How To Build A Home Studio For Under $350 (Part 1 - The Interface)
Home Studio Gear Guide Recommendations to fit any budget!
When it comes to buying gear for your first home studio or upgrading your current setup, the choices can be overwhelming. We live in an age when great sounding (and affordable) gear is abundant. And while that’s a good thing overall for you and me, the truth is, it can be hard to sift through options and find the right fit.
In this gear guide I want to help point you in the right direction. Having worked in both big pro studios and small home studios for 15+ years I’ve been around a lot of gear. I’ve also bought and sold my share of kit over the past two decades to know what I like and trust. I’ve made gear recommendations for all the main home studio components, and in different price points. At the end I’ve even mapped out complete studio combinations that I think would be a great fit for you.
These recommendations are the same ones I would give my friends. Just like them, you are one of my friends from afar. But before we dive in - a few words of preface:
Preface #1 - I don’t believe in spending more than you have to. I also believe that today’s “budget” gear sounds and works amazing. Therefore my recommendations don’t go beyond $600. If you have the budget and desire to spend more - go for it. I own gear that costs more than $600.
Just know that you don’t NEED to spend that kind of cash to get a killer sound at home.
Preface #2 - There are other great brands that I don’t mention here. For the sake of your sanity and mine, I have only included a handful of brands in this guide. There are certainly many other great brands who make amazing products at these price points - I just couldn’t include them all in this guide.
Preface #3 - I do not make any money from these recommendations. For the sake of complete transparency, I don’t make a single penny from recommending these products or brands. I run The Recording Revolution completely independent of paid sponsorship so that I have the freedom to promote any and all products I actually like and recommend. This gives me peace of mind and gives you the confidence to know that my recommendations are actually my recommendations. I want you to make great sounding music. I know you need a home studio that works perfectly for your needs, is priced right, and sounds amazing. These suggestions will be just that for you!
Now - let’s jump in and find you a great home studio!
The audio interface is the hub of your studio. These boxes contain your microphone preamps, DIs, line inputs, speaker/headphone outputs, and converters. It is the go-between for your instruments and your computer. Keep in mind that your specific needs (computer connection, number of inputs) will largely determine the type of interface you purchase.
Recommended Audio Interfaces Under $100
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96
Focusrite Scarlett Solo - If you only need one microphone input, this box is a great option as it allows you to record at even higher sample rates than most budget interfaces.
Recommended Audio Interfaces Under $250
Probably the smallest interface I’ve ever used, this little 2-channel USB box gives you great sound, portability, as well as a built in microphone! I actually recorded an entire EP on this thing and it sounded awesome.
Focusrite Scarlett 6i6
Recommended Audio Interfaces Under $500
PreSonus Studio 6|8
Perfect for being able to track a full drum kit with four mics, this box gives you lots of inputs for the space. Focusrite Clarett 2Pre - This little Thunderbolt interface comes with amazing sounding pres that even have a second circuit built in so you get two pre sounds in one. Plus it has near top of the line converter specs and blazing fast Thunderbolt
Behringer U-PHORIA UMC1810 - If you can get over the brand snobbery that comes with mentioning the word Behringer in audio circles, this is the best deal on the planet right now. You get 8 mic pres built ADAT
expansion for up to another 8 pres all for less than $300. And it records up to 96k. And in case you’re wondering, yes I’ve recorded with Behringer gear. I’ve done whole records with nothing but Behringer pres - and their gear has only gotten better since.
Microphones Once you’ve picked an audio interface, the next most important piece of gear to choose is your microphone(s). Not only are there many great brands and models out there, but there are different microphone types as well: condenser, dynamic, ribbon etc. Many home studio owners can make an entire record with just one microphone (I’ve done it numerous times) so start there. Then as you add to your collection, look for different sounding mics to compliment your first purchase. Something important to note: all microphones sound different. Some are brighter. Some are darker. Some are more sensitive to sound than others. But just about all microphones can give desirable results. All the microphones I’ve listed below are great all around mics that can take you far, whether you use them for vocals, drums, or acoustic guitars. In an ideal situation, you will one day have lots of microphones to choose from so you can match the perfect microphone to the voice/instrument in that situation. But in the typical home studio, most of us start out with one mic and use it for everything. I’ve built this list of mics to accommodate the one all-around microphone choice.