You write songs. But how can you ascertain how wonderful it actually is, if you can’t listen back to what you created? Being able to record will give you the potential to hold a mirror up to your work. You can hone your craft with a critical ear. It takes time, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. I will tell you what to buy (assuming you already have a computer) in order to have an efficient and effective first home studio for under $170.
When putting a studio together, you will need some equipment. I am going to suggest buying some used stuff, and some new. That is what I did and it kept my costs down low. For these examples I will tell you what I bought, and why I chose it. These are the things you will need…
- An Interface (used @ $30): This is the main component for getting your sound into your computer. It converts analog signals into digital and captures the sound onto a DAW ( Digital Audio Workstation). When you play it back, the interface converts the sound from digital back to analog. This is the way you can listen to your beautiful song. I found a M-Audio Fast Track Pro for $30 at a pawn shop. When I got home, I had to download a driver for the hardware to work. I used http://www.M-Audio.com/support/drivers
- A Microphone (used @$70): The first microphone I ever purchased was a Shure SM57. It is very popular with most studios and large percentage of recordings you’ve heard in your lifetime have used a SM57. It is a cardioid (unidirectional) dynamic microphone, which reduces background noise and makes your sounds source the focal point of the track you are recording. Plus a SM57 is a tank of a microphone. These things are difficult to accidentally break!
- Headphones (new @$20): For our purposes (and budget), we are going to purchase headphones. You can actually find a pair of headphones that work good enough to record for new. I suggest a pair of closed ear Behringer HPX2000 DJ cans.
- A Boom Mic Stand (new @$20) and…
- A 20′ XLR Cable (new @$25): You will also need a boom mic stand and a 20′ XLR cable. Any brand for these items will do. I have read that more expensive cables give better sound quality but I say, “For now, as long as it works, it will be okay.” And twenty feet will give you enough slack to move around the room.
- A Digital Audio Workstation (new for free): Which DAW should you use? If you’re on a budget (which I always am), then I’m willing to bet nothing can beat free! There is a program called Audacity, and I love it! I suggest choosing the installer with the help files and it requires 25.3 MB. You can download it at www.Audacityteam.org
That is it! I was able obtain all these items for $165. Now all you have to do is plug it all together. Use the help section in Audacity to start tracking. It is rather easy, it just takes a bit of moxy to get it running. As always, I advocate doing your own research when purchasing used equipment. Basically, whatever works best for you, means you should do it. I did a bunch of The Fledglings demos by using my home studio and you can too! I would love to hear back from you! Which equipment did you buy? Were you able to get it for under $170?
Here are links to two demo songs that I used Audacity to record with…