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Beginner's Gear Guide: Home Studio
Ready to build your first home studio? Get rolling with this guide.

There's no doubt about it: professional studios are no longer the only way to create high-quality recordings. With a computer and few additional pieces of gear, you can have your own fully functional, professional-sounding home recording studio right in the comfort of your unfinished basement or that extra bedroom you never use.

Follow our guide below to find all the basic building blocks of the home studio: an audio interface to connect your gear to your computer, studio monitor speakers for critical listening, microphones for recording vocals and acoustic instruments, digital audio workstation software, and cables to connect it all.
Digital Audio Interfaces: Connect your gear to your computer
Digital audio interfaces are external sound cards that can connect to your computer with a USB, FireWire or Thunderbolt cable, delivering cleaner sound than the 1/8" jack you might find on the back of your desktop or laptop. Most interfaces have XLR jacks to plug in microphones, 1/4" instrument jacks for guitar or bass, and line-level inputs for keyboards.

To choose an interface, make sure it's compatible with your computer and has enough microphone preamps for all the mics you want to record at once.

Learn more in our Audio Interface Buying Guide »

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface
Play as You Pay on orders $249+
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PreSonus FireStudio Project FireWire Interface
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$314.95
Save 37%
or 4 payments of $99.99
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Lexicon Alpha Desktop Recording Studio
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Apogee Duet Audio Interface for iPad and Mac
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$519.95
Save 12%
or 4 payments of $148.75
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Learn more in our Audio Interface Buying Guide »
Studio Monitors: Ensure your mix sounds the way you want it to
Once you've plugged in your instruments and mics to your interface's inputs, you'll want to connect its outputs to a good pair of studio monitor speakers. Monitors ensure that what you hear is what you get: they don't exaggerate certain frequencies like consumer-grade speakers do.

Monitors are generally much larger than computer speakers, so be sure to consider how much space you have. In general, bigger is better: the larger the speaker's woofer cone, the better it will reproduce bass.

Learn more in our Studio Monitor Speakers Buying Guide »

KRK RP5G3 Rokit 5 Generation 3 Powered Studio Monitor
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$134.95
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Play as You Pay on orders $249+
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JBL LSR305 Powered Studio Monitor
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Yamaha HS8 Active Studio Monitor
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$314.95
Save 36%
or 4 payments of $87.50
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M-Audio BX5 Carbon Active Studio Monitor
Play as You Pay on orders $249+
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Learn more in our Studio Monitor Speakers Buying Guide »
Condenser Microphones: Record vocals and acoustic instruments
As a rule, large-diaphragm condenser microphones are great for recording vocals, whereas small-diaphragm condensers are excellent for capturing the fast transients on acoustic guitars, or hanging over drum kits. Most condenser mics require +48V phantom power to work, so make sure your interface's microphone preamps provide phantom.

Need help finding the right mic? Check out our Beginner's Gear Guide to Microphones »
Audio-Technica AT2020 Studio Microphone
Play as You Pay on orders $249+
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Rode NT1-A Studio Condenser Microphone
Play as You Pay on orders $249+
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Avantone CK-1 Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
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Samson C02 Condenser Microphone Pair
Play as You Pay on orders $249+
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Learn more in our Beginner's Gear Guide to Microphones »
Dynamic Microphones: Record drums, guitar amps, and loud vocals
Do you need to record loud sources like electric guitar amplifiers, kick drum, and snare drum? Try a tough dynamic microphone like the Shure SM57 or Beta 52A. If you're recording loud, aggressive rap vocals (or you're looking for a tighter vocal quality on any voice), try a dynamic vocal microphone like the Shure SM7B or Electro-Voice RE-320.

Need help finding the right mic? Check out our Beginner's Gear Guide to Microphones »
Shure SM57 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
Play as You Pay on orders $249+
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Shure Beta 52A Kick Drum and Bass Microphone
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Learn more in our Beginner's Gear Guide to Microphones »
Digital Audio Workstations: Where it all comes together
Your digital audio workstation (DAW) software is the heart of your studio. It's the software that allows you to record audio, add effects, play audio back, make edits, and bounce your mix into a file to share or burn to CD. Most DAWs come with samples and virtual instrument plug-ins that allow you to add drums, strings, piano, synths, and more. You can buy more virtual instruments and effects and add them to your DAW (just make sure they're compatible with your computer and operating system).
Avid Pro Tools 11 Music Production Software
or 4 payments of $174.75
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Cakewalk Sonar X3 Producer Upgrade Software
Play as You Pay on orders $249+
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See More DAW Software »
Cables: Consider your connections
To connect all this gear, you're going to need cables -- lots of cables. You'll need cables that connect your microphones or instruments to your interface, cables that connect your interface to your computer, and cables that connect your interface to your studio monitors. A typical home studio will need XLR cables for microphones, 1/4" instrument cables for guitars and/or basses, 1/4" TRS cables for (most) studio monitors, and RCA cables for other electronics.
See More Cables »
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Need it now but short of cash? All we need is the first payment up front and the rest in easy monthly payments!

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We'll wait on your money so you don't have to wait for your gear!

When you checkout, just click the Play as you Pay checkbox to indicate which installment plan you wish to use.

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Why fight traffic and pushy salesmen when we'll bring your gear straight to your home, free of charge?

zZounds free shipping is really free!
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We have warehouses on both coasts, so most shipments arrive in 3 days or less.
We don't collect sales tax. Bonus!
Only NJ residents pay tax during checkout.
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A temporary customer reference number is assigned to each customer only while they are shopping on zZounds.com. If you call our customer service department for assistance, this number makes it easier for us to answer any questions you have about products, services or purchases.
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1. zZounds offers the industry‘s most musician-friendly payment plans

zZounds offers a variety of Play as You Pay installment plans that allow you to get the gear you want today. While our competitors might offer house credit cards that require you to fill out an application and pass a credit check, our payment plans are easy to get, simple to use, and, best of all, accrue zero interest. Unlike those house credit cards that can leave you vulnerable to exorbitant interest charges once the promotional period ends, we never have and never will charge interest when you take advantage of one of the zZounds Play as You Pay plans.

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2. zZounds guarantees the lowest price

Seen it for less somewhere else? Get it for less at zZounds. Simply click the “Seen it for less?” link on any product page and as long as we‘re not losing money, we‘ll beat any legitimate competitor‘s lowest price, usually within two hours. Want our best price even faster? Call us at 800-zZounds (800-996-8637), and we‘ll provide you with a lower price on the phone. Also, if you purchase from us and later find the product for less elsewhere, call or email us within 45 days, and we‘ll refund you the difference.

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3. zZounds gets you your gear fast

At zZounds, you‘ll get your gear fast and, usually, with free delivery. Because we have warehouses in New Jersey, Nevada and Mississippi, nearly 95 percent of Americans reside within our two-day shipping zones. Combine this with the fact that many of our best-selling products qualify for free two-day delivery and you get expedited shipping without the additional cost.

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4. zZounds makes returns super easy

Buy it, try it, like it, or return it to us for a full refund. It‘s just that simple. If you‘re not in love with what you bought, return it to zZounds within 45 days, and we‘ll promptly arrange for an exchange or a refund. No hassles. No hidden charges. And if a product‘s defective or damaged, call us at 800-zZounds (800-996-8637), and we‘ll email you a prepaid shipping label so you can easily return it to us at zero cost to you.

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5. zZounds delivers top-rated customer service

zZounds has received multiple Bizrate® Circle of Excellence Platinum awards, placing us in the top 0.7 percent of Bizrate‘s network of 5,200 retailers. Our success in meeting the needs of our customers -- since 1996, we‘ve satisfied over 1,000,000 people -- is due in large part to the fact that zZounds only hires experienced musicians to answer your calls and emails, and they are never paid a commission.

zZounds.com customer service »
close [x]
Available on
orders $249+
learn more

Need it now but short of cash? All we need is the first payment up front and the rest in easy monthly payments!

Fast approval.
We approve everyone, with very few exceptions, as long as we can verify your identity.
No interest. Ever.
It's just as if you paid the whole amount up front!
No paperwork. Nothing to track.
No application to mail or fax, no bills to pay. We automatically charge the payments to your credit card.

We'll wait on your money so you don't have to wait for your gear!

When you checkout, just click the Play as you Pay checkbox to indicate which installment plan you wish to use.

close [x]
on most orders $29+

Just $1.99 on
smaller orders

Really heavy stuff might cost you a
little more

learn more

Why fight traffic and pushy salesmen when we'll bring your gear straight to your home, free of charge?

zZounds free shipping is really free!
No hidden charges or hassles on returns.
Fast, reliable delivery
We have warehouses on both coasts, so most shipments arrive in 3 days or less.
We don't collect sales tax. Bonus!
Only NJ residents pay tax during checkout.
close [x]

A guarantee so solid, you never have to worry about price when shopping at zZounds

We'll beat any price
Simply click the Seen it for less? link next to the gear you want or call us at 800-zZounds (800-996-8637)
Got a coupon from another site?
Use it with us - we'll beat those prices, too!
Find a better price after buying from us?
No problem. We'll refund you the difference for 45 days, so you'll never regret buying from zZounds.

You'll still get the trustworthy service you've come to expect from zZounds, without paying more for your gear!