Basic Equipment needed for setting up home recording

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  • @kenmattsson  7 weeks

    Okay I know there are a lot of gearheads here, so don't go too overboard on me!

    I've been primarily a singer, and with your help now branched into songwriting. Of course the next step is to get better on recording. I've got a microphone (Snowball) and a DAW (GarageBand) but what is the minimum items that I really should get in order to really be able to start practicing recording, and recommendations for particular equipment for that. I just want to know the 2-4 pieces of equipment that are so basic and necessary that I should purchase. I'm not looking to equip a brand new home studio, but I want to ease into it.


  • @andygetch  7 weeks

    I actually now only use Garageband, a USB condenser microphone, and headphones. The mic is a Blue Yeti ($100-$170 depending on bells and whistles) that has four settings ranging from quasi-dynamic to picking up everything. Also I used to also have two different audio to digital USB soundcard interface for recording say a vocal track through a dynamic mic at the same time as direct-input recording a guitar track with both plugged in to the interface at the same time. TBH I also used the soundcard interface less and less. The last one found obsolesence when no longer supported by macOS Catalina. Headphones are Shure SRH440 ($100 or so).

  • @zecoop  7 weeks

    @kenmattsson - Some sort of audio interface is a great place to start. Something like the Focusrite Scarlett will give you an XLR and 1/4" input that lets you plug in a microphone or instrument cable and get that signal into your DAW. You have one mic, but either a Shure SM57 or SM58 is always a good thing for a home studio. The SM57 is a tried and true instrument mic and both can be used for vocals as well.

  • @headfirstonly  7 weeks

    It depends what you want to record. If it's just vocals and you playing your uke or an acoustic guitar, then you're all set and you really don't need anything else. GB is fine as a DAW, and the snowball does a ridiculously good job for the price.

    If you're planning on recording other instruments or buying a "proper" mic (and once again, you're fine with the snowball) then as @zecoop says, an audio interface (a box that replaces your sound card that you connect to your machine via USB) would be the next thing to look at. There are lots of good brands to choose from and nine of the best are reviewed here:

  • @ustaknow 7 weeks

    Above, all +1.

    Nonetheless πŸ˜€

    === === ===

    ==2 - Mics==

    - or the clone, just as good πŸ˜€ for $15 (yes, I have AB'd them and own both)

    $30 total if go the clone route


    (I've used many, and this is the one among them πŸ˜€ ) :


    (The best there is anywhere πŸ˜‰ )


    ==Mic - stand==

    ==2nd boom==
    I love this for the Guitar, - sitting and using the above stand, one stand two booms:

    $50-ish wait for a sale? (Around the "Holidays", stuff goes for insanely low prices, if can wait. How much can you really save?)

    (Just, for so many reasons)


    === === ===
    And of course the related cables and a laptop. I'd recommend a DEDICATED for music only Laptop, (beg for an old one no ones using) or,
    -- Intel Chip Laptop, - even the cheapest new and again for only that on it (music, DAW) running LINUX Mint (format and reload - Linux Mint is Free, can order CD's to load from so add $10.00? or, DL and Image a CD yourself).

    [1 of 2]

  • @ustaknow 7 weeks

    [2 of 2]

    I see them around (laptops) for ~$400 ish USD (new) +- and would max the RAM out, (just because πŸ˜€ ) and get an external USB terabyte drive or *two to write to, back up files to.

    So, that roughly, comes to ~ $748 ish plus cables, say $800 ish for the Singer Songwriter Special, package πŸ˜€

    - "this", - your're looking at time tested, many years, and using industry standard, non proprietary GNU equipment with the whole internet as "support".

    Remember, audio interface ? as USB, and in the Signal Chain, - is universal serial port, other, plug and play, industry standard, -- all.
    So, "best", means it works. Does not work, means it got to funky, complicated in the buttons and lights.

    (If you get in to "midi", πŸ˜€ well, then you're on your own, I don't do midi πŸ˜€ and probably never will.)

  • @gm7  7 weeks

    A good USB audio interface is a must say a Focusrite Scarlett (2 inputs) as @zecoop said. A SM58 for vocals and a SM57 for guitar capture .
    A fairly good free DAW(Digital Audio interface) is Audacity..which several FAWMer are using and you can see that in their bio. if you want to ask them some questions.
    A good set of mixing head phones will help if your worried about annoying people during mixing vs monitor speakers.

  • @headfirstonly  7 weeks

    @gm7 I guess in the strictest sense Audacity counts as a DAW, but it:
    * doesn't do MIDI
    * doesn't apply audio effects in real time
    * doesn't support VSTi plugins

    New PC users would be much better grabbing Cakewalk, which is free and is a "proper" DAW with functionality more in line with premium DAWs.

  • @fuzzy  7 weeks

    Gotta say. if you're new to DAWs, Audacity might be a better choice to start with. It's what I've used for eleven years and it does everything I've needed to do so far.
    I downloaded and tried Cakewalk and could not make head nor tail out of it after a solid two hours of trying, even with instructional videos
    Maybe I'm just clueless, I dunno.

  • @ustaknow 7 weeks

    Hey @kenmattsson -

    I'm gonna drop out of this, and want to clarify one thing, there is,
    - Recording
    - Everything else

    What I comment engages,
    - Recording

    You said:
    "get better on recording... ... be able to start practicing recording, and recommendations for particular equipment for that..."

    The greatest challenge "online" in getting an answer is we do not know what is the answer or why.

    So, as said, what you have is all you need. If you can record, you are practicing recording. Actually, you may simply use a phone for that; or, the mic/speakers on the Laptop.

    I suppose, when someone says very specifically and clearly, regardless of what else you comment that - you want to Record, and practice that, (Recording), they are not seeking a rating thread for all the other that does not engage, - Recording.

    Now I never learned how to drive, and my first cars were, Jaguar XKE's, and stuff like that, Porsche. When I grew up and was asked what a person in my life should learn on, actually learn, - I pointed them to a Honda Civic Automatic Transmission; then Hyundai and now drives a all Wheel Drive, Turbo Charged German made thingy. It goes very fast may double the speed on any curve, 35's at 70mph no problem (dry pavement).

    Also, when I taught them, I did NOT first, pop the hood and explain how an Engine works πŸ˜‰, or Brakes and Transmissions or even how to change a tire. No, I said, Key, Gas, Brake, Mirrors and the Law (per country in).

    They learned how to start the car, make it go, stop, get gas and outrun the Law if needed to πŸ˜‰ (I'm big on that πŸ˜€ ).

    The art of,
    - properly recording any sound source to full saturation of the track be it Tape, or Digital is an "Art" and analog. Also, as with a guitar one may in Acoustic, plug it in and put two mics on it as well.


    Good question.

    The art of practicing recording.

    The rest is - "everything" else and not what you asked πŸ˜€ BUT, may have meant?

    My apologies if so πŸ˜‰ then, please ignore me!

  • @quork  7 weeks

    I've really enjoyed learning about recording and mixing. I agree with those who say you need a cheap but serviceable mic, audio interface and DAW. I record to my iPad, so my specifics are probably not relevant to your needs, but I would suggest the following.

    Given your instrument interests, you probably don't need access to midi, but it's something worth considering in future (i.e. to add that software string section that you play on a keyboard controller). It's worth reading up on recording and mixing techniques. You can record your stringed instrument and vocals at the same time, but you'll probably want to use a separate track for each, and be able to add, say, a whistle solo if called for. Most DAWs have perfectly accceptable plug-ins, i.e. eq and reverb, that you can also experiment with, as well as panning techniques to spread your sound and give every instrument a niche. Good luck and have fun.

  • @mrblitz000 7 weeks

    you can get a 2-channel ART pre-amp/io for $79... look on ebay for searches like 'audio interface' or 'audio io device'... should be lots of options...

  • @coolparadiso  7 weeks

    @kenmattsson the simple answer is. 1. An Audio interface. 2. A condenser microphone. 3. A DAW. After that is all just choice and opinion and everyone will have one! So here my opinion for someone just taking the first leap forward! Focusrite Scarlet kit which includes the microphone and Mixcraft as a DAW. Why? Because you should just be able to plug them in and within a few minutes take your recordings miles forward. I have worked with a lot of new songwriters and i always recommend this as the next step and to date have never had complaints and thats because as i say its plug and play, the DAW is so full of presets you get instant improvement without becoming a technical expert. I still use is for lots of stuff, sure i have other more complex gear and mammoth Daws but i am confident using the set up i have suggested even when i am doing demos for other professionals.

  • @tcelliott  7 weeks

    I'll agree with @coolparadiso

    Here is a video that explains one approach to a home studio set up (geared towards releasing full band recordings made by one person) by a guy I like a lot. It's from the guy.

  • @siebass  7 weeks

    second the graham video on what you need to get started, he's got tons of great advice, along with everyone's rec's. An audio interface, a condenser microphone, and a DAW. Is the blue a condenser mic? If so, you've already got 2 of the three. Garageband is a great DAW to get started with; apple makes everything easy. An interface will let you plug in guitars/basses to record directly, as well as use normal "non-usb" microphone sources. Get at least 2 inputs so you can record a guitar and vocal at the same time, or 2 mics, etc, and you can grow into what you need from there. You don't NEED anything else other than what you've got, but if you want to record electric guitars/basses and play around with garageband's amps and tones, you would need an audio interface to capture those signals well.

  • @headfirstonly  7 weeks

    For those not familiar with it, the Blue Yeti Snowball mic that Ken already has is a condenser mic.

  • @zecoop  7 weeks

    @headfirstonly - this mics do a fantastic job! I have collaborated on many songs with vocalist who have used them. You don’t need expensive gear to sound good anymore, there is a lot of quality gear out there. As a matter of fact many of my collaborations have been done with a vocalist who recorded his vocals on his phone, while in a hammock in Thailand. I have changed his name to β€˜Carl’ to protect the innocent, but we ended up with amazing sounding songs! Definitely don’t get hung up on needing tons of expensive gear. 🎢🎡

  • @tcelliott  7 weeks

    Off topic: I love my superlux s241 small diaphragm condenser mic. You can get it at Thomman for under 90 bucks US but you have to pay shipping. It's low end, but damn good for it's price.

    On topic: Some of my favorite FAWM songs were phone recordings so....

  • @metalfoot  7 weeks

    Not that I should be the example for anyone to emulate but all I use are the following:
    Blue Yeti mic (either on ribbon or on cardioid setting, depending what I'm doing)
    and on special occasions I'll DI my Zoom G1XOn pedal into my soundcard input.
    I do also have a USB Audio Interface with a few condenser mics and I have used that but most of the time for my purposes the mic and Audacity are enough.

  • @nerdjealous  7 weeks

    You're getting a lot of great suggestions, and I'm sure you'll find the right setup for you:) Here's what I started with...

    USB Digital Dictaphone (Β£30 will be plenty) // This simply plugs into your pc/lappy and can double as a portable recorder when out and about. Ofc there's phone apps for this that are free allows recording away from the PC, less distractions πŸ˜€

    Audacity // Any old laptop/pc laying around with the ability to install Audacity will do. There's enough in there to last you a long time, plus it's free

    The simple instructions to record:
    Make your audio demo and any sound snippets you wanna use on the dictaphone, plug into your pc/lappy, put desired files onto there, then import into Audacity.

    The rest is down to fiddling about with the software and dictaphone to get it to sound right so the volume is loud eough for your purposes, and actually getting down to making the music πŸ˜€

    It requires a little planning, but doesn't require knowing a lot to get started in the actual recording side.

    EDIT: Forgot to add! Minimum recording setup IMO = Mic, DAW, earphones/headphones πŸ˜‰

  • @cynthiawolff  7 weeks

    I do all my recording on my iPad..I use the mic provided.
    It’s a great way to get progress on it and once you start working things out you can buy more stuff...I do not understand what most are talking about here! So if you are a beginner like me, go on YouTube which has lots of tutorials

  • @kenmattsson  7 weeks

    Well, as would be expected, people went a bit overboard on their suggestions. I should have known better, but I appreciate the input.

    From the input here, I managed to figure out that I really only need three things: microphone (preferable condenser), a DAW, and an audio interface. I'm going to continue to use GarageBand, as that's what I have on my computer now (I also have Audacity, but haven't used it as much). I have the Yeti Snowball, but the recommendation was to get that condenser if I wanted something a little better, and the big thing was to get the audio interface.

    I managed to be able to talk to my brother, who is also a gear head (had to keep him from overwhelming me also!) and I ended up ordering the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio 2x2 USB Audio Interface with Microphone and Headphones (3rd Generation) to just get the whole package. This will hopefully get me the basics to start playing around with it all and to do some interesting things.

    Thanks all!

  • @lvgd09  7 weeks

    @kenmattsson Excellent choice and you are ready to go

  • @tcelliott  7 weeks

    That'll do you nicely.

  • @coolparadiso  7 weeks

    Yup good choice, same focusrite studio i use and never had a problem with it! And if you know all the pre sets and effects in GarageBand good idea to use it. Looking forward to hearing it in 50/90!

  • @ianuarius  7 weeks

    Everybody says that Scarlett is good, but... compared to what?

    What interfaces are worse than it?

  • @warrenellison 7 weeks

    I don't know what he's so good at, either!

  • @siebass  7 weeks

    @ianuarius many super cheap ones, TRS to USB cables, some of the maudio/behringer ones, ultra cheap no-names on Amazon. It's a good baseline at focusrite for quality. Presonus, and even behringer and m-audio have decent interfaces around the ~$100 price point, but they also offer some garbage in the $45-50 area.

  • @ianuarius  7 weeks

    @siebass interesting! Why are they so garbage?

  • @coolparadiso  7 weeks

    Im not particularly techo but i think Cheap ones often have limited sample rates. They Have trouble matching to base sample rates on your daw. Also As your operating system does upgrades they get out of sync, (my beringer did and a few other friends ones did) focusrite usually automatically updates. I think the youtube video tc elliot put up has some examples.

  • @guatecoop  7 weeks

    @ianuarius : I think that the conversion is bad in some of the cheapest versions, which adds (bad qualities) and subtracts (good qualities) from the tracks as they go in. Once you get to the Scarlet level the converters are good and don’t get noticeably better until the much higher level.
    @kenmattsson : I would also add that you MAY want to have a small interface that has a line level in if you ever want to get an external preamp, which you might for recording a voice with your quality, though many get spectacular results from the mic preamps on the interface. That being said, an improvised vocal booth or a β€œgobo” would be helpful for recording vocals and stringed instruments.

  • @siebass  7 weeks

    One other area where I have had issues is with poor shielding and interference. From picking up the radio, to adding signal noise from moving around while playing.

  • @ianuarius  7 weeks

    Thanks for the info knowing people!

    I only have lexicon alpha and been thinking of switching it but there is absolutely no audio interface on the planet in the same configuration, so I'm stuck with it. I just hope the converters are good enough... not that I could tell if they weren't.

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