How to Make a Home Studio
Steps, equipment, tips and more
Last Updated: December 2023 | 4131 words (21 – 23 minute read)
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So you want to get into creating professional quality music from a home or bedroom studio?
It’s absolutely doable. But it does take some knowledge to really get right.
In this guide, we’ll talk about what you need to think about before “building” your studio, the equipment you’ll need and how to set everything up so it becomes your musical oasis.
If you’re brand new to music production, be sure to check out our other guides including our step-by-step tutorial on how to make beats.
Other than that, let’s get into setting up a home studio.
Article Table of Contents
- 2 Essential Home Studio Equipment
- 3 Setting Up Your Studio
Audio Version of Article
Home Studio Setups vs. Pro Studio Setups
There are some pretty stark differences between home studios and professional studios, no doubt.
But with the way technology has progressed, you can get VERY professional results from your bedroom.
Professional studios still have their place, and they’re specifically designed to handle audio tasks in the most optimal way possible.
That means that each and every room is designed for maximum effectiveness – from it’s walls to it’s ceilings and even it’s dimensions and shape.
Unfortunately with a home studio, we don’t always have the optimal space to setup in.
What to Consider
Because we have to simply “work with what we’ve got” when making a home studio for music, we have to have a plan.
When building out a home studio, there are several things you need to think about beforehand.
There are different kinds of home studios out there, and each is designed to perform particular tasks well.
So you need to think about what your goals are – are you trying to record bands? Do you want to just make beats? Or maybe you want a space to record some vocals and some instruments here and there,
Either way, you’ll approach the space and the equipment you buy differently.
For example, if you’re setting up a studio to only make beats, then you have to worry less about acoustic treatment and things like microphones or studio monitors.
On the other hand, if you want to do mixing and mastering for other artists, then acoustics and setup become extremely important.
How Much You Can Spend
Another thing to plan beforehand is your overall budget.
Sure, you can make beats with a laptop and some headphones. And if you really want to record vocals, just get a USB mic (don’t actually… they suck).
But the truth is, there is some really fantastic equipment that you have the choice of getting to make your studio more usable, and more professional.
The only problem is, you can end up spending a TON of money. But you don’t have to. There are great equipment options that are very affordable.
So, set your budget and stick to it.
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If you’re planning on doing more than just making beats on headphones, then the room that you setup your home studio in is a pretty big factor in the overall build.
Most of us won’t be able to choose the ideal room, or renovate an existing room to get the best acoustics.
But if at all possible, try to choose a room that is closest to the following ideals:
- not an exact cube or square (worst type of room)
- high-ish ceilings
- not too oddly shaped
- the “longer” a room is the better
- no close walls
- not a lot of windows or doors
- as open a space as possible
- not a lot of outside sound bleeding in (ducts/pipes, footsteps from above, traffic from outside, etc.)
Of course, when we’re setting up a studio in our homes, we don’t have control over most of this stuff.
So don’t worry about it too much, just try to do it in the best room possible.
If you don’t have a choice of which room you can use, then use whatever you’ve got – you can make it work, regardless.
Essential Home Studio Equipment
Now let’s talk about the different type of equipment and supplies you’ll need to setup a decent home production/recording/mixing studio to make professional quality music in.
We’re not going over every possible piece of equipment you could use, but only the most essential things you’ll need.
Again, based on your goals for the studio, you may not need everything here.
The first thing we’ll discuss is acoustic treatment.
If you’ve ever seen 1-2″ foam on the walls of a studio, you know exactly what acoustic treatment is.
The reason you need to treat a room acoustically is because sound waves reflect off of all the surfaces in your room.
When the bounce off the walls they can come back to your ears, distorting your perception of what’s really happening in the music you’re listening to.
And low frequency sound energy (like bass) can actually build up into “standing waves” that make certain things seem louder or quieter than they actually are.
We want to try and control these reflections and standing waves as much as possible through 3 different methods:
- Acoustic foam – the 1-2″ foam you see on the walls to absorb some of the sound energy
- Diffusion – a random and oddly shaped surface that diffuses the sound waves in various directions
- Bass trapping – extremely thick and dense foam setups to help “trap” and control low frequencies
This is a pretty advanced subject that we’ll get into on another guide here at Deviant Noise, but it’s important to at least be aware of for now.
One thing beginner’s get confused about is acoustic treatment vs. sound proofing.
They are two separate things. Sound proofing is doing whatever you can to STOP sound from entering or exiting the studio space.
This can definitely be helpful, especially for recording, but is impractical for most home studios. To truly sound proof a room requires a LOT of work.
In many cases, it’s better to just choose a different room than to try and soundproof a noisy one.
Computer and DAW
The first actual piece of equipment you’ll need is the “brain” of your studio. This is where everything comes together.
Back in the day you’d need a lot more gear – huge mixing boards with pre-amps, EQs built in, and a ton of other equipment.
But nowadays, we can do everything we need to on a laptop with some software. Sure, if you’re into it, you can still use that traditional studio equipment.
But it’s not necessary.
All you need is a decent desktop/laptop computer and some software called a digital audio workstation (i.e DAW).
I highly recommend you get yourself an Apple Silicon (i.e. M1/M2/M3) MacBook. Even the baseline MacBook Air M1 is a BEAST of a computer.
It’ll be able to handle quite a bit of audio work for you, and it’s not too expensive
You can definitely use a windows laptop as well. There’s nothing all that special about Mac vs. PC, but I will say this – Apple’s Core Audio just works so much less-buggy than Windows-based ASIO audio. Take that for what you will.
Here’s some specs to keep in mind when building/buying a computer:
- Processor: M1/M2/M3 for Apple, Intel i5/i7 for Windows
- RAM/Memory: 8GB works well on Apple Silicon machines, but 16GB is better (definitely get 16 GB for Windows machines)
- Hard Drive: get an SSD hard drive and make it as big as you can. 1+ TB is great, but 512GB is probably the lowest you want to go
As far as your studio software (i.e. DAW) goes, you have the pick of the litter.
Every major piece of software will be able to do the same things – compose, edit, record, mix, etc. The way these things are done (i.e. the workflow) may be different for each DAW, but you’ll be able to do the same things, regardless.
And in some cases, certain tools may need to be purchased separately, whereas other options will include them.
Here are some popular choices:
- Ableton Live
- Pro Tools
- Logic Pro
- FL Studio
Pick one, and learn it inside out.
The next piece of equipment you’ll need is called an audio interface.
These are basically professional-grade “sound cards” for your computer setup. They help to convert audio at a high quality from analog to digital, and from digital back to analog.
If that doesn’t mean anything to you, don’t worry about it for now.
Just know that a professional audio interface is what you’ll use to:
- record audio
- playback audio
It’s the device both your headphones/speakers connect to and the device your microphone will connect to.
When you turn real audio into a computer file, and when you play a computer file to hear real audio, a conversion happens both ways.
The components in a pro audio interface work to make sure that conversion happens at a high level of quality. The audio converters inside the device themselves, along with the microphone “pre-amp” within the interface work to make that happen.
And when you’re recording/mixing/mastering music, you always want to be working with the highest quality possible.
Here are some good options to consider at every budget level:
- Audient EVO
- Universal Audio Apollo
- RME BabyFace Pro
Studio Monitors and Headphones
The next thing we should talk about is monitors and headphones.
A studio “monitor” is not a display for your computer. It’s actually what we call professional grade speakers.
It’s what you’ll hear the audio from. Studio monitors are designed and calibrated to produce the most “neutral” (or “flat” – i.e. natural) sound from the audio content.
When you’re mixing, for example, you need the details and nuances of the audio to be clear enough that you can make good decisions.
As far as headphones go, no studio is complete without at least a couple of great pairs of headphones. You’ll use them to both listen to audio, and record audio.
Here are some good options for studio monitors:
- KRK Rokit Series
- Adam T Series
- Yamaha NS Series
The size of your studio monitors will depend on your room size (and preference for bass). If you have a small room, it makes no sense to have huge monitors – you can get away with 4-6 inch monitors.
If you have a medium sized or larger room (or like a lot of bass) then you can go for 8 inch and bigger studio monitors.
Keep in mind, that most of the time (especially when mixing) you’re not going to be listening at a loud volume. So having huge monitors in a small room is actually just a waste of money.
Closed Back vs. Open Back Headphones
When choosing headphones, you need to think about your goals for your studio again.
There are two main types of studio headphones – open back and closed back. Closed back headphones are great for tasks like recording/tracking audio. That’s because the “closed back” doesn’t bleed any audio into the microphone.
On the other hand, open back headphones are great for mixing and composing because their “open backs” allow them to produce a more rich and detailed sound.
Be sure to check out our buyers guide on the best studio headphones for more information.
Once you’ve bought your monitors you may also need monitor stands to place them on.
Of course, this will depend on your room setup and how your big your desk is. We have a complete guide on how to setup studio monitors that you should check out as well.
For now, just keep in mind you may need to buy separate stands for the speakers.
If you’re planning on recording audio, then you’ll obviously need some microphones to capture the performances.
The amount of microphones (and types) you’ll need really depend on whether you’re recording lots of instruments or just vocals.
If you’re just planning on recording vocals, you’ll really only need one good, versatile microphone.
If you’re recording certain instruments (like guitar, for example), you may still be able to get away with just one microphone.
If you’re planning on recording drums, however, that obviously will require a whole set of microphones.
Quality (and price) matters here. Microphones can get REALLY expensive. You don’t need to spend 10s of thousands of dollars, but you don’t want to skimp on cheap shit either.
For now, we’ll recommend some really great vocal microphones that can also be used to record things like guitars, for various budgets:
- Audio Technica AT2020 (non-USB)
- Rode NT1-A
- Neumann TLM-103
Stands, Shields and Pop Screens
In addition to the microphone itself (which should come with a mounting piece – the “shock mount”), you’ll also need a stand to hold the microphone in.
You don’t want to be recording vocals, by having your singer hold on to the microphone. They’re way too sensitive for that.
So grab a normal microphone stand and also get a “pop screen” or “pop filter.”
A pop screen is necessary to help control the “plosives” on words – i.e. the “puh” and “buh” sounds. Those are pretty energy intense sounds, and can overwhelm the microphone. A pop filter helps to reduce it.
Finally, if you’re not able to acoustically treat a room very well, you might want to consider investing in an “acoustic shield” for your microphone.
These are large, thick foam shields that wrap around the back of a microphone setup, to stop any unwanted audio reflections from getting into the microphone during recording.
They can be expensive ($300+) but are pretty worth it if you’re recording in a room that’s not treated perfectly.
Desk and Chair
Of course, no studio is usable without a great desk and chair(s).
Get a nice big desk with lots of table space, so you can put all the equipment you need close by to your working position.
Also get a good quality chair, since you’ll be spending a lot of time sitting on it. A lot of producers love to use gaming chairs as their studio chairs because of the support and comfort level.
As for desks, you could get a specific “studio” desk – there are tons of expensive options out there. But you could also just use a normal desk from Ikea, or something.
Better yet, you could take a bunch of stuff from Ikea and build your own custom studio desk.
Just make sure it’s comfortable and practical, because you’ll be spending a lot of time at it, and you’ll probably have a bunch of gear you want nearby.
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Cables & Accessories
To connect everything together and make things work efficiently, you’ll need a bunch of cables and accessories.
This includes things like an XLR cable to connect your microphone to your audio interface, but also things like 1/4″ audio cables to hook up your studio monitors.
Some products will include cables (like USB cables for audio interfaces), while others will NOT (like Thunderbolt cables for audio interfaces).
Just be aware, that you may end up spending some money of cables and accessories you didn’t realize you’d need.
Before we get into the “other stuff” you might want to buy for your studio, let me say one thing.
You can do everything you’ll ever need to do to create professional music with the stuff we’ve already talked about.
The below 3 things are NOT necessary and are extra. They are “nice-to-haves,” so don’t think you need to spend money on them.
DAW’s are perfectly capable of being controlled by a mouse. And they all contain instruments, plugins and devices that do everything you need to do.
But… that’s not always the most “fun” way to do things.
So let’s collect a bunch of shit we don’t need…
There are TONS (literally tons) of third-party software plugins that you can buy to integrate into your home studio.
These will be things like virtual instruments (ex/ VST Synths, including popular options) and processing effects that do various things.
And it honestly seems like we’ve been flooded in new plugins that all essentially do the same things, over the last few years.
Everyone and their mother is in the plugin game.. (two clicks, and it’s perfect).
And collecting plugins is kind of fun. But try not to go overboard here.
MIDI controllers are hardware/equipment that assist you in beat making that you can use to control the studio software and plugins on your computer, without having to use a mouse/keyboard.
You’ll never fully get away from the mouse/keyboard with a computer studio setup, but you can come close.
Whether you want to play out notes and chords (using a MIDI keyboard) or you want to control your software plugins (with a MIDI plugin controller), these devices will help you feel more like you’re making music, and less like you’re working with a spreadsheet.
They don’t have to be expensive and can be a huge boost in your workflow. Consider them, if you have the budget, and based on your goals.
Finally, let’s talk about outboard gear – REAL LIFE MUSIC MAKING GEAR.
I’m talking mixers, synths, EQs, compressors, pre-amps – literally everything – in hardware format.
Everyone loves turning knobs and pushing faders. It’s just fuckin fun… And some of us (me included) have a fetish for “analog” audio production. (As opposed to “digital” production, which all happens inside the computer).
Outboard gear is coveted because some of it (the “analog” variety) uses nothing but electrical signals to produce it’s output.
This can result in really interested things.
But you can end up going overboard and spending tens of thousands of dollars on outboard gear, so be careful.
And remember, it’s NOT NECESSARY. Only buy outboard gear if you love wasting your money.
Because like I said, everything you need to do can be done on a professional level inside the box (i.e. on your computer).
But… outboard gear is also an option for your home studio setup.
Setting Up Your Studio
Now that we know about the different things we’ll need to setup our home studio, let’s talk about actually setting things up.
There’s a few things you need to consider when putting everything together…
The layout of your room can definitely impact how you perceive the audio you’re working with.
The worst thing you can probably do is set yourself up too close to the walls, or right in the center of the room.
Of course, there’s not a lot of control over how big your room is, or the ideal layout within that room, when you’re working on a home studio.
But do the best you can, to lay things out in a way that minimizes unwanted reflections and distortions of how you hear the audio.
The best place to put your studio desk is off-center a bit, and away from any walls. Try to set things up length-wise, where your desk is closer to one end of the longest dimension of the room (i.e. if your room is rectangular, try to use the long length of the room as much as you can).
Of course, no room inside your home will be perfect, and you may need to compromise on your “listening position.”
If that’s the case, there is software out there that you can use to “calibrate” your room.
What this software (with microphone) does is it tests the acoustics of your room, and then adjusts the audio output of your speakers to result in a sound that is as accurate as possible.
There are a few different options out there, but one I have used before is SonarWorks SoundID.
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The one thing to remember about where you place your equipment is that audio reflects off of ALL surfaces and can impact what you hear.
This is especially true for the studio monitors (i.e. speakers) themselves. We have a complete guide on how to setup studio monitors correctly, so definitely check that out.
Beyond that, however, you want to set things up in a way that is inviting.
No one likes a really messy studio. Try and organize things so that you’re able to find them when you need them, and aren’t fighting a bunch of clutter every time you step into the room.
This isn’t going to be an exhaustive exploration of the audio “signal chain,” but rather a high-level overview of how you’ll connect everything.
Your computer is the brain – the central hub. So set that up and connect your monitor/keyboard/mouse if necessary.
After that, hook up any midi controllers to your laptop via USB, and install their included software packages.
At this point, you should setup your microphone and the studio monitors and place them where you’d like. You can also connect the microphone and monitors to your audio interface using the additional cables you bought.
Finally, you’ll install your audio interface’s software on your laptop/computer, and turn on the device.
And there you go – you’re all setup to start making music in your home studio.
Unfortunately, wireless and bluetooth aren’t good enough to give us professional results when we’re working with professional audio.
Because of that, you’ll find that there are a TON of wires that you have to deal with.
“Cable management” is a skill in and of itself. Try to be as organized and clean with your cables as possible.
There’s nothing worse than tripping on a cable and knocking your expensive studio monitors over…
The final thing you should consider when building your home studio out, is the ambience.
A studio (even a home studio) is a special place. It’s where you go to be your most creative self.
And the ambience (i.e. the “vibe” of the room) can play a big role in your ability to work at your best.
Ambience includes how clean your studio is, the lighting you use and even how it smells (use candles and shit).
You should set it up in a way that is inviting and calming. Don’t use fluorescent lights, because they’ll make you feel like you’re in a classroom. Kills the vibes, man…
Colored lighting is awesome, as are those little projection devices and party lights.
Do whatever fits your personality, but make it something special – something different from all the other rooms in your house.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can make a home studio because there is a lot of great, affordable equipment that can help you get professional results in any home setting, especially if the room your studio is in is treated for audio production.
A home studio can cost various amounts depending on the equipment and software purchased, the room modifications made and more.
You should build your home studio in a room that is not a perfect cube or a square – the longer the room dimensions, the better. You also want to minimize windows and doors in the room, and try to choose an isolated area of the house without a lot of ducts or noise around.
There you have it – a complete overview on how to build out a studio in your home for beginners.
We weren’t able to get into a lot of detail on each section here, because there’s just so much to potentially cover.
But now that you have an idea of what you’ll need to buy and how you’ll need to set things up, you can get started on getting everything together.
It might make sense to plan everything out – from the equipment, to the lighting/ambience and acoustic treatment options – before you actually start buying equipment and gear.
And remember, you don’t need the most expensive stuff in the store to get really high-quality music made.
Get what you can. It’s YOU that makes the music, not the GEAR.
If you’re new to making music, sign-up for our free Beat Making Cheat Sheets and you’ll get our 7-Day Course to Better Beats as well.
Thanks for reading this giant guide on how to build a home studio! I hope it was helpful in your music making journey.
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