One of the main problems for aspiring sound producers, besides the lack of time, is the cost of all equipment. That’s why it is always a better choice to hire a professional like Enhanced to save time, money, and, of course, several mistakes. However, it is perfectly possible to start with a basic set that will allow you to produce high-quality sound. We are talking about a set that will not cost you more than $300, and that’s saying a lot, by the way. It is always a better idea to hire a professional, but, if you want to explore the basics of this world, just keep reading.
After a couple of searches on Amazon and other platforms, you will find cheap sets to start recording and producing. The problem is that some of them will exceed this $300 cap we mention here, and some of them won’t even have some fundamental elements included, such as MIDI controllers. On the other hand, it is more than likely that the quality of the devices included in those kits is not the right one, and, in a short time, you will certainly have to replace some of them.
In this post, you will find a list of elements of optimal quality and good price to start your home studio, so you can start working. We are not going to include a computer, nor the plugins you need to mix and master, although, keep in mind that there are dozens of free or low-cost ones. We will not include in this list the studio monitors either, because these would be out of budget. Actually, if you don’t have a place with more advanced technical requirements, like a soundproof room, it doesn’t make much sense to get a studio monitor that will clearly cost you a little more than the whole set mentioned in this post.
What does this basic set include? First off, a sound card, a cable, a microphone, some quality headphones, and a MIDI controller (in case you need to produce music: your own or by others).
Let’s start with the board, one of the most important elements. There are several sound cards on the market, some much more professional than others, but you can start with a Behringer UM2, which will cost about 65 dollars (a little less if you buy it second hand,) and with this, you can achieve excellent results. It has two channels (you can record voice and instruments simultaneously,) and, although it is quite basic, it is going to improve the quality of the converters that your computer has by default, and which, to be honest, will not bring much quality to your work. This board has a phantom power to feed the microphone (which saves you an extra board.)
The second fundamental piece of this home studio is the microphone. It is vital in case you are producing music. You can start with a Fifine F-800, for only $20, which, despite it may present some problems that can be solved by using more sophisticated microphones, the quality offered by this one is good enough for decent production. If you keep a safe distance and know how to control the harmonic distortion by producing a lot of sound pressure with some instruments (or shouting,) you will not have much trouble using this device. If you don’t have an anti-pop filter, you can buy a cheap one, or even do it yourself with home supplies.
The cable you need to connect the microphone to the board is also key. Be realistic: these cables are not cheap, and it is better not to buy the worst ones you can find around because, in the long run, they can bring you a lot of problems. You can get an XLR cable of any brand, and depending on the latter and the length of it, the price will be between 8 and 11 dollars. A tip: don’t buy it second-hand since most people don’t know how to wrap them well, and this affects their quality.
The MIDI controller is an element that you cannot miss. You will need it if you are going to record, mix, and master your own music, as well as the soundtrack of an audiovisual production. You can look for an ARTURIA Microlab, and it will cost you about 89 dollars. Actually, it’s cheap considering the good quality it has. Of course, it does not include pads to play drums (you will have to use the keys,) nor will you have knops to do the MIDI mapping. You will not have many keys, but the quality of the device and the sound is perfect to start your home studio.
As for the headphones, keep in mind that you should not get the cheapest option. This is the most expensive element of the whole set, but for a good reason: cheap headphones will not allow you to perceive the sound clearly, and usually have short planned obsolescence. For this basic set, you can buy the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x. The cost is $69, but sometimes you can find amazing discounts and thus save some money. Besides being tremendously comfortable for your ears, the response of these headphones is real enough for what you’re listening to, and if you take care of them, you’ll be able to keep using these for a long time (even if you have a budget for more advanced equipment later.)
All right, there it is! If you have a $300 budget, you’ll even have some money left over for some extra expenses, in case you want to buy plugins for your mixes and mastering.