Essential Home Recording Gear For Beginners

The advancements in technology have made recording much easier and -- more importantly -- much less expensive. With just a few hundred dollars and some dedication, you can honestly create a truly great recording that would have required a room full of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth a gear just a few decades ago. With that said, you should still be smart about what you purchase. If you're looking to build your own home recording studio, keep reading for some key tips and recommendations that will have your setup get started in the right direction.

A Good Preamp

A good preamp is a powerful tool that every recording setup should have. Preamplifiers are sold at varying prices with varying details, so it's important to check out a few of them before you make a purchase. Not only does the preamp amplify the volume and offer more overall control over your signal, but may also add changes to your tone, such as adding some warmth. They often give you a superb sound compared to just plugging your microphone or guitar directly to the recording interface. One of my personal recommendations is the Tube MP STV3 which can be had for only $80. This single channel tube preamp will instantly add a warm smooth character to your sound which will is easily worth the price of admission.



ART TPSII Two Channel Preamp

ART Tube MP w/ Phantom Power


Reference Monitors / Studio Headphones

While you definitely need a good set of reference monitors or headphones, it doesn't necessarily mean that you need to spend thousands of dollars. On the other hand, a very cheap set will only make life harder on you and will leave you with bad recordings. Do some research on what others use for their setups for a pair that can get the job done. Another important thing to know in regards to your choice in monitors or headphones is that you have to learn their tonal characteristics by comparing them to other speakers. For example, you can listen to your recorded tracks on car stereos, headphones and on some cheap computer speakers and compare the quality of sound on these instruments to that of your monitor. If the sound differs from that projected from your monitor, you can tweak this up a little bit when mixing. Your aim is to get a mix that will sound great on any application and not just your monitors. One of my personal favorites is the Neumann KH 80. While they might be better known for their microphones, their studio reference monitors offer the same superb quality the brand is known for. As for headphones, it's a close tie between the AKG K240ST and the Sony MDR7502 as they both offer excellent quality at a very affordable price.


Sony MDR7502


Neumann KH 80


Condenser Microphone

Condenser microphones are easily more expensive than typical dynamic stage mics. Still, investing in a good condenser microphone will pay you back in tenfold in the long run. No matter how strained your budget is, a good condenser mic should be considered a mandatory tool. They offer a superior and more accurate sound capture than a stage mic and are the key to many great recordings. While you can easily spend a grand on a good condenser mic, there are plenty of options available at more wallet-friendly price points. One of my personal favorite budget-friendly condenser mics is the AKG P420. For about $200, you get a solid microphone that delivers a clean, warm sound and nice specs for the price.


AKG P420

Audio Technica AT4040

Neumann TLM103


Other Resources

It's not just about the physical gear when it comes to recording. In fact, getting the experience and know-how is probably much more important when it comes to being able to create a high-quality recording. With that in mind, the best way to learn is by checking out helpful online resources and good ol' trial and error. With the help of YouTube and or sites like GearSlutz, you can download some tutorials that will help you nailing down certain techniques or getting the most out of your gear. The internet can be useful also to help you learn the art of using other recording instruments.


Final Thoughts ...

Recording has never been more accessible than it is today, but it still takes plenty of work and solid gear. With the tips above, you can set yourself up for success by ensuring that your recording setup is ready to give you the high-quality results you're after.