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  • Scott Koopmann

Recording Equipment Must-Haves for Every Studio

Updated: Oct 2, 2022


#musicrecording #recordingstudio #musicstudio #recordingequipment


While beginners always have that natural desire to want to learn everything, right away…

The truth is…you really only need a few items to get started.


And anything more will probably just confuse you.


So if you don’t have a studio yet, a simple bedroom studio is the first milestone to aim for.


And for a setup like this, you need the following 9 items:


Computer

DAW

Audio Interface

Microphones

Headphones

Studio Monitors

Cables

Microphone Stands

Pop Filter

Now let’s look at each one in more detail…


1. Computer

First on the list of recording studio equipment: the computer.


These days, since recording studios are almost ALL digital…


The first thing you obviously need is a computer.


And while you can just use any old computer, at-first…


You should eventually invest in the best one you can afford.


Because today’s DAW’s can be EXTREMELY hard on processing resources.


And making full-use of its features requires a blazing-fast computer.


2. Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

The digital audio workstation is the primary software used to record, edit, and mix music on your computer.


Originally designed to mimic look-and-feel of analog mixing boards from the pre-digital era…


Their visual design has remained basically the same ever since.


Pro Tools, which has long-been the most famous DAW, great for studios of all levels…but it is by no means the only option.


Depending on your budget and style of music, the best one for you could be any one of around 10 possible options.


3. Audio Interface

Once you’ve got the software, the next thing you’ll need is an audio interface…


Which has the primary purpose of providing all the necessary connections to send your music:


INTO the computer when recording, and…

OUT the computer during playback.

Originally, this was pretty much all they did…


But today’s modern interfaces have evolved into incorporate many other features as well. Those include:


digital conversion

mic preamps

DI boxes

headphone amps

monitor management


In pro studios, each of these items normally exist as high-end stand-alone units, organized within a rack.


In home studios though, these “all-in-one” budget interfaces can be a great way to save money, and still get exactly what you need.


4. Microphones

The oldest item on this list by far…


Microphones have been around since long before recording studios ever existed.


Yet ironically, in all those years, very little about them has changed.


And many of the top models from a half-century ago are still among the industry standards of today.


That’s not to say that microphones are a simple topic, because it’s actually quite the opposite.


Recording studios typically carry several-dozen mics or more…each one used to achieve:


  • a different sound

  • from different instruments

  • in different situations


5. Headphones

Unlike most recording studio equipment, headphones are one item that we’re all thoroughly familiar with.


At least…that’s what most people assume.


But truth is, while you may own a great pair of “consumer” headphones…


For pro audio, there are 2 special types of studio headphones intended for 2 very specific tasks:


closed back headphones

open back headphones


6. Studio Monitors

In the pro audio world, we call them either studio monitors, or nearfield monitors.


And while they might look similar to plain old speakers…THEY’RE NOT.


Compared to consumer speakers, which typically accentuate certain frequency bands in order to improve the listening experience for certain audiences…


Studio monitors are designed with the opposite goal of providing a perfectly FLAT frequency response, so engineers can hear a mix as it truly is, flaws and all…so they can adjust accordingly.


In pro studios, these monitors can often cost 10 grand or more.


But luckily for the rest of us, there are plenty of great affordable options as well.


7. Cables

In a typical pro studio, you’re likely to find hundreds of cables…


With dozens of connectors that you’ve probably never even heard of.


And the time will come when you own more cables than you can count.


The good news is…in the beginning, all you need is 3:


One XLR cable to connect a mic to your audio interface.

And two more to connect the interface to your monitors.


8. Microphone Stands

The same concept applies with microphone stands as with studio cables.


Eventually you’ll have many. But for now, all you need is 1 or 2.


And while you might assume that all stands are pretty much the same…


They actually come in many shapes and sizes, each designed for specific tasks.


9. Pop Filter

Despite the fact that pop filters are in no way “essential” to your basic list of recording studio equipment…


For some strange reason, all newbies seem to want one.


And most probably don’t even know what they’re for. So let me explain.


One peculiar fact about your mouth is that it expels a strong burst of air whenever you pronounce “p” or “b” sounds.


In normal conversation, you don’t even notice it.


But when singing into a microphone, that blast of air is heard as a low frequency “thump” known as popping, which is both unpleasant to the ears, and unacceptable on a recording.


Pop filters are designed to solve this problem by catching the blast of air before it hits the diaphragm of the mic.


Once you’ve got everything we just covered, you should be fully equipped to record audio in your little bedroom studio. And while many people will be more than satisfied to remain at this stage…some of you will want something better at some point.


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