How To Set Up A Home Recording Studio In Any Space (Even A Walk-In Closet)

Basements. Bedrooms. Garages. Sheds. All places that musicians use as home recording studios.

And that’s how it should be.

Some experts may tell you to turn your bedroom into a studio by soundproofing the walls, replacing the carpet with hardwood floors, lay some rugs down, and buy super expensive sound treatment things.

Just ignore them. This can be way simpler than that.

Continue reading

Reviewing My Own Recording Equipment

I plan to review a bunch of recording equipment on this blog in hopes that I can help you in your buying decisions.

Recording equipment

And I thought it would make sense to start with the stuff I own and use every day.

So here goes — my reviews of each piece of equipment/software I use to record.

Table of contents:

Audio-Technica AT2035 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Audio-Technica AT2035

Buy on Amazon

I bought this mic years ago at the recommendation of an engineer friend in Nashville. At the time, it was a great buy.

For just $150, it’s the perfect mic for beginner producers, and Audio-Technica is a reliable name.

It has a switchable 80 Hz high-pass filter, which will cut out lower frequencies (like rumbling noises or unwanted bass sounds). And the -10 dB pad switch reduces the input level by 10dB, which is good for recording anything loud (like a screaming vocalist or percussion).

I use this guy on just about everything — vocals, acoustic guitar, piano — and he picks up nice sound. Of course, if you spend more money, you’ll probably get a higher quality mic.

But the AT2035 is a great place to start for DIY musicians on a tighter budget.

ElectroVoice N/D 257 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

ElectroVoice N/D 257 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

Not on Amazon, but more details here

I took this mic off of a karaoke machine at Goodwill and acted like they were selling it on its own. The cashier asked someone how much it was — I think I ended up paying maybe a few bucks.

And because I got it at Goodwill, I always treated it like a no-good backup mic. I never gave it a shot. It just sat in a box somewhere.

But recently, I looked it up to see what kind of reviews it had. And boy was I happy with what I found. Engineers on the forum website GearSlutz.com (trashy name, classy people) praised it.

One person said the N/D 257 was better than the SM58, which is the standard for dynamic, hand-held mics.

“I did a A/B comparison with the SM58 and the EV 257,” this person wrote. “I was amazed on how much better the 257 sounded. The 58 was all midrange, while the 257 gave a much better representation of my voice.”

I don’t have an SM58 to compare my 257 to, but I’ll say this — I’m surprised by how good the 257 sounds. It’s clear and crisp and my acoustic guitar sounds beautiful through it. 

They’re hard to find, but if you just Google it, you can find a 257A or 257B.

Realistic Radio Shack 33-1070c Omnidirectional Microphone

RadioShack 33-1070C Omnidirectional Dynamic Microphone

Not on Amazon, but more details here

Oh, did I say I took one mic off of that karaoke machine? I meant to say I bought two mics that day at Goodwill. This was the other one. I’m not sure I spent more than $10 on that trip.

Shure made the Realistic 33-1070c by request of Radio Shack. Although Shure says there’s no direct equal in the official Shure family, they say the Shure VP64A is the closest model to the 33-1070c.

The only context I have for this mic is we once used it to mic a cajón for the recording/filming of my song “Work Hard.” And it actually sounded decent.

So if you’re in the market for a very cheap omnidirectional mic that sounds decent on percussion instruments, the 1070c could be a good option.

Akai Professional LPK25 (25-Key MIDI Controller)

Buy on Amazon

After running into issues with my piano-tuning software, I decided to use my piano plugin, Addictive Keys, which lets me record real piano sounds with a keyboard. So I bought an Akai Professional LPK25 25-key MIDI controller for about $80.

And I love it.

The keys are smaller than regular keys, but still a good size for my fingers (which some have called “fat”). And you get two octaves at once with the option of shifting the octaves up and down the piano.

There is a sustain button that works like a sustain pedal, but it has taken practice working it with my pinky so I can play chords and the bass note(s).

This controller plugs into my computer via USB, and one thing I noticed is that the playback method you use affects the latency. So if I plug headphones right into my laptop, there’s a good amount of latency, which makes it nearly impossible to use the controller. But when I plug my headphones into my audio interface and use that for playback, there’s zero latency.

It’s a great little MIDI controller for an affordable price (and super fun).

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Buy on Amazon

I’ve recorded almost all of my music through this little guy. I haven’t had any problems. He’s been reliable since day one.

It has two XLR/quarter-inch inputs, gain knobs for both, and a monitor knob for live monitoring. The sample rates are good too (192kHz / 24 bit). Plus, you’ve got two quarter-inch outputs in the back for a right and left speaker.

And here’s the awesome part — it’s only $150. I got this one at someone’s recommendation, and it was a great decision.

One potential downside is that it has only two inputs, unlike many interfaces that have 10 or more. This means if you need to record, say, drums, you won’t get as professional of a sound with two mics as opposed to 10.

But other than that one limitation, you’ve got nothing to worry about using this interface. 

Acer Aspire Microsoft Laptop

Laptop

Buy on Amazon

Again, this laptop came at a friend’s recommendation, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s affordable yet efficient. Maybe I’m overly cautious or just paranoid, but the only thing I use it for is recording because I don’t want to clog up the hard drive.

With a 15.6-inch screen and 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of memory, I’m all set to record away (I have the Core i7-7500U, not the Core i5-7200U).

Definitely a good buy at a reasonable price.

Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphones

Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Headphones

Buy on Amazon

Another item some recommended to me. And again, a smart recommendation.

Sennheiser is a reliable and trusted name and for good reason. I’ve had these for roughly eight years and every year I appreciate them more. They deliver beautiful, balanced sound. Perfect for editing and mixing.

At just $100, these are a solid pair of headphones to start (and continue) using.

Harmon/Kardon HK395 Dell 7E840 Speakers

Harmon Kardon HK395 Dell 7E840

Buy on Amazon

Okay, so I know these are not the best speakers on the market, but they were free. My brother picked them up at a garage sale and gave them to me. Like, you could grab these on Amazon for like $30.

But here’s the thing, when you mix, you should listen to the mixes on as many types of listening devices as possible. Your nice headphones, your average monitors, your earbuds, in your car. Everywhere.

Besides, I’ve heard people say if you can mix a song so that it sounds good on crappy speakers, then you’re golden.

So if you’re on a tight budget and want some basic speakers, these are a decent option.

Addictive Drums 2 Drum Plugin

Addictive Drums 2

Buy on Amazon

I started using this drum plugin in 2017 for my new album, and I’m not sure I want to go back to recording my own drums (unless the arrangement screams for it).

I can drag and drop each and every single hit of the drum set, all pre-recorded by a professional drummer in a professional studio with professional engineers.

You can either get the whole package here, or you can visit XLN Audio’s website to get just a few drum kits for cheaper.

If you professional sounding drums on your next album, I highly recommend Addictive Drums 2.

Reaper (DAW)

Reaper

I’m addicted to Reaper. I don’t need the expensive Pro Tools or the fancy Logic Pro.

Reaper is not only affordable (free download, then $60 for personal use), it’s simple and does pretty much everything the big guys can do. At least, it does everything you really need it to do.

You can get your free download here, try it out, and just see what you think.

Conclusion

Hope this review helps! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email at MusicianWithADayJobBlog@gmail.com.

I’ll be updating this post as I get new equipment and use new types of software. I’ve listed the link to this post down below in the footer under “Musician Resources.”

3 Of The Best (And Cheapest) Microphones For Home Recording

I’m a cheap guy. I hate spending money, but I also want quality.

So it’s tough when it comes to getting the right microphones for my home recording studio.

My microphones (via Instagram)

Whether you’re a novice engineer or a more accomplished producer, these mics can work for you.

So here are three microphones I’ve recorded with, all reasonably priced.

Audio-Technica AT2035 — $150

Audio recording

Buy on Amazon

The Audio-Technica AT2035 was my first mic. I’ve used this to record all of my music — it’s been a solid friend for me.

This mic records out of just the one side of itself (aka cardioid or uni-directional). It’s a large diaphragm condenser mic, which means it will make your instrument sound bigger, more engaging, and really just more beautiful and professional.

This mic is good for vocals or acoustic guitar (as I can attest to).

Bluebird — $300

Audio recording

Buy on Amazon

The Bluebird is also a large diaphragm cardioid mic, but this one gets a way better sound than the AT2035. It picks up a clear and defined sound that’s still super warm. This one is also great for vocals and guitar.

I have to admit, I don’t actually own this one — I borrow my friend’s. But $300 is a great price for what you get.

Shure SM58 — $100

audio recording

Buy on Amazon

The SM58 is like the loyal friend who’s always there for you. People use this mic for live performances, but it’s also good in the studio.

You can pretty much use it on any instrument — guitar, vocals, drums. It’s all about testing it out to see what it sounds good recording in the room you’re in. For just a $100, it’s a great investment (that I should really make).

Have you used any of these mics? What do you think of them? Let me down in the comments…

Free Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) For Beginners

If you’re like me, you want all the good things for free, or just super cheap. And that’s true when it comes to digital audio workstations (DAW).

DAWs like ProTools and Logic Pro are cool, but my bank account is already breaking a sweat trying to keep things together.

So with that in mind, here are my favorite free DAWs for making music.

Reaper

Reaper

This is the one that holds my audio engineering heart.

It’s easy to use and has built-in presets and effects for mixing. It’s similar to ProTools, but fit for paupers like me. The cross-fade is brilliant, and it makes precise editing simple.

Plus, it works with my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface.

The cost is based on the honor system; it’s a free download and the price tag depends on whether you’ll use it for personal or commercial purposes. I got the personal use license for $60.

via www.softpedia.com

GarageBand

via musicandcomputerscience.wordpress.com

I used GarageBand for my early music, namely Iron Sharpens Iron and Thank God They’re Wrong. It’s perfect for beginners because of its simplicity, Apple’s forte.

If you’re a Mac Head, it’s your best option; it comes pre-loaded on every Apple computer and has plenty of pre-recorded instruments that are easily customizable.

One downside is that crossfade didn’t exist when I used it, and it still seems to be user-unfriendly, from what I’ve read online.

 


RELATED: How To Mix Music With These 4 Free Audio Plugins


Audacity

Audacity

If we go way back to 2005-06, that’s when I was using Audacity to record my very first songs. Songs no one but my mom has heard.

My point is, it’s the perfect DAW for someone just starting out. It’s simple and free.

It may not have as many of the bells and whistles as Reaper or GarageBand, but it’s a solid place to start.

Other Free DAWs To Keep An Eye On

Soundtrap is an online recording program I just came across. I haven’t had much time to play with it, but it seems promising.

A con: it seems to allow one-track recording, but not two tracks at a time, which is a major downside if so.

via www.chromegeek.com

Soundation is another online recording program that I’ve tried using. It, too, doesn’t seem to allow multi-track recording, so this one may be good if you’re looking to keep it simple.

via oddnumbersonly.wordpress.com

And that’s my list. Give ’em a try and let me know what you think in the comments…


Stay motivated, manage your time, and move toward your picture of success — grab the One-Thing-A-Day chart for FREE…