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Recording music at home is easier than ever. Now, whether you have a rough song idea in your head or you’re putting the final touches on a track, the best home studio recording kit can give you all the capabilities of an entire professional setup right at your desk, in your bedroom or anywhere you take your laptop.
How to Choose the Best Home Studio Recording Kit
A home recording bundle will typically include the essentials of everything you need to get started. Here’s what ideally should be in box so you can get started ASAP.
Audio Interface: Otherwise known as a preamp, this is probably the most important component besides your computer. The sound of your vocals from the mic, or guitars from the amp, is too powerful to go directly into your studio program, and a preamp helps level it out before it gets recorded digitally. Preamps with two combo inputs let you record from two mics, two guitars, keyboards, synth or any combination of them. A good preamp will also cut down on delay, which makes recording way more difficult than it needs to be.
Microphone: If you’ll be laying down vocals of any kind, you’re going to need a mic, and the best ones will pick up the little nuances and things that make your voice truly unique. However, not all mics are the same. There are two main kinds: condenser mics and dynamic mics. For vocals, a condenser mic is the way to go. These are best for recording what’s right in front of it, where you’ll be when you’re singing. A dynamic mic can be better for non-electric instrument recording, or for a whole band surrounding it.
Mic Shield: When recording vocals, mic quality is important, but so is the shape and size of the room you’re in, and particularly if it has bare walls. Your voice can bounce around, reverberating and causing an unwanted echo effect that can’t be removed once it’s done. A mic shield is an easy fix for this, as it stops your vocal projection a few inches after the mic picks it up. It leaves you with a clear, clean and reverb-free recording.
Cables: Often overlooked, don’t forget about the cables. It’s a huge letdown finally receiving your studio bundle in the mail only to find that no cables are included. For starters, you’ll need a few XLRs for mics, 1/4-inch for instruments like guitars and a USB for phantom powering some equipment. And it never hurts to have a spare RCA and 3.5mm headphone cable.
Software: Many of these bundles come with their own software, often known as a DAW — Digital Audio Workstation. These not only provide a place for you to put down and edit all your different instrument recordings into one final track, but can also offer up a whole bunch of extra instruments and sounds digitally (and often free) too.
Extras: A shock mount for the mic is a nice addition, especially if you’re recording while sitting at a desk. Same goes for a pop filter to cut down on hard vocal sounds.
The Best Home Studio Recording Kits
Dropping cash on a studio bundle is an investment, but it can also be life-changing as you learn more hands-on recording techniques to create the music you love. Here are our favorite kits to buy now.
1. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio
FocusRite’s Scarlett Solo preamp has been a favorite among home recording artists for decades, and this bundle takes it a step further, including everything you need. It comes with a basic version of Pro Tools, an excellent DAW studio program, along with plugins and digital instruments too.
During our tests, recording through the preamp sounded clean and free of crackles, clipping or buzzing, leaving a pristine track to work with. The included CM25 MkIII condenser mic comes with a stand and 10-foot XLR cable. It captured bright sounding vocals on the first go. Closed-back headphones are included, and are high quality enough to notice the little details in your tracks. Free plug-ins are added to your FocusRite account every few weeks too, so there’s always something new to experiment with.
2. Mackie Studio Bundle with CR3-X monitors
This set comes with two microphones, as well as two CR3-X monitors to hear your tracks without headphones (though they’re also included).
The set’s EM-91C condenser mic captures vocals straight-on and works best with a sound-absorbing surface behind it. Meanwhile, the EM-89D dynamic mic lets you record instruments directly.
The passive audio interface has multiple inputs and an array of adjustable features, along with Mackie’s Big Knob to make setting levels easy without taking your eyes off the screen. A mono button lets you instantly check your connection for interference, while a mute is great for quieting things down without touching your set levels, or killing screechy feedback from a misplaced mic before it gets loud.
3. M-Audio Complete Recording Bundle
M-Audio has been a recognizable brand in home studio setups for years, and its sleek, shiny Air interface in this bundle performs well. At 24-bit/192kHz resolution, this connects via high-speed USB and leaves little to no latency.
A Nova condenser mic is included with a shock mount and XLR cables, as well as over-the-ear studio headphones that work smoothly, whether you’re using a Mac or PC. Extras included are versions of ProTools and Ableton Live Lite, and 2GB of loops.
4. PreSonus AudioBox 96 Audio Interface Full Studio Kit
Besides having the most stuff included, PreSonus’s bundle stands out because it’s one of the few with an included pad controller. This is perfect for playing with loops and samples, even ones you create yourself. There’s also an included condenser mic with a stand and a pop filter. Plus, you get headphones, cables and an interface with two inputs.
The pair of CR monitors are a good size for a desk, and latency was basically non-existent. Studio One editing software is included, and though it may not be as well-known as the big players, it’s still simple to learn and works just as well with video editing.
From Rolling Stone US