Home Studio Essentials: Everything You Need For a Pro Level Setup At Home – Score Music Tech
Since the start of the pandemic, and the lockdown and isolation that accompanied it, people have been getting into music production more than ever. If you’re someone who wants to get into making music right away but is under a budget, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Without further ado, let’s get started with the essentials for a killer home studio:
Headphones are a great alternative to reference monitors for mixing. Moreover, you need them for tracking your vocals as well. Here are our recommendations for quality headphones under a budget.
1) Sennheiser HD 280 Pro (6699 rupees on Amazon)
● Industry Standard – tried and tested by professionals
● Flat sound signature ensures an honest mix
● Extremely sturdy build – will last you a long time
● Known to be generally very comfortable for most users.
2) ATH M40X (8459 rupees on Amazon)
● The younger, lesser known brother of the fan favourite ATH M50X
● Perfect pair for casual listening apart from mixing
● Bass heavy, but can capture details extremely well
● Sturdy build
● Known to be generally very comfortable
● Detachable cable for added convenience; perfect for you if you’re bad with wires and constantly break your headphones.
3) Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro (14,000 rupees on amazon)
● Can give a strong competition to headphones way beyond their price range.
● With a neutral sound signature, their accuracy remains unparalleled.
● Great upgrade over the M40Xs, if you’re willing to spend a little bit more.
● Dome-like ear cup shape gives them a much wider soundstage than the rest.
● Perform very well in the build category with their hard plastic form factor.
● Extremely comfortable; most people will be able to use this in their home studio for hours on end.
Your laptop doesn’t have a good enough sound card to record and process high-quality recording. So, an audio interface is basically a sound card that can record high-quality audio files. You’ll also need an audio interface to power up your condenser microphone.
1) M-Audio M-Track Solo (4699 Rupees on Amazon)
● Perfect for a starter and if you do not want to get into intense and heavy production right away
● Sample Rate – 24-bit/48Khz, more than enough for a beginner.
● It has one combo XLR(Mic)/Line input and one Instrument input, combined with two line outputs for connecting reference monitors/speakers.
● Easy to set-up
● Very portable
● Also comes with bundled software like ProTools First, which is a DAW, and other interesting programs like MPC Beats and guitar amp plugins.
2) Steinberg UR-12 (8610 Rupees on Amazon)
● If you feel like you need more than the standard 24-bit/48Khz that the M-Track offers, the Steinberg UR-12 is something you should definitely consider.
● Sample Rate – 24bit/192Khz, the highest quality out there.
● Just like the M-Track Solo, it has one Dual XLR/Line input and an instrument input, combined with two line outputs for speakers.
● Bundled with it comes Cubase LE, which is the starter version of Steinberg’s very own DAW.
● If your aim is serious production, this is the one to start from.
3) Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (16149 Rupees on Amazon)
● It has two XLR/instrument inputs, this means that now you can power two mics using the same audio interface.
● Useful if you are recording/performing live, and might need one mic input for your vocals and another for your instruments (e.g. acoustic guitar).
● Comes with many softwares, including Ableton Lite, one of the most popular DAWs out there, and Avid ProTools First Focusrite Creative Pack, which consists of hundreds of sounds for your music production.
● Sample Rate – 24 bit/192 KHz
This one’s a necessity if you’re going to be using vocals while producing music. Condenser microphones are better than other forms of microphones (e.g. Ribbon, Dynamic, etc.) at capturing detail. They need extra power to operate, and have to be paired with an audio interface.
1) AKG P120 (6233 Rupees on Amazon)
● All-purpose mic – great for both vocals and spoken word
● Can always trust AKG and its reputation for building the best audio equipment at affordable prices.
● Has a solid metal build, which will make sure that it lasts long.
2) Audio Technica AT2020 (9256 Rupees on Amazon)
● Entry-level condenser microphone of Audio-Technica, a reputed Japanese audio company.
● If you’re willing to spend a little bit more than the P120, then this is the choice for you.
● Great clarity and honest sound reproduction
● Extremely sturdy
3) Audio Technica AT2035 (13,999 on Amazon)
● There is absolutely no shame in admitting that Audio Technica dominates the budget mic category.
● The AT 2035 offers great warmth and clarity for its price.
● Some of the best build quality in the price segment
● Noticeable bump in quality over the AT2020, if you’re willing to spend a bit more.
MIDI Keyboards are basically devices that send signals to your DAW to play certain notes. It is much more convenient to operate instruments through a MIDI Keyboard instead of using your computer’s keypad, which makes investing in MIDI keyboards a great choice.
1) M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3 (5599 Rupees on Amazon)
● For you if you aren’t satisfied with the standard 25-key MIDI layout
● Do not contain drum pads – focus on sheer playability.
● The Mini 32 comes bundled with Pro Tools First, a DAW and AIR Music Tech Xpand!2 multitimbral all-in-one workstation.
2) Akai MPK Mini MK3 (9386 Rupees on Amazon)
● 25 keys
● Amazon Bestseller
● Offers unparalleled features for its price
● Offers keys with a great feel and response.
● Eight big drum pads that are satisfying to the touch and offer a great velocity response
● Compact size – can easily carry it around with you
● Comes bundled with various synths and instrument packs to get you started
3) Arturia Minilab MKII (10990 Rupees on Amazon)
● Arturia is known for manufacturing the best keys.
● Great feeling keys with accurate pressure response
● If you care the most about the playing experience, then the Minilab MKII is your choice.
● The keyboard comes with Ableton Live Lite and Analog Lab Lite, which consists of some of the best vintage synth packs from the award-winning Arturia V collection.
● Minilab MKII consists of 8 drum pads. However, they’re smaller than the Mini MK3.
● Slightly larger than the Akai MPK Mini MK3 and less travel friendly
Reference Monitors are stereo speakers that are used to mix and review your music. They are regarded as a better option for mixing than headphones because they’re a better judge of how your mix is going to sound in cars, clubs, home theater systems, etc.
1) Mackie CR3-X (3 inch speakers) (8999 Rupees on Amazon)
● Great for a very low budget
● Overall, these sound pretty decent, with a very neutral sound, however, slightly muddy across all frequencies.
● The bass can be boomy instead of crisp and punchy sometimes.
● Crisp enough with their output and will provide you with a seamless mixing experience.
● Very small form factor
● Decent plastic build that will last you a long time, if handled properly.
2) PreSonus Eris 3.5 (3.5 inch speakers) (11990 Rupees on Amazon)
● PreSonus Eris 3.5s deliver accuracy and clarity like none other in the price range.
● The bass, mids and highs are equally emphasized, and sound extremely clear.
● Definitely separate themselves from the CR3-Xs with their sound.
● It is recommended that you spend a bit more to get your hands on this amazing pair of speakers.
● Sheer quality packed into a compact and sturdy form factor, so space and durability issues should not be a concern for you.
3) Alesis Elevate 5 MKII (5 inch speakers) (12543 Rupees on Amazon)
● The Elevate 5 MKIIs are the largest speakers in this list
● Will occupy a decent amount of space in your home studio
● Sound full, with noticeable, punchy bass that never overpowers the mids and the highs.
● The middle and higher frequencies are given the attention they deserve, which makes them great for reference and mixing purposes.
● Great for casual listening as well.
● Solid hard plastic form factor that will definitely last you a long time.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
A Digital Audio Workstation is basically a software where you can record, edit, and produce audio files. You’ll need a DAW, and learn how to operate it if you’re producing music. Here are some well-known DAWs with relatively simple interfaces for beginners.
1) Reaper (4400 Rupees)
● Unlike the other DAWs in the list, this one offers full functionality right out of the gate for just $60, which is a fraction of the price you pay to unlock all features in other DAWs.
● One of the most intuitive and smooth DAWs out there in the market.
● Not as popular as FL Studio and Ableton, but has carved a niche for itself.
2) FL Studio – Fruity Edition (7350 Rupees)
● This is the base price for Image-Line’s industry leading Digital Audio Workstation.
● FL Studio is known for its simple and convenient User Interface.
● This entry-level edition, however, has limited functionality.
● This edition does not allow you to record or use audio clips in your production process.
● Limited to electronic music and beat production.
3) Ableton Live Intro (7350 Rupees)
● This is the starter price of the renowned DAW Ableton Live.
● Unlike FL Studio – Fruity Edition, Ableton Live Intro allows you to record and edit audio clips.
● Limits your MIDI and audio tracks to 16 per project, which is enough for beginners.
● Access to just 4 instruments and 21 audio effects.
Other Accessories for your home studio
1) XLR Cable – Necessary for connecting your microphone to your audio interface
2) USB A to B Cables – For connecting your midi controller and audio interface to your PC
3) Boom microphone Stand – A boom stand makes it easier to place a mic around an object such as a guitar or bass, a piano, a drum kit, or another instrument.