"Put together a home recording studio? How can I afford that?"

Well, even when times are hard, you can record yourself for very little money. I’ll describe a few home-studio setups at various price points. You may be surprised how little it costs to get started recording.


In Part 1 of this series, we described how to find recording instruction and how to create a makeshift studio. We also looked at a portable stereo recorder system (about $370). This is the easiest way to record. It’s also the cheapest way if you don’t have a computer. There’s no overdubbing or mixing with this method — what you record is what you get!


In Part 2 we examined a free recording-software system (about $300). This is the cheapest way to record if you already have a computer. You’ll need to spend some time learning how to use some recording software. You can get a more "commercial" sound with this multitrack method than you can with a stereo recorder. For example, you can mike closer for a tight sound, add EQ and effects, and perfect the mix after the recording is done.


We also looked at basic recording techniques for those systems.


Let’s move on.


Audio Interface and Low-Cost Software System (about $550-$750)


This system provides a major step up in sound quality and flexibility. You can upgrade later to an audio interface with more inputs to record an entire drum set or band at once.


Gear examples:


Software such as Cakewalk Home Studio (MSRP $139.00), Cubase Essential 4 (MSRP $195.00), Mackie Tracktion 3Pr (MSRP $319.00), or Pro Tools M-Powered ($250).


USB or FireWire audio interface such as PreSonus Inspire 1394 ($150), M-Audio Fast Track USB (MSRP $129.00), or Edirol UA-4FX (MSRP $229.00).


Option: USB microphone such as Audio-Technica AT2020 USB or Samson C01U ($150).


Another option is a large-diaphragm condenser mic ($100) plus a USB-mic interface such as MXL Mic Mate ($50) or CEntrance MicPort Pro ($150).


Headphones or monitor speakers such as Event ALP 5 ($329/pr) or Blue Sky EXO ($349/pr with sub).


Optional: Direct box (ART Zdirect, $26, or Tapco DB-1P, $40).



Recorder-Mixer (digital workstation or portable studio) (about $350-$600, plus mics and monitors)


This device combines a multitrack hard-drive or flash recorder with a mixer. Some units have a CD burner. Sound quality is very good. If you don’t have a computer, this system might be best for you.


Gear examples: Boss BR-600 ($350), Boss BR-900CD ($600), Zoom HD8CD ($500), TASCAM DP-02 ($500).


One last tip: Consider buying used recording equipment on ebay.com or craigslist.com.


For more info on recording including books by Bruce Bartlett ("Practical Recording Techniques 5th Edition" and "Recording Music On Location") as well Mastering Services, please stop by Bruce’s website: Bartlett Recording

Originally posted 2009-03-02 01:49:17.