Music Industry

How to Build a Home Recording Studio from Scratch

10 May 2024 by Gaetano
how to build a home recording studio

Building a home recording studio used to be expensive and complicated, costing thousands of dollars and requiring extensive technical knowledge. But thanks to technological advancements, making music at home is now easier than ever before.

However, with so many equipment options to choose from, it can be overwhelming. Some musicians get caught up in an endless cycle of buying and upgrading gear, while others prioritize future-proofing their setup. Regardless of your approach, understanding what equipment is actually essential is crucial for building an effective home studio.

And don’t worry, you don’t need a celebrity-worthy setup to get started. This guide will equip you with the knowledge needed to build your perfect home recording studio, including choosing the equipment, setting up your space, and estimating potential costs.

How much does it cost to build a professional home recording studio?

If you want a “professional” setup, you can expect to spend around $30,000 for a well-equipped home studio with amazing soundproofing and top quality recording gear. But let’s be real, not everyone has $30k to spend on a home recording studio.

It’s also possible to achieve great results for less by focusing on essential equipment and using software for some tasks. For example, a basic budget-friendly home studio setup can be set up for as little as $500 with equipment you can buy on Amazon.

The key factors affecting the cost of your home recording studio are:

  • Soundproofing: This is crucial for professional recordings and can be expensive depending on the size and construction of your space.
  • Equipment: The cost of microphones, audio interfaces, mixing consoles, monitors, and instruments (if applicable) can add up quickly. Pro-level equipment comes with a pro-level price tag.
  • Space: A dedicated room is ideal, but with proper treatment, you can create a professional setup in a smaller space.

Beyond the cost of building a home recording studio, there are significant benefits to consider:

  • Creative freedom: A home recording studio lets you create a setup that fits you, your creative needs, and your process. You can experiment, record late nights, and work on your own schedule without limitations.
  • Cost-effective: You’ll save money over time by avoiding paying per hour to rent a professional studio. In fact, the average NYC recording studio charges anywhere from $100 to a few hundred per hour. These savings can add up quickly, especially if you’re recording frequently.

What recording equipment do I need for a home recording studio?

When planning your professional home recording studio, consider your goals for the space. Do you want a small DIY setup suitable for recording commercial gigs and smaller demos? Or do you dream of becoming a professional songwriter or having an area large enough to accommodate your band?

Knowing the overall purpose and how you plan to use the space will help you set your budget and prioritize everything you need for your home music studio.

Most studio equipment is typically available at various prices to fit different budgets and needs. Also, consider buying some second-hand pieces if needed.

Here are the main recording equipment pieces you’ll need to create a home recording studio.


Most modern computers or laptops will work for home recording, but a faster processor, more RAM, and a larger hard drive will give you more flexibility, especially if you plan on working with a lot of tracks or using processor-intensive virtual instruments.

Since your computer will be the hub of your studio — allowing you to mix, record, edit, and produce, it’s important to select the type of computer that best fits your needs.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what computer would be sufficient for your home recording studio:

  • CPU: A multi-core processor, at least Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 or higher, is recommended for handling the demands of recording and editing audio.
  • RAM: Your budget plays a bigger role here. 16GB of RAM is a good starting point. This will allow you to run most DAWs and virtual instruments without too much trouble.
  • SSD: SSD is highly recommended for your operating system and DAW software. It will significantly improve boot times, program loading times, and overall responsiveness.
  • HDD: Aim for at least 500GG because you will need a lot of space for storing your audio samples, project files, and completed recordings. 1TB or more would be ideal for larger projects and sample libraries.

PC or Mac?

Both PC and Mac can work well for home recording studios. It often comes down to personal preference and what software you plan to use. Keep in mind that some DAWs, like Logic Pro X, are only available for Macs.

Overall, Macs are a more popular choice because they offer solid, out-of-the-box software and hardware optimized for audio and creative work. For example, Macs come with Garageband, an entry-level digital audio workstation (DAW) saving you money and time on setup.

However, Macs tend to be more expensive than PCs, requiring those with tighter budgets to compromise on other purchases. Macs also aren’t as easy to upgrade as PCs.

The biggest advantage of choosing a PC over a Mac is the ability to customize (or build) your machine to suit your unique needs. However, you may need to spend more time getting programs to work with your PC. While most programs you’ll need will work with either a PC or a Mac, there can be compatibility issues to address. 

DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation. It’s the central recording software program you’ll use in your home recording studio for all things audio production. DAWs are essentially digital versions of traditional recording studios, offering a comprehensive set of tools for recording, editing, and mixing audio, as well as sequencing and even mastering.

Here are some of the most popular DAWs to consider for your home recording studio:

Pro Tools

Pro Tools is a widely used DAW, especially for those focusing on recording and mixing. 

This program can record up to 64 tracks simultaneously. It’s great for recording live instruments from different sources. It also provides precise and easy-to-use editing functions and includes track playlisting and quality plugins.

However, Pro Tools requires an iLok key to operate and only runs AAX plugins. Some users also find it less intuitive or user-friendly than other DAWs

Logic Pro

Logic Pro is an all-purpose DAW that’s intuitive to use, especially for those familiar with GarageBand.
It’s a complete collection of creative tools that can help with songwriting, beat-making, editing, and mixing. It provides a large collection of instruments, effects, loops, and samples. It typically works with any audio interface.

There’s only one version available, so you don’t have to compare features and prices. However, the downside is that it’s only available on Macs.

Ableton Live

Ableton Live is a user-friendly, comprehensive DAW that’s great for live performances. It’s known for its flexibility and fast workflow. The layout also makes it easy to get a full view of your music.

Ableton Live works with both Macs and PCs and has three different versions to choose from — Intro, Standard, and Suite. And it comes with various stock plugins

However, it doesn’t allow you to assemble comp tracks from numerous takes and lacks the ability to fix the pitch.


Cubase is a top-rated DAW, especially for MIDI composition. It’s known for its MIDI sequencing, arranging ability, and precision editing and processing. 

It has a customizable workflow and allows users to create new projects from a variety of pre-organized tracks. Composers will enjoy how the keyboard allows for seamless transitions between tracks and sessions.

Unlike some DAWs, you can edit multiple MIDI parts at the same time. Its advanced export features are handy for large or complex projects. And it works on both Mac and PC.

While Cubase offers various high-quality features, it does come with a steep learning curve, which can be challenging for beginners. It also uses a dongle system, which some users find frustrating.


Garageband is a free, user-friendly DAW that comes with your Mac or other Apple device, making it a very portable program.
It comes with various free sample instrument downloads and has built-in effects like reverb and compressor. It’s also a VST Host, allowing you to use sample libraries. 

However, it does have some limitations. For instance, it doesn’t have a mixer control screen, no track grouping, and some limitations on editing MIDI tracks.

Audio interface

An audio interface acts as an external sound card for your computer, allowing you to connect microphones, instruments, and other audio devices. It also converts analog audio signals into digital signals that your computer can understand.

When choosing an audio interface, consider your overall goals and needs. There are many options available at different price ranges, from beginner-friendly models to feature-rich interfaces for professional studios.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • How many microphones and instruments do you plan on recording simultaneously? Basic interfaces may offer just one or two channels (inputs) for microphones, while more advanced models can handle multiple channels for recording a full band or complex projects.
  • If you plan on using microphones, especially condenser microphones, consider the quality of the built-in preamps in the audio interface. Preamps amplify the weak signal from microphones before conversion, and higher-quality preamps can significantly improve the sound of your recordings. Presonus and Focusrite are both well-regarded manufacturers that offer interfaces with good-quality preamps at various price ranges. Their Scarlett line, for example, is a popular choice for beginners due to its affordability and decent preamps.
  • Some interfaces offer additional features like MIDI input/output for connecting keyboards or drum machines, headphone outputs with dedicated volume controls, and built-in effects processors. Consider which features are important for your workflow.

MIDI controller

While not necessary for basic recording, a MIDI controller is beneficial because it acts like a bridge between you and your DAW software. It allows you to play virtual instruments using a keyboard, drum pad, or other controller, and depending on the type, MIDI controllers can make playing more natural. For example, a keyboard controller with weighted keys feels more like a real piano, and drum pads allow for more expressive drumming compared to using a computer mouse.

Some MIDI controllers also have features like sequencers and arpeggiators that can help you make music by programming note sequences and experimenting with rhythms and melodies.

Overall, a MIDI controller is a great addition to your home recording studio if you want to play a wider variety of instruments without needing to buy them all physically, have a more natural and expressive playing experience or simply explore creative options for composing music.

Studio headphones

You’ll need a good pair of headphones for monitoring your recordings while you’re tracking and mixing. When choosing your studio headphones, consider whether to buy closed-back or open-back headphones

Closed-back headphones prevent sound from getting out, compared to open-back headphones. They also reduce background noise, allowing you more sound isolation.

Open-back headphones allow you to hear more of what’s going on around you while you’re listening. Since sound ‘leaks’ with open-back headphones, they can provide a better soundstage (ability to accurately project stereo depth and width) than closed-back headphones. They can also be more comfortable to wear for longer periods.


You’ll need at least one microphone to record vocals or acoustic instruments. There are two main types of microphones: condenser mics and dynamic microphones. Condenser mics are more sensitive and better for capturing detail, but they also pick up more background noise. Dynamic mics are less sensitive and are better for loud sources like drums or electric guitars.

Keep in mind that condenser microphones are often delicate and less durable than other types of microphones. They require an external power supply and may cause more self-noise than other types of microphones. 

Microphone stand

A microphone stand is a crucial piece of equipment for any home recording studio, especially if you plan on using microphones for vocals, acoustic instruments, or any sound source that requires positioning flexibility.

Microphone stands come in various types and sizes to accommodate different needs. Boom stands offer adjustable arms for precise microphone placement, while straight stands are simpler and more compact. You can also find mic stands with telescoping height adjustments and folding capabilities for easy storage and portability.

Some microphone stands also come with shock mounts, which are elastic suspensions that isolate the microphone from vibrations. This helps to minimize unwanted noise caused by bumps or movements in the floor or stand itself, resulting in cleaner recordings.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a microphone stand for your home recording studio:

  • Make sure the stand can support the weight of your microphone and any additional accessories like a pop filter.
  • Ensure the microphone stand‘s clip is compatible with the type of microphone clip or adapter your microphone requires.
  • Choose a boom stand for flexible positioning or a straight stand for a simpler and more affordable option.

Pop filter

A pop filter might seem like a small accessory, but it can make a big difference in the quality of your recordings, especially for vocals. A pop filter helps block plosives (harsh consonant sounds like “p,” “b,” and “t” that produce sudden bursts of air). When spoken or sung close to the microphone, these plosives can overload the microphone and cause unwanted pops or clicks in your recordings. A pop filter acts as a barrier, diffusing the air blasts and significantly reducing plosives.

By “taming” plosives, a pop filter helps ensure your vocals sound clear, smooth, and professional. This is crucial for achieving a polished recording, especially for singing or spoken word. Some pop filters have multiple layers of mesh or nylon screen for even greater plosive reduction. These can be particularly beneficial for singers who tend to project heavily or speak closely into the microphone.

Pop filters typically attach to microphone stands using a flexible gooseneck arm or a sturdy clamp. This allows you to position the filter close to the microphone without obstructing the sound source. They are made of transparent materials to minimize any visual obstruction while recording.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a pop filter for your home recording studio:

  • Choose a pop filter that’s large enough to effectively shield your microphone from plosives.
  • Nylon mesh is a common and effective material for pop filters. Multiple layers can offer additional protection.
  • A flexible gooseneck allows for precise positioning of the pop filter in relation to the microphone.

XLR cables

XLR cables are more expensive than most standard cables, but they provide a balanced signal. As a result, you’ll have less noise and electrical interference when carrying an analog signal, making them worth considering for your home recording studio.

You’ll especially want to consider using XLR cables if your audio signal needs to travel a long distance due to your setup or using multiple mics.

While budget-friendly options exist, consider investing in good-quality XLR cables with quality connectors and thick gauge wire for optimal sound quality and durability.

Building a home recording studio in 10 steps

The following 10 steps will guide you through the essential aspects of building your studio, from picking the right desk and chair to DIY room treatment, and setting up your gear.

Step 1: Pick the right chair and desk

Your chair and desk are the foundation of your recording space.

Recording and editing can involve long hours sitting down. An uncomfortable chair can lead to back pain, fatigue, and ultimately, hinder your creativity. Invest in a chair with good ergonomic features like adjustable lumbar support and armrests to maintain proper posture and avoid discomfort.

A well-organized desk with enough space for your equipment helps you stay focused and efficient. Look for a desk with a sturdy surface that can accommodate your monitors, audio interface, and other gear. Consider features like pull-out trays for your MIDI keyboard or mouse, and cable management solutions to keep your workspace clutter-free.

Here are some factors to consider when selecting your studio furniture:

  • Chair
    • Ergonomics: Opt for a chair with adjustable features like seat height, backrest angle, and lumbar support. A headrest can also be a nice addition for extra comfort during long sessions.
    • Material and breathability: Choose a breathable material like mesh for the back and seat to prevent overheating during extended use. Consider materials like leather or high-quality fabric for durability and ease of cleaning.
    • Armrests: Adjustable armrests that can be positioned under your desk can provide support and reduce strain on your shoulders.
  • Desk
    • Size and workspace: Consider the size of your space and the equipment you plan to use. Choose a desk that provides enough surface area for your needs without feeling cramped.
    • Sturdiness: A sturdy desk with a stable base is essential to prevent wobbly monitors or equipment tipping over.
    • Features: Look for desks with features that enhance your workflow, such as pull-out trays for keyboards, monitor stands, or built-in cable management solutions. Studio desks often have these features specifically designed for audio production needs.

While budget is a factor, consider your chair and desk as long-term investments in your musical journey. Quality furniture will provide comfort and support for years to come.

Lastly, while not essential, a standing desk can be a healthy alternative for some musicians, allowing you to switch between sitting and standing throughout your recording sessions.

Step 2: Consider room treatment

Untreated rooms can create unwanted echoes and muddy your recordings. Imagine someone singing in a large, empty hall – that’s the kind of echo you want to avoid. Room treatment absorbs sound reflections, creating a cleaner and more controlled acoustic environment.

By taming unwanted echoes, room treatment allows you to hear the true character of your instruments and vocals. You’ll be able to distinguish subtle details in your recordings, making them sound more professional.

Lastly, a controlled acoustic environment is essential for accurate mixing and mastering. Without room treatment, you might be compensating for room coloration (unwanted emphasis on certain frequencies) instead of making adjustments based on the actual sound of your instruments.

While professional acoustic treatment can be very effective, it can be pretty expensive so there are DIY methods you can try to improve your home studio’s acoustics.

Buy Acoustic Panels

These panels are made from sound-absorbing materials like rockwool or fabric. You can buy pre-made panels or build your own frames and fill them with sound-absorbing material like acoustic foam. Strategically place them on walls and ceilings to absorb reflections.

Use Thick Rugs and Curtains

These can help absorb sound, particularly high frequencies. Consider hanging thicker curtains or placing rugs on the floor.

Strategic Furniture Placement

Strategically arrange furniture to break up sound waves and reduce reflections. For example, avoid placing your monitors directly in front of a window or having your recording booth in a corner.

DIY Bass Traps

Low-frequency sounds (bass) can be especially troublesome. You can build DIY bass traps using wooden frames and sound-absorbing materials like rockwool to target and absorb these low frequencies.

Step 3: Install your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

Beginners can likely get by using Garageband on your Mac.

However, if you are looking for more high-end music production, you’ll want to install your digital audio workstation (DAW) software early in the process of setting up your studio. Doing so ensures that you’re ready to test equipment as you buy it and ensure it works properly with your chosen software. Consequently, you can exchange or return any equipment that didn’t work as expected (like microphones) before warranties or return periods expire.

Step 4: Choose an Audio Interface

When selecting an audio interface, consider several key factors to ensure it meets your current and future needs:

  • Number of inputs and outputs: Choose an interface with enough inputs to accommodate the number of instruments and microphones you plan to record simultaneously. Consider future expansion as well. Similarly, the number of outputs determines how many speakers or monitors you can connect.
  • Computer compatibility: Ensure the interface is compatible with your computer’s operating system (Windows, Mac) and has the appropriate connection type (USB, Thunderbolt, FireWire, etc.).
  • Audio quality: Look for an interface with high-quality converters (AD/DA) for the best possible sound quality. Higher sample rates and bit depths typically translate to cleaner, more accurate digital conversions.
  • Preamps and phantom power: If you plan on using condenser microphones, make sure the interface has built-in preamps and phantom power. Consider the quality of the preamps as they can significantly impact the character of your recordings.
  • Additional features: Some interfaces offer additional features like MIDI inputs/outputs for connecting keyboards and controllers, headphone amps for driving studio headphones, and built-in effects processors. Evaluate your needs and consider if these features are important for your workflow.
  • Budget: Audio interfaces range in price depending on features and quality. Set a realistic budget for your needs and prioritize the features you value most.

Step 5: Get the right cables for mics, monitors, and instruments

You’re going to need a variety of cables for your home recording studio.

Make sure you’re selecting quality cables that will last (although you don’t need to buy top-of-the-line). Check that cables have the proper connectors for your equipment and that the length is sufficient to allow you to arrange your space as you need.

Additionally, consider buying cable organizers to keep your home recording studio organized, safe, and clutter-free.

Step 6: Setup your condenser mic

To get the most out of your condenser mic, you’ll want to position it properly. The exact location will vary depending on the type of condenser mic you have.

For instance, a cardioid condenser microphone should be placed between 4 and 12 inches from the vocalist, but an omnidirectional condenser mic can be placed much closer. Some solid mic options include the Shure SM57, SM58, or Audio Technica AT202.

You also will want the pop filter about two to six inches from the microphone. 

Step 7: Setup your headphones and preamps

You may have multiple types of headphones or multiple sets. When setting up your space, consider where you’d like to place them, so they’re easy to access and keep organized. 

If you have a small studio (with little space on the desk), consider finding drawers or using vertical space to help with storage and organization. For instance, you could hang a pegboard to organize and store headphones, cables, and more.  

You’ll also want to consider what preamps you’ll need to achieve the signal flow you want without adding too much noise to your signal.   

Step 8: Setup your studio monitors

Arranging your studio monitors is important to ensure you get the most out of your recording, mixing, and other activities in your home studio.When setting up your studio monitors, make sure you have the right cables and know what monitor outputs you use. You’ll ideally want cables that are balanced (TRS format) to reduce unwanted noise.

Next, you’ll want to identify the right height and angle. For instance, you’ll want your monitors at ear height, so you receive more of the direct sound. This can provide a richer, more detailed experience. Additionally, try to place monitors two to three feet away from walls if possible.

Lastly, you may need stands depending on your space. You can use floor or desktop stands as long as you can achieve the right height and position. However, floor stands can be bulky — so if you have a smaller space, you may want to consider desktop stands. 

Step 9: Setup a MIDI keyboard

Decide on what type of setup you need, including portability. For instance, a MIDI keyboard setup can be as simple as connecting your MIDI keyboard controller to your DAW with a USB cable between your MIDI and computer.

This setup can provide a variety of options. Plus, it can be easy to move if you’re using a laptop.

Additionally, consider how your space is arranged and whether you’ll need a MIDI keyboard stand. 

Step 10: Consider plugins, VSTs, and other software

You may need to add plugins, VSTs, and other software to round out your home recording studio. Before adding additional software and plugins, consider the type of effects you want and your recording needs. Then, look for either free or paid options that best fit what you do, and make sure they are compatible with the DAW and computer you’re using. 

Gaetano is a Miami, FL 🌴 based songwriter, music producer and growth marketer. As he grinds through the music industry, Gaetano is documenting his experiences and sharing his story through his brutally honest articles.

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