13 Music Recording Equipment for Beginners: Guide to Setting Up

Table of Contents

Last Updated on March 8, 2024 by Muisc Pro Editorial Team

Recording music at a professional level in the comfort of your own home recording studios is more achievable now than ever. The affordability of home recording studio equipment has revolutionized the way artists produce music, especially in genres like electronic music where the use of virtual instruments and MIDI controllers is prevalent. With the right equipment, you can easily begin to transform the music in your head into tangible tracks. However, if you’re new to music production, you might be wondering where to start.

Building the Foundation of Your Home Studio

For some, setting up a home studio is an ongoing process that involves continuously acquiring audio equipment, including MIDI controllers for controlling virtual instruments and acoustic instruments. For others, it’s about making a long-term investment in the essential tools, furniture, and equipment needed to create art. Regardless of the genre you’re working in, it’s crucial for every music producer to understand how to efficiently set up their space with the right audio equipment.


Creating the ideal home studio can seem overwhelming. With a plethora of furniture and equipment options available, figuring out where to begin (and eventually end) can be challenging. It’s easy to become enchanted by the immaculate home studios featured on Instagram, but it’s important to remember that your studio doesn’t need to mimic those of your favorite producers to be effective. Recording studios have evolved significantly, making home recording studios accessible to many. Initially, only a few key pieces of equipment, such as a MIDI controller and a pop filter for vocal recording, are necessary to get started.

Planning Your Studio Space

Before diving into the process of building your dream studio, it’s beneficial to evaluate the equipment you currently have and use frequently. Start by making two lists: one for items you don’t own but want and another for items you’re looking to replace. This will help you prioritize your investments based on what’s most crucial for your development as an artist, producer, or engineer.

Understanding Your Space

An often overlooked but vital step is assessing the size and layout of the room you plan to convert into a studio. This assessment can significantly influence your purchasing decisions. For example, if you have a spacious room and use a lot of outboard gear, considering a rack cart might be a good idea. Conversely, if the acoustics of your room are less than ideal—due to odd angles or reflective surfaces—you might choose to invest in high-quality headphones over monitors. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution; the best approach depends on your specific space and how you prefer to make music, whether you’re recording acoustic instruments, using virtual instruments, or focusing on vocal recording in your home recording studios.

The Key to a Successful Home Studio

Embracing the uniqueness of your musical journey and the space you have is essential. While the process of setting up your home studio may seem daunting at first, understanding that you only need a few basic items to start can simplify things. From there, assessing your existing gear, planning for future acquisitions, and tailoring your purchases to fit the characteristics of your space will lay a solid foundation for your musical endeavors. Remember, the goal is to create a functional space that allows you to bring the music in your head to life, not to replicate someone else’s setup. With this mindset, you’re well on your way to producing music that resonates with your unique artistic vision.

13 Essentials for Building a Home Recoding Studio

The Computer

Your computer is the central hub of your home recording studio. It’s crucial to understand that when you’re just beginning your music production journey, the laptop or desktop computer you currently own is often sufficient. Most modern computers are capable of running a wide range of music-making software and plugins, which is great news for those starting out.

For individuals considering the purchase of a new computer specifically for music production, be prepared for a decision-making process that’s quite different from buying a general-use computer. The choice between a Mac or a PC will largely depend on your personal preference, familiarity with the operating system, and budget. While Macs have traditionally been favored for creative applications, including audio production, modern PCs are equally capable of serving as the backbone of your studio, provided they have the appropriate specifications.

When deciding between a desktop and a laptop, consider your needs for mobility versus cost. Building your own desktop may save money and offer customization options, but a laptop offers the flexibility to create music wherever you are. Key specifications to look for in a good studio computer include its CPU, RAM, storage, I/O capabilities, and fan noise. These components influence how effectively you can run multiple audio tracks, sample libraries, and plugins simultaneously. For detailed information, you might explore guides on CPUs by Digital Trends, RAM insights by Intel, and storage solutions in music hard drive guides. Additionally, consider the number and types of ports you need, as well as how quiet the computer is during operation to avoid recording disruptions.

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is the primary software platform for recording and producing music on your computer. The market offers a variety of DAWs, including Pro Tools, FL Studio, Ableton Live, Cubase, Logic Pro, Reaper, and Bitwig, each with its own strengths and tailored functionalities. Some DAWs, like Pro Tools, are especially strong in audio tracking and editing, while others, like FL Studio or Ableton Live, are designed with beat production and arrangement in mind.

For those new to music production, integrating plugins into your DAW can significantly enhance your creative process. One notable plugin is Arcade by Output, a cloud-based sample player that allows you to manipulate sounds in real-time. Arcade provides access to a vast library of professional-grade samples, with new sounds added regularly, making it an invaluable resource for producers at any skill level.

Choosing a DAW is a personal decision that should be based on your specific needs and preferences. Despite the differences in workflow, creative approaches, and pricing, most DAWs offer similar basic functionalities, including a selection of stock software instruments and FX plugins. These tools enable you to produce and manipulate sounds in your music, ensuring that regardless of the DAW you choose, you have the capabilities needed to bring your creative visions to life.


A crucial yet often overlooked component of a home recording studio is the desk. At the beginning of your music journey, the desk you already use for your laptop might suffice. However, as you gradually accumulate more equipment, such as speakers, MIDI controllers, and modular units, you might find that your current desk is too small or not sturdy enough to support your growing setup.

Studio desks are designed with features that cater specifically to music production needs. These include cable management systems to keep wires organized and out of sight, holes for routing cables, trays for MIDI keyboards, spaces designated for rack gear, and sometimes an extra shelf for speakers. Even if you haven’t invested in outboard preamps or processing units yet, it’s wise to consider a desk that can accommodate your future expansion.

Studio Monitors

Studio monitors are critical for anyone serious about producing music, yet they differ significantly from standard consumer speakers. While consumer speakers often enhance certain frequencies to make music sound fuller and more pleasing, this can mask imperfections in a mix. Studio monitors strive for a more accurate reproduction of sound, without artificially boosting or reducing any frequency bands. This accuracy is vital for identifying and correcting issues in your mixes.


Some studio monitors offer adjustable frequency ranges or include a measurement microphone to calibrate the monitors to your room’s acoustics. These features are designed to help you achieve the best possible sound quality in your specific production environment.

Monitor Stands

The positioning of studio monitors is just as important as the monitors themselves. They should be either at ear level and perpendicular to the floor or slightly below ear level, angling upwards towards you. To achieve the optimal setup, investing in a pair of monitor stands is essential.

Good quality monitor stands minimize vibrations from the speakers, which can otherwise interfere with how you perceive the sound mix. They also allow you to place your speakers further away from walls, enhancing the clarity of the bass frequencies. Monitor stands vary in height and material, but the key factors to consider are their sturdiness and the presence of sound absorption pads.

Audio Interface

An audio interface acts as the bridge between your musical equipment and your computer, effectively taking over the role of your computer’s built-in sound card. It allows you to connect various pieces of gear to your computer for recording and playback. While the basic function of an audio interface is to facilitate this connection, many models offer additional features such as microphone or headphone preamps, DI (Direct Input) units, and digital converters.


Audio interfaces come in a wide range of sizes and capabilities, from portable USB-powered units that are easy to carry around to larger, rack-mountable interfaces requiring external power sources. The market includes professional-grade interfaces with advanced features as well as more affordable “prosumer” options that balance high-quality inputs/outputs and preamps in an all-in-one package.

When choosing an audio interface, it’s important to consider not just the price but the specific features and inputs/outputs that match your studio needs. Many budget-friendly interfaces are available that provide excellent functionality for home studios, ensuring that you can find a device that suits both your requirements and your budget.


When venturing into the realm of music production, one of the essential tools you’ll need is a good microphone. Studio microphones vary widely in shape, size, and purpose. Some microphones are versatile, able to perform well across a range of recording situations. Others are tailor-made for specific instruments, like capturing the intricate sounds of drums or the delicate strumming of an acoustic guitar.


Understanding the different types of microphones is crucial. There are three main categories: dynamic, condenser, and ribbon. Dynamic microphones are known for their durability and are suitable for both studio recordings and live performances. Condenser microphones are typically favored for vocal recordings due to their sensitivity and require phantom power to operate, which is often supplied by the audio interface or mixer. Ribbon microphones, while more delicate, offer a unique, warmer sound profile that can add character to recordings, especially for materials rich in high frequencies.


Studio headphones, much like studio monitors, prioritize accuracy in sound reproduction over enhancing the listening experience. This approach involves minimizing the bass and treble boosts common in consumer headphones in favor of a flat frequency response. This accuracy is vital for critical listening tasks such as mixing and mastering.


There are two primary types of studio headphones: closed-back and open-back. Closed-back headphones provide sound isolation, preventing audio from leaking out and being captured by microphones during recording sessions. This makes them ideal for tracking. Open-back headphones, on the other hand, offer a more natural listening experience by allowing air and sound to pass through the ear cups, making them excellent for mixing and critical listening. While headphones for recording can be affordable, investing in higher-quality headphones is beneficial for tasks that require more precise sound reproduction, such as mixing.


A significant portion of producing music involves sitting for extended periods, whether you’re mixing a track, crafting new beats, or selecting the perfect kick drum sound. Investing in a high-quality studio chair can significantly enhance your comfort and productivity. The difference in support and comfort between budget and premium chairs, such as those from Herman Miller, is noticeable over time and can impact your shoulders, neck, and lower back.

Selecting a chair with a headrest can be beneficial for long mixing sessions, while a chair with wheels and without armrests is advantageous for easily moving between different instruments in your studio. The right chair not only provides physical support but also fosters a more comfortable and creative workspace.

Acoustic Treatment

In any recording or mixing environment, the sound quality is influenced not just by the equipment but also by the room itself. Studio monitors, no matter how accurate, will reproduce sound that interacts with the room’s acoustics, including reverberations and reflections. Acoustic treatment aims to minimize these effects, thereby improving the clarity and quality of the sound you hear.

Acoustic treatments, such as foam panels and rubber feet for speakers, can significantly reduce unwanted reflections and enhance the listening and recording environment, even in basic bedroom studios. This treatment becomes especially important when recording vocals, as room noise captured during untreated conditions can compromise the quality of a recording. Implementing acoustic treatment, through readily available foam squares or other materials, can create a more controlled sound environment, essential for both recording and mixing stages.


In the world of home recording, cables are as crucial as the spark of inspiration that drives your music production. From connecting your studio monitors with speaker cables (TRS) to powering up your equipment with power cables, and from linking instruments with instrument cables (TS) to connecting microphones with XLR cables, the list of necessary cables is extensive.

The debate over how much to invest in cables is ongoing. While budget-friendly options are readily available on platforms like Amazon and Monoprice, there are also high-end audiophile cables from brands like Mogami. However, when it comes to the impact on audio quality, the difference cables make is often minimal compared to components like speakers. Surprisingly, blind tests, such as one conducted by SoundGuys comparing premium cables to a coat hanger, reveal that few people can discern a difference in audio quality. For beginners, especially where durability is not yet a concern, opting for basic cables is generally sufficient.

MIDI Keyboard

While not absolutely essential for every home studio, a MIDI keyboard is a highly valuable addition for most music producers. Whether you’re deeply involved in beat-making or simply need a convenient way to control your DAW and software instruments, a MIDI keyboard offers a tactile, interactive way to enhance your production workflow.


MIDI keyboards vary widely in their design, from lightweight and portable controllers to more substantial models featuring full-sized piano keys, faders, and additional control elements. Some keyboards also come with DAW-specific mappings right out of the box, facilitating a smoother integration into your existing setup. Regardless of your musical genre or production style, having a MIDI keyboard at your disposal can significantly contribute to the efficiency and creativity of your production process.

Rack Case

For musicians and producers who incorporate a variety of rack gear into their setups, maintaining an organized signal chain is essential. Rack cases are designed to house and protect this equipment, ranging from effects processors to preamps and more. Available in both floor and tabletop models, rack cases can come with various features such as wheel casters for mobility, adjustable angles for ease of use, and robust build quality for durability.

Choosing the right rack case depends on your specific needs, including the amount of gear you need to accommodate and the space available in your studio. Whether you’re just starting to explore the possibilities of rack-mounted equipment or looking to streamline an existing collection, a well-chosen rack case is pivotal in keeping your studio both organized and functional.


As you embark on your journey into music production, equipping your home studio with the right tools is crucial for transforming your creative visions into reality. From the foundational computer and DAW to the nuanced selections of microphones, headphones, and studio monitors, each piece of equipment plays a vital role in the recording process. Additions like a MIDI keyboard for enhanced control and creativity, cables for connectivity, a comfortable chair for those long sessions, acoustic treatment for optimal sound, and a rack case for organization, all contribute to a functional and efficient workspace. Remember, the path to building your ideal studio doesn’t require an all-at-once approach; rather, it’s a progressive journey tailored to your evolving needs as an artist. With patience and thoughtful investment in your equipment, you’ll be well-equipped to explore the limitless possibilities of music production, turning your home studio into a sanctuary of sound where your musical dreams can flourish.


Best Portable PA Systems
Best Studio Monitor Speakers
Best Home Theatre Systems
Best Bass Headphones
Best Close Back Headphones

Ethics Policy

Our team independently selects all featured products, but Pro MusicShop may earn a commission on purchases through our links. See our ethics policy for more.