The rapid advancements of technology may not be music to everyone’s ears but the affordability of home studio setup equipment that can kickstart independent artists’ careers that don’t have the privilege of excessive wealth should be.
After the rise of the bedroom artist, it is unlikely that we will see the fall anytime soon, especially given the current trend of artists wanting more control over their music, and plenty of manufacturers have taken note. It is now possible to spend as little as £500 and still come away with a home studio that can create radio-ready music. Many music shops have taken all the hard work out of shopping for a home studio by creating studio bundle deals. And remember, there is always the option of being extra thrifty and giving quality pre-loved gear a second life in your studio.
This article will cover all the home studio basics, which will enable you to create, record and export your music to make the endless choice easier to navigate.
How to Create an Affordable Home Studio Setup
Choose a DAW
Your digital audio workstation (DAW) will be the centrepiece of your home studio setup. As with everything in our consumerist 21st-century, there is an overwhelming choice. The most popular DAWs include Pro Tools, Ableton, Logic Pro, Cubase, and Garage Band. They all work in the same way, in the sense that you can complete a record from start to finish. However, each DAW has a different way of getting you to the sonic finish line.
Pro Tools is often the top choice with industry professionals, but it also comes with one of the steepest price tags. If you are looking to limit your expenditure, consider Acid Pro Xpress by Sony, which is free to download, or if you are a Mac user, consider experimenting with Garage Band. The best DAW for you will largely depend on your experience level and music genre. For example, many composers prefer Cubase, while EDM producers stick to Ableton Live or Logic.
Cost: £0 – £330
Not many pieces of equipment are resoundingly popular across all genres, but the iconic SM58 by Shure is a classic for several reasons. Its durability ensures that it is extremely unlikely that you will need to find a replacement – certainly if you keep it in your home studio. While its dynamic power and low price point ensure this revered piece of kit is within everyone’s budget. Fifteen years after the Shure SM58 mic entered the market, it is still reining supreme with its £88.80 price tag.
If you would prefer a condenser mic, The Audio-Technica AT2035, with its ability to capture midrange instrumental and vocal nuances, is also a popular choice amongst artists who want to invest a little more in their setup. An affordable yet high-quality condenser mic will set you back £150 – £200, depending on whether you add a reflexion filter – which is highly recommended, especially for instrumental recordings.
Cost: £88.80 – £200
Even if you have got a decent pair of headphones that you use to discover new music, you will still need to invest in isolated monitoring headphones, which will give you accurate feedback on your track. You can pick up a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M20 for as little as £48 and still enjoy their above-average audio reproduction. Or, you can choose to invest a little more in a pair of Beyer-Dynamic cans, which are utilised by amateurs and professionals alike. At the lower end of the price bracket are the Beyer-Dynamic DT100s, priced at £111. If you have the budget to splash a little more, the stunning resolution of the DT 1990 model is more than worth it at the £369.00 RRP.
Cost: £48 – £369
Technically, an audio interface isn’t necessary, as you can use the soundcard on your PC, laptop or MacBook, but for a small investment, you can drastically improve the sound of your recordings, as opposed to plugging your mic straight into your laptop. The good news is that plenty of lauded audio interfaces come with a price tag under £100, such as the Behringer UMC22 interface, which will only set you back £37. Another UK best-seller is the Focusrite Scarlett, which boasts a state-of-the-art interface with clear conversion, intuitive design, and world-class sound. All that ingenuity is available for just £99.
Optional cost: £37 – £99
One of the best reasons to buy a bundle home studio setup is that everything will work straight out of the box. If you purchase your studio items separately, you will need to remember essential accessories, such as a mic stand and mic cables. However, these accessories should set you back no more than £40, with high-quality components. Mic cables may be available for dirt cheap, but you’ll also run the risk of your recording sounding just as dirty by relying on them.