accessories for your home recording studio below!
Comes with audio interface, two mics, headphones, pop filter, headphone holder, mic stand, and 2 XLR cables.
Beginner-level studio monitors (speakers) that receive signal from from your audio interface via TRS or XLR cable.
Intermediate-level studio monitors (speakers) that receive signal from from your audio interface via TRS or XLR cable.
Microphone Stand. Not very heavy, don't put expensive mics on this stand. Fine when not over-extended.