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How To Create a Music Recording Home Studio from Scratch

May 23, 2024
3 min read

For emerging musicians, securing studio space to work on a new EP or album isn’t always easy. Even if you manage to nail down the perfect space, limited availability and cost are a concern. Tired of spending over the odds to record in a space that’s not particularly suited to the sound you’re looking to create? Putting together your own music recording home studio is the way forward. 

Provided you’ve mastered the basics of music production, assembling a home studio is a straightforward enough project. You’ll be able to record whenever you wish, use equipment best suited to your sound, and never have to shell out for studio time again. Is a home studio high on your list of priorities? Read on for everything you need to know about creating a home recording studio from scratch. 

Planning Your Home Studio 

Planning your home music recording studio setup is an exciting prospect and you’ve probably got a pretty extensive wishlist. However, you’ll need to be realistic when drawing up plans for a home recording studio. 

Selecting a Suitable Space 

How much space you have available is a key factor in the kind of home studio you can create. Are you limited to a spare bedroom with compact dimensions? You’re almost certainly going to have to make some compromises when it comes to gear and other studio essentials. Admittedly, a small space like this can be restrictive. Looking for somewhere to host a band recording? This isn’t the place. However, singer-songwriters will have plenty of room for recording vocals and individual instruments. 

Lucky enough to have a vacant garage or entire basement level to work with? You can be a lot more creative when it comes to studio layouts, while that extra square footage will accommodate larger pieces of gear and furniture. 

That being said, a larger space isn’t always best. The architecture of a room can have a big impact on the quality of your recordings. Generally speaking, low ceilings should be avoided as they reflect sound, leading to compromised microphone recordings. While you can improve acoustics with ceiling treatments, it’s yet another expense you’ll have to budget for. Square rooms are another no-go. Frequencies will cancel out in a space like this, leading to subpar sound. 

How Much To Spend? 

Ultimately, the scope of your home recording studio is going to be limited by budget. If you’re looking to create a studio space with all the frills, it’s tempting to go for the cheapest possible option for everything. However, these budget-friendly buys aren’t going to compare to the capabilities of top-flight gear. 

Instead of cutting corners at every turn, make smarter choices when spending. No matter what kind of music you’re producing, headphones, monitors, and speakers are essential kit. As such, it makes sense to spend a premium on these. Unless you’re only working with samples, you’ll also need to invest in microphones and an audio interface. Again, it’s best to shell out more than settle for second-rate sound. 

Soundproofing and other acoustic treatments will also need to be budgeted for if your recording space isn’t ideal. Another unavoidable expense is a digital audio workstation (DAW). While many DAWs offer free versions, features pale in comparison to their paid counterparts. DAWs with a subscription-based model can prove cheaper, especially if you pay for annual plans outright. 

Choosing the Right Equipment

Once you’ve picked out a space and decided on a budget, you can start putting together your home music recording studio shopping list. The list of essentials will vary depending on the kind of music you’re looking to produce, but we’ve assembled a rundown of the most important pieces of gear below. 

Computers and Storage 

Before you start splashing out on expensive studio monitors or a full-featured DAW, you’ll need to ensure the bare essentials are taken care of. At the heart of your home studio setup should be a powerful computer system. You’ll be pushing the limits of a middle-of-the-road system at the best of times. Once you scale your production up and start using RAM-intensive applications, you’ll realize why an everyday PC simply won’t do. 

At the very least, you’ll need a laptop or computer running a 64-bit operating system. Ideally, your machine of choice should also boast a 4-core processor, while you’ll need a minimum of 4GB RAM before you can even think about music production. Ideally, you’ll want to upgrade to 8GB RAM or higher. 

There’s also the issue of storage. All those audio files are going to quickly stack up, outstretching the limits of your hard drive. Leaning on cloud storage is an option, but you’ll need to invest in premium solutions to access the kind of capacities needed for music production. What’s more, security is always a concern when dealing with the cloud. 

Unless you’re lucky enough to already own an overpowered machine, your best bet is to upgrade to a 1TB hard drive, with a solid state drive (SSD) being your best choice. Once you’ve outgrown your internal drive, you can start expanding your storage capacity with external ones. 

While you can make a saving by assembling your own custom PC, not everyone has the technical know-how to pull this off. The cost of high-performance PCs can vary wildly, regardless of specs. Generally speaking, laptops are a cheaper option. Something like the Microsoft Surface 2 is a good shout, with this quad-core machine setting you back around $1,000. If you’re after higher spec, a MacBook Pro is the way to go. However, you can expect to pay a premium for the upgrade, with a 16-inch third-generation device setting you back around $3,500 if you’re buying new. 

Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs)

Another integral part of a home recording studio is a digital audio workstation. There’s plenty of choice out there, with a healthy selection of free and paid DAWs to choose from. While some free DAWs offer a surprising amount of functionality, you’ll eventually find yourself having to cough up for add-ons and essential upgrades. It makes more financial sense to bite the bullet from the off and buy an advanced DAW that has all the features you need. 

Pro Tools from Avid is one of the best and most widely used DAWs in the music industry. It’s also competitively priced, with an annual subscription setting you back around $300. Although it’s more, Ableton Live is well worth the cost, especially if you’re producing electronic and EDM music. 

Audio Interfaces

You’ll need an audio interface to serve as an input for instrument cables and microphones. They also offer outputs for monitors. Audio interface prices vary considerably, but there are ways to save. If your recording demands are limited, you can get by with an interface with two inputs. If you’re working with more gear, a 4-input audio interface becomes essential. 

If you’re focused on budget recording equipment, an inexpensive model like the Scarlett 2i2 is a good choice, costing around $150. If money is no obstacle, the Apollo Twin MkII with its UAD-2 DUO Core processing capabilities will cost you around $1,110. 

Studio Monitors 

In order to listen to playback of your recordings, you’ll need a pair of studio monitors. Here’s another area where you can’t really afford to cut corners. The larger the drivers, the more expensive monitors tend to be. Fortunately, there are plenty of budget-friendly speaker solutions out there. The Eris E3.5 from PreSonus might fall into the low end when it comes to audio reproduction, but you can pick up a pair of them for around $99. If you’re after higher spec, the 8010A Genelec should deliver, with a pair costing you in the region of $700. 

Headphones are another playback must-have and can be used instead of studio monitors until you’re ready to afford a quality speaker system. The ATH-MH50x from Audio-Technica offers some pretty solid specs despite a modest RRP of just $150. If you’re looking to take mixing and mastering to the next level, there’s the DT 1770 Pro from Beyerdynamic, with these quality cans setting you back around $600.


Although microphones are among the most affordable studio gear, going the cheap route isn’t a good plan. Ideally, you’ll want multiple mics in your inventory to cover all bases. If you need to make savings, limit yourself to a versatile condenser mic. 

At around $99, the Shure SM58 dynamic mic won’t break the bank, with decent recording capabilities for vocals, guitar amps, and drums. Do you have more money to play with? The NT1 from Rode comes in at around $270, but offers exceptionally warm sound and high levels of accuracy. 

Acoustics on a Budget: Setting Up Your Studio Space

With your recording venue selected and your gear list assembled, your home studio setup is finally ready to take shape. However, before you can start recording, you’ll need to carry out a few renovation tasks to improve sound dynamics. 

Firstly, you’ll need to soundproof your space. Rolls of soundproofing vinyl can be picked up relatively cheaply and can be used to cover any surface. If you want to go one further, you can add bass traps to your home studio. Mount these to the ceiling, rather than the floor, to preserve valuable square footage. 

How you furnish your home studio can also enhance its acoustic properties. Use rugs to increase the acoustic-friendliness of hardwood flooring and swap out metal and plastic furniture for fabric-covered pieces to absorb sound. 

Optimizing Your Equipment 

To streamline work workflows, you’ll need to think carefully about how you’re arranging your recording equipment. You’ll want a spacious desk to house your computer, audio interface, monitors, and other accessories. Consider investing in some cable management solutions to conceal all those unsightly leads. 

Studio monitors should really be placed at ear level if you want to hear an accurate representation of your mixes. If your monitors are too low for your liking, mount them on stands. Monitors should also be placed on isolation pads to prevent the surface of your desk from amplifying playback. 

Microphones should be mounted on a stand. You can use a small desktop stand if space is limited, but a freestanding mic is ideal and allows you to play around with positioning. 

Once you’ve decided on the final layout of your home studio, you’re ready to install absorption panels to improve the acoustics of your space further. Use your monitors as a guideline here. Panels should be installed in front and behind your monitors, as well as above them. Mount them on walls at, above, and below ear level. For best results, it’s also worth mounting panels directly on the ceiling above your recording station. 

Things to Remember When Creating a Home Recording Studio 

If you want to get your career as a musical artist off to a great start, creating your own home recording studio is a sensible investment. While it can seem like a mammoth expense if you’re struggling to build an online following or secure gigs, a modest home studio setup can cost as little as $1,000 or less. 

Before you start shopping for gear, make sure you’ve picked out a suitable space. A spare room will do, but a spacious basement or garage is ideal. Whatever space you pick, avoid anywhere with low ceilings as this is a huge issue for acoustics. Once you’ve singled out a space and prepped it with sufficient soundproofing, you’re ready to start filling it with that all-important recording gear. 

Before you start shopping, consider the kind of music you’re looking to produce. Different genres come with different technical requirements, so you might not need to stock up on a full recording inventory straight off the bat. To make your money go further, consider swapping out premium DAWs for free ones. Another way to stretch your budget is to purchase used and refurbished gear, rather than brand-new devices. 

Ultimately, any home studio is going to cost you money. However, considering you’ll never have to pay to rent studio space ever again, this is one investment you’ll never regret. 

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