If you’re a budding musician, you must have dreamt of having your own recording studio. Many people equate the term ‘recording studio’ to a room full of expensive audio equipment and mixers. That indeed used to be the case, but it’s no longer true with the decreasing costs of PCs and the digital revolution. You can easily set up your own home recording studio by using nothing more than a personal computer, some extra hardware and studio software. This article will show you how, so read on.
Step 1: Purchase a decent computer with a large hard disk drive
The first thing to do is to buy a good computer with ample hard disk storage space. It doesn’t need to be top-of-the-line, but it should have enough processing power.
I recommend the EMachines T2085 desktop PC for working with audio. This machine features include a powerful Athlon XP 1.67 GHz CPU, along with 256 MB RAM and a 80 GB hard disk.
It also comes with a CD-RW drive, sound card and Ethernet support. If you want, you can upgrade the RAM to 512 MB and the hard disk to 120 GB for better performance.
You may also want to get a high-quality sound card like the Sound Blaster Audigy series.
Step 2: Get a central interface for plugging in instruments or cables
Right. You’ve got your PC set up. Now you need something called a ‘digital studio mixer hub’. These hubs allow you to plug in your microphones and musical instruments during a recording session.
Note that the output audio quality from these devices need to be good – you don’t want your songs to be mixed with environmental noise.
Not sure what to buy? For beginners, I recommend buying the Echo Audio MONA Digital Studio or the Digidesign Digi 001. These units have had good reviews and also feature good connectivity options.
Step 3: Get good quality headphones/speakers
The next step is to get a good pair of headphones or speakers. Do not scrimp and save on this – if you’re going to be working with your digital audio, make sure you get good sound reproduction. An excellent piece of digital audio is easily marred by a pair of sub-standard headphones or speakers. You’ll connect them to the audio output port of your sound card.
Step 4: Purchase musical instruments and microphones
What’s a recording studio without musical instruments. Whether you play the guitar, keyboards, drums or sing, you will need musical instruments and microphones to create music. For guitar players, I’d recommend recording the audio line direct – don’t record the audio with a microphone placed next to your amp. For keyboardists,
invest in a good MIDI keyboard. A MIDI keyboard can also reproduce drum beats and thus can be used by drummers. For the vocalist, find a good condenser microphone to record your voice.
Step 5: Get good quality interconnecting cables
This may sound trivial, but did you know that in professional recording studios, the audio cables used are of extremely high quality?
Do yourself a favor and get good audio cables for connecting the various pieces of equipment together.
Step 6: Install studio software
The final step is to install studio software for recording your audio. I’d recommend Cool Edit Pro for basic editing of sound and music files. If you want
a more professional package, go for Cakewalk Home Studio or Cakewalk SONAR. That is in my opinion the best audio studio software there is.
Step 7: Jam and experiment!
Once you’ve set up the studio, be sure to jam and experiment! You’ll learn a lot more if you play with your setup.
Over time, as you get familiar with the equipment and software, you’ll be able to try out sophisticated audio engineering tricks.
This article has briefly described to you the steps involved in setting up your home recording studio. Of course, there’s
a lot more stuff to learn. For those interested, I’d recommend picking up a copy of Build Your Own PC Recording Studio
by Jon Chappell. It details almost everything you need to know about home recording studios, including many special tips and tricks.