You have a mission!
Gear up a new home studio with only 600 Euros or 600 Dollars.
Do you accept ?
This message will self-destruct…

Well, it would be a challenge.
But, as Frank LLoyd Wright put it: “take a zero off your budget and it will be more creative” (I am paraphazing).

Now, before we get going, lets set some rules.

  1. I already have instruments and, if needed, their corresponding amps and pedals
  2. I expect to be able to record vocals and instruments, as opposed to only making  beats.
  3. I cannot go to the bank for a loan
  4. I have a recent computer laying about (Mac or PC)

Here I go!

In this day and age, a digital computer-based home studio is the cheapest way to go.

So my minimalist recording studio will focus on:

  • inputs
  • outputs
  • a multi-track recording software solution.

Outputs – 300 Euros/Dollars

What is the use of good quality audio, if we can’t hear it?

And I don’t believe in headphone mixing!

So, I will not propose an all-purpose headphone approach, ie one where tracking and mixing is done on headphones. I will suggest you don’t get headphones at all. Just steal them… from your iPhone or any other smart phone provided with ear-buds. They will do for tracking.

And that will leave us plenty of room to get a pair of active monitor speakers: two M-Audio BX5 D2, to be precise. That will eat up 300 Euros/Dollars of our budget, yes… But this is where to spend the money!

MAudioMonitors

Inputs – Audio interface – 150 Euros/Dollars

Shit in, Shit out, right ! No point having decent monitors if the sound coming out of them is so-so…

That depends on:

  1. how you recorded your source
  2. how you playback that recording

That’s where the audio interface comes into play. We cannot afford to use the computer’s audio interface @ this level… And USB audio interfaces are now mature and cheap.

For my little 500 Euro/Dollar studio, I would get the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.

It is not their entry level USB audio interface, but it has line outs to the speakers and two mic-pres… That’s the beginning of multi-track recording 🙂 Above all it has the best sound of any USB audio interface of this class.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Inputs – Microphones – 100 to 150 Euros/Dollars

Now we need at least one microphone.

I am serious about keeping within the budget… And I only have 150 Euros/Dollars to complete my package.

If I can negotiate a free XLR cable, I would get the Audio-Technica AT2035 large-diaphram condenser microphone. It is overall a versatile microphone + it will give you the definition only a large-diaphram condenser microphone can on quiet sources such as vocals and acoustic guitars.

at2035_1_sq

If I can’t negotiate free cables, I will scale down to a Shure SM-57 dynamic microphone. This is a forgiving workhorse… the best mic out there on guitar amps!

prod_img_sm57_l

More microphones can be added later…

Recording software – 0 Euros/Dollars

As we are on a strict diet and free multi-track recording suites are plentyful, only the inputs and outputs will actually cost us something.

Take your pick:

presonusStudioOne

And the no-less-important miscalleaneous – 50 Euros/Dollars

To finish it off, I will need a few cables:

  • 2 1/4″ male to XLR male (to connect the monitors to the audio interface)
  • 1 XLR (to connect the microphone to the audio interface)
  • 1 1/4″ adapter (to connect your iPhone earbuds to the audio interface)

Oh! I almost forgot… You will also need inspiration and talent… Priceless 🙂