Record a song in a professional studio, it’s the must. But these days, it is not absolutely necessary as long as there is enough quality material easily available for everybody. Without spending all your savings, of course. If you are already equipped with a good computer and a sequencer, here is what you still have to purchase to record instrumentals like a boss.
1. The monitoring speakers
To begin with, it’s necessary to know that there are three types of speakers. The first two, known as Hi-Fi and Sono, are the most widespread because they are the one we use daily, during parties or in the stores. Their main objective is to amplify the sound and the listening comfort. The ones we are interested in are the monitoring speakers which allow to obtain a neutral and accurate sound. The Hi-Fi and Sono speakers amplify some instruments, which can distort our perception: for example, we can hear the bass louder than it really is. That’s why the monitoring speakers are preferable, given that they offer an unamplified sound, thus they’re more representative of reality.
What should I buy ? Be careful, it is the most expensive thing in the creation of your home studio, and the indicated price on the websites are for a single speaker only. On my side, I prefer to direct you towards the KRK ROKIT RP5 (299 $ both) or the YAMAHA HS5 (399 $ both), that offer a good price-quality ratio.
2. The MIDI keyboard
You will find it on each of my YouTube videos, the midi keyboard is an integral part of music production (and I’ve already taught you how to use my model in particular). As a reminder, this famous keyboard doesn’t produce any sound and it is only used to send MIDI data to your sequencer, which will transform this data in sounds.
What should I buy ? Solidity, manageability, a nice touch and at least 2 octaves (that’s to say 25 keys): here are the main criteria for a master keyboard to be efficient. Some can have additional options, such as pads, but they often are functionalities that we can do without. We keep in mind that we are trying to create an affordable and easy to use home studio. Even though I advise you my own master keyboard, namely the AKAI MPK MINI (99 $), others cheaper are also doing the job such as the AKAI LPK25 (52 $) or the MINI LAB (97 $).
3. The audio interface
The audio interface corresponds to an external material tool which main goal is to improve your sound quality. It mainly manages the audio inputs and outputs of your equipment, so it is thanks to it that other instruments such as the guitar can be recorded. On the technical level, it is generally connected via a USB flash drive.
What should I buy ? According to my experience, the criteria you should prioritize is the latency period. To sum up, we dont want a gap between the moment we tap on our keyboard and the moment the sound comes out. By reflex, I advise you the FOCUSRITE SCARLETT2 2I2 (109 $) which, being easy to use, is the most sailed in the world. It has two Jack inputs (you can connect an instrument and a mic for instance) as well as two outputs used for the speakers.
4. The microphone
Yes, I know very well: how a pickup could be useful for a beatmaker ? For three simple reasons: first, the beatmaker can use such tool to record sound effects that can be added to the instrumental after, like finger snaps or simply everyday noises. Last but not least, a microphone can allow you to record an acoustic instrument than can’t be connected to a sound card, like it is often the case with wind instruments such as flutes or harmonica. Finally, a pickup can allow you to record your voice in the manner of Timbaland and to do some nice little effects like on the title “Cry Me A River”.
What should I buy ? In the musical jargon, the microphone for the home studios are designed as condenser microphones and need to possess various characteristics not to be overlooked: a faithful reproduction of the sound, a high sensibility and little wind (by wind, I mean background noise picked up by the microphone when it is on). Unless you plan to start singing, it is useless to invest in a too professional pickup. That’s why I’d rather orient you towards the EAGLETONE SENSE 200 (107 $) and the CM25 Focusrite (which is included in a pack).
5. The studio headphones
For the insomniacs who love to compose at night but are afraid to disturb the neighbours, invest in studio headphones is a must. And I’ll stop you right there, your Beats by Dre headphones won’t be useful on this one ! These last ones increase the low frequencies, which is nice to listen to but distort the instrumental. It is then necessary to privilege studio headphones, which, like the monitoring speakers mentioned above, conserve a neutral tone, closer to reality.
What should I buy ? Here, no doubt for me, I advise you my favourite, namely the DT770PRO 250 (129$). Precise and convenient, they are the most used by beatmakers and the ones I’m using to do my covers on YouTube because it allows to hear every single details of the instrumentals.
6. The packs
A bit like the old days when we bought a computer with a mouse and a keyboard included, it is absolutely possible to buy packs to create your home studio. This trick will mostly concern the beginners who don’t have any material but are motivated to get started. Of course, the packs are often more financially advantageous, and the material is of good quality. It is a good way to begin with beatmaking !
What should I buy ? On this one, I advise you to search on the Web and see if some specialised websites propose ephemeral offers that can be more advantageous. Otherwise, there’s always the Focusrite Scarlett 212 v2 Studio pack, that includes a microphone, studio headphones and a sound card for the modest sum of money of 219 $. All you have to do is find the master keyboard and the monitoring speakers to be fully equipped!
All right, here we go! If you have followed the different steps faithfully (and hurt your bank account at the same time), you have what you need to install a home studio of good quality. For less than 900 $, it is possible to have all the necessary material to create frankly effective beats, almost professional.