What will I need to get started recording and mixing my own music? To this I have a very simple answer. Use what you have. Whether it is a free DAW like Audacity or Pro Tools First. Simply use what you have. An Acoustic guitar and a SM58 plugged directly in to your computers input jack. Use It! Although these are simply to get you started I have created a list of essentials on a budget that will still yield you great sounding professional mixes.
- Computer. Your computer is a very vital asset in recording and mixing these days. A Windows machine or Macintosh. Either will suffice. I have mixed and recorded on both machines and both perform well as long as there is enough ram and processor to run the DAW ( Digital Audio Workstation ). I still have and use my old Mac G4 to record sometimes.
- Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). There are many free DAW’s out there Audacity and Pro Tools First are a couple that I have used in the past. Pro Tools First comes with standard plugins so you can record & mix and start getting your music out there. There are many DAWs you can choose from. My suggestion is find one you like and stick with it. Each have their own learning curve and can burn up time for you getting your project finished. I personally use Pro Tools.
- Interface. Now I stated above that you could plug into your computer direct, and you can, However an interface is important because it offers a preamps allowing you more control of your overall input volume. If you plan on recording a drum kit in your studio you will at least want a 4 or 8 channel interface. But there is always the option to program your drums.
- Microphone. For you vocals or recording guitars. You can go with a SM 57 or 58 to get started or whatever mic you have around. There are plenty of budget condenser microphones that provide excellent results like Blue Spark.
- Studio monitors / Headphones. Your studio monitors play a vital roll in the outcome of your mix. Mixing too loud on even the highest end monitors are going to cause you problems at the end of your mix. For the longest time I mixed on Presonus Eris 5’s. They are a great monitor with adjustable settings so you can adapt them to your room. And one important note I always look for when trying to find a decent studio monitor is look for a bass port in the front. I generally only use Headphones for editing and recording but a good set to reference in is the Sennheiser HD 280’s.
- All in all, at the end of the day most already have a computer. I would say you could setup you studio for around or less than $500.00 and start getting you music recorded and start mixing it.