Building A Home Recording Studio For Under $1000

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So you've decided to start recording at home and want to build your own studio? You'll quickly discover that many options span quality and price for every aspect of your new studio. If you're reading this article, chances are you're on a budget and can't afford to drop $100,000+ on treating your room and purchasing top-of-the-line professional studio gear. The good news is all of that stuff wouldn't do you any good anyway unless you already know your way around a studio. If you're just getting started, the best thing you can do is research as much as possible and read as many reviews as possible before buying a piece of equipment. If at all possible, try out the piece of gear before you buy it.

With so many options, there's definitely some crap out there that you'll order online, take out of the box and hate from day one. This is not the way to build a studio on a budget, and it will end up costing you hundreds more in the end. Don't buy based on price, but on value instead. When you're putting together a home recording studio on a budget, you want gear that won't break or get in your way and will give you the best sound you can afford. The good news is there's a ton of excellent home recording gear available now at reasonable prices. The purpose of this post is to offer suggestions on which equipment will get you recording music for under $1000.

Computer & Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

Building A Home Recording Studio For Under $1000While there are other recording methods, digital is the most cost-effective way to get started. There are so many home studio owners who use software for recording that there is a massive community of people to help you learn how to do just about anything. Computers have dropped in price considerably over the past few years and will most likely continue to do so. Almost any new computer you'd buy today will be sufficient for multitrack audio recording. 

Recommended Computer Specs:

You can find a computer that meets these specs for about $400-500.

Now, once you have your computer, you'll need software to run on it that you can use to record. This is known as a DAW or Digital Audio Workstation. Many paid and free options are available, but if you could get a good deal and find your computer for $400, or already had a computer, you can spend a little here, and it will be well worth it. While many great DAW software products are out there, we've selected the ones that cost less than $100.

Free DAWs:

DAWs less than $100:

Audio Interface

Building A Home Recording Studio For Under $1000Ok, now you have a computer and recording software, you need a way to plug microphones and instruments into your computer. For this, you'll need an audio interface. Unlike the computer and DAW, your chosen audio interface matters quite a lot.

The most significant decision you must make is how many channels you need. Interfaces usually come in 1,2,4,8,16 and 18 channels, and the number of channels equals the number of instruments you can record simultaneously. So if you plan on recording any drums, you'll want more than two channels or won't be able to use more than two mics on your drumkit at a time. However, if most of your recording is just you singing with an acoustic guitar or rapping over beats, you could get away with a 2-channel interface. It's essential that whichever interface you get, you make sure it can handle 24-bit audio. This way, you know the audio enters your computer at a high enough bit rate. Here's a list of some interfaces we like for under $200.

USB Audio Interfaces for Under $200:


Building A Home Recording Studio For Under $1000No studio is complete without at least one microphone. Microphones are great for recording vocals but also come in handy when recording instruments. Even things like acoustic guitars (which you could plug directly into your interface) get a different; some would argue better, sound when recorded with a microphone instead.

Microphones range in price and go well into the thousands of dollars, but if you're just starting, don't worry about getting the top-of-the-line mic. Yes, they sound better, but you can still get great sounds from cheaper mics. Depending on where you are in your budget, you may want to spend a little extra on a better mic by the time you get to this stage. If so, check out our article on choosing a vocal mic for your home studio. If you simply want to stay within budget and not have your vocals sound like crap, here's a list of some good mics to check out.

Microphones for around $200

Our Recommendations

It's tough to recommend an ideal setup within the budget that will work for all scenarios, so we've put together lists of what we would get for a solo artist or a group. We've also broken it down by whether you have a computer since it makes up most of the budget, and already having one allows you to purchase a better setup.

Solo Artist with no computer

Group with no computer

Solo Artist with computer

Group with computer

There are many more options for each component above, but the setups we've described will get you started making great-sounding recordings for under $1000. One of the best parts about having a home studio is that you can upgrade piece by piece as you feel like it once you have a basic setup. Having a solid computer, DAW and interface will allow you to switch out other components, such as microphones, preamps, other outboard gear, etc., and constantly improve your recordings' sound.

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