12 Home Studio Necessities

There are hundreds of ways to configure a home recording studio. If you’ve had a home studio for a while, then you know what I’m talking about. Over time my studio has evolved and grown in all sorts of directions.  If you’re new to home recording, however, this can be almost paralyzing! You’ve got a million different products, all of which claim to be the savior of the modern world.

Where do you even start? My goal here isn’t to provide an exhaustive list of everything anyone would ever think of wanting and then give you a comparison chart that covers every minute detail of every recording product ever invented. Rather, I’ll speak from my own experience. I’ve been recording music for years, and while I’m no multi-platinum award-winning audio engineer, I do have a lot of good experience setting up home studios.

This article (or series of articles) is catered more towards the beginner, but there’s a lot of information here that could prove helpful to you whether you’ve been recording music in your home since the fifties or you have yet to record your first note. Hopefully I can shed some light on the matter and give you a broad picture of what it takes to have a great home studio. In thinking through this, I’ve come up with the following list:

12 Home Studio Necessities

  1. Computer
  2. DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)/Recording Software
  3. Audio Interface
  4. Microphone(s)
  5. Studio Monitors
  6. Headphones
  7. External/Dedicated Hard Drive
  8. Acoustic Treatment
  9. MIDI Controller
  10. Good Cables
  11. Power Conditioner
  12. Accessories

Over the next twelve articles, I’ll delve into each of these. Not everyone will need everything on the list, but these are the things I’ve come to see as necessities in my home studio. You probably noticed that I’ve not included any standalone multi-track recorders or workstations. I certainly have nothing against them, but they seem to be slowly dying off with the advent of affordable computer-based recording equipment.

Nearly all of the topics I plan to cover will be applicable to standalone DAW user, so stick around. If you’re starting to freak out a little bit, tugging at your collar like George Banks in “Father of the Bride,” relax. You certainly don’t need everything on this list to get started. In fact, you could have only two or three out of twelve and be well on your way to making great recordings. I started out in high school with a basic #1, a free version of #2, and a #4 that I can’t believe I even used…more on that to come.

  • Kim:Farms and Fields

    What a great site! Thank you, Joe, for making everything so much less intimidating and having a sense of humor with it all! For someone like me who is very very much starting out and a woman(!) in this field (truthfully, I’m only learning to mix/master out of necessity because of my solo budgeted projects) but I’m very thankful for websites like yours who make it less intimidating and easy to follow along while really adding value! I never realized how few women in this field there really are, I think anyway! So thank you! :)

    • http://www.homestudiocorner.com Joe Gilder

      Glad I could help!

  • Arunkumar

    Thanks alotttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt…U cant imagine how much this information helped me…it answered all my unsolved questions within few hrs…..thank u so much…Now i can make a better home studio ever..

  • http://twitter.com/gowildchild Freaking Wildchild

    One of the necessities (to maintain the studio) is a small paintbrush.

    Any device with rubber pads wears out more (dieing faster) when not maintained regularly. Dust crawls inbetween the rubbers grinding the sides away. That’s the time when buttons fall out from your machine; sometimes damaging the internal switches with the process.

    Use the paintbrush once per week to keep the dirt out & those pads will thank you forever..

    • http://www.homestudiocorner.com Joe Gilder

      Paintbrush! Great idea.

  • Pingback: Building my studio, one step at a time. What equipment should I add next? « Instrumental Bit

  • Nick

    This is an extremely helpful article.. I definitely need to set some money aside to buy some of the suggested equipment.. Thank you very much for this.. I would’ve been lost without it… But I have one question.. Have you ever used a Rode NTK condenser microphone to record vocals?.. If so, what’s your opinion on it?.. I’m looking to invest in it but don’t want to spend the money & be disappointed.. Thank you

    • http://www.homestudiocorner.com Joe Gilder

      It’s a great mic, very warm. I’ve used it on vocals and acoustic guitar.

      • Nick

        Thank you, sir.. I appreciate your opinion

  • Bill

    Thank you so much for making this article. I’ve been playing guitar for about a decade now. I’ve dabbled with those ridiculous tascam 4 track tape recorders, just-as-ridiculous digital 8 track recorders, and had minimal experience with computer recording, although my past experience with the low-tech gear has really given me an interest in putting together a decent recording setup. This is the first concise list of recording necessities I’ve ever found, and it’s written in a very understandable manner.

    • http://www.homestudiocorner.com Joe Gilder

      Glad I could help, Bill. Be sure to sign up for the newsletter, and I’ll keep the tips coming. ;-)

  • Bill

    So I think this could be the most helpful home recording article ever made, it inspired me to go get started on my own recording setup. I already have a macbook pro (which I bought planning on using for recording eventually). I purchased Protools M powered 8, a FireWire 2626 interface, some M Audio monitors, and headphones. A friend of mine has microphones we’re going to use, and I got some extra mic cables.

    • http://www.homestudiocorner.com Joe Gilder

      :-) Thanks Bill!! Have fun!