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March 15, 2024
Beginner's Gear Guide: Home Studio

Beginner's Gear Guides: 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 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.

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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 or Thunderbolt cable. An interface converts analog audio to digital signals that your computer can record. Most interfaces have XLR inputs to plug in microphones, 1/4" Hi-Z instrument jacks for guitar or bass, and 1/4" line-level inputs for keyboards and other line-level gear. Some audio interfaces also have MIDI I/O, which is useful for connecting controllers with 5-pin MIDI jacks to your computer.

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

Focusrite Scarlett Solo Gen 4 USB Audio Interface

$139.99

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    6 x  
    $23.33
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    4 x  
    $35.00

ART USB Pre II 2x2 USB Audio Interface

$169.99

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    6 x  
    $28.33
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    4 x  
    $42.50

Black Lion Audio Revolution 2X2 USB Audio Interface

$279.00

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    $46.50
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    4 x  
    $69.75

Universal Audio Apollo Solo Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface

$499.00

  • 8 x  
    $62.38
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    6 x  
    $83.17
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    4 x  
    $124.75
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 the interface's 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 typical computer speakers, so be sure to consider how much space you have. In general, bigger speakers are capable of sounding better -- the larger the speaker's woofer cone, the better it will reproduce bass -- but monitors with 5" or 6" woofers are a great fit for many home studios. Need something smaller that still sounds good? Check out our selection of Desktop/Multimedia Monitors.

Kali Audio LP-6 V2 Powered Studio Monitor

$199.00

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    6 x  
    $33.17
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    4 x  
    $49.75

ADAM T8V Active Studio Monitor

$299.99

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    $37.50
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    $50.00
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    4 x  
    $75.00

JBL 305P MKII 3 Series Powered Studio Monitor

$149.00

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    6 x  
    $24.83
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    4 x  
    $37.25

PreSonus Eris 3.5 Active Studio Monitors - 2nd Generation

$99.99

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    6 x  
    $16.66
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    4 x  
    $25.00
Condenser Microphones: Record vocals and acoustic instruments
Condenser microphones are the classic choice for capturing realistic, detailed recordings. As a general 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.

AKG C214 Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

$479.00

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    $59.88
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    $79.83
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    4 x  
    $119.75

Warm Audio WA-87 R2 Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

$699.00

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    $58.25
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    $87.38
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    $116.50
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    4 x  
    $174.75

Universal Audio Standard SP-1 Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphones Pair with Hemisphere Mic Modeling Plug-in

$399.00

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    $49.88
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    6 x  
    $66.50
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    4 x  
    $99.75

Avantone CV-12 Large-Diaphragm Multi-Pattern Tube Condenser Microphone

$399.00

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    $49.88
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    $66.50
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    4 x  
    $99.75
Dynamic Microphones: Record drums, guitar amps, loud vocals and voiceover
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 AKG D112 MKII. 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 MOTIV MV7 or Electro-Voice RE-320.

Shure SM57 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

$99.00

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    6 x  
    $16.50
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    4 x  
    $24.75

AKG D112 MKII Dynamic Bass Microphone

$229.00

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    6 x  
    $38.17
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    4 x  
    $57.25

Shure MOTIV MV7 Dynamic Cardioid USB and XLR Podcast Microphone

$269.00

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    6 x  
    $44.83
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    4 x  
    $67.25

Electro-Voice RE320 Dynamic Microphone

$299.00

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    $37.38
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    6 x  
    $49.83
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    4 x  
    $74.75
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 Studio Software: 1-Year Subscription

$299.00

  • 8 x  
    $37.38
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    6 x  
    $49.83
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    4 x  
    $74.75

PreSonus Studio One 6.5 Professional Music Production Software

$399.99

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    $50.00
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    6 x  
    $66.66
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    4 x  
    $100.00

Image-Line FL Studio Fruity Edition Software

$99.00

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    6 x  
    $16.50
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    4 x  
    $24.75

Reason Studios Reason 12 Software

$499.00

  • 8 x  
    $62.38
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    6 x  
    $83.17
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    4 x  
    $124.75
MIDI Controllers: Take control of virtual instruments
All DAW software -- from entry-level DAWs like Apple GarageBand, to pro-level software like Pro Tools or PreSonus Studio One Professional -- comes with built-in virtual instruments. Virtual instruments, also known as software instruments, are pieces of plug-in software hosted within your DAW that can play back samples of instrument sounds, or synthesize sounds in real time. To play virtual instruments, you'll need a MIDI controller. Even if you don't have a piano background, you can get a lot of mileage out of a small MIDI controller keyboard, as you learn how to trigger sounds from virtual synths!

Most modern MIDI controllers have USB output, so they can connect directly to you computer's USB port without a dedicated MIDI interface.

Native Instruments Kontrol S49 MK3 USB MIDI Keyboard Controller, 49-Key

$749.00

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    $62.42
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    $93.63
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    $124.83
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    4 x  
    $187.25

Akai MPK Mini MK3 USB MIDI Keyboard Controller, 25-Key

$99.00

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    $16.50
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    4 x  
    $24.75

Arturia KeyLab 49 MKII USB MIDI Controller Keyboard

$449.00

  • 8 x  
    $56.13
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    6 x  
    $74.83
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    4 x  
    $112.25

Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 MK3 MIDI Keyboard Controller, 49-Key

$219.00

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    6 x  
    $36.50
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    4 x  
    $54.75
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.