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How To Start Recording for Under $200
So you wanna make music, eh? Welcome to the endless rabbit hole of recording, hope you’re ready! Although it seems like a daunting task, getting prepared to record isn’t really all that hard. You may not end up with top notch studio quality but you could definitely get a good enough sound to get it out there.
We are going to break down a basic set up for you and price out a few things to give you an idea in terms of a budget. Now this can a vary depending on if you’re working with a month of saved up lunch money or if you are planning to invest a bit into it, but the focus will be on something affordable.
What You Will Need
A home setup can really be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. You can get away with having a working computer and a USB mic, or you can go all out with interfaces, XLR mics and some Monitors. It really depends on what you need and want it for. For the sake of this article we are going to consider a set up with a PC, DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), Mic and Headphones.
The best thing about this part is most people have a computer that could run a recording program well enough to function so we don’t need to waste your time on this, which is also way more cost effective. If you do not have a computer then this will absolutely be your first purchase and can vary greatly. You can see a quick list of the Top 10 Best Computers for Music Production and Recording to get an idea of starting points.
A quick list for things to consider;
- Hard Drive
These are your building blocks for a computer to run some recording software on. For the sake of simplicity however, we’re going with the idea that you already have a computer capable enough of handling this.
This is where everything happens. You’ll need to learn a program to be able to use it, and that takes a little bit of time. These days there are quite a bit to choose from. For a quick run down, you can check out the The Ultimate Guide to DAW Software for 2018.
We can choose from quite a few different options, including Pro Tools, Fruity Loops, Ableton, Studio One 3, Reason and more. For the sake of our setup, we want the best bang for our buck. Something that’ll work well and won’t kill the bank.
Winner: PreSonus Studio One 3
The microphone is what makes it all happen, other than you and your skills of course. Some people might read this over and think “you have a section for mics, but you can’t use a mic without an audio interface”, but that is wrong. We’re at a point in time where USB mics have come a long way. I definitely think that a USB mic is the best starting option to get going.
Is there a big difference between a cheap mic and an expensive mic? Of course there is. Is it enough to turn you from bedroom rapper to a stadium selling artist? No. You can get quality sound from most sources as long as you’re using your equipment properly. You can take a look at The Top 10 Best USB Microphones on Earth to get a general list of the top USB mics available today. What we’re looking for is functionality, and luckily a lot of these mics like the Blue Yeti, Audio-Technica AT2020USB, Blue Snowball and the Rode NT-USB all work very well in in terms of quality. From a sheer price point, the Snowball is the victor here.
Winner: Blue Snowball
Sure we can use your computer speakers but we need something with some stereo depth, so we’re gonna need some headphones up in here.
Now I might catch some flack for saying it, but in this scenario, you don’t need to go out and spend MONEY for headphones. We’re trying to make some music and don’t need studio Beats to make that happen. I do suggest some over the ear headphones but nothing that’ll break the piggy bank. You can look into a list of The Best Cheap Studio Headphones . Good news is that Snowball mentioned above comes in a combo pack with a pop filter (clutch) and some Behringer HPS3000 Studio Headphones which will definitely pass an ear test.
All in all for the PC you would more than likely already have, the DAW, Mic and Headphones all brand new, you’re looking at a total of $188+tax. Not that bad for a brand new home studio right!? Of course there are cheaper options, other free alternatives, second hand, pawn shops and the sort, but this is a basic new set up to start. All you gotta do now is spend months on YouTube watching tutorials you’ll probably never use because why not?
Remember, it’s not about how expensive or fancy it is, it’s about how you use it. I’m sure there’s some kind of joke in there but I can’t quite put my tongue on it.
What would your budget set up include? What would you change from our suggestions?