Setting Up A Music Studio 101 (With Beginner Recommendations)

I am about to provide you with a simple solution to setting up a music studio as a beginner with a semi-decent budget.

All of the equipment suggested comes highy recommended and thoroughly researched and stress tested, so you are in good hands.

Set-up itself is super simple as most things are plug and play, but you will require some knowledge of using your DAW of choice (which of course, I have provided resources to).

So don’t sweat it. With the right equipment and a little bit of knowledge, you can create your own professional-quality music studio at home in no time.

All the best!

Setting Up A Music Studio 101 (With Beginner Recommendations)

Setting Up a Basic Music Studio for Beginners: Essential Equipment

❗️These are absolute necessities!

1. Computer

The heart of your studio will be your computer. You’ll need a reliable machine with a fast processor and enough storage.

The Apple MacBook Pro is a great choice if you are a Mac lover, while the Dell XPS 15 is an excellent option for Windows users. These models will cover your graphic card, ram and processor needs for music production.

Hopefully you already have a solid computer with at least 8GB RAM (16GB is better, 32GB is desirable but overkill in some instances)

2. Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

Screenshot 2023 10 10 at 22.53.51
Ableton Live DAW Preview

A DAW is software that allows you to record, edit, and mix music. It is where you glue everything together. But, as I mentioned, there is a bit of a learning curve for some of these.

For that reason, I recommend going with a super popular program with a lot of solid tutorials online.

Ableton Live 10, FL Studio 20 or Logic Pro are my go to choices, and there is no shortage of high quality free and paid courses and tutorials on both.

Both programs are popular amongst producers and vocalists alike, and you can mix and master in them, too.

3. Audio Interface

An audio interface converts analog signals to digital, allowing your computer to process sound. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a high-quality, affordable option.

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a versatile 2-input/2-output USB audio interface that can provide high quality audio conversion for a home studio setup.

It converts analog signals from microphones, instruments, mixers etc into digital signals that can be recorded into a computer.

This allows you to get clean, low-latency audio into your computer for recording, mixing and production

Some key benefits of using the Scarlett 2i2 for a home studio:

  • Professional quality audio conversion with 24-bit/192kHz resolution, delivering excellent sound quality. This captures all the detail and nuance of your performances.
  • Low-latency monitoring so you can record and playback without distracting lag. This allows for easy overdubbing and tracking.
  • Two combo XLR-jack inputs to connect microphones, instruments like guitars, keyboards etc. The pre-amps provide plenty of gain for powering mics.
  • Phantom power for using condenser microphones that require power.
  • Balanced line outputs to connect studio monitors/speakers.
  • Bundled with recording software like Pro Tools First or Ableton Live Lite so you can start recording straight away.

4. Studio Monitors

krk Studio Monitors

Studio monitors are specially designed speakers that aim to provide the most accurate and neutral reproduction of audio for mixing, recording, and production purposes.

If you want accurate mixing and production, you NEED these. You want to hear the unaltered representation of the sounds.

I have never recommended a pair of the KRK Rokit 5 G4 and heard a negative testimonial because it is a great all-rounder, quality speaker and a solid choice for beginners!

Why the Rokit 5 G4s you say? Aside from the solid 9/10 profile…

  • Flat frequency response across the spectrum – does not artificially boost or cut any frequencies. This allows you to hear the true signal and make corrective EQ if needed.
  • Clear stereo imaging – gives a sharp representation of the positioning and width of instruments in the stereo field. Critical for panning decisions.
  • Low coloration – does not add its own character or “color” to the sound, which external speakers often do. Provides transparency.
  • Good transient response – accurately reproduces the attack and decay of sounds. Important for hearing detail.
  • Low latency – minimal delay between input signal and playback. Reduces phase issues when monitoring recordings.
  • Balanced inputs – for noise reduction with balanced connections from audio interfaces.
  • Volume control – easily adjust listening level in your workspace.

5. Microphone

Obviously you need a microphone, but more specifically, a condenser microphone.

For recording vocals, acoustic instruments, amplifiers, and more in the studio, a good microphone is a basic essential as the quality of your recordings depends heavily on the microphone you use.

I recommend the AT2020 because these are renowned for providing excellent sound quality and accuracy. You can even pick up a discounted AT2020 (renewed) on Amazon.

Key benefits a condenser mic like the AT2020 is provides:

  • Smooth, extended frequency response. Captures a full range of tones and overtones from vocals, strings, cymbals etc. This allows for a very natural and transparent recording.
  • High sensitivity to capture nuances and subtleties. The AT2020 excels at picking up delicate vocal textures.
  • Wide dynamic range to handle everything from soft whispers to loud passages without distortion.
  • Low self-noise so you get a clean signal without unwanted hiss or hum.
  • Cardioid polar pattern to isolate the sound source and prevent background noise.
  • Sturdy metal construction for durability in the studio.
  • Affordable price, making it accessible for home studios.

Investing in a quality condenser mic gives you professional grade recordings and excellent versatility across many sources.

It’s a workhorse mic that will provide great results on vocals, guitars, drums and more. The importance of the microphone should not be overlooked when equipping a studio on a budget.

6. Headphones

Headphones? Why can’t I just use my earbuds?

High quality headphones (over the ear/closed back) are integral for music production and recording in order to accurately hear your mixes and make proper adjustments.

Regular earbuds like the ones that came with your phone simply don’t provide the sound quality and isolation needed in a studio environment.

Some key reasons headphones are better than basic earbuds:

  • More neutral frequency response – earbuds often boost bass and highs. Headphones give you a flat response to make mixing decisions.
  • Better isolation from external sounds. Earbuds allow bleed from the environment. Headphones help you focus on the details.
  • Higher sound quality and clarity. Earbuds can sound muddy in comparison.
  • Comfort for extended wear during long production sessions.

Again, here is why you should get yourself some good headphones:

  • They allow you to monitor recordings and mixes more accurately.
  • You can hear subtle details you might miss on speakers.
  • They don’t disturb others when recording and mixing late at night.
  • Portability to take your studio anywhere (if your DAW is on your laptop).

7. Mixer/MIDI Controller

Depending on what you hope to achieve with your setup, you may not need both.

A MIDI controller is a device that sends MIDI data to your DAW. The Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII is a compact, versatile option.

8. Acoustic Treatment

Acoustic treatment is super important for any studio.

When sound bounces all over the hard walls and ceilings, it creates messy echoes and muddiness that ruin your recordings. Nobody wants that!

The good news is there are affordable panels you can put up to tame those reflections. I have a post with my best soundproofing panel options, but in short:

  1. Absorption panels: ones made of fiberglass or mineral wool will soak up the sound instead of bouncing it around.
  2. Bass traps: not typical when setting up a music studio at home, but bass traps in the corners help with low end buildup.
  3. Diffuser panels: they help to scatter the sound so you don’t get weird flutter echoes.

And it may be overkill in some cases, but you can even put up shields to block noise from computer fans and other gear.

Getting the acoustics right makes a huge difference in getting pro-level results. It’s not always easy, but treating your space is one of the best investments you can make.

Your mixes will sound so much clearer when you control those reflections.

Just take it from me – acoustic treatment should be high on your list when you’re setting up a new studio. It’s kinda mandatory these days!

How Do I Organize My Music Studio?

Setting Up Your Studio 101: Putting It All Together

Here are the basics for setting up a music studio and putting it all together for ease and performance. You might also want to check these 15 Incredible Garage Studio Conversions for tips on how to build a music studio in small spaces.

1. Choose a Room

perfect room for a home studio (attic)

Pick a dedicated space for your studio away from high traffic areas of your home. An attic, spare bedroom or basement are good options.

  • Look for a quiet space away from exterior noise like streets, aircraft, etc. Soundproofing may be needed in noisier environments.
  • Opt for a room with minimal parallel walls which cause problematic flutter echoes. Irregular room shapes are best.
  • Avoid rooms next to plumbing, electrical systems, and other sources of structure-borne noise.
  • Face your speakers towards the short wall and position your listening position against the long wall for optimal bass response.
  • Minimize reflective surfaces and add broadband absorption at reflection points to control flutter echoes.
  • Diffusion can help scatter sound evenly across the room.
  • Isolate floors from footfall vibration with floating floors or isolating underlayment.
  • Use acoustic curtains, seals and gasketing around doors and windows to block sound intrusion.
  • Avoid live, reflective surfaces like tile floors and drywall. Carpet and acoustic panels help absorb sound.

2. Position Your Equipment

basic music studio

Here are some tips for positioning equipment in your home music studio:

  • Place your desk against a short wall to allow sound from the monitors to distribute evenly across the room, reducing problematic reflections.
  • Position your studio monitors so the tweeters are at ear level when sitting at the desk to align high frequencies with your ears for accurate monitoring.
    Don’t place monitors too high or low.
  • Form an equilateral triangle between the monitors and listening position, spaced 60° apart and equidistant for a centered stereo image.
  • Point the monitors directly at your head when seated at the desk.
  • Distance from front and side walls should be unequal to minimize resonant room modes.
  • Mark speaker and listening positions with tape to recreate alignment later.

Take your time to get the positioning right. Small adjustments can significantly impact what you hear. Proper alignment will let your mixes translate accurately.

3. Install Your DAW

Install your chosen DAW on your computer and familiarize yourself with its interface. There are plenty of tutorials available online.

4. Connect Your Audio Interface

Connect your audio interface to your computer via USB or Thunderbolt. Install any necessary drivers.

5. Connect Your Monitors and Microphone

Connect your monitors and microphone to your audio interface. Make sure everything is powered on and functioning correctly.

6. Test Your Setup

Record and playback some test audio to ensure everything is working correctly. Adjust your monitor levels to achieve a balanced sound.

About Author

Arielle P

Arielle P

Songwriter | Music Producer | Engineer.

With a background in music production and a strong passion for education, Arielle is dedicated to helping emerging artists navigate the music industry. She has worked with a diverse range of artists, from indie rock bands to well-known hip-hop and grime artists. Arielle's unique approach to teaching focuses on empowering artists to take control of their brand, ensuring they retain creative ownership throughout their journey. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting with new sounds in her home studio and sharing her insights through music production tutorials and workshops.

📧 Email Arielle