If you’re a human living in 2020, chances are you’ve been stuck at home more than you’d like this year. But look on the bright side! You now have more time than ever before to start that podcast or record your own music, like you meant to do for years. Below is our easy-to-follow guide that will teach you how to put together the home audio setup, step by step.
Step 1: Decide Your Home Recording Studio Needs
Are you going to be the next big podcaster? Or is your dream to put your music out there for all to hear? Do you eventually want to do recording professionally, or is this just a hobby? What is your budget, and how much are you willing to spend for quality products?
These are all questions you need to answer before you start buying or planning for your home audio system.
Step 2: Choosing your DAW software
A DAW is a Digital Audio Workstation. In short, it is the technology that will help you manage your recordings, edit them using different sounds, and perform other post-production actions on your music or podcast.
However, not all DAWs are created equal. Some are for the beginning recording artists, and others are more equipped to handle the needs of a pro-home recorder. Here are some of our recommended DAWs in order from easy-to-use to professional-level.
- GarageBand (note: Only for Mac users)
- FL Studio
- Logic (note: Only for Mac users)
- Pro Tools
Choose one, download it, and you’re ready for step 3.
Step 3: Learning About and Buying Your Home Recording Equipment
Now that you’ve got the software for editing, you’ll need the right tools to capture your sound.
The interface is the heart of the studio. It’s where your computer gets all its information from, which means you shouldn’t compromise on quality.
Basically, the interface’s job is to connect the audio from your recording device (or devices) to your computer. It’ll also help to ensure the quality of the audio coming into your computer is better than what you would get without an interface. There is a lot to know about how many inputs or outputs you might need depending on your recording goals, but as a general rule of thumb, get an interface with one input for each microphone, instrument, or other device you’d like recorded and at least two outputs so that you can hear both left and right on your stereo speaker (and more if you want surround sound).
Make sure to pay attention to what kind of connectors each interface has. For instance, if your computer only has a USB connection, make sure the interface has that connector. The same goes with a number of different connectors…Thunderbolt, Firewire, and a number of others are possibilities. Do your research and make sure that each connector you need is there and will be able to keep up with your own recording goals.
Once you have your connectors all set up, you need to indicate to your computer which interface you have and map out your inputs and outputs.
Like every other tool you’ll need for home audio, which microphone you need is going to depend on your own recording goals, including your budget, personal taste, and genre.
Since mics come in so many varieties, we’ll leave it up to you to learn before you buy. Most descriptions of microphones on online retail will have descriptions of what it’s best used for.
Once you have your microphone, you can connect it to the interface using one of the inputs. Make sure that, if your microphone requires power to function, you’re supplying that “phantom power,” or +48. Note also that most microphones will be XLR microphones, where the mic requires a cable.
While many interfaces and microphones come with cables, some do not. Be aware of everything that comes with your interface and microphone while purchasing them. Here are four of the most common cables that you may need for your setup:
¼ inch to 1/8 inch headphone extension cablesWhile these cables are not absolutely necessary, it makes your recording process go just a little bit more smoothly. Especially if you have more than one person in your home studio recording, these cables can help get your headphones whatever audio it needs.
Headphones are absolutely necessary for any home audio setup. Whether your drummer uses them to keep rhythm or you use them to hear the smallest mistake on guitar, you’ll need a pair to help with recording and editing.
The main two types of headphones for audio recording are open back and closed back. Open back headphones are best for live recording environments where you’ll still want to hear what’s happening around you. Closed back headphones are used to separate the wearer from the room so you can focus on what is being recorded. For most produced at-home audio, closed back headphones will be more useful.
For the experienced audio engineer, studio monitors allow feedback to you and others that you simply can’t get from headphones. Unless you sacrifice quality for price, your studio monitors will give you a bigger, richer sound. Most connections needed for studio monitors are either XLR or TRS. Beware of other connectors for studio monitors, as they can be indications that the monitor is old, passive, or cheap.
With all that information, go out and buy the right components you’ll need to capture your vision. Set it up according to our recommendations and the components instructions, and with a little bit of experimentation with your new setup, you’ll be recording quality podcasts, songs, and more.
Bailey Brothers Music Company specializes in creating home audio systems for everyone, from the new podcast host to the superstar musician. Click this link to see how our home audio team can help you.