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How to Set Up a Home Recording Studio on a Budget

How to Set Up a Home Recording Studio on a Budget

If you’re thinking of getting serious about pursuing a career in the music business, but you don’t have the possibility or interest in booking studio time to record your music, then you’ll want to think about setting up your own home recording studio. 

If you want full control over your musical projects and the ability to sit down and record music whenever inspiration strikes you, without worrying about time limits or interruptions, then this is a great option that provides full creative freedom. While it’s true that having access to expensive gear and all the perks of a professional recording studio has its advantages, if you know what you’re doing, you can achieve the same sound, if not a better sound, from the comfort of your own bedroom. 

Why a home recording studio?

With today’s technology, you no longer need to book time in a professional recording studio to ensure that you achieve the highest-quality sound. By choosing the right equipment and investing in a few quality tools and devices, you can create professional-level music that meets industry standards and delights listeners. 

At the same time, having your own recording studio means absolute control over when and how you record or mix your songs, and you can spend as much time as you need to achieve the sound you want. It’s also the most convenient option: if inspiration strikes you in the middle of the night, you can start recording right away. A home recording studio gives you complete creative freedom and allows you to work on your own schedule and on your terms, which is worth the investment if you ask us. 

What you’ll need

You don’t need to shell out huge amounts of money on equipment and software to ensure your music has a professional sound. There are numerous resources available on the market nowadays that help independent and early-stage musicians achieve a top-quality sound without going bankrupt in the process. It’s all a matter of researching and taking some time to figure out what devices, equipment, or apps and software make the most sense for your specific needs. 

Depending on the genre and style of your choice, you might not need a room full of equipment, amps, keyboards, drum kits, and other things. Below is a list of basic things you’ll need if you’re looking to create a home recording studio and take control of your music career. 


Obviously, you will need a space to house your new home recording studio, and you’ll want to give this some thought. If you live in a studio apartment or share an apartment or house with other people, you can easily set up a small studio in your bedroom and have privacy to jam and experiment. 

If you have a spare room like a guest bedroom or an office, that will work even better, because you’ll be able to establish a clear separation between the place where you sleep and where you record music. Having a space dedicated exclusively to recording, creating, and producing music will help you be more focused and productive in your artistic endeavors, but obviously that’s not an option for everyone. A dedicated space in your bedroom or living room can work just as well, as long as you take some things into consideration. 

One thing that any acoustics expert will tell you is that you want to avoid setting up a recording studio in a square room with low ceilings. This is because low ceilings reflect sound, while square spaces have null points that create empty spots in the sound, leading to muddied or inaccurate sound recordings. Of course, if you have roommates or neighbors and can’t afford to do any room treatments or soundproofing, you’ll most likely be using headphones and monitors anyway, so this might not be a top priority for you. The most important thing is that you choose a space that inspires you, a space that makes you feel safe and cozy and calm, where you can fully focus on writing songs and immerse yourself in the music-making process.

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A powerful laptop

We’ll start by saying that you don’t necessarily need to buy the latest and priciest MacBook Pro to use for your musical projects. However, you will need to ensure that your laptop or PC has enough memory and enough bandwidth to take on the task of music recording and production. You’ll need to look at your options keeping in mind the software you decide to use for your music production needs, and how many apps and tools you’ll want to connect and install. 

You’ll first need to decide if you want to get a PC or a laptop for higher mobility. If you’re going to also be working on the go, or want to have the option, then a laptop is the clear choice, and battery life will be a factor to consider when browsing options. Then, you want to make sure your laptop has a powerful processor, like Intel Core i7 or i9, and preferably 16GB of RAM, at least. If you also want your laptop for video editing purposes, then you need to prioritize memory capability and processing power. 

You also need to think about how intensive your work can get. If you plan to do a lot of video editing, uploading, as well as music editing and mixing, look for laptops with efficient cooling systems and top-notch thermal management to avoid overheating the hardware. And last but not least, if you want to create visually-appealing content for social media or album artwork, you’ll want to opt for a laptop with a high-resolution display or a retina screen that provides accurate color reproduction. And finally, make sure you consider connectivity: what kinds of devices and accessories will you connect to the laptop, and how many? Laptops are notorious for not having as many connection ports as PCs, so you might also want to invest in a connectivity hub to handle all of your external devices. See our recommendations for the best laptops for music production to make your decision. 

A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

A digital audio workstation, or DAW, is an essential piece of software for any musician or self-producer. A DAW basically allows artists, composers, sound engineers, and producers to record, edit, mix, produce, and manipulate songs in great detail and with precision, leading to high-quality sound. If you want to set up a home recording studio, a DAW is an essential resource. It will allow you not only to record and produce music, but also to import audio files, add effects, rearrange compositions, mix different tracks together, create music for your social media content or music videos, and so much more. 

We recently went through the best free DAWs for music production currently available, to help emerging artists and musicians make an informed decision. For new musicians or beginner producers, a free version of a DAW will be more than enough. We like to recommend Ableton Lite, Apple’s Garageband, Cubase LE, or Studio One 5 Prime by PreSonus. Once you get the hang of it and start working on more complex tasks and songs, or you want to expand your skills as a producer, you can upgrade to the paid or pro version of these DAWs and unlock all the features and capabilities available. 


Every music recording studio will need at least one or two microphones set up, to record vocals and instruments. The more instruments you play, the more microphones you’ll need if you want to achieve a clear, crisp, even sound. You can add more microphones along the way, as you get more skilled and maybe experiment with different instruments. 

Having two or three microphones focused around a single instrument, like a piano, in different positions, can also help enhance and reproduce the sound even better. However, in small spaces and on a limited budget, that won’t really be an option, and it’s not necessary. As long as you invest in a couple of high-quality microphones, you’ll be good to go, at least for the time being. 

Some solid options for a home recording studio include the Shure SM57, the Shure SM58, or the Audio Technica AT202. They all cost around $100 and they’re tried-and-tested by numerous musicians, so you know you’ll get the best possible quality on a very decent budget. If you want to go a bit fancier with one of your microphones, you can check out a condenser or a niche mic to use for your specific genre. 

MIDI keyboard

You might not think that a MIDI keyboard is an essential piece of gear that you need when setting up a home recording studio, but honestly, we can’t imagine not having one. A MIDI keyboard allows you to play any kind of virtual instrument you want, but it’s also useful when it comes to music production. It can help with things like samples, patch changes, automations, and more, allowing you to edit, mix, and produce layers of compositions as you choose. 

For a home studio, we recommend the Akai Mpk Mini, which takes up the least possible space and is easily portable while packing a lot of features, the Alesis V25, the Arturia KeyStep Pro, or the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25. There are several affordable and portable options available on the market for you to choose from. However, if you have the space and want even more features and capabilities, you can find solid options for a budget ranging from $150 to $300. Down the line, if you find that you rely heavily on your MIDI keyboard for recording and producing music, you can upgrade to a professional-level option, but these options we mentioned here will get you started and give you a lot of bang for your buck. 

Headphones and studio monitors 

Closed-back headphones should definitely be on your must-have list when setting up your home recording studio. If you have roommates, neighbors, or family members who enjoy their peace and quiet, and don’t have the budget or the possibility of soundproofing your studio, or if you’re recording in a space with bad acoustics, then you’ll want to invest in a good pair of headphones. 

Moreover, recording and producing on your headphones might actually help you fine-tune the details much more efficiently, as long as you have a solid pair, like studio headphones with a neutral-leaning frequency response. These types of headphones will reproduce the sound more accurately then regular closed-back headphones, but they might also cost more. We recommend the Sony MDR-7506 or the AKF K371, as well as the Sennheiser HD280 Pro. 

If you want to go to the next level with your music production, you might want to invest in studio monitors besides your closed-back headphones. Studio monitors produce a much more accurate representation of the stereo image of a mix, so they’re useful if you plan to self-produce your own music in the comfort of your home. For smaller spaces, you can go for studio monitors with 5- or 6-inch drivers, which cost around $300 a pair. If you have more space, you can go for monitors with bigger drivers of 6.5 to 8 inches. 

Room treatment 

If you want to make sure you achieve the best possible sound while recording and mixing in your home studio, regardless of whether you’ll use headphones or not, you might want to look into room treatment. Sound reflecting off walls, objects, and surfaces can impact the resulting sound of your recordings, especially if your studio is set up in a space with low ceilings. 

What does room treatment entail? It basically means using special materials to minimize sound reflections and achieve a more even, accurate sound in your recordings. Bass frequencies are the trickiest ones to control, especially in small spaces where they tend to ‘bounce off the walls.’ To minimize this effect, you can use special foam panels, glasswool, or rockwool and place them strategically to control low-end sound reflections. For higher frequency reflections, you can use acoustic foam, which is widely available and relatively affordable. 

Your best bet is to buy the raw materials yourself, like acoustic foam and glasswool, and work with a carpenter to do custom room treatment. This will allow you to control the treatment based on your specific needs without forking out a huge amount of money on customization.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to set up a basic home recording studio?

To set up a basic home recording studio, you'll need a few essential items: a computer with digital audio workstation (DAW) software, an audio interface to connect your instruments and microphones to the computer, studio headphones or monitor speakers for accurate audio playback, microphones suitable for your recording needs (e.g., condenser for vocals, dynamic for instruments), microphone stands, XLR cables, and acoustic treatment (like foam panels or bass traps) to improve sound quality. Additionally, a MIDI keyboard/controller may be useful for virtual instrument control, and pop filters and isolation shields can enhance recording quality. Remember, the specific gear you choose may vary depending on your recording goals and budget.

How much does it cost to set up a small home recording studio?

The cost of setting up a small home recording studio can vary widely depending on the quality and quantity of equipment you choose. A basic setup could cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000. This might include an entry-level audio interface, a couple of microphones, studio headphones, a microphone stand, and some acoustic treatment. If you want higher-end gear, additional instruments, or more advanced studio accessories, the cost can easily exceed $5,000 or more. It's essential to prioritize your needs and budget when building your studio, and you can always start with the essentials and expand your setup over time as your skills and requirements grow.

How small can a home recording studio be?

A home recording studio can be as small as a dedicated corner or alcove within a room, often referred to as a "closet studio" or "bedroom studio." These compact setups are quite common and can be highly functional. All you need is enough space for your desk, computer, audio interface, microphone, and headphones. With proper acoustic treatment and organization, even a small area can produce professional-quality recordings. Keep in mind that the key to success in a small space is effective sound isolation and acoustic treatment to minimize external noise and reflections.

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If you’re looking to kickstart your music career but have limited resources, we can help you get funding for your next project while staying in control of your own work and career trajectory. You keep 100% ownership of your masters and get an advance ranging from $1,000 to $3 million to get your career off the ground. Get an estimate now and start turning your dream into reality.

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Gregory Walfish
Co-founder of Xposure Music, Gregory Walfish stands at the intersection of music, tech, and culture. With a software engineering background, he's passionate about artist development and technology.

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