Affordable acoustic treatment solutions for your studio

You have made some basic acoustic treatment to your home studio, and now you realised:

So that is why my RECORDINGS and MIXES sounded so crappy?

Well, that is the wonder of acoustic.

So to get the best POSSIBLE sound out of our bedroom, we have to do our best in terms of acoustic treatment. On the market there are a lot of brands that offer many types of acoustic foams at different price level. At first sight all acoustic foam look similar…BUT….

There is a reason why the price is set differently. They may LOOK similar, but they don’t PERFORM similar. So let’s have a look now on the list of reliable brands, deals and offers you can find on the market and that you will need to get the best treatment for your home recording studio.

Basically there are 2 companies, that stand a step ahead of the competition, when it comes to quality/money ratio: Auralex and Primacoustic. Anyhow, there are also some other brands that we should mention here.

soundproof acoustic 1Acoustic Soundproofing Studio Foam Tiles

This studio acoustic foam will never crumble or harden and will remain soft and in ideal sound acoustical conditions for many years.

Pack of 12. For use in vocal booths, control rooms and studios.

Functions as a full frequency bandwidth absorber for any size room when used in conjunction with corner bass absorbers and male/female broadband absorbers

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acoustic treatmentATS Wedge Foam Acoustic Panels

This ATS WEDGE FOAM ACOUSTIC PANELS can be matched with ATS Acoustic Foam Corner Bass Traps.

Relatively cheap and reliable solution.

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acoustic bass traps foamATS Acoustic Foam Corner Bass Traps

These wedge foam bass traps can be the most cost effective solution for basic sound control and are a reliable acoustic sound absorber. Installs easily using Tape Taps or spray adhesive and are designed to match ATS Wedge Foam Acoustic Panels.

Easy, affordable option for low frequency control.

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auralex studio foamAuralex Studio Acoustic Absorption Foam

This is great solution for spot treating sound studios, home listening rooms, vocal booths and more. Studiofoam wedgies are also a great solution for small echo problem and, when spread apart, yield beneficial sound diffusion off their exposed edges.

Great solution at a low cost from a reliable and popular brand Auralex.

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auralex monitorpadAuralex Monitor Acoustic Isolation Pads

Loudspeakers are usually the most critical components, that you are using to verify the quality of your music production. No matter how good your mixer, mics, preamps, cables, and other pieces of gear that you’ve invested in, you’re not truly hearing what your recordings sound like until you isolate your monitors from their environment.

Auralex Monitor Isolation Pads provide sonic isolation between your monitors and whatever your monitors are resting on, INSTANTLY improving the accuracy of your entire monitoring system. 

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acoustic absorberReflection Filter AcousticAbsorber

It’s important not to let the room affect your mic’s signal. This is the cost effective solution to reduce unwanted audio reflections, especially when tracking vocals. The RF-X features a 4-layer acoustic filter and a lightweight clamp assembly that’s quick to install to almost any mic stand.

Very easy install on almost just about any mic stand.

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auralex diffusorAuralex Sustain Diffusor

For all of you, who want to take their home studio to another level.

Auralex Diffusor will evenly scatters high frequencies to enhance ambience of a room.

Easy to install. Alleviates flutter echo and slap back.

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All in One Packages

All in One are the ideal solution for everyone, who don’t want to bother with “guessing” and rather would buy complete package for the whole room. Usually with buying whole package you save money and headaches 🙂

acoustic treatment for a home recording studioAuralex Roominator Kit

Popular and very affordable solution. Usually it would fit for any normal sized home studio.

Easy to install, your sound will improve immediately.

Complete acoustic control kit, various sizes.

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acoustic treatment home studioPrimaacoustic London 12

Mid-range package for your room.

Everything you need to get your studio sound right.

Also, you can choose from various sized-packages. London 12 is for mid-sized studio.

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DIY acoustic treatment for home recording studio

Nowadays, with technology progress, most of the amateur, but also professional music production happens in the home studios, usually in our bedrooms. It is time to learn how to build perfect control room, right in your bedroom.

The shape of the room

If possible , avoid square layouts. The worst possibility is a cube . Also, long elongated rooms are not appropriate. It is best to have rectangular room.

Placement of furniture and equipment

The most important spot in the studio is the listening position. The acoustic should be optimize there as much as possible. For rectangular room the desk with monitors should be positioned parallel to the shorter wall, ie . it should be perpendicular to the long wall. Due to the accumulation of echos and reverbs of the room, it is not suitable to place listening spot in the middle of the room. Place it closer to the shorter wall. It should be placed about 40 percent of the longer side. Ideal position for studio monitors is separate stands located between the shorter wall and the desk. Studio monitors should be above the table top. If the studio monitors must be placed on the table, it is always good idea to separate them from the table using a special material, so they do not reflect unwanted reflections. This material should not transmit vibrations to the table, so definitely wood is not a good idea. Try to use polystyrene foam or other harder, thicker layer of rubber, in an emergency you can use books.

The tweeter of studio monitors should normally placed at ear level, but it is better to look in the monitor manual, some manufacturers have a sweet point between the woofer and tweeter. Monitors should be at a greater distance from the wall, and certainly not in the corner, because then we will hear enhanced bass frequencies.

On a stand or tabletop slightly turn the speakers so they are pointing to a common point, which is the head of the listener. These three points – left monitor, right monitor and the head of the listener should together form an imaginary equilateral triangle with an angle of 60 ° at each corner. Location of monitors in the studio is the most important thing and it is worth some time to look for the best possibility with the help of the measuring microphone.

credit by http://bobbyowsinski.blogspot.com credit by http://bobbyowsinski.blogspot.com

For the acoustics the room symmetry is crucial. The table should be as far away from the wall to the left and right side. If you place furniture along one wall, there should be something similar along the other wall. Also, we place the acoustic elements symmetrically, as if the left part of the room would be mirrored the right. Otherwise you will hear a different sound in the left and right ear.

Noise of computer

Noise computers is a huge problem in the recording room. There are two ways to deal with this problem. Either you let build an entire computer from components, which are the least noisy or you will place comp. outside the recording room. The first solution is very expensive and also never completely resolved. The computer can also be placed in a sarcophagus – lined acoustically absorptive material, but there is a risk of overheating. Therefore, I can see the location of the PC outside the recording room as the final and best solution. Not a big deal to drill a larger hole in the wall, route the cables through a hole and afterwards clog it again with something. For this solution, it is advisable to use an external CD / DVD drive (USB or FW ), located in the recording room , so you do not have to constantly run out.

The room acoustics

We must distinguish the purpose for which the room we want to use. If we want to record instruments and sing into the microphone, acoustic treatment should primarily deal with thumping bass. Mids and Highs reflection can be present, so in the final sound will be powerfully and vividly, not sterile.

If the room is used for mixing, we have to choose a compromise between more vivid and dead rooms, because during the mixing session is desirable to have less reflections. Some engineers and music producers even prefer to mix in the completely dead room.

A separate chapter is, when we want to deal with in addition to the room acoustics also sound leakage inside out. Then we have to basically build a room in the room. First, overlaid on sides (including doors) with a thick layer of acoustically absorptive material (eg mineral wool) and closes all openings, because even the smallest can ruin our work, and afterwars we can deal with the internal acoustics in the inner room according to the text above.

Suitable materials

In the small rooms it is the best form of treatment acoustic absorption, ie . absorption of maximum number of reflections. As a complementary solution we can also install diffusers, which are designed to eliminate repetitive echoes and resonators that absorb specific frequencies, which were calculated. But it is always good to start in a home studio with absorbers.

Generally, a higher frequency (1.6 kHz above) absorbs any material that has a little rougher surface, such as the drapery hooked on the window. Mid-frequency (300Hz – 1 .6 kHz) already require a mass of material and the hardest is to absorb frequencies below 300kHz, where we need to have a good acoustically absorptive material and even a considerable thickness.

For beginners with acoustics is best to purchase a broadband absorber that absorbs everything – bass, mid and treble. The first suitable product with such a properties is a mineral wool. Each of the producers (Rockwool Orsil Knauf and others) has a range of more preferable types of wool for sound absorption and less suitable. It is necessary to look into the catalog. I had a very good experience with the products Orsil Orstrop , Rockwool and Isover Domo Airrock ND.

Another suitable material is the so called acoustic foam, which have open cells, and absorbs sound energy very well. If you have more money you can buy whole acoustic solution set for room treatment.

How thick acoustic material we need

It is true that the lower frequencies we absorb, the stronger must be acoustically absorptive material. Absorber for absorbing bass, middle and treble is necessary to use mineral wool ideally with a thickness of 200 mm. The same holds true with acoustic foam. The thickness of wool around 100m we will not have absorbed frequencies below 100Hz. If you have a low budget, you can install crash absorbers with a thickness of wool around 100m and slightly delay it from the wall. Absorption lower frequencies will improve, but a much better solution is to have a thickness of absorbing material more than 160 mm .

 acoustic-treatment-1

Home made production of acoustic elements

For the homemade production of acoustic elements you have basically a few options:

  1. Make a portable walls, and surround your recording corner. After recording you can always move them somewhere in a corner. Wooden frames filled with mineral wool in foil and covered with textile are usually working well.
  2. Make the elements that will be placed on the walls and into corners, but in the case of migration will be transferable.

Some comments on this:

When working with mineral wool definitely wear a dust mask and gloves. Long-term inhalation of cotton is hazardous to health. That is why I recommend wool absorber placed in a foil (eg large plastic garbage bags) to avoid leakage of small particles of cotton. If you drag a textile over the absorber material, you do not have to worry about the negative impact of plastic bags on the acoustic properties. Mids and bass pass through it without any problems and the Hi will absorbs into the textile.

Where to place the acoustic elements

Let’s start by installing acoustic components in all corners of the room and floor-to -ceiling windows. Due to the accumulation of bass in the corners there should be a maximum thickness of absorbing material – ideally 200 mm and more. Other absorbers can be placed on the wall, which routes the monitor speakers. When you sit at the table, it should be a wall behind you. Absorbers install in locations where the monitors are pointing out. You can choose absorbers with thinner materials (eg 100 mm) and because of the fragmentation of reflection is suitable absorbers slightly rotated.

Next, place the ceiling absorber between your head and the back wall. Afterwards we can measure our treatment with microphone, because it is possible that these adjustments will already be sufficient.

 acoustic-for-small-studios

Measurement

After installation of acoustic elements is appropriate to not only rely on our ears. It is always good to measure the acoustics of the room with microphone. Cheapest microphones for use are a Behringer ECM8000 T.BONE MM1. You can also use another microphone (for example, large diaphragm vocal condenser), but then you must have a manufacturer specific characteristics of your printed piece and have entered into the measuring software. Measurement microphones apart from other mics are characterized by a relatively linear characteristic. If you use other microphone with an unknown characteristic, there is always a risk, that you will see in the resulting graph problem, where in fact it is not.

As measuring software can be used as Room EQ Wizard. The measurement is performed so that the microphone is placed on the stand against one of the monitors. The height should be where is your head when listening. If the microphone has a switchable characteristics, switch to the omni. Other characteristics tend to hide the shortcomings of the room. Run the preamp and measurement software. On the preamp we will set the required gain and run the test. From the monitors we will hear a frequencies from the bass to the  highs, which microphone will record into software. After measuring and generating curves turn the microphone against the next monitor and repeat the measurement.

After the measurement, the measuring softwarewill generate the curve of the two monitors through the entire frequency range. The elevations or depressions in the graph show room problems, which need to be discussed further.

For example, if there is a hump at 150Hz, it means that in the room there are too rumbling bass and you need to install additional acoustic elements. Conversely, if for example there is a suppressed band around 5 kHz, it means that we too many absorbers at higher frequencies and it is necessary to increase the number of smooth surfaces.

With Acoustic modifications and treatments we are always trying to straighten the curve as much as possible . If these differences will result in + / – 15dB, we have suitably adjusted room for recording,  excellent adapted room will result into + / -6dB.

acoustic for small studios2

Virtual instruments that every music producer should have

addictive

So you have your own home recording studio and you see yourself as somewhat of a composer.

Fair enough.

But unless you have a warehouse full of instruments at your disposal, your sounding possibilities are limited to keyboard or guitar.

This can be easily solved with different VST (virtual instruments), that allows you to reproduce the sounds of ANY musical instruments, quite REALISTICALLY. Most DAWs come with a useful range of free plugins and VST instruments, it should be more than enough to get you started. However, at some point, they will start to sound similar to you and soon or later you will want to pay a little extra for a set of high quality virtual instruments, new toys you can play with.

So here is the essential list of quality VIRTUAL INSTRUMENTS that every music producer should have:

Firstly, we have to solve the “beat” question. In home studios recording acoustic drums the traditional way is simply not practical. We need to get a killer weapon that can help us to create any beat in any specific genre. Here is my offer:

addictiveAddictive Drums

I’ve tried a lot of virtual drummers; BFD, EZ Drummer, Superior Drummer…

However,

nothing can beat the simplicity of Addicted Drums from XLN Audio.

Minor cons is that STOCK sets sounds little bit cheap.

Anyhow, there are a lot of AdPacks with some killer sounding drums – Ludwig, Sonor, Tama, DW, …. The best thing about Addictive Drums is, that everything can be tweaked and customized in very easy way, and that this VST got a very huge fan base: you can find online plenty of MIDI Beats and Groove ready to use. Often I used them in my production as a starting point and later on I tweak them to something totally different according to my track needs.

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slate trigger vstSlate Digital Trigger EX Drum

The next thing you won’t regret is this little guy: Slate Digital Trigger.

Approved and used by many famous music producers including Dave Pensado, Michael Brauer, Chris Lord-Alge, Mike Shipley and list can go on and on... Again. There are a lot of Triggers out there, but this one can easily blow all others out of the water. 

Universal plugin that can ensure absolutely precise sample triggering, easily separating ghost notes from mic bleed. 

Still want something more?

It comes with premium drum sounds from Stephen Slate’s standard EX instrument library and this library is considered as one of the most quality libraries out there.

Slate Trigger along with Addictive Drums will help you to recreate any beat you are up to.

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native kompleteNative Instruments Komplete

There are many many plugins out there. Way too more. And all of them for the same reason: sometimes you want to have in your track realistic piano, sometimes huge and powerful bass, little bit strings here and there and good sounding guitars as well….To buy all of these instruments separately you would become soon homeless.

What if I tell you, that there is ONE Komplete Bundle, where you can find EVERYTHING you will ever need for your music?

Get a Native Instruments Komplete and you are done with shopping. 

Very powerful and popular bundle, I bet that all bedrooms music producers have it for every day use.

For less than $400, you can find there:

  •  33 full-fledged instruments and effects,
  • 12,000 inspiring sounds
  • over 120 GB of premium samples

Enough to keep you busy for next few months.

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The world’s most simple and cheap home recording studio

Questions:

Isn’t it too complicated?

Do I need really all that stuff to build up my own recording studio?

You always saying on budget, but as I’m getting through it, my mind is telling me that it will take ages to make all that money I need….

You asked. Fair enough. Here is the most simple solution.
Not only simple, but also the great option for all newcomers to music production.

Following the technology…

One day musicians will said, that making music on the laptop is not so cool and FREE.

Here is how I would approach my new home recording studio today.

Computer

Get an iPad. As I said before, I trust in Apple when it comes to performance and stability.

Good not only for music.

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DAW

With Ipad you just got GarageBand (free). Good and reliable multi-track DAW for any sophisticated music production. With huge sample library, plenty of virtual instruments and plugins for everyday use.

focusrite studioAdds On

Get Focusrite iTrack Studio Complete Recording Package.
For less than $200 you will get QUALITY audio interface, studio-quality condenser mic + 3 mt XLR cable and solid headphones for monitoring.

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ik multimedia midi keyboardExtras

For everyone who wants to have all-in-one package. Portable keyboard control IK Multimedia iRig Keys USB ready to perform. It’s got all the goods to play your apps and virtual instruments expressively, like velocity-sensitive keys, pitch bend and mod wheels, and an input for an optional expression pedal or sustain pedal.

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What’s next?

Under $600 now you have your own home recording studio.

I bet, that this is the most simple, effective, cheap and straightly way to fulfil your dream about making your OWN music. Maybe you can ask:

Why to be bothered with buying keyboard controller?

Well, maybe now you are the beginner.

But, the distance between beginner and pro,
is the way of DISCIPLINE AND PRACTICE.

Spend few minutes a day making music, playing with the keyboard, trying out different virtual instruments and in few months you will see the difference. And we all want to make PRO music one day.

What to expect from this studio?

If you are new to recording this is an ideal and perfect solution for you.
It allows you to:

  • to get your feet wet and start to make your OWN music right away
  • record voice / instrument, arrange tracks, make complete song, remix, whatever you want
  • turn your masterpiece into a a stereo audio file and share it with your friends

If that’s ALL you want, this studio will get you there.

MUST-HAVE accessories for every home recording studio

So you got all that gear in your bedroom. Fair enough.
New question is coming out.

Is there anything else I will need?

Well, of course YES. You can spend shopping all day.
There will be always something you can find useful.

However, we want to start to produce music ASAP. So in this post I’m covering the MUST-HAVE accessories for every home recording studio that can keep you away from recording and playing with music.

XLR Cables

There will be day, when your studio will be full of different cables. But to start now, you will need 4 of them:

  • 1 long XLR cable for connecting your microphone
  • 2 short ones for your studio monitors (most monitors work with XLR just fine, but your audio interface may only allow you to use 1/4″ TRS cables. Check the output options on your audio interface and the input options on your studio monitors to ensure you get a pair that’ll work)
  • 1 longer instrument jack-jack cable

There are usually 4 things to consider when buying audio cable:

  1. Brand
    There are a lot of crappy companies out there, so to help you get better orientation, I can recommend you: Mogami, Monster, Pro Co, Hosa. You will never buy bad cable, if you stick to these brands.
  2. Length
    3-6 ft works well for monitor cables in all bedroom studios.
    10 ft is usually optimum for all instrument cables.
    To choose a length for mic cable can be trickier, it all depends on the room size, also often with gained experience, you will start to play with different mic positioning. In a small 10×10 ft room, a 30 ft of cable is plenty.
  3. Connectors
    This is the most important part of the whole cable. Get them wrong and you audio cable is useless! The most quality brand for connector is Neutrik. I wouldn’t buy anything else. Remember, you want to get the most accurate and true analog audio signal into your DAW. That’s why it is so important to choose the right cable with the right connector.
  4. Price
    It should be somewhere between $5-$60+.
    Cheap ones break, the expensive ones are rip off.
    Your aim for price is between $20-$40.

My recommendations:

MIC Stand

For now you will need only 1.
Don’t buy cheap, or your stand will not be reliable.
Don’t go to expensive, because you don’t need to.
Stick only with the most reputable brands, $20-$50 is a very solid price range.

If you don’t know which one to pick, you can try On-Stage Stands company – they make plenty of great stands that are cheaper.

POP filter

It will not keep you away from producing POP.
Anyhow, you don’t want to record a singer with all that “puffs” created by his breathing. It will sound nasty. If you plan to record vocals, POP filter is a must.

A headphone extension cable

The usual problem with all headphones.
The cables are ALWAYS way too short.
Professional studios solve this issue with special headphone amplifier.
For beginners, headphone extension cable,  is much more simpler and cheaper alternative.

For all of you, who are curious what I meant by special headphone amplifier…

This little device is also good for splitting headphone signal, if you plan to record more musicians at once. Remember, by buying this you will also need to buy jack-jack cable to connect it to your audio interface. As I said at the beginning, it is easy to spend all day shopping.

Music Stand

This one is not as necessary as previous gadgets, however you will find it useful later on + your studio will become a bit PRO.

Good for everyone, who is planing to record a lot of vocals or instrumentalists.

Ready to begin?

So this is your first checkpoint in your being music producer journey.

You have all the things and gadgets you need for setting up your first
OWN HOME RECORDING STUDIO.

Give it a name. It is your baby.
Press record and you can start recording music NOW!

What are you waiting for?

 

 

Best affordable studio monitors for home studios

affordable studio monitors

Well, lets face it:

Nothing is more important in every studio than a good pair of monitors.  If you’ve never heard music through a pair of  decent monitors, you might be blown away by the detail they can provide.

But there is a problem.

The cheap monitors are usually the piece of crap.
The good studio monitors typically cost > $1000.
And what are the stand for “good” monitors, anyway? Often what sounds good to one person, can sounds dreadful to another.

If you are the beginner, you would be crazy to pay all that freaky money for unsure results.

Solution? Research. There is always plenty of fish in the sea. We have to spot the one, that is most popular. That’s why I made a list of the most affordable studio monitors for home studios sorted by the overwhelming flood of positive reviews for each of them.

affordable studio monitorsKRK Rokit 5 G3

What sometimes takes your attention on the pictures of other bedroom recording studios, is the distinct yellow color of some monitors in the background.

So famous design…

Big music producers, like Dr. Dre have lot of pictures on the internet with monitors looking familiar.

Even if he uses upper class of monitors from the same brand….this can only mean one thing:

KRK is a very solid brand.

KRK Rockit 5 are the most popular, reviewed and highly recommended monitors for all small home studios. At that price level, you will not find the better deal.

Other notable features are:

  • you can control high and low frequency by special knob
  • a limiter that prevent overload and speaker damage
  • “soft dome” tweeter for all frequencies up to 30 Hz

jbl cheap studio monitorsJBL LSR305

Let’s recap.

Low price, the numbers of positive reviews….seems pretty much similar to KRK’s.

If you are buying your first pair of studio monitors, but you don’t like the yellow color, you won’t be sorry, after getting JBL.

Interesting fact:
JBL designed this monitors with many “borrowed” hi end features that can be found in their flagship unit the M2 Master Monitor, priced at a crazy $6.000 a pair. Here we go!

Still not convinced? Check this:

  • very unique Image Control technology checked
  • a tighter low end delivered by patented “Slip Stream” bass port checked
  • wide sweet spot for flexible and powerful listening checked

M-Audio-AV40 the cheapest good studio monitorM-Audio AV-40

Looking for truth?

Maybe you won’t find there “near perfect” reviews of the previous mentioned monitors.

But it doesn’t mean, that I put M-Audio AV40 here by mistake. Especially, if you consider one BIG advantage over the others.

This monitor costs HALF as much. Right. I repeat again. They are priced / 2.

Rare exception. Normally for that price you will find only garbage.

And for that price you get also this:

  • improved detail and clarity using OptImage III Tech
  • Volume control and headphone control sitting on the left monitor
  • No interference with other desktop electronics. How? Using magnetic shield 

What’s next?

If you are on the budget, your first studio monitors don’t need to be the killing one. Also, it takes time to learn how to listen your mixes properly, how to hear details and clarity in the music. I guarantee, that for that price, you WILL NOT find the better deal.

Also remember, regardless of what you get, you should also buy a pair of  isolation pads so the quality of sound aren’t negatively affected by the surface you place them on.

 

What equipment needed for home recording studio

Before we start to talk about recording, mixing, mastering, there is really not much you can do, until you build your own recording/mixing setup, right? So let’s get you one, of course, we are all starters and not millionaires at this moment, so we will do it in a cheap, but PRO way!

So first thing is: take a pen and paper and make your own TO-DO -BUY list. It looks simple, but sometimes this kind of task can take months, mainly because of research. Yep, there are so many equipment and so little time/money. Wouldnt it be nice, to have a one source where is explained everything you need to have and everything you should know, so you can start to record and produce your own music THIS week? So here we go, I’m here to help you with this task.

This is the list of essential gadgets, every home recording studio needs to have:

  1. The best computer for music production
  2. Choose your favorite DAW
  3. Quality audio interface for beginners
  4. The most versatile microphones under $200
  5. Get a good set of studio monitor headphones
  6. Affordable studio monitors for your bedroom studio
  7. Why to be bothered with MIDI keyboard controllers
  8. MUST-HAVE accessories for every home recording studio
  9. Virtual Instruments that every music producer should have

And now….we are still talking about building you home recording studio on the budget, however we haven’t defined yet what „on budget“ exactly means. Our aim is to get you recording setup for maximum efficiency and creativity in other words PRO level at relatively low costs.For you guys, who are really short on funds at this moment I have special BONUS here – your best alternative is to go with this SUPER cheap highway:

And also if you are interested in live looping, check out Live Looping act blog.

The best recording microphones under $200

So you got a computer, have your favorite DAW installed and bought the best audio interface for your first home recording studio. If you plan to record vocals or live instruments, you will need at least one good microphone.

Recording at home kinda sucks, doesn’t ?

For poor musician, in a small bedroom studio…

And there are so many microphones to choose from….

Finding good mics, at a great price can be next to impossible. How to deal with this?

Most microphones record certain instruments and sound types better than others. You can get very specific about your mic choices, but since we’re just starting we want to find an inexpensive yet versatile option. So let’s put down a list of the best recording and versatile inexpensive microphones that can do this trick for you.

Sure SM57

This is probably the most often used mic in both pro and home recording studio. Also it calls “when engineer reaches for a mic” microphone. This mic works well on so many things – vocals, drums, guitars, sax….It is an industry standard and professional studios typically have a dozen or more of them (just to illustrate you how popular is). Your first gear shopping list will be not complete without at least one Shure SM57.

Audio Technica AT2020

Well, you probably heard of Neumann 87, the most famous condenser mic. Condenser mics are the most common types of microphones you will find in any studio. The reason is, they have  a much greater frequency response and transient response – which is the ability to reproduce the “speed” of an instrument or voice. But common complain of getting one is that they are so damn expensive.

Well, mostly true….among that many terrible options.

However, in every tunnel is a light. For example, very affordable and well-respected condenser mic with an endless number of positive reviews is AT2020 from Audio Technica.

Sennheiser e602

Looking for mic that will capture true bass?  To get a right bass sound can be a tricky task. You need to use mic that is specially made to accommodate the lowest of the low frequency. Only few of them can do this job. And a lot of them are priced over 200 bucks. However, there is also an exception. The gold choice. One of the most versatile microphone on the planet that is capable of greater than 155 dB SPL (what is SPL? Sound pressure, measured in decibels. Most of the mics can handle only up to some SPL, afterwards they break. For your imagination Jet Engines sound pressure level is 150 dB, calm breathing only 10 dB).

Samson C02

Ever heard of this company?

Acoustic instruments like a guitar needs a special treatment to get a great and true sound. With single mic it can be a challenge. And therefore a standard tools of choice are a matched pair of small diaphragm condensers. However, most of them are really expensive.

Again, God bless for an exception. There is one mic, with almost positive reviews….Samson C02. You would never think that company like Samson can make such an impressive mic at that price level.

Studio Projects B3

You are new to music production and probably stereo recording is not high on your priorities.

However, later on you will realize the importance of this skill.

And one of the required tools will be a multi pattern condenser microphone. On the market there are plenty of them and mostly they cost thousands $ each. But we are still talking about mics under $200. If you want to meet with this great world of stereo recording as soon as possible, this is an option. With features you would expect in a world class microphone, the Studio Projects B3 can offer you three recording pattern positions (cardioid, omni and a true figure eight) with pad and Hi-Pass filter. Well, here you go.

Best Audio Interface for Home Recording Studio

mbox protools audio interface

After buying your music production laptop, the next step is getting the best audio interface for your home recording studio.

Although your computer likely comes with a microphone input port and you can buy low-grade microphones to plug directly into your sound card, you won’t achieve anywhere near the best high level of quality.

The Audio interface is one of the most important decision your going to make.

Why?

It will define the quality of sound getting in your music and also out.

I don’t want to bother you with theory, but you already probably know that every audio interface converts an analog signal (from the microphone, instrument) to digital (to your DAW).

And the quality of these A/D converters is very important!

Not to mention mics preamps, monitor outputs and other features that every good audio interface can offer to you.

But with so many options, how you can narrow them down?

Which brand, model would work for me?

Well, lets have a look at the best audio interface options for your home recording studio.

Best Audio Interface for Small portable home recording studio

Avid Mbox

avid mbox - best audio interface

With 2 Microphone preamps and 2 monitor outputs, Avid Mbox is for all of you who has a simple budget for studio.

It is relatively cheap and contains everything you need for a quick start, especially if your chosen DAW is Pro TOOLS.

Mbox and Pro Tools is like bread and butter – works nicely and smoothly. Often you can buy it together in one package.

For less than $250 you can get a quality Audio Interface and excellent professional DAW.

[amazon asin=B007JRNE32&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

Apogee Duet

apogee-duet-best-audio-interface

Duet is most commonly used and widely popular among all small portable home recording studios (and also my favorite audio interface).

The quality of AD converters and Mic preamps are extraordinary.

If you check out the reviews, there is no doubt about it.

The clarity, definition, imaging and depth of the sound just almost instantly sky rocketed. Apogee Duet offers 2 Inputs and 4 outputs (good for routing outboard equipment) and is also compatible with Ipad and Iphone.

[amazon asin=B00BB2QBLI&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

Apollo Twin

universal audio apollo twin - best audio interface

 

For a long time, the Apogee Duet was the first choice for everyone who needed a quality and affordable audio interface.

It all changed, when Universal Audio released their Apollo Twin.

The quality of AD converters and MIC preamps is outstanding (comparable to Duet or any other PRO audio interface – it is just matter of taste). However, Universal Audio is famous because of its simulations of legendary analog studio sound through UAD plugins and with Apollo Twin you are buying also onboard Real Time UAD plugins weapon arsenal.

If you want to polish your music with legendary Neve, Studer, API, Lexicon and other vintage EQs, compressors, reverbs or tape virtual simulators, with Apollo Twin you can’t go wrong.

[amazon asin=B00I0RHVFW&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

Best Audio Interface for Bigger studios

Everybody knows, that there are millions of options on the market.

With the audio interfaces mentioned above I narrowed your possibilities, when it comes to small portable home recording studios.

What about bigger projects?

With my understanding, bigger studios are those where you want to record more instruments (or the whole band) at once, so you need more inputs to plug in.

Also remember, that you always want to make PRO recording, so to record more instruments in one space, it requires basic acoustic treatment to the room.

If you record electronic music, that means you probably rely heavily on virtual instruments and MIDI controllers. You won’t need more inputs on your Audio Interface.

In any other case, check out my list of audio interfaces with more inputs/outputs with superior quality of preamps and AD converters that can make things for you.

Apogee Quartet

apogee-quartet-best-audio-interface

Quartet from Apogee will be a good choice for all of you, who think that 2 inputs are good, but 4 would be better (in any case).

Excellent quality of converters and world-class preamps with direct digital connection to Ipod, Ipad and Iphone.

[amazon asin=B009HPDNKS&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

Steinberg UR44

steinberg ur44 usb A - best audio interface

Well…maybe Apogee makes the best AD converters and Mic Preamps. Maybe UAD through their plugins can give you the best simulation of analog hardware.

But…you know what?

Every music producer will tell you, that it is just matter of taste. Great sounding hardware doesn’t mean that you will be making HIT songs all day long. It is all about experience and how you know to use your tools. 

Steinberg UR44 is a great option for everyone on the budget, who has still doubt that 2 inputs will be enough. Robust all-metal construction promises long life, USB 2.0 connection great versatility. In addition, you can find there internal DSP unit that provides a solid FX equipment for live and studio use.

Priced under the $300, Steinberg UR44 USB offers a lot of bang for very little money. 

[amazon asin=B00HLTLTGW&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

MOTU 896mk3

motu best audio interface

This is a flagship audio interface of MOTU and often preferred in a bigger studios. It offers 28 separate inputs and 32 separate outputs channels.

For Less than $1000, MOTU 896mk3 can give you superb quality of sound with many inputs and outputs!

[amazon asin=B001BSEIUS&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

RME Fireface 800

rme 800 best audio interface

Probably the most often used audio interface few years ago in mid-range level. Before UADs Apollo and Apogee Symphony came out, everyone used RME. The first version was released back in 2004, and through the years this unit became the reference for audio processing. Fireface 800 offers 56 channels of record/playback.

It is solid, reliable, clean sounding with excellent converters. The biggest benefit has already been mentioned… RELIABLE and PROVEN.

[amazon asin=B0006UGF7G&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

Apogee Symphony

apogee symphony best audio interface

Are you wondering what the absolute best audio interface are in a “real” big professional studios? Peek your head into any pro recording studio…and you’ll find Apogee Symphony. Why?

Because, this truly is the best audio interface in today’s market.

[amazon asin=B00AATRZWC&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

Music production software solutions – Choose your favorite DAW

music production software

Virtually, all analog studios these days have gone digital.

The centerpiece of any MODERN home recording studio is the Digital Audio Workstation.

Again, when it comes to picking a DAW, you have so many options, that you can get a serious illness while making the right decision for you.

With most gear it works like this: you start to pick up something cheap and simple, as you progress you upgrade to something more sophisticated and better sounding. This is a smart plan.

However, with DAW’s it works little bit different. Here is why.

Every DAW is unique. It takes a lot of TIME to become familiar with the software; to get all advantages, usability, functions it has. And if there come a day that you decide to change a platform, only few of them will be possible to transfer. Usually, it is huge waste of time.

TIME is the only commodity we have, so lesson here is:

The DAW you start to work with is most likely the one that you will be using FOREVER.

Best Free DAW

You can pick the free DAW, however, you will run into serious issues if you want to make a serious recordings/productions one day. Anyhow, if you want to get your feet wet and you are totally newbie with no money in the pocket, it can be good starting point. Audacity is the most famous, open-source free music production software and you can get it free here.

Another great free DAW that comes with OS X, is Apple’s Garageband. Often you can see kids at elementary schools making crazy music in the class. It is so simple and intuitive.

The simplicity of low end DAW’s seem great at first sight, however as your skills improve, you will hit the wall with its limitations. 

If you want to go PRO one day, the best option is to avoid them entirely and choose the professional DAW that is most speaking and appealing to you.

Many of PRO recording studios rely on 1-2 of them. Personally, I work in Logic and Pro Tools. I used to work also with Reason, Sonar and Cubase/Nuendo. It is just matter of taste, every music producer prefers its own  style of music, workflow, or level of experience, some DAWs are only for MACs, some for PCs and therefore preferred choice is dependent on lot of factors and preferences.

With that beeing said, let’s have a look at the list of the most used music production softwares in nowadays home/pro recording studios:

ableton-live-9-suiteAbleton Live

Ableton Live has been introduced to the market in 1999, it was one of the first modern music production software, which allowed to process audio material in real time. The program has become popular within DJ community and mainly due to massive expansion of the authors has received funding for further development of the program. With every version, new functionality has been added, and today Ableton is one of the most popular DAW, especially for DJ, hip hop or electronic music producers. 

[amazon asin=B00AZ98VWK&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

cubase 7Cubase

Cubase is one of the best solution available on the market.

Steinberg developers are taking care and making regular updates every few months. Cubase has a long tradition in the field of music production softwares. With more musical features than ever, Cubase 7 delivers a truly unrivaled creative production experience. Sparkling with its entirely overhauled mixing console, a new Chord track alongside the innovative Chord Assistance, advanced VariAudio, more instrument content and an array of enhancements make Cubase 7.

[amazon asin=B00AAY0BLE&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

avid-pro-tools-11Avid Pro Tools

This is the big daddy of all audio music production softwares. Industry standard. It is widely used by PRO music producers and audio engineers throughout the music industries for recording, mixing and editing, film scoring, post production, and with later versions also MIDI sequencing. Most of the professionals prefer this DAW, and often argue that sound coming out from ProTools can’t be beaten by any other music program. Pro Tools has 2 main versions, LE which work with the most audio interfaces available on the market and HD version which can operate only with Avid Hardware. Pro Tools HD can be found in every professional music recording studio and is a bit costly.

[amazon asin=B00CFFB0DO&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

Logic_Pro_X_BoxLogic Pro X

Logic is one of the longest serving DAW available. Back in 90s it was MIDI sequencing program, created by German developer, in 2002 Logic was bought by Apple, and rebuild into fully featured DAW. Logic Pro X runs in 64-bit mode only and no longer works with 32-bit plug-ins. With  new release, new powerful tools and features were added like “Drummer”, a virtual session player that automatically plays along with your song in a wide variety of drumming styles and techniques, and “Flex Pitch”, a Flex Time equivalent for pitch editing in audio recordings. The main cons of this beautiful piece of DAW is that it is only for MAC platforms and that Logic’s developer are not too much in hurry when making updates and developing new version of this app (sometimes it can takes more than 3 years for new release). Worthy to wait? Yeah, Im totally In.

Get it from App store

Cakewalk-SONAR-X3-ProducerCakewalk Sonar x3

Cakewalk was one of the first MIDI sequencing program, back in 1987. First version of their DAW, called “X” has been introduced in 2007. Cakewalk is owned by company Roland, and therefore its popularity is increasing every year and often new versions of this DAW are coming out with new powerful features. Last version “x3” is a great alternative and an excellent program for the complete processing of audio and MIDI. This piece of software includes excellent Melodyne (pitch-shifting software), amp simulator for guitarists, and fair good reverb. You can read full review of Sonar x3 here. 

[amazon asin=B00GXNNX2K&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

reason 7Propellerhead Reason

Lately, Reason has been chosen as a most stable and reliable DAW system (2013). Due to the fact, that for a long time it was a closed system, and there was no support for third party plugins. Also for many years, audio recording was not possible. However, during the years, Reason has evolved, rebuilt and now it is fully functioned DAW with amazing virtual studio GUI (it includes virtual patch bay, where you can hook and connect through cables everything together). Another great product, this time from Swedish developers. If you want to know more how to produce music with Reason, read this.

[amazon asin=B00CFK3MNU&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

image-line-fl-studio-11-producer-editionFruity Loops

Very popular and favorite music production software among electronic music producers. Through the years it has developed from basic step sequencing program into fully-featured DAW. Fruity loops can be used also as a VST plugin – feature that is unique, and you won’t it find it anywhere else. So if you are deciding right now, what DAW to buy, FL Studio may be a good choice. This program offers a rich set of tools and functions that his competitors might envy. However, it is only for Windows platform.

[amazon asin=B00CHZG280&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

This is it. The most common used DAWs in todays recording studios. Now let’s have a look at new fishes and some not so widely popular but also GREAT apps:

bitwig-studioBitwig Studio

Bitwig Studio is the newcomer and it is not so often, that a completely new DAW is getting so much attention in music producers community. Bitwig comes from the hands of Berlin developers (former Ableton). The actual layout features CLIP and ARRANGE window and so similarity between Ableton and Bitwig is more than obvious. Good for live performances, DJs, hip hop and beat makers. It could be said, that it is cheaper version of Ableton.

[amazon asin=B00IXRE63E&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

Cockos-REAPER-4Cockos Reaper

Rapid Environment for Audio Production, Engineering and Recording (REAPER) became very popular lately even without any marketing campaigns. Company Cockos has very unusual pricing policy and distribution method. REAPER is fully functioned DAW, with lot of special plugins and tools, it is working on all platforms and if you think you are special, this product would be for you:)

Get it here

acoustica-mixcraft-pro-studio-6Acoustica Mixcraft Pro Studio

If you are on budget and only starting with music production, Mixcraft would be your first choice. It works only with PCs. For new aspiring music producers, Mixcraft Studio is good piece of software to start. It can handle all music production for beginners. It comes bundled with more than 5000 loops and also you can run there Rewire host and connect to another application, or instruments. If you are still unsure about your first DAW choice, you can try BTV Solo, plug and play program, also good for beginners.

[amazon asin=B0086QLF8Q&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

samplitude music production for beginnersMagix Samplitude Pro X

Many people say that Samplitude is good audio recording software for beginners. However, it is fully packed featured DAW system for recording, mixing, mastering. Last version support also 64 bit operations. It works only on PC and Windows platform. MAGICX company has a nice history, in 90s they were developing first mixing programs for Amiga. First version of Samplitude was released in 1995.

[amazon asin=B006P2WM80&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

 

presonus-studio-onePreSonus Studio One

PreSonus is well-known company, famous for its hardware mixing consoles. In 2006 they teamed up with KristalLabs Software (one of the early developer of Cubase) and in 2010 they released first version of their DAW. Today, version 2.6 is out and it is fully featured DAW for music creation, editing and mixing. Very solid platform with incorporated Melodyne pitch editing and a great OpenAir convolution Reverb plugin. 

[amazon asin=B0064S2PIM&text=Check current price at Amazon.com]

motu digital performer music production softwareMOTU Digital Performer

Digital Performer is full featured DAW developed by MOTU. MOTU is famous for its audio interfaces and hardware units, however in 1984 they released Professional COmposer, which was one of the first music program for MACs. Digital Performer has own unique workflow, different in compare with other mentioned DAWs and it takes time to get used to. However in the present day, Digital Performer is a powerful beast with lot of features you won’t find in any other music program. Packed with exclusive plugins and virtual instruments, it is worthy to consideration.

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