Setting Up A Home Studio For Under 500$

An article for people who want to set up a basic home studio but are on a budget...

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So you're out of cash, and your band has these new tunes just waiting to be recording, no way could you buy that new 1000$ soundcard you've always wanted, and yours is too much of a piece of junk. Well, for the cost of just a few hours in the studio, you can setup your own home studio without having to sell your soul to Satan.
  • Recorder 300$: If you don't want to dish out 1000$ for a professional soundcard, find a reasonably priced multi-track recorder on eBay (200-400$) (I got a Boss digital 4 track with 32 virtual track, a drum machine, and digital output for about 200$), and get a USB memory card reader (about 30$) so that u can transfer your music to your computer without reducing the quality by using your cheap Creative soundcard.
  • Mixer 59.99$: Then you should get a mixer because most 4 track recorders only allow 1 instrument and 1 microphone to record simultaneously. You won't need anything fancy here, I got a portable Ki-sound 4 track mixer with a small preamp in it for 30$. But a better one would be this Behringer one for 59.99$.
  • Microphones 59.99$: You'll want to get some good microphones but since you're on a budget, you can't afford those 300$ Shure mics. Here's your solution, Behringer sells a great package of 3 microphones with clips for only $59.99, they offer descent sound quality for both vocals and instrument recording.
  • Headphones 49.99$: You might want some real monitors to hear yourself or the playback when recording, so I suggest you search on eBay and at your local pawn shops for used ones, but the alternative to these are a descent pair of head phones. I had two old speakers in my garage, and they work fine as monitors but headphones are always better. Musicians friend has a great deal on two pairs of deluxe studio headphones for only 49.99$.
  • Audio Editing Software ???$: You'll definitely be needing good software to mix and master all the stuff you recorded with your gear. Now these have a huge price range but you'll always find a smart-alec somewhere who says they'll get you a pirated version for cheap. I suggest you use Cool Edit Pro or Adobe Audition, they are in my opinion the best softwares for this. Now of course, pirating is bad! So don't do it! All you have to do now is find an empty room in your house (even your bedroom!) and since you probably won't be having a drum set in there, then you won't need to isolate everything. Be sure to have a thick carpet on the floor and put some padding around the door frame and windows (towels or rags should be fine) and if you want, you can hang some egg cartons on the wall, but it's not necessary. Pay attention to details! The slightest little thing could screw up your whole recording, make sure that you have no air-conditioning system or working ventilation ducts in your studio, the windows should be closed and heck, even neon lights can cause some static with your gear. Also, use good wires to connect everything together and make sure that all your power supplies are grounded! There you have it! You can now set up your own basic recording studio for under 500$ now that is about half the price of a professional sound card, and you can just about get the same quality! Just remember that when you see a piece of gear somewhere, you can probably get it somewhere else for cheaper, and it's just waiting for you to go buy it. I also found out that if you set up your studio so that it looks very proffesional and have people hear some stuff you recorded in it, they might like it and pay you to use it! Heck, it happened to me. Have fun!
  • 74 comments sorted by best / new / date

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      cannonball_900
      wow i heard a lot bout ebay,but really didnt trust it to spend hard cash in there nice article!
      checkered stars
      Alien_from_a_cd: Great article. Hey Cyberknight4000, are u complaining about having too much money Hey pal, haven't seen u in a while, lend me some, will ya
      hahaha. lol. anyways great article. 5 stars.
      Alien_from_a_cd
      Great article. Hey Cyberknight4000, are u complaining about having too much money Hey pal, haven't seen u in a while, lend me some, will ya
      turja293
      I love it when people whine about not having the money. Get a job, save some cash and take some good advice on setting up a studio.
      bigrd15132
      A friend of mine, who I used to play with, recorded our band in his computer room. Excellent quality. We used Line 6 POD for the guitars, PC Drummer, a $70 off brand condensor for the vocals, and my bass amp's XLR D/I. I don't have any completely finished recordings, otherwise I'd send them to you. Oh, and we use Cool Edit Pro to mix it all. That information probably won't help you with your home recording problems, but I'll make a suggestion...record extra tracks. Try dubbing vocals in the chorus and stuff like that. If you're a band with one guitarist, record the guitar part twice and maybe add the tiniest amount of delay to it. Also, try adding some lead to it, if you're only playing rhythm and vice versa. That's all I have. Godd article, by the way...
      AndyGray
      i got an adapter for 2 and now i can just plug my guitar and mic into my computer, wayhey, i use music centre pro, its complex and ***, the manuel took 3 football pitches of tree's to make
      BarryMcBatt
      and another thing (im very forgetful) kristal has a built in mixer and a few effects
      Jerman
      Cubasis VST is the program I use for mixing, and it's awesome. It's a couple hundred bucks, but my dad's office had a copy so I just used that, but the money spent would be well worth it. It's got tons and tons of instruments that you can add to your recordings digitally, and there are a lot of websites where you can download plug-ins for more instruments. If you're looking to spend good money on an editing program, Cubasis is my recommendation.
      n_punx
      well how big is the difference recording with a crappy soundcard compared to getting those recorders?
      Obie
      Ember Ellusion: i dun get it why no air condition....but anyway v gd article lol i might stop goin to prof studios and buy my own
      word \m/ lol
      VR05
      i have a question about kristal... can u like plug ur recorder into the comp and then upload tracks on it and thne mix them on it?
      kirk_rules!
      im not quite as lucky as the dick-head up here^, but I was lucky enough to get Cakewalk Sonar 4 for 20 bucks. Its regularly $300
      PSL
      ...but why do you thing that people like me spend huge amount of money to get a good sound quality?? Do you think that we are stupid? With 500$ i just bought 1 mic...not even good! Try to listen at a good quality rec...then we can talk about it again...
      PSL
      ...but why do you thing that people like me spend huge amount of money to get a good sound quality?? Do you think that we are stupid? With 500$ i just bought 1 mic...not even good! Try to listen at a good quality rec...then we can talk about it again..
      switchback7
      Great article, I use a Tascam DP-01 and I mic my amps for guitar and bass. I use the Roland V-drums and use a B-1 behringer vocal mic and it sounds great except the occassion amp static. Thanks for the info.
      limaro
      Dear sir/maddam My name Is mak Robert from Uganda . am 22years of age. I live with my aunt and my other two sisters and one brother. My father died when I was still young and my mother couldnt take care of me. Am a high school graduate . I couldnt join university because my aunt couldnt afford to pay for my fees any more. During my high school, I used to write and compose songs one day hoping that I would get a chance to record them. The way music in Uganda is done is different where by one has to pay in order to get his music recorded. But I cant afford to pay for it . There are other youth in my village mostly orphans who look up to me to help them because they also have a dream of being musicians. They nomaly come at my place to give them some vocal training. So please I was hoping that you would help me in the fundraising of some funds in order to start up a studio in my village. I dont get easy access to the internet where by I go all the way to town to get access Which is very expensive. PLEEAASE help me and make a difference in my life as well as that of my village mates. Hope to hear from you and may God bless you. Thank you for taking your precious time to read my mail Yours sincerely Robert
      limaro
      Dear ultimate-guiter My name Is makumbi Robert from Uganda . am 22years of age. I live with my aunt and my other two sisters and one brother. My father died when I was still young and my mother couldnt take care of me. Am a high school graduate . I couldnt join university because my aunt couldnt afford to fees any more. During my high school, I used to write and compose songs one day hoping that I would get a chance to record them. The way music in Uganda is don is different where by on e has to pay in order to his music recorded. But I cant afford to pay for it . There are other youth in my village mostly orphans who look up to me to help them because they also have a ream of being musicians. They anomaly at my place to give them some vocal training. So please I was hoping that you would help me in the fundraising of some funds in order to start up a studio in my village. I dont get easy access to the internet where I go all the way to town to get access Which is very expensive. PLEEAASE help me and make a difference in my life as well as that of village mates. Hope to hear from you and may God bless you. Thank you for taking your precious to read my mail Yours sincerely Robert
      EatsP1es
      dude, gotta love being friends with the sound technician at my church anything we want recorded, done for free on top-quality everything
      ultima15088
      Whats the deal with buying a mixer man? I thought on a four track you would go: Track One - Guitar Track 2 - Drums Track 3 - Bass Track four - Vocals And if uve got two geetarists then you play at the same time with a mic plugged in???? I am looking to record soon, i was looking at this 6 track CD studio thing for 600 notes, looks good to me, is this all i will need, no vocals either as of yet, just two guitars and bassist.
      BarryMcBatt
      this is a good idea, if you have the $500. i've got a genius one if you don't. get a computer, get KRISTAL Audio Engine from KREATIVES.org, get a cheap mixer, your instruments, plug your mixer into the audio input of your sound card. viola!! works perfectly, thats what we do in my band. then if you want to put it on a cd get a cd writer 'n' just burn the files onto the cd (KRISTAL automatically records the files as *.wav). you can even record the instruments separately. PM me if you need help finding it or using it.
      Wilson8
      what he means by air conditioner is that they blow air so you need to have absolute silence for a better quality recording.. and also if you are f**kin broke for 500 bucks then record your sh*t in your answering machine loser!
      tauket2
      if y'all wanna hear the sound quality of my own studio..... check out www.soundclick.com/chrisvalente in my opinion, the sound quality is very good.... all the instruments are recorded in my studio except for the drums....
      WrappedInCold
      if you don't believe in god, pm me...ill help you make you 500 dollars an unorthodox way!!!
      AuthenticBass
      this is exactly what we need for a "cheap" recording i found a shure mic for only 50 bucks at like Radio Shack or somewhere like that, works great. If you go into a guitar store w/ limited money lookin for a recorder, the bastards will try and throw you a pair of $300 AKG hesdphones. All we need is a recorder, and a mixer!! w00t good article, next step... write an article onhow to make an easy 500 bucks
      tauket2
      well, if you go to any proffesional studio, you won't gaind any air conditioning in or around the control room cuz they make noise, and can interfere with your gear..... also starbomb, go see my article in the columns forum, in the same thread as this article, i wrote one called hobome recording..... for under 30$ !
      Ember Ellusion
      i dun get it why no air condition....but anyway v gd article lol i might stop goin to prof studios and buy my own