The essentials you’ll need for making good quality recordings at home
For those of you about to start recording at home, you may be thinking that you’re about to enter a world of confusion and complication. In actual fact, with the right equipment at home to do the job, you can make high quality recordings (and move on from using your iPhone all the time) very easily and at a relatively low cost. Just like your instrument, your recording equipment is an investment that, when looked after, will last for many years and will allow you to create song after song in the comfort of your own home. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of absolute essentials you’ll need to record high quality demos at home without breaking the bank, so when you ask yourself “how do I record my guitar at home” you’re all set.
An easy to use Audio Interface
First things first, you’re going to need an audio interface to actually record your tracks with, we can argue what actually comes first, the mic or the software, but we’re at a chicken and the egg scenario here, so just go with it. You need an audio interface that will allow for line-level device recording, and recording directly through a guitar lead etc. as well as a microphone input for vocals or guitar amps. That way you have the option to just plug in and throw some ideas down or record when you’ve set up your mic.
Behringer UMC22 U-Phoria USB 2.0 audio interface 2 inputs / 2 outputs
USB 2.0 audio interface
2 inputs / 2 outputs
1 XLR / Jack 6.35mm combo input
1 input Jack 6.35mm
1 Jack 6.35mm output
1 headphone output
2 gain adjustment knobs, 1 output
Powered via USB
Phantom power supply (+ 48V)
Professional quality recording of 48 kHz
USB cable and Tracktion software included
Material: quality celluloid
5 colors: red, green, blue, black and white pearl
Dimensions: approx. 26 x 31 mm
Thickness: Light / 0.50 mm
Scope of delivery: 10 picks Planet Waves
Behringer 302USB 5-Input Mixing Console with USB Port
Analog console. USB interface, bass and treble, power supply via USB bus. Micro channels: 1x mono, connector: XLR / stereo 6.3 mm
Conduits: 2x stereo. Conduits Phono Connectors: RCA x 2. Input Level: 20 dB
Connector type: 1xUSB (4-pin USB, type B) 1x DC power input (4-pin USB Type A (power only)) 2x audio line input (RCA phono x 2) 1x audio line output (RCA phono x 2) 1x headphones (Stereo mini phone plug 3,5mm x2) 1x microphone (XLR / Stereo phono 6.3mm)
Rated voltage: AC 120/230 V. Frequency: 50/60 Hz. Maximum consumption: 0,9W
Size: 11.4 cm x 13.6cm x 4.6cm. Weight: 0.8kg
Focusrite - Scarlett 2i2 (2nd generation) Interface only
2 combo inputs with new Scarlett preamp
48 V phantom power
It operates at 192 kHz
Connect via USB, connect your mics and guitars directly and start recording
Scarlett 2i2 works perfectly with all DAW on Mac and PC
Next up you’ll need some software, otherwise known as a DAW to track and manipulate your recordings. If you’ve got a mac, you’ll likely have Garageband pre-loaded so it’s a good idea to start messing around with that to get a feel for how to record with a click track, tracking, editing etc. But when you want to get into it seriously, you’ll want to upgrade to a better digital audio workstation for greater control over your sound. The likes of Cubase Elements or Ableton Liveare perfect for professional use on stage and in the home studio – plus they’re loaded with great filters, reverb channels EQ capabilities and all sorts of goodies that you’ll need to sculpt your sound.
Good quality microphones
When it comes to microphones you really have to be careful what you go for here as there are a lot of really bad ones out there. Failure to use a decent microphone will result in dodgy sounding demos and make you feel like your recordings really aren’t working. For a little extra you can get a world class industry standard microphone that lasts forever. So which one do you choose?
Bird UM1 Microphone USB Noir
Electret static microphone
Diaphragm 34 mm
Sensitivity -37dB +/- 2 dB
Frequency response 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Impedance: 200 Ohms
Maximum sound pressure 125 dB (0.5% of DHT at 1000 Hz)
TIE Studio Microphone Studio USB
USB studio microphone with large diaphragm
Polar diagram: cardioid
USB port for direct operation on the computer
Class Compliant for MAC and PC. Plug & Play.
Spider and USB cable are included
AKG P120 Studio Microphone Static Cardioid Black
Frequency Range: Band A: 530.025 to 559.000 MHz Frequency Type: Variable Modulation: FM, Antenna Diversity RF Power: 10 mW
Bandwidth 40 Hz - 20 kHz Distortion: 0.8% Signal / Noise ratio: 105 dBA
Accessories: rack-mount kit (option), external power supply, antennas, microphone clip, AA battery U-size: 1U half width
Audio output: 1 XLR balanced output doubled on 6.35 mm unbalanced Jack Battery life: 8 h (AA alkaline battery LR6) Power supply: 1.5 V AA (micro transmitter), 220 V external power supply (receiver)
Dimensions: Ø 50 x 235 mm (micro), 200 x 150 x 145 mm (receiver) Weight: 221 g (microphone), 373 g (receiver)
Monitors are another home studio essential, as mixing on headphones doesn’t always give you an accurate representation of the sound of your recording. For example, you may have a set of headphones that sound a little muffled, or a little more bass orientated, which will affect the mix. Investing in a decent pair of studio monitors will up your game and help you to get your studio demos sounding tip-top when it comes to the mixing stage.
Hercules XPS 2.0 80 DJ Monitor - Enceintes de monitoring Active pour PC/Mac - 40 W RMS
Accuracy and quality design for the creation of musical mixes on computer.
Silk dome tweeter for clear and pure highs.
4-inch Kevlar membrane woofers for consistent and precise sound.
Double vent for powerful bass reproduction.
Power of each speaker: 20 W RMS
Subwoofers made of 9 mm MDF wood, compact size speakers.
Audio inputs (to connect computer, DJ equipment, mixer, MP3 player, game console or other audio sources): RCA (main source), TRS (6.35 mm) for balanced input, Line input to connect MP3 player or other audio source.
KRK Rokit RP5 G3 Single | Active Studio Monitor Speaker by KRK
Bi-amped, class A/B amplifier offering large headroom and low distortion, Proprietary waveguide optimized for superior imaging, 1" Soft-dome tweeter provides pristine clarity and extended response up to 35kHz, High-frequency adjustment tailors the system to personal taste, Lightweight, glass-Aramid composite woofer delivers clear midrange and tight bass
If you don’t have the time or space to completely soundproof your room (understandable of course), you’ll need the next best thing – a vocal booth. When recording vocals, in an untreated room, you risking all sorts of rubbish making it into the mix, unwanted reverb, bird noises, the humming of the fridge etc. so a vocal booth is a great investment as it helps control what goes into the microphone and makes your vocals sound crisper and clearer. There are a myriad of different options out there but again, you don’t need to spend a fortune to minimise noise. The essentials vocal booth is a great option and attaches to your mic stand easily.
Reflection Microphone Filter / Screen Protector / Foldable Notebook Voice Booth by nordell
Versatile: You can adjust the filter aperture to match your specific situation.
Best recordings: High density foam ensures that the least possible bounce.
Portable: foldable design makes it more compact than other filters. Think about storage / transport.
In short: this acoustic filter will make voice recordings clearer, drier and easier to work with.
Ideal for home and professional studios - even in rooms that are not perfect for recording.
Neewer NW-5 Foldable Portable Voice Insulation Panel Adjustable for Mic, Acoustic Insulation Aluminum Microphone Shield with High Density Foam, Non-Slip Feet for Mounting Bracket or Desktop Use
Eliminate unwanted noise: Reduce ambient noise, create a closer, drier and more controlled voice or instrument recording in many situations
5 panel design: 3 central stationary panels and 2 foldable end panels; Easy to pack and transport
Robust aluminum construction; High density foam absorbing sound; Adjustable buttons to tighten the panel on the support
Can be mounted on the stand, easy to install; Removable stability feet allow the panel to sit on the desk steadily
Non-slip stability feet: Prevent slippage, and all mounts mounts to your microphone stand with a sturdy clamping system. A set of microphone mounting hardware is also included, providing extra protection and stability when used in the office; Note: The microphone, the stand and the headphones are not included
Microphone stands are another essential item for the home recording enthusiast which are often overlooked. We’ve all been there – precariously balancing our microphones on books, shoes and broomsticks, but there comes a time when mic-ing up our amp, drum kit, or vocals becomes serious business, so you need the kit to go with it. Again, it doesn’t have to be an expensive item, just a reliable one. A boom stand from the essentials range will last a lifetime and can be used at the most awkward angles whether placed in front of an amp, hovering over a kit or stood straight up for vocals. It’s also a good idea to leave the mic stands set up in front of your amp for when inspiration strikes – at any given moment you’re ready to record.
You’re also going to need some XLR cables to hook your mics up to. Again there are many different brands to choose from, but it depends on how much you want to spend. Remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune to effectively record your music, but paying a little extra means you get that little extra quality shining through in your recordings. Stagg make great value for money XLR leads perfect for amateurs to professionals and I would recommend them to anyone starting out, however for a little extra you can get the likes of a Neat Beeline or Planet Waves option which is backed with a lifetime guarantee.