How to Build a Music Studio at Home

From creating a space suitable for recording your next hit to choosing the right equipment, we break down how to build a pro-level music studio at home.

Written by
amuse

If you’re serious about pursuing a career in music, building a studio in your home space is the perfect way to further your skills and make music in a flexible environment. Instead of spending money on studio time, you can invest in equipment at home to give you unlimited access to creating music full-time.

To successfully set up a studio at home, you will first need to make sure the location is right and invest in some quality equipment that will enable you to produce your next hit! Let’s dive in.

Location is key 🔑

The first major consideration when building a home studio is the location; is there room for soundproofing? Will noise escape? Is the room big enough to give you enough space between your monitor speakers and the walls? And all equipment needed? A well-designed space can be the difference between smooth sailing and total frustration. Ideally choose a room with high ceilings, symmetrical walls, and irregular surfaces – a rectangular-shaped room is best.

Clear out the space 🧹

Once you’ve chosen your studio location, it’s time to prepare the space for recording. Clear the floor space, take everything off the walls, and remove anything that vibrates. Begin with an empty room and position your gear where it sounds best (not where it looks best).

While there’s (expensive) sound equipment available to test the sound in your space, if you’re on a budget, you can test it yourself with the help of a friend. Ask your friend to hold one of your monitors while playing a track. Get them to circle around you (standing 6-9 ft away) while you stand in the center of the room. Listen for the place in the room that best supports the ‘sound-field’ (the bass is most commonly the area where you’ll hear the greatest difference depending on where you’re standing).

Once you’ve found a few potential spots for your speakers, find the position where the speaker seems to sound closest at a further distance. Look for thick, bassy sounds and position your monitors there.

If the space sounds like it has too much echo, add sound absorbers like foam panels to cover the walls.

Foam panels don’t just help you soundproof the room for an outside listener, their real purpose is to absorb sound reflections inside the studio. Without these, you risk those reflections being recorded. With acoustic absorption panels, the only sounds being recorded are the ones directly coming from the instrument or microphone. You can find them on Amazon or at your local music store.

Essential Equipment for Your Home Studio

Once you’ve chosen the right space for your home studio set up, it’s time to invest in proper recording equipment to fill the room. Here are the essential pieces of equipment you’ll need to start making music.

Computer

Picking a reliable computer is crucial, it’s the backbone of your studio setup. Look for something that’s fast, with decent storage, and has the ability to process the audio you will be recording. You can either go the desktop route or like many creatives, get a laptop that checks all the boxes mentioned above so you can easily record a track on the go if needed. 

Here are some examples of computers that are great for making music:

If you’re on a budget, it doesn’t need to be the latest MacBook Pro with all the fancy add-ons, but we do recommend a newer model of either (if you’re going with Apple) Macbook Pro (portable) or iMac (stationary). If you're really trying to save some cash, there are plenty of second-hand options through eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or Amazon Renewed. 

iMac

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

To record and mix you’ll need to purchase a DAW. What’s a DAW? It’s an abbreviation of the digital audio workstation which is an electronic device or application software used for recording, editing, and producing audio files (music). Avid’s Pro Tools is the industry standard, but you can also explore Logic Pro or Ableton Live. 

Before you choose, ask yourself how familiar you are with production software. Different DAWs have different target audiences depending on your level of knowledge and some are just easier to use than others. To help you find the best fit for you, here’s a breakdown of each:

Avid Pro Tools

The industry-standard pro mixing and editing tool that professionals use around the world.

Pro-Tools-2022.4-screenshot

Pros

  • Industry-standard DAW
  • The great recording quality and features
  • Unmatched editing capabilities
  • Great for mixing and mastering

Cons

  • Not beginner-friendly
  • Not good for writing music digitally
  • Very outdated interface

This DAW suits you if you want to work as a professional audio engineer, recording, editing, and mixing with other people.

Logic Pro X

Logic Pro is a complete collection of sophisticated creative tools for professional songwriting, beat making, editing, and mixing, built around a modern interface that’s designed to get results quickly and also deliver more power whenever it’s needed. 

Logic Pro includes a massive collection of instruments, effects, loops, and samples, providing a complete toolkit to create amazing-sounding music.

Logic-Perfect-NB

Pros 

  • Beginner-friendly
  • User-friendly interface
  • Great for writing music
  • Extremely versatile
  • Great for recording, mixing, and mastering music

Cons

  • Audio editing isn’t as powerful as other DAWs

This DAW suits you if you want a creative DAW that’s great for writing, recording, and mixing.

Ableton Live

Ableton Live is designed to be an instrument for live performances as well as a tool for composing, recording, arranging, mixing, and mastering.

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Pros

  • Beginner-friendly
  • MIDI and automation features
  • Session view makes writing fun and fast
  • Great stocks plugins

Cons

  • Audio editing isn’t as extensive as in other DAWs

This DAW suits you if you’re a live DJ, electronic music producer, or want to be able to write music non-linearly.

FL Studio

FL Studio features a graphical user interface with a pattern-based music sequencer. The program is available in four different editions for Microsoft Windows and macOS.

FL-studio

Pros

  • Beginner-friendly 
  • MIDI and automation features
  • Unmatched piano roll for writing music digitally 
  • FL’s patterns make it easy to write and arrange songs

Cons

  • Some production techniques require workarounds
  • Redundant features, which can make it more confusing to use

This DAW suits you if you’re primarily an electronic or hip-hop producer.

Audio Interface

If you're planning to use vocals or live instruments in your production, you'll need an Audio Interface. Our two favorites are the Scarlett 2i2 and Universal Audio Apollo Twin.

Scarlett 2i2

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a USB audio interface, used and loved by complete beginners and industry professionals. It’s affordable and makes it simple to record, mix, and monitor live audio. For a more in-depth review with a setup walkthrough, check out the video below:

Universal Audio Apollo Twin

Apollo Twin is a high-resolution professional audio interface with superior sound quality and real-time UAD Processing onboard. This means that processing audio is offloaded by the Apollo Twin, freeing up your computer to do other things like mixing audio or running samples.

The Apollo Twin has been used by many renowned producers like Louis Bell (Post Malone, Cardi B, DJ Snake) and to record landmark albums by Kendrick Lamar, Chris Stapleton, Arcade Fire, and more.

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Microphone

There are several quality microphones for any budget that you can use for recording vocals in your home studio. We recommend the Rode NT1A, Aston Origin, and if you’re on a budget, Audio Technica AT 2035.

Rode NT1
Price: $215

The NT1 is the go-to microphone for recording a wide range of vocalists. It offers the sound of classic studio microphones with low noise, perfect for recording pop, rock, and hip-hop. 

rode-nt1-_-ai-1-complete-studio-kit_7_1656327731

Features

  • Large-diaphragm (1-inch)
  • Flat frequency response for many vocal ranges
  • Extended 10-year warranty when bought through an authorized seller
  • Versatile. Great for vocals and instrumentals
  • Flat, smooth frequency response that reproduces what you record
  • Steady shock mount

Aston Origin
Price: $199

The Aston Origin is versatile enough to use with any instrument and specifically excels in vocals. Aston Microphones describes it as, “...designed to deliver direct, smooth and intimate sounds for supremely natural and transparent recording”.

aston-microphones-origin-condenser-mic_1_REC0012361-000


Features

  • Affordable and high quality
  • Offers warmth, clarity, and detail
  • Versatile. Great for vocals and instrumentals
  • Large-diaphragm (1-inch)

Audio Technica AT 2035
Price: $149

If you’re on a budget and trying to save on your microphone purchase, Audio Technica is a great option. It’s excellent for not only vocals but on a variety of instruments like acoustic and electric guitars.

audio-technica-at2035

Features

  • Balanced sound across a range of input
  • Works well with other instruments
  • Comes with a pop filter and 10ft XLR cable
  • Large-diaphragm (1-inch)

Keep in mind that with the price of this mic, you will experience that it picks up any outside noise. You’ll need a quiet recording environment, so tell your friends to keep it down while you’re in a session! But with that being said, the Audio Technica will serve its main purpose at a great price.

Studio monitor

Studio monitors are loudspeakers designed for professional audio production where accurate audio representation is make or break.

Investing in a quality studio monitor for your studio setup is a necessity. They help produce clear and dynamic sound mixes, making it easier for you to identify any flaws in the audio quality to correct. Below are some of our favorite studio monitors.

KRK Rokit RP7 G4 
Price: $498

The RP7 monitors offer a punchy delivery with an abundance of EQ tweaking options, meaning that they will capture an accurate vibe of a session. They are well-built, and there are several options for tweaking the setup so the sonics are optimized for the room in which you’ve built your studio in.

preview

Features

  • Excellent performance
  • Plenty of range in the EQ
  • Isolation and mounting pad are integrated
  • Front port lets you position them close to the wall

For a more in-depth review, click here.

Focal Shape 65
Price: $899

With the Focal Shape 65, you really get what you pay for. When it comes to frequency balance it’s super impressive, especially in the mid-range. The highs are detailed and the mids are a direct reflection of the source, which really helps you with nailing your mix. This studio monitor is one of the best-sounding and most effective speakers in this price range.

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Features

  • Makes mix decisions easier (and better)
  • Super-accurate transient details
  • Easy-to-tweak EQ
  • Passive radiators offer flexibility

For a more detailed review, click here.

Kali Audio In-8
Price: $798

These are big monitors so in a small to mid-range space they will give out a loud, quality robust sound. The bass is distinguished and there is an overall width to the output from these monitors. If you do have a smaller space, they might be too powerful for the space but for you that has a mid-size to the larger studio — the Kali Audio In-8 is the perfect investment.

kali-audio-in-8-806977_l-1

Features

  • Bid, wide and spacious sound
  • Easy to set up with flexible dip switch operation
  • Great value considering the quality of the sound

For a more detailed review, click here.

PreSonus Eris 3.5 (Budget)
Price: $100

These monitor speakers are a great fit for you if you’re on a budget. Considering the low price range, they still give you a good feel about what you are mixing especially at a close range. They are designed for smaller spaces, so take that into consideration when choosing which monitor speaker will work best for your home studio.

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Features

  • Fantastic value
  • Good detailed sound
  • Ideal desktop choice

For a more detailed review, click here.

Headphones

Focal Listen Professional
Price: $299 

These studio headphones are ideal for getting clarity and accuracy when listening back to your mix. The lower mids and bass are specifically tight and rich, giving you a reproduction of the song you’re building. 

listen-professional

Features

  • Sturdy and comfortable fit
  • Solid sound reproduction at low volumes

For a more detailed review, click here.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
Price: $239

The sound quality of these headphones is great, with clear and forward mids. On the bottom-end frequencies, you’ll experience that they extend the sound down without any peaky resonances. A great fit for mixing specifically electronic tracks.

audio-technica-ath-m50x-bt2_1_REC0015667-000


Features

  • Great value
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Honest sound

For a more detailed review, click here.

Sony MDR-7506
Price: $99 

If you’re looking for great quality, inexpensive solution for tracking and mixing, these headphones' neutral sound and accurate response will be a good fit.

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Features

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Well-balanced
  • Precise sound

For a more detailed review, click here.

🏆Pro Tip: Test your tracks at the same volume they will be listened to.

Headphones don’t accurately reflect how your audio will sound when played through speakers. So while they might help you keep the peace with your neighbors or roommates, you need to test your sound through your monitor speakers. Listen to your track at the same volume it will be played at, before turning the volume down to check the intricacies and detail.

Congrats (🎉), now that you know all the necessary steps to set up your first home studio or make improvements to your current one — it’s time to record your next banger!

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