The Complete Recording Studio Equipment List

Building the perfect recording studio is a dream for many. You can always start off with a simple home studio including all the bare essentials and progress towards a perfect professional studio with all those fancy equipment along with a room designed to produce the best acoustics. For your convenience, we have split the complete recording studio equipment list into basic, intermediate and professional. The items that you buy at the basic level will still be perfectly useful and compatible when you reach the pro level and may only require some minor modifications or upgrade.

When starting your setup, know that there is no compulsion to invest thousands of dollars at once to buy the perfect computer, DAW or recording console. Most beginners may hardly have any idea about advanced features and you may hardly use them. Even if you are an intermediate, it is wise to make incremental investments and buy only those items that you will use repeatedly to enhance your music production.

Basic – Recording Studio Equipment List

  1. A Computer or a Laptop
  2. Digital Audio Workstation – DAW Software
  3. Audio Interface
  4. Microphones and Microphone Stands
  5. Pop Filter and Cables

A Computer or Laptop for Sound Recording

Music has moved to the digital world and a capable computer is foremost the first thing you will ever need in your recording studio. These days, you can actually compose an entire soundtrack and even add vocals without using any real sound instrument or even a microphone. The computer or laptop equipped with a DAW is capable of doing it all. Make sure to get a large screen monitor or a big screen laptop with the latest processor, ample amount of RAM with space to expand and 2TB or bigger hard drive to store all your music plugins.

Recommended Models

DAW Software

The DAW software is the next essential item for a beginner’s recording studio setup. A recommended option is to go for a trial or limited features version of a paid software as you may not learn much out of a free software such as Audacity. Most new composers can get the most out of a limited feature set found in a paid program and you can always choose to upgrade it to a $99 or $199 version available in some software programs. There are more expensive ones designed for professionals which are not compulsory unless you already have many years of experience in the sound industry.

Recommended Software

Audio Interface

Audio interfaces are available in various sizes, with lots of features and different price points. When buying an interface, answer some of the important questions such as the number of input, output ports required, the size you are looking forward to and the budget. An advantage when buying an audio interface is that there are no bad choices in here as a small interface will always be handy in the future. Always start off small and gradually invest in a big interface once you have understood your recording requirement.

Recommended Models

Studio Flat Response Headphones

After you have set everything including a powerful computer, an audio interface and microphones, there’s one important thing that is missing in this setup. It’s mandatory to listen to the music you have composed and the ideal way to do so is using studio monitors or flat response studio headphones. There are open back and closed back headphones available in the markets which reproduce sound in its originality without tweaking its bass, treble or mid which is what a studio needs to compose music that sounds great on any output device.

Recommended Models

Microphones and Microphone Stands

Microphones should obviously be at the top of the complete recording studio equipment list because they are the key to recording great sound and have been around for a long time. While there are technological upgrades in most other equipment, the basic condenser and dynamic microphones are still the most popular variant of them all. Each one of them is specifically designed to capture different instruments, high or low frequency and proper vocals. You can start off with a cardioid dynamic or condenser microphone while pairing it up with a compatible microphone stand.

Recommended Microphones

Pop Filters and Cables

A home studio is constrained by budget and when you have only one microphone to do it all, make sure to protect it with a pop filter. Using reliable cables will also ensure the sound output is of superior quality without any compromise. Pro Co is a company known for their high-quality cables. Both these accessories are very cheap and are must-haves in your studio setup.

Recommended Pop Filters

Recommended Cables

Intermediate – Recording Studio Equipment List

Everything specified in the basic should be included in this setup and you can also add,

  1. Sound Recording Desk or Workstation
  2. Bass Traps
  3. Acoustic Panels
  4. Reflections Filters
  5. Comfortable Studio Chair
  6. Studio Monitors

Sound Recording Desk or Workstation

Once you have made a considerable investment in some fancy audio equipment like a dedicated microphone and sound interface, you may probably feel cluttered for space. That’s when a cool workstation desk becomes an essential piece of accessory so that you can conveniently access all your sound equipment and also keep them safe with ample headroom. Just don’t spend hundreds of dollars on the perfect desk because you still have lots of useful items to purchase at an intermediate level.

Recommended Models

Bass Traps

Most home studio owners are worried about managing acoustics and setting up a perfect environment to enhance sound quality. Bass traps are exactly what you need because they because they brilliantly absorb low frequencies and can also be used to absorb any unwanted sounds in the frequency spectrum. If your studio is small, bass traps are a must have and as they are cheap, you should buy one to further progress towards your perfect home studio setup.

Recommended Models

Acoustic Panels

Acoustic Panels are widely used in a studio setup to reduce noise and they are great at absorbing both low-mid to high range frequencies. Studio setups done in a small room often leads to a problem where your sound waves will keep bouncing of the same parallel walls and acoustic panels are great at getting rid of them. There are different variants available ranging from Class A fire rated foams to those soft, colored panels for everyday use in a studio.

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Reflection Filters

The microphones used to record a singer’s voice and the instrument is very sensitive that it tends to pick up sounds reflected from a wall in the room. Reflection filters play a huge role in minimizing the reflected sound to ensure only the actual voice is captured and any reflection or reverbs are fully isolated to maintain the originality of the recording. Instead of having to buy multiple foams and sound pads for your studio, you can save cost by investing in reflection filters which focuses only on the microphone area.

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Comfortable Studio Chair

A great studio chair should have possibly made its way to the top of the list but being a beginner, you couldn’t afford it at first. As time progress and once you learn the nuances of recording, it’s time to slowly invest in both quality equipment and comfort. After all, you might spend extended hours in your home studio and a comfortable studio chair is essential. There are professional office chairs, gaming chairs and even studio chairs but it’s all a matter of branding. Look for a chair that generates less heat or a high rise model to learn your shoulder, head for long-lasting comfort.

Recommended Models

Studio Monitors

For the average consumer, they are commonly known as speakers. Studio Monitors differ in some ways as they are also known as studio reference speakers which focus on flat response. The equalizer spectrum allows sound engineers and music composers to ensure they are recording in a neutral environment to ensure great sound output in any speaker or headphone on the consumer end. Studio monitors are available for every budget and you can start off with a product that’s priced at couple hundred dollars before moving all the way to premium, professional models that cost a grand or more.

Recommended Models

Professional – The Complete Recording Studio Equipment List

Having finally arrived at the coveted professional level, it includes every equipment and accessory mentioned in basic and intermediate recording studio setup. It can also include,

  1. Studio Rack Mounts
  2. Virtual Instruments/ Premium Plugins
  3. MIDI Controller
  4. Audio Control Surface
  5. Monitor Management

Studio Rack Mounts

As you gradually develop and enter the professional zone, it becomes essential to record bands and multiple channels. A studio rack mount is usually the ultimate goal for an audio professional using which you can easily mix and match equipment to create great, new sounds. There are a couple of cases available out there but in order to use it fully, you need a bunch of consoles and other equipment of similar size so that they can be stacked inside.

Recommended Models

Virtual Instruments and Premium Plugins for DAW

Your DAW is complete only when you start investing in premium plugins for different sound effects as well as virtual instruments to further expand your portfolio. The advantage you gain here is that it is even possible to buy third-party plugins that work with major DAW programs such as Logic Pro X and Avid Pro Tools. There are specific plugins available for FL Studio, Reason or Cubase which you can buy directly through the software or from online retailers to explore your musical horizons.

Recommended Models

MIDI Controller

The world of digital music has evolved drastically to great levels where you can get authentic sounding instruments and can compose music on a professional level. However, there is no way one can get it done using a mouse and keyboard as they painfully affect the flow of any composition. MIDI Controllers are a must-have even at a beginner level but when you are constrained by budget and not fluent on the software side, it’s wise to have it once you have mastered the digital end of music composition. A small or a medium sized MIDI controller is capable of meeting most requirements as they work seamlessly with all kinds of instruments.

Recommended Models

Audio Control Surface

Analog buttons and a large analog board always feels good even though most recording sessions are conducted based on software programs. A professional sound engineer or music composer would any day pick a real audio control surface over a digital interface. It allows them to mix and compose at a faster speed while being able to make adjustments manually using real controls than fumbling with a mouse pointer. The thing is, you can easily avoid this if you want which is why it is being listed in the pro category only for those who like it and can afford it.

Recommended Models

Monitor Management

A professional sound studio will have a couple of pair of headphones and multiple monitors. An effective setup will have at least three different types of monitors including near field, far field and cubic monitors to see how the composition sounds in different output sources. When you have such a large setup, monitor management becomes essential so that you can easily route the audio track to a particular monitor, switch the sub-woofer on or off and make sure everything is under your control to test a composition.

Recommended Models

Conclusion

Music production is an ever-evolving world and the complete recording studio equipment list should come in handy whenever you want to make a purchase. Instead of trying to buy them all at once, always start off with the basics when setting up your own home studio. Many of these components can enhance the work but ultimately it is up to the dedication and talent of the individual to make great songs which can still be done with the bare essentials.

When choosing sound production equipment, always go with reputed brands like Mackie, Korg, Rode, Akai, Audio Technica, PreSonus and many others who are known for offering the best value for money. They usually offer products at every level ranging from affordable products below $100 all the way up to a thousand grand or more. The quality of such equipment are often reliable and for smaller items such as stands or reflection monitors, pick ones based on positive customer reviews found on online retailer pages. Start building your home studio and keep pursuing towards perfection.

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