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Home recording essentials: the right equipment

What do you need for your music production at home? From a powerful computer to a DAW and microphones to an audio interface.

Published on
December 7, 2022
Author
Maximilian Döben
Guest Author

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Hi, my name is Max. I'm a musician, producer, consultant and agile coach. I'm a guest author on the MusicHub blog and would like to share my knowledge with you. In this series of articles, you'll get a step-by-step guide on how to record your own music and release it on popular online platforms. In part 1, I'll give you an overview of the equipment you need for high-quality home recording. Let's get started!

The necessary equipment

Before you can get started, you need a few things that are essential to record your music in good quality:

1. Computer

Are you an Apple or Windows user? In any case you need a powerful computer on which you can install and use a DAW (see point 2). Personally, I use a Macbook Pro and am very happy with it. Macs are designed for creatives and the interaction of the various system components makes music production very easy.

2. DAW

The abbreviation stands for Digital Audio Workstation, which is the basic software that you use to record and edit your music and finally export the finished songs. Apple provides a free programme called Garage Band which is pre-installed on every Mac computer. This is suitable for the basics, but if you want to record your song in high quality, it is worth investing in Logic Pro X or Ableton Live. On YouTube you can find many tutorials explaining the many facets of these programmes. These are really powerful tools enabling you to create your own sonic worlds after a little practice and getting used to them. I myself have produced with all three tools. My most recent songs were created in Ableton Live.

3. Diaphragm Microphone

A good microphone can make a big difference to the recording. The first thing to consider when choosing a microphone is what you want to record with it. For vocals, I like to use the AT-2050 from Audiotechnica. It's also very good for instruments like violin or guitar. For piano I use a pair of Rode M5MP.

4. Audio Interface

An audio interface connects your microphone (or even your guitar) to your DAW (via USB connection on the computer). This means that it digitises your analogue audio signals (e.g. your vocals) and enables digital processing. An example of a good audio interface is the Focusrite Scarlett. To connect your microphone to the interface, you will also need an XLR cable. Make sure that your audio interface has phantom power to supply your condenser microphone with the necessary electricity.

5. USB Midi Keyboard

To play the countless software instruments and synthesisers of your DAW, a USB Midi Keyboard is the best choice. Personally, I prefer one with at least 61 keys, like this one from M-Audio. With Logic and Ableton, it's a breeze to connect, just open your DAW, select your instrument and start playing.

6. Studio Monitors

These are special speakers designed to reproduce your music as faithfully and unaltered as possible. This allows you to mix the exact sound you want for your song in your DAW. This aspect should not be underestimated, as all devices "manipulate" the original sound of your music (with the intention of improving the sound, comparable to the tuning of a racing car). However, this leads to distorted sound representation in your own "sound kitchen", because certain "spices" are sprinkled on every meal. In the end, it makes it difficult for you to objectively listen to and mix your song, which is why you need sound-independent monitors even if you have other good speakers or headphones. Great monitors with crystal clear sound and great value for money are the TV5 monitors from Adam Audio, which I also use myself.

7. DJ/studio Desk (optional)

To position my laptop next to my audio interface and directly above my midi keyboard I use a DJ desk, which I find very comfortable.

8. Microphone Stand

I use high-quality König&Meier microphone stands - there is nothing worse than when the music stand tilts during recording due to gravity pulling the heavy diaphragm microphone towards the ground. This has happened to me before with some cheaper microphone stands. It is better to invest in quality here.

9. Microphone Shockmount and Popfilter

The pop filter dampens pop and sibilant sounds during recording. The microphone shockmount (link matching the Audiotechnica microphone, see above) decouples the microphone from its suspension and thus prevents sound transmission, e.g. across the floor.

Got the necessary equipment? Perfect! Then you can move on to step 2 -the recording of your song. Read about it in my next blog article.

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