Home Recording Studio Design For Voiceover Artists

Building A Home Recording Studio

I’d like to try and help voiceover professionals who haven’t yet set up their own home studios so that they don’t make some of the common errors that I made.

I want to point out that I’m not a technical whiz so this will be very low tech. These ideas and opinions along with my personal experience and observations are mine alone.

Many others will have different views. This is just an attempt to help those who have not yet set up a home studio. This is my progression through the business of recording my voice work and getting it to my clients since the mid-nineties.

First of all, it’s a good idea to think about whether you need one, and then, if you do, what you want to accomplish with one. As I see it, there are two basic types of studio.

One is for someone who wants to send voice work only to clients…no production. The other is for people who produce, or want to. In my case, I have never been a producer and I send my clients voice only.

ISDN or MP3?

The people who have already spent time in production will be way ahead of the rest of us in knowing how to put together a production studio, whether at home or elsewhere. This article is basically for the rest of us, who only want to voice material for clients and send it back to them.

With that in mind, you still have two choices. You can either opt for installing ISDN lines and using them to do sessions with clients in studios outside your home, or you can record your clients material in your little studio and send it to them using mp3 or an ftp site.

I find today that there are a great many clients for my work who want me to send them mp3 files, either attached to email, using an ftp site or burned on a CD.

I also have friends who have ISDN studios in their homes and use them…some more, some less frequently. Most of them do at least some audio production work as well as just doing voice work. In my case, I do not use ISDN in my home studio. I do have access to it though, if required, through a benevolent producer friend.

Ok, assuming you don’t do audio production, such as creating radio and television commercials complete with music background, and don’t want to get into the ISDN thing…I can give you the benefit of what I’ve discovered over the past several years.

Recording studio equipment

I chose an ElectroVoice RE27ND microphone. Someone advised me to buy the microphone I sounded best on. This particular microphone was in use at the radio station for which I did commercials and promos. The technical people at the station told me I sounded good on it, so I bought one. A lot of radio stations use it’s cousin, the RE20, as their standard microphone.

I had no dedicated studio room so I used the dining room table. I ran the microphone through a Symetrix sx202 pre-amp and recorded on a Sony MDS-302 Mini-Disc recorder. I still have the system, including the computer that powered it, all long since retired.

This was in 1995-96, so it was pretty early in the home studio game. There was little access to CD burners. Only the biggest studios downtown had them. But I could record on mini-discs and then transfer them to tape cassettes and keep the quality pretty high. At least to the cassette!

At this point, the only way to record and edit was by using the software that came with the sound card installed when you bought the computer (usually SoundBlaster by Creative), or that came with Windows. Now, there are further choices as to what software you use to record. I’ll have more on that topic later.

I was doing a lot of work in the commercial sound studios in Toronto and area and didn’t really advance much further in the home studio field until coming to San Diego in 1999.

I had a reasonably fast computer for the time, and eventually got a DSL hookup. It was dicey with the DSL because I was living at the outer limits of service from the phone company office (or CO) nearest me.

By the way, I suspect most of you might have tried DSL and then cable, or the other way round, as a connection for your computer. I started with DSL, which worked (there were some stressful times when PacBell first started offering DSL, as many may recall), but when I moved to a new house in a new subdivision, I opted for cable. I’m quite happy with my decision, but there are also lots of happy DSL users. It’s your choice…either will work for you.

Shortly after arriving in San Diego, I began to upgrade my home studio. Very early in that process, I went from a dialup 56K modem on EarthLink to DSL. That made it much faster to transfer audio to clients over the net.

I did find that longer .wav files were still a problem and a lot of people were still asking for them. I tried attaching them to email, but for longer audio files, I had to cut them up into sections. In a lot of cases, I was dealing with studios where they could patch the audio but it was still a hassle.

In the next while, things happened fast in the audio field. People started using mp3’s more extensively, so I did as well.

Better sound cards were becoming available and eventually, I bought a SoundBlaster Platinum Plus Live 5.1. It has a front panel for connecting microphone and headphones, including volume controls, as well as optical connections for people who want digital outputs.

I started hearing about a new microphone…a producer friend called it a Neumann knockoff. It’s a Rode NT1000. I tried it out and it was an quite an improvement over the ElectroVoice. There was one problem for me though. It was also a lot more sensitive.

The RE27ND has a very narrow pattern, meaning there wasn’t as much room noise picked up. The Rode has a much wider pattern, and it’s just so much more sensitive, I had to rethink the studio space. I had been getting along with a minimal amount of soundproofing. Not so with this microphone.

Soundproofing a home voiceover studio

I know voiceover people who are using their walk-in closets as studios. I’m using one of the bedrooms in my house. There are many ways to sound proof.

A friend of mine bought himself a prefab sound booth and it works well for him. You need a bit of space for the prefab booths, although they do come in different sizes.

I found that buying an inexpensive comforter and hanging it on one wall has helped immensely. You can also get soundproofing material from your local pro audio store. I will be doing more in regards to my soundproofing in the future.

Audio Processing Gear

In the same conversation with my producer friend that ended with my purchase of the Rode microphone, he suggested I should be running it through the same system he was, a dbx286A preamp/mic processor. I picked one up at the same time I bought my Rode NT1000. I also acquired a pro windscreen and microphone stand.

With my recent purchase of a new Dell computer system, I ran into a small problem. The Creative Audigy 2 sound card that came with it doesn’t have the front panel I had been used to, and I was left with mini-plugs on the back of the sound card for connections.

I didn’t feel comfortable with that so, after asking around at sound stores and consulting other voice pros, I bought a sound card called a Mia from a smaller company called Echo, based in Carpinteria, California. It is a very good pro card, with ¼ in jacks in back as well as digital outputs. I have both cards installed but all my voice work goes through the Mia.

The most popular editing choices seem to be Cool Edit and Sound Forge by Sonic Foundry. You can spend more and buy Pro-Tools or SAW, but these programs are intended for people who are actually doing audio production.

This is the system I currently use

The Rode NT1000, into the dbx286A, into a new Dell dimension 8300, into an Mia sound card – by Echo, edited on Sound Forge by Sonic Foundry, and either burned on CD, attached to email and sent out or loaded on a client’s ftp site. I have my own ftp site, so my clients can simply download from there. I do have Cool Edit and use it to edit music mp3’s but not for voice work. There’s nothing wrong with Cool Edit, I just prefer Sound Forge.

If you have a questions about anything here, please email and I’ll try my best to answer you.

How to Set Up a Home Recording Studio- Design & Equipment List

Home Recording Studios have only come into existence relatively recently. It wasn’t very long ago that music studios were the exclusive domain of successful musicians, producers, and engineers.

For the average person, the idea of building a home recording studio would have bordered on financial lunacy. But thanks to four technological developments, it’s now possible for just about anyone to have their own recording studio.

The first development is the coming of the computer age, with lower prices and smaller, faster processors that have made computers accessible to the public. Believe it or not, the computers we now have in our homes are more powerful than the computers that guided the first men to the moon! Coupled with powerful software, it’s now possible to create music with hardware that you may already own.

The second development is a corollary to the first. As prices have come down and consumers have become more computer-savvy, the demand has increased for peripheral devices such as keyboards and microphones. As a result, the price of these devices has gradually declined as well. Nowadays, it’s possible to buy reasonably good equipment for your home recording studio at a reasonably low price.

The third development might surprise you. As music has become more and more digitized and “synthetic,” the recording quality necessary to turn out a good product has actually declined somewhat, at least for some kinds of music. Of course, the need for quality music will never change. But sometimes it takes less to convey that quality than it used to. The quality achievable in a home recording studio these days is more than enough. The quality of sound you can get is much better than 40 years ago.

Finally, it’s no longer necessary for musicians to land contracts with big record labels in order to promote their music. The Internet has made it possible to distribute music world-wide without any assistance from the mainstream music industry. Even better, this development has encouraged experimentation on a large scale. Though your music may never make it to the top 40 without the support of a large music conglomerate, you’ll still be heard, at least by a few people!

The convergence of all these circumstances has made it not only possible, but even practical to create a home recording studio. Whether you’re a musician longing for a place where you can experiment privately, or whether you just want to rent your studio to others, you now have tools that music engineers thirty years ago couldn’t even dream of.

Without the right knowledge, though, those tools will probably be put to inappropriate use. What you need is information so that you can make sure you have the right hardware that makes it easy for you to make the music you love. And that’s where this site comes in.

This site is designed to teach you the basics. You’ll learn what you can accomplish with a home recording studio, and about its components, you’ll learn about equipment the pros use, but you’ll also learn about studios that are much less sophisticated – and still very functional. This site will walk you through the process of creating a studio, from the planning stages to completion and beyond. There is a discussion of equipment in great detail, and gives recommendations for specific brands and models. There are also links to resources for further education and research.

It’s my hope that you will find this website useful not only when you’re just learning the basics about home recording studios, but also later when you’ve got some experience. If you like the book, or even if you don’t, I’d like to hear from you. In the meantime, welcome to the world of the home recording studio.

Let’s begin!


Home Studio: Advantages and Disadvantages

We’ve established that creating a home studio is feasible. But what’s in it for you? Why not just rent someone else’s studio? In this chapter, we’ll look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of recording at home.

Advantages

Although having a facility at home may not be for everyone, there are distinct advantages to doing so. Here are some of the most important.

Lower Long-Term Cost

Perhaps the most important advantage of recording is that you don’t have to pay anyone when you use it. Obviously, there’s an initial capital investment like buying a dyson for laminate floors. However, the cost of a small home recording set up may be lower than the cost of renting a professional facility even once. And after you’ve set up your home recording studio, you will only pay for ongoing expenses such as blank CDs and upkeep.

Greater Flexibility

If you hire or rent a professional facility, you’ll probably have to use it only during certain hours. Moreover, there may be limitations on how equipment is to be used. If you have a place of your own in your house, though, you can be there in an instant, even if it’s three in the morning and you’re wearing nothing but your bunny slippers. You get to decide just how the equipment will be used.

Greater Creative Control

Because rental costs are so high, you’ll want the session to be as short as possible. For that reason, you’ll keep experimentation to a minimum, and you may be inclined to stop before you’re really happy with the product. In your own place, though, you can experiment to your heart’s content. You can be as picky as you want.

Greater Efficiency

Having a home recording set up can save you a lot of time. For example, you don’t have the travel time involved in commuting. Moreover, you don’t have to explain to someone else what sound you’re going for.

Disadvantages

Nothing is perfect, and having a home recording set up is no exception. Here are some reasons you may want to use a conventional facility.

Greater Sound Quality

Unless you’re independently wealthy, a commercial facility will probably have much more sophisticated equipment than yours. It may also have live instruments that you cannot afford, such as a high-quality piano. You’ll have to decide whether the difference in quality is important enough to forego the advantages of a place at home.

More options musically

A commercial facility serves many clients with vastly different needs. Thus, it will have invested in more gadgets than you can probably afford. For example, you will probably be limited to buying just a couple of microphones with a sound you particularly like. However, a commercial facility may have ten microphones, each with a different quality.

Expertise

Let’s face it, no one knows what they’re doing when they start a new venture. If you hire a commercial studio, you don’t really have to know what you’re doing, at least on the technical side!

Lower Risk

If you rent a music studio and the equipment breaks down, you’re not the one who will have to pay to repair or replace it. The studio bears the full risk of theft, fire, and other disasters.

You’ve probably thought about the advantages and disadvantages, and you’re leaning towards building your own studio. The remainder of this book will help you through the process of building a home recording studio economically.

Every Musician Needs Somewhere To Play

You’re already on your way to creating a home recording studio. You may be unclear, though, on how you’d like to use it. It’s best to be very goal-oriented when equipping your home for studio recording. Your choice of home recording equipment depends in large part on what you’ll use it for.

Here are some of the things you might do in a home studio:

First, you can compose music. Even if you never intend to do any home recording, a studio offers the musician a well-equipped “laboratory” in which to experiment. Your computer can make sheet music automatically, so you don’t have to write it all out; and it can even transpose it into a different key. If you’re really adventurous, you can perform weird audio experiments in the privacy of a soundproofed room. Nobody ever has to know about that time you tried to make music with a whistle and a bowl of dog kibble (let’s face it, some experiments work better than others!).

Or, you can record music – either yours or someone else’s. If you’ve just formed a new band and you want to make a demo, it may be cheaper to use your spare room for home recording than to pay someone else to record you. And once it’s built, you can charge other bands to record their demos for them. Your studio could even end up paying for itself.

Depending on what equipment you have, you can mix or master recordings for yourself or other people. You probably wouldn’t do this for hire if you’re inexperienced, but if you’re a sound engineer who’s tired of the daily commute, you might be able to work from home and spend less time in the rat race.

You can get in touch with your creative side by creating samples (little snippets of sound from various instruments), or special effects (this is where the whistle and dog food could actually prove useful!). If you create your own samples, you don’t risk infringing someone else’s copyright; and if you sell your sample CDs, you’ll have copyright interests of your own! You can use studio equipment to duplicate other recordings. Keep in mind, though, that copying someone else’s music without permission can cause you a lot of trouble and expense.

If you are a performer and you need sound equipment for your gigs, you can buy equipment that will do double-duty. You’ll be able to record at home, but the equipment will be portable enough to use when you perform.

The rest of the articles assumes that you are most interested in composing and recording your own music and producing it using your own home recording equipment. Even if you have other ideas, though, you will find useful information in the chapters that follow.

You Don’t Have to Have Cutting-Edge Music Equipment In Your Studio to Create Cutting-Edge Music

Before we begin talking about music equipment, let’s discuss a concept that has mystified Western civilization since the 1980s: the concept of “enough.” Cultural and economic traditions encourage us to pursue our goals with all the fervor and dedication of a used car salesman about to sell his first Hollywood script. The temptation to accumulate more and more – for no particular reason – is seductive indeed.

Naturally, then, some of us have taken on the rallying cry of “new, better, different!” and decided there’s no point in creating a studio unless we can equip it with brand new, state-of-the-art, high-tech music equipment. Manufacturers, of course, have made no moves to convince us otherwise.

As a result, musicians have spent thousands buying music equipment that’s so confusing they can’t figure out how to use it. They never manage to get beyond a few basic techniques that could have been accomplished with much cheaper music equipment. Or perhaps they give up altogether. Many musicians are so discouraged by the prices they never attempt such a project at all.

Well, there’s certainly nothing preventing you from spending your nest egg – whether large or small – on machines and software and fancy peripherals. If you’ve won the lottery and can’t be dissuaded, then by all means, skip the section on budgeting.

If you’re like most musicians, though, and your funds are limited, don’t let anyone tell you that you have to spend a lot of money to make innovative music.

It’s simply not true.

Think about it. There’s a lot of innovative music coming from musicians who use very ordinary instruments, or even household objects. The percussion group Stomp, for example, has managed to make a very nice living from mundane items like garbage bin covers and athlete’s chalk.

And consider this:

Frank Zappa once said, “all the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.”

Even if that’s true (and it’s not), do we really believe that Beethoven’s piano concertos could be improved if we just had more expensive music equipment? Can we say that about Stardust, or Stairway to Heaven?

The fact is, music originates in the soul. Yes, we can create new sounds with high-tech recording equipment, but those sounds don’t become music until someone adds their life and vision. If you’re one of those lucky souls who has that vision, you’ll find music no matter what music equipment you’re using.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that you should just go buy a micro-cassette recorder with a built-in microphone and start recording. In addition to creating good music, you’ve got to be able to reproduce it well enough to convey your vision to your listeners.

So how good does your music equipment need to be? It just needs to be good enough to meet your needs. And what’s good enough depends on the type of music you want to record, the instruments you’ll use, and your overall goals.


Music Equipment –
Explaining the Music Jargon!

It’s no wonder that few musicians build a home studio. On top of the expense, the music jargon can be incredibly intimidating. You’ll come across strange concepts like balanced and unbalanced, patch bay, in-line monitoring, busses, slot resonators, analog and digital, and sequencers. It takes a considerable amount of stamina to wade through all that mumbo-jumbo and figure out what all the music jargon means.

The fact is, you don’t have to understand much about technology to create a decent home recording studio – just as you don’t need to understand electricity to buy a good ceiling fan. A little guidance from people with experience, some basic research on your part, and a lot of listening will teach you everything you need to know.

Still, you do have to know what to ask for when you go to the store, you need to use the right music jargon. Thus, some vocabulary is unavoidable. Let’s begin with the basic components that make up a typical computer-based home recording studio.

All music equipment in a studio falls into one of three general categories: Input, processing (the computer hardware and software), and output.

Let’s take them in order.

Input Gear

If you want the computer to “hear” and store your singing, you’ve got to get your voice into the computer in a language it can understand. The devices that collect the sounds are called input devices.

Microphone

This piece of music equipment you probably already know about, the input device with which you collect sound is the microphone. The microphone collects your voice or instrument and converts it into electrical impulses called analog signals.

Pre-amp

The electrical impulse created by the microphone is so weak that, by itself, it wouldn’t even create a squeak, much less a big sound. The name for this piece of music equipment is the preamp, it magnifies the signal so it’s powerful enough to create sound you can hear.

The preamp can do something else that’s very important if equipped properly. Computers don’t understand “analog.” They only understand “digital,” which is basically just a code made of a series of Ons and Offs (these are represented as 1s and 0s). The language difference, of course, creates the need for a translator – something that can understand analog, and then translate it into digital and send it on to the computer.

The music jargon for this process is analog-to-digital conversion, and the preamp can be equipped to do this task. The computer sound card does this conversion.

Keyboards and synthesizers

The microphone isn’t the only way to collect sound. You can also use a keyboard or synthesizer. Electronic keyboards and synthesizers send music in a language called MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) that allows devices to speak to each other through a MIDI cable – another piece of music jargon worth remembering. You can also get something called a controller keyboard that allows you to control several synthesizers from a single keyboard.

Samplers

A sampler, which can be either a piece of hardware or a piece of software, is like a recording studio in a box. It records and stores snippets of sound from musical instruments. Those snippets can be changed, manipulated, and layered. A sampler is useful where you don’t have access to live instruments, but you want a live sound.

Outboard equipment

Outboard equipment is hardware that allows the musician to create special effects such as reverberation. You can also use plug-ins to create these effects.

Processing Gear

Computer

From the input device, the sound goes into the computer where it is replayed, processed, or stored. You’ll read more about computers later. For now, just keep in mind that the computer can be either an Apple Mac or a PC. The computer uses the following items to do its job.

Sound card

The sound card takes the information from the outside world and converts it into language the computer can understand. Thus, like the pre-amp, it acts as a translator. The sound card also determines the quality of the sound you get. The better the sound card, the more realistic the sound.

Software

The computer can only do what it’s told to do. Software is the stuff that gives the computer its instructions (with a little help from you!). Software can help you record, mix, manipulate, and do all kinds of other wonderful things, depending on the package you use.

Plug-ins

A slightly less well known piece of music equipment jargon is the plug-in. These are bits of software that process the music further, or add effects – for example, there’s a plug-in that makes the sound reverberate. Plug-ins often do some of the tasks of outboard equipment, though often not quite so well as the dedicated piece of hardware.

Output devices

What fun is music equipment if you never get to hear back what you’ve recorded? Output devices provide a way to get the sound out of your computer, so you can listen to your creations. Here are some common output devices:

Monitor

A very important piece of music equipment is the monitoring system, this is the type of speaker. However, the purpose of a monitor is not to make music sound good; rather, it is to reproduce sound accurately so you can make it better. It doesn’t enhance or improve. It just, well, monitors the sound.

Speakers

Speakers and monitors are similar kinds of music equipment; but speakers may be designed to improve the sound. This is great if you want to enjoy the fruits of your labor; it’s not always so great if you want to hear what you actually recorded.

Headphones

These are a pretty self-explanatory piece of music equipment. Headphones are just speakers you wear on your ears. They are great if you want to listen without creating ambient sound. For example, you might want to hear the music while you add a voice track; or maybe you’ve just got a really strict landlady! But beware, there are funny acoustic things that happen to the sound between the speakers and your ears that don’t happen on headphones!

Mixing desk

Our final piece of music equipment is the mixing desk, it allows you to regulate and adjust the music. Mixing lets you adjust the relative volume of different instruments, but it also lets you send different types of sound into different channels. This latter function can make it easier to get just the sound effect you want. Most music software now does mixing, too, so a mixing desk isn’t the necessity it used to be. But it can still provide useful functionality and connectivity.

Why do you want a Studio full of great recording studio equipment?

As we’ve discussed, the creation of a home studio is a very goal-oriented process. Before you think about budget, recording studio equipment, or anything else, you’ve got to figure out what it is you’re trying to accomplish. What kind of recording studio do you want for yourself and therefore what kind of recording studio equipment do you need?

Here are some questions that may help you out:

What do you want to record?

Think about your favorite type of music. Make a list of the instruments, types of sounds, and types of voices that are used in this genre of music. As the type of music you want to create is likely to be similar to your favorite genre. Don’t forget to think about the types of special effects that are used too.

Try and put into words what kind of music you want to record. This may be easy for some, e.g. Classical, RnB, Drum n Bass, Pop, Jazz, but go further try and put into words the types of sound you hear. Using everyday descriptive words like fast, slow, bright, dull, heavy and light.

Think about how many people or instruments you’ll want to record at one time. Ask yourself whether you want to record in “layers” or whether you’d rather fit everyone in the studio all at the same time.

What do you want to do with the recordings?

Are you trying to record a demo for a record label you have in mind? Do you just want to send recordings to your grandmother? Do you want to sell your recordings? Do you want to sell your recordings to your grandmother? Shame on you!

How long do you want the recording studio equipment to last, and how much use will it get?

Are you just trying to get some basic recording studio equipment in place until you can afford something better? Or is this for keeps?

Why don’t you just use a commercial recording studio for this project?

Is it because of cost? Because you want to be in charge of the creative process? So you don’t have to get dressed?

Do you want to impress people with your studio equipment?

It’s all right to answer yes. If you plan to record for other people, you want them to be impressed by and have confidence in your recording studio equipment.

Consider other questions that, while not directly goal-related, will help direct the process:

How much experience do you have with recording, and with recording studio equipment?

Do you have friends who can advise you?

How good are you with electronic gadgets?

How much space do you have for a studio?

Notice that there are no questions here about money. There are separate articles about budgeting and money. For now, concentrate on your goals. Once you’re clear on what you want to accomplish, you can look for ways to make your budget work.


‘I would advise you to keep your overhead down; avoid a major drug habit; play everyday, and take it in front of other people. They need to hear it, and you need them to hear it.’

James Taylor (Legend, Singer and songwriter)


There are studios and then there are studios! We might want a state-of-the-art studio with all the latest recording studio equipment, but few of us have the resources.

So, why not cut corners if you can get by with less? Why spend $20,000 when you can get all the recording studio equipment for your needs for just $2000? And what if $2000 is about $1500 more than you can spend? If push comes to shove, what can you do without? What’s optional and what’s not? Now that you have examined your goals, you can figure out what you’ve got to have, and what you just wish you could have.

The bare necessities

In simplest terms, a recording studio just needs to do four things: collect sound, manipulate it, store or process it, and spit it out again when we ask it to. Here are the things you absolutely must have when you’re starting out.

You’ll need some sort of input device . Input devices include keyboards, synthesizers, microphones, and, in some cases, samplers. Which devices you need depends on what sort of music you want to record. If you’ll be recording live instruments, including vocals, you’ll need microphones. But if you’re just using a synthesizer and making instrumental music, you may be able to skip the microphone and some other recording studio equipment.

You’ll need a device to magnify the tiny electrical impulses collected when you use an input device – otherwise you won’t be able to hear anything. For this, you’ll need a preamplifier. These often come as part of the mixing desk but are often available seperately.

Another piece of recording studio equipment you’ll need is a music computer – a must these days. Either an Apple Mac or a PC will do, although many professionals swear by Apple Macs. It doesn’t need to be designed specifically for music, although such computers do exist. It does, however, need to have enough memory (both ROM and RAM) to operate the software and store large audio files.

You’ll need music software as part of your essential recording studio equipment. There are several good music programs available, for example, Cakewalk, Cubase, Logic Audio, Pro Tools. Most of them are expensive but some are not. You might be tempted to buy a cheap, old version of the software. Keep in mind, though, that well-known programs may have better technical support available and will sound better. Moreover, files created by cheapie programs may not be compatible with other programs you want to use. You can probably get away with using an older version of a well-known program, but you probably can’t escape the cost altogether.

You’ll need recording studio equipment that can translate the music you record into language the music computer understands. This process is called ”analog-to-digital conversion.” You’ll need two devices to talk to the computer. The first is a sound card. Don’t rely on the sound card that came with the computer. Good sound cards are not too expensive, and they make a huge difference in the quality of the end product. Buy the best sound card you can afford, and make sure it has enough input and output channels. The preamplifier is the other piece of recording studio equipment that sometimes performs analog-to-digital conversion. To some extent, it can pick up the slack left by a mediocre sound card provided the sound card has digital inputs. However, you’ll need both a sound card and a preamplifier if using microphones.

You’ll need an output device, and power to run it . In other words, you’ll need something that will allow you to listen to the music you’ve recorded. You can listen by using monitors, speakers, or headphones. Some output devices come with power sources. If your output devices don’t have power, you’ll have to buy an amplifier.

Finally, you’ll need lots of wire and cable to connect all the pieces.

Optional Equipment? Or Gotta Have It?

A bare-bones studio may not meet your needs. Here are some items you may decide you need:

Sampler, and Sample CDs

While not absolutely necessary, a sampler can expand your options considerably. A sampler allows you to add instruments you don’t really have. A sampler is particularly helpful if you would like to include live instruments in your recordings, but you can’t afford the real thing. Sampler CDs provide “canned” samples, so that you don’t have to create your own. They can be a real timesaver, but you need to be mindful of copyright issues.

Plug-ins

Plug-ins are a category of software and an essential part of the modern recording studio equipment list. They allow you to add special effects like reverberation, delays, chorus, flange, they also do certain types of processing including dynamic processing like compression and noise gating. Because you add plug-ins individually or by category, you pay only for the types you want.

Outboard equipment

Outboard equipment is similar to plug-ins, but it lives outside the computer. Adding outboard recording studio equipment is a way to “rev up” the quality of your end product.

Mixing desk

All major music software now includes mixing capabilities. For most people, the software is perfectly adequate. However, some people – particularly those who like a “hands-on” approach literally – would rather use the hardware.

Acoustic treatment

This item isn’t exactly optional, because you must consider the quality of the sound in the studio control room and live room, and the effect of sound from outside the studio. However, acoustic treatment is very expensive piece of recording studio equipment, so many musicians must find cheaper alternatives.

EQ Before or After Compression-Which One Should You Put First?

One of the most common questions I get from my students is, “Which comes first, compression or EQ?”  To understand where to put your compression and EQs, you need to understand the bigger picture. You need to understand the “signal chain”.

     The signal chain starts at the microphones and ends at the speakers. We can trace our signal and everything it goes through on the way including pre amps, noise gates, compressors, EQs, and effects (reverbs, echoes, etc)

      I spent more than a decade working in big studios before I ever even touched a computer. On the big mixers, things are wired in a certain order for good reasons. First of all, most big professional boards don’t have compressors on each channel , which means if you are going to compress (and I almost always do) you’re going to have to plug your out board compressor into the insert on the channel. The insert on these boards come before the EQ. If you are going to use compression and use the EQ on the channel, you have little choice but to compress before EQing.

10 things you’ll need to know when ordering your devices in the signal chain.

1)      Think of possibilities from both sides;

     Equalizers do just what you would expect; they equalize frequencies. If your vocal sound is muffled, it’s because your low end and high end are out of balance. To add treble to the track would literally equalize the frequencies giving you a nice balance of high and low end. I try to always think of possibilities from both sides. You can add treble, or remove bass.  I try them both and pick the one I like most. If you are constantly asking yourself “What is too soft in the mix?” try asking yourself “What is too loud?”

2)      Removing noise with your EQ;

     EQs can be used to filter out noise too.  EQs can be used as “high pass” or “low pass” filters. Most people get confused by these names at first. The “high pass” filter filters out low end (or bass), and the “low Pass” filter filters out hi end (or treble). These EQs are named after the analog circuit that makes this happen. The “high pass” filter circuit actually allows the highs to pass, and likewise with the low pass filters.  What are these used for? They are mostly used for filtering out noise. If you record a vocal and you can hear the Bass bleeding through the headphone, or even trucks going by, a high pass filter can fix this. You can filter out all of the lows below the vocal getting rid of the noise without affecting the vocal sound. Likewise, if you have a Bass guitar and above a certain pitch there is nothing but hiss, you can filter that out using a low pass filter.

      Also consider that while the noise on one track may not be audible, (tape hiss for example) if you  multiply it by 10 or even 24 tracks it’s a problem. For this reason I use filters often to be safe. If your recording software came with an EQ it’s likely that it has both high and Low pass filters on it.

3)      Removing noise with gates:

     A noise gate is very simple. When the volume goes above a certain level the gate opens, sound is heard. When it drops below a certain level the gate closes, muting the sound. One of the most common uses of a noise gate is cutting out the noise in between a vocal. When the person sings the gate opens and you hear them, but once they stop singing the level drops and the gate closes, turning off the sound. This cuts out the unwanted noise in between the singing.

4)      Use compression for better balance:

     Compressors squish the dynamic range. This prevents a voice from getting too loud and sticking out or getting too soft and lost. Put simply, it turns up the low volumes, and turns down the high volumes making the volume more consistent. I compress all my tracks and often-times more than once. Compressors can be used for other things too. Such as adding sustain, punch, intensity etc.

5)      Understanding “level dependent” devices;

     Gates and compressors are not Effects  they are dynamic controllers.  Noise gates and compressors are what we call “level dependent” devices. Simply put, this means that if you change the volume going into one of these devices you’ll change the way it works. Increasing the level going into a compressor will give you more compression. Decreasing the input will cause you to have less or even no compression at all.  Increasing the input to the noise gate will cause the gate to work differently, or even stop working. Decreasing the input could cause the whole track to be muted. For this reason you’ll want to be very careful of any changes you make to the level going into these devices.

6)      Gate out unwanted noise before you compress;

       If you were to compress a vocal before gating it the compressor could turn up the headphone bleed in between the vocal making it difficult or even impossible to gate out.  For this reason I always gate prior to compression.

7)      Filter out noise prior to compressing:

      It’s also usually easiest to filter out any low end or high end noise prior to compression rather than having the compressor turn the noise up first.

8)      Compress before EQing;

     EQs actually change the level. Adding or removing bass or treble from the vocal will actually make it louder or softer. This is why EQs are most commonly put after compression.  If you put your compression after the EQ, changing the EQ will affect the compression. If your EQ is after the compressor, then changing the EQ will have no effect on the compression.

9)      Listen to the EQ of the sound while adjusting your compression:

      Another reason to put EQ after compression is that the compressor actually changes, and can even fix, EQing problems. Remember compressors turn up the soft parts and down the loud parts?  If you record a six string acoustic guitar and then compress it, the compressor can turn up the quieter strings and turn down the louder strings making a nicer balance. The same goes for EQ.  Good compression can turn up the low volume frequencies and turn down the louder ones making for a nicer EQ balance. Either way the compression IS going to change the EQ. So if you EQ after the compressor you’ll know what needs to be fixed.

10)   There is no “right and wrong way”;

      To limit your possibilities would limit your quality. However, you should know how things are typically done so that if you make any changes you’ll know what to listen for.  For example if you do put your EQ before a compressor, make sure you are aware that every time you change that EQ you change your compression.  Some people gate while recording, but I have never been that brave. If the gate cuts off a vocal you will have to re sing it. So I always gate while mixing.

    The most common way I order my processors is Filters—Gate—Compression—EQ—Effects.

Best Budget Audio Interface

Hopefully you understand that every home recording studio needs an audio interface of some kind.

Just in case you’re still not sure why you need one, go ahead and read this article about why you need an audio interface. Long story short, you need one to get audio into your computer.

When it comes to choosing an audio interface, the choice and number of options can be overwhelming.

The good news is, you can pick up a high-quality audio interface capable of delivering professional-sounding results for less than $250/£200.

This article reveals the best deals on the best audio interfaces currently available. It’s all about getting the most quality at the best value for money.

The Main Features

The main features to look out for in a new audio interface are:

  1. Connectivity
  2. Number and type of inputs and outputs
  3. MIDI capability
  4. Phantom power
  5. Included DAW software

If you’ve read The 5 Things You Need for a Home Recording Studio, you’ll know that when you are starting out, you’ll already know that you should start out with:

  • USB connectivity
  • 1-2 microphone preamp inputs with phantom power
  • 1-2 line-in inputs for guitars and keyboards
  • MIDI input/output (if planning to use MIDI instruments)
  • Stereo outputs
  • Headphone output

The devices on this list have been selected because not only do they fulfil this criteria, but they are also capable of delivering stellar results, are easy to install and come in at $250/£200 or less.

So, let’s take a look at the best audio interfaces on a budget.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo Compact USB Audio Interface

$99

Focusrite Scarlett SoloThe Focusrite Scarlett Solo Compact features only 1 microphone input and 1 line-in input, but they are separate instead of the combination input that most audio interfaces in this price range often have.

This is a great entry-level unit and the cheapest unit on this list. It doesn’t have MIDI capability, but does provide high-quality 24-bit resolution and 96kHz sample rate, which is the standard of a professional studio.

At the moment, Focusrite are bundling this interface with Ableton Live Lite and a few other plug-ins. While this is great for electronic music, it’s not ideal for home recording, so you might want to look at alternative DAW software.

If you are considering this interface, you might want to consider the Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio Pack for $170, which comes bundled with a reasonable condenser microphone and lead, a pair of studio headphones and Cubase LE. While far from the best budget microphone or studio headphones around, this is a real bargain for beginners, especially budding podcasters. Cubase LE is superior to Ableton Live Lite too when it comes to recording.

If you’re looking for the cheapest home recording studio package around, this is it.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface

$129

FocusriteScarlett2i2The Solo’s big brother, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 has all the same features as the Solo but includes two combination microphone/line-in inputs, making it ideal where recording in stereo is desirable e.g. a keyboard, turntables, two guitarists, two microphones on a drum kit, and so on. Like the Solo, this doesn’t have MIDI capability, so it isn’t ideal for everyone.

Also like the Solo, there is a bundle available for $250 that includes the same as the Solo bundle. Personally, I’d rather choose a better microphone and headphones, but for a complete setup, this is a great deal.

Avid FastTrack DUO USB Audio Interface

$190

FastTrackDuoThe latest in Avid’s successful FastTrack series, the FastTrack DUO doesn’t have MIDI capability either, and it only supports up to 48kHz resolution (compared to 96kHz of the Scarlett 2i2 and M-Track Plus II).

However, what this unit has over the preceeding ones is a ‘tablet’ output on the rear. This makes it a good choice if you want to use your audio interface with a tablet PC or iPad and turn your home recording studio into a portable recording studio. It also comes bundled with Pro Tools Express. A good choice for tablet owners.

If you want to push the boat out and really want the full version of Pro Tools, you can get a great deal at the moment on the FastTrack DUO with Pro Tools 11 for $349. Considering that Pro Tools 11 on its own costs $699, this is an unbelievable deal.

M-Audio M-Track Plus II USB Audio Interface

$149.99

MTrackPlusIIJust released at the end of 2014, the M-Track Plus II is an upgrade to the M-Track II featuring a much sleeker design and exceptional build quality.

Like the Scarlett 2i2, this unit doesn’t have MIDI capability, but the knobs and switches are a bit more rugged and solid. It also features a ‘direct/USB’ mix knob, allowing you to send the signal from the inputs through either the USB connection, the outputs directly, or both! This makes it a great choice for mobile musicians who want to take an output to, for example, a live sound system. It won’t run without being connected to a USB device though – there is no input for a power adapter.

As an added bonus, this interface comes bundled with both Ableton Live Lite and Cubase LE and the awesome Waves plug-in effects bundle. Great quality and value – give consideration.

PreSonus Audiobox 2×2 USB Audio Interface

$98

PresonusAudiobox2x2One of the most popular audio interfaces at the moment, the PreSonus Audiobox 2×2 is the first device on this list to feature MIDI capability.

It may not be the best-designed unit – annoyingly, the headphone output is on the back – and it is restricted to 48kHz sampling rate. Overall, the build quality is inferior to the rivals here, but it does come bundled with the excellent Studio One Artist DAW software, which is great for beginners.

Like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, if money is tight you can pick up the PreSonus Audiobox 2×2 DAW Recording Bundle for $199. While not the best audio interface, the Behringer C1 condenser microphone is excellent, the Sennheiser HD201 headphones are decent, and you get a mini microphone stand and lead thrown in too! An outrageously good deal for what you get.

Roland DUO-CAPTURE EX USB Audio Interface

$199Roland DUO-CAPTURE ExRoland have a history of making quality synthesizers and other hardware, and the DUO-CAPTURE EX is no exception. Rugged design, MIDI capability and high-quality ‘VS’ microphone preamps, this is a great device.

It only supports up to 48kHz resolution, and some of the useful buttons for phantom power and line-in pads to soften a hot signal are located on the rear of the device, but where the Duo Capture Ex stands apart from the competition is that is can operate via DC power or on batteries. This means that you can take it anywhere, making it ideal for incorporating in a live setting.

Connect it to an iPad and you’ve got a portable DAW that you can take anywhere! Also comes bundled with the dated but still adequate Sonar X1 LE DAW software.

Roland QUAD-CAPTURE USB Audio Interface

$269

Roland-Quad-CaptureA contender for the best audio interface, the Roland QUAD-CAPTURE is a top-quality device featuring the same high-end VS microphone preamps seen in the DUO-CAPTURE EX and supporting a sampling rate up to a montrous 192kHz.

Like the DUO, it also has full MIDI capability and comes with Sonar X1 LE. It doesn’t have the battery/DC power option that the DUO has, but it features a fantastic ‘Auto Sense’ function that automatically sets the optimal signal level of your connected microphones and instruments.

A bit pricier than the competition in this price range, you definitely get your money’s worth.

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 USB Audio Interface

$229

Native-Instruments-KompleteThe attractive Komplete Audio 6 from Native Instruments is at the upper end of our price range, but you get great value – MIDI capability, 96kHz sampling rate and – unilke the other units here – 4 line-in inputs, meaning you can record 4 instruments simultaneously.

Note that there are still only 2 microphone preamp inputs, so you can’t record from 4 microphones at once, but you could record, for example, guitar, bass and a stereo drum recording all at the same time.

Native Instruments has a reputation for making top-quality software and the bundled Komplete Elements and Traktor LE are fantastic for effects and virtual DJing.

There’s also a copy of Cubase LE, an older ‘lite’ version of Cubase, but still fantastic recording software.

This package is one of the best you can get at this price range.

Steinberg UR22 USB Audio Interface

$149

SteinbergUR22Completing the list, the awesome UR22 from Steinberg is another vying for top-spot in the budget audio interfaces range.

Full MIDI capability, up to 192kHz resolution, high-quality Yamaha D-PRE microphone preamp inputs and built like a tank, it also comes bundled with Cubase AI 7, one of the better bundled DAW software programs around – certainly with more functionality than those featured elsewhere in this list.

While this unit perhaps doesn’t have a stand-out feature compared to the competition, what you get for the price is superb quality and reliability.

You can grab a decent bundle that includes the UR22, MXL 1022 microphone with shock mount and cable for $250. Definitely worth a look if you want a cheap setup and already have some good studio headphones.

The Bottom Line

That completes the round-up of the best audio interfaces on a budget.

Any of these devices will do the job for your home recording studio and you can be assured of getting high-quality audio without any drama with any of these options.

Assess your budget, see if any of the unique features could be of any use to you, and choose accordingly.

How to Choose an Audio Interface

When you’re setting up your home recording studio, you’ll need some sort of way of getting sound into your computer.

The sound card in your computer can take care of that, but the signal is going to be really weak and will probably have lots of annoying hiss that you’ll be spending forever trying to get rid of…

If you want to work with quality recordings, you’ll need another way to get sound you’re your computer. Step up the audio interface.

With so many different options and things to consider, choosing the right audio interface to suit your needs can seem befuddling. There are input and output configurations, connectivity, bit depth, sampling rate and a host of other features to consider. So how do you know which one is right for you?

This audio interface guide will tell you everything you need to know about audio interfaces and help you decide what option is right for you.

In this guide:

  • What is an Audio Interface?
  • Why You Need an Audio Interface
  • Choosing an Audio Interface

What is an Audio Interface?

An audio interface is a device that connects your microphones and equipment to your computer. It takes care of all of the input and output signals, just like a sound card, but it’s so much more than that.

Most audio interfaces include:

  • A high-quality digital-to-audio converter (DAC) – to convert a sound signal into something your computer can understand
  • Microphone preamps – these amplify the otherwise weak signal from the microphone
  • Phantom power – this is needed for condenser microphones to work
  • Easy-access input and output ports
  • Volume and gain control knobs
  • Some colourful LEDs – bonus!

In addition to converting the signal into computer-speak, it will also convert the signal back into audio, meaning that you can connect headphones or studio monitors to it.

Normally, an audio interface is connected via USB or FireWire, although some high-end interfaces connect via a special PCI card. If you are a Mac owner and your computer supports it, there is also Thunderbolt – the super-fast USB-beater. Eventually, Thunderbolt will become the standard, but at the moment it’s mainly aimed at the upper end of the market.

Why You Need an Audio Interface

As mentioned in the introduction, you can get audio into and out of your computer with your existing soundcard, but there are numerous reasons why you’ll find this both limiting and frustrating as you progress.

What are those reasons? I’m glad you asked – let’s have a look:

1. The sound quality of your existing soundcard just won’t cut it

Most computer soundcards are built for consumer audio – listening to music, playing games, watching movies etc… And for those jobs, they do just fine. However, when you’re recording and producing music, you need a level of quality that is beyond the capabilities of ordinary soundcards. As a guitarist, I used to plug directly into my soundcard and do my best to work with that signal. Since getting a decent audio interface, those days of working with that weak, crackly, hissing signal are forgotten.

2. Soundcards have minimal inputs and outputs

A soundcard will tend to have one line input, a headphone output and a stereo line output. You could make this work if you are a singer/songwriter or podcaster, but forget about recording drums or a band. Even recording two different sound sources at once will take some real feat of ingenuity. And you can forget about having someone record a track and listen through headphones while you monitor through the speakers – no recording software I know of will let you do this.

3. Latency – the scourge of producers everywhere

If you don’t know what latency is, lucky you! Simply put, it’s the delay from when the signal goes into your system to when it comes out. There are methods to reduce latency but most yield inadequate results and as soon as your start adding some effects and plug-ins to your track, you’ll soon find that the latency becomes unbearable. An audio interface will make this a non-issue for you.

4. Interference

When you use the input on your soundcard, you’ll find that the signal is quite weak. When you boost the signal, you’ll also be boosting the background noise that comes from electromagnetic and radio interference. Unless you’re a masochist and want lots of hissing, humming and buzzing all over your recorded sound then you’ll want to get an audio interface.

The bottom line is, you can’t let the technology or equipment get in the way of creativity. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t passionate about making music and you’ll understand how important it is to be able to capture those fleeting moments of inspiration. The relatively small investment you make in an audio interface is worth the frustration and problems you’ll run into without one – a thousand times over!

Choosing an Audio Interface

There are many different features across different audio interfaces and choosing what is right for you can be difficult.

Here are the key features that you should be looking out for:

  1. Connectivity
  2. Input/output (I/O) configuration
  3. MIDI capability
  4. Sample rate and bit depth
  5. Software compatibility and integrated software

There are countless other features that different devices offer, but these are the key ones for 99% of home music producers.

1. Connectivity

Unless you own a desktop PC and are looking at high-end options, then this boils down to 2 choices: USB or FireWire.

USB

The advantage of USB is that many audio interfaces run on USB bus power, meaning that there is no need for an external power supply. However, ensure that you have USB 2.0 or 3.0 – you won’t run into any problems with these, but USB 1.1 ports are much slower, meaning that recording more than 2 tracks simultaneously could be problematic.

FireWire

FireWire is considered to be more reliable than USB because data is transferred at a lightning rate, which might make it seem like a better choice. However, FireWire is less common than USB and, if you have a PC, you’ll likely need to install a FireWire card as PCs rarely come with FireWire ports as standard.

Unless you have a Mac or you have your heart set on a particular FireWire audio interface, choose a USB-compatible audio interface.

2. Input/output (I/O) configuration

This feature is perhaps the most important and varies drastically amongst different units. The two things to consider are the number and type of inputs and outputs.

Number of Inputs/Outputs

How many inputs/outputs do you need? Well, this depends on what you want to be able to record.

There are no hard-and-fast rules, but what you should be looking for is:

  • For podcasters and video bloggers – 1 input
  • For singer-songwriters and DJs – 2 inputs
  • For drummers or small song-writing teams – 4 inputs or more
  • For engineers wanting to record full bands – 16 inputs or more

Before you rush in, you should also consider the type of inputs, as this will affect what you can record. The inputs for microphones and instruments are not the same and you will need separate ones for every microphone or instrument that you want to record simultaneously. Remember this: more doesn’t mean ‘better’. Every input will require a microphone too, so unless you plan on buying 16 microphones, 16 stands and 16 pop-shields, don’t bother with a 16 input interface. Most people can get by with just 2 inputs.

When it comes to outputs, there should almost always be at least a stereo main output. There may also be additional outputs that come in stereo pairs for connecting other devices such as effects units or additional headphone outputs for monitoring.

Type of Inputs/Outputs

In general, inputs come in 2 varieties: microphone inputs and ¼” jack line-level inputs.

Microphone inputs have the XLR-type connection found on most studio microphones and on many audio interfaces include a built-in microphone preamp. The microphone preamp is necessary as it boosts the otherwise-weak signal that microphones record. Take care when choosing an audio interface to ensure that the microphone inputs have microphone preamps because not all of them do and will require an external preamp. In addition, if you want to use condenser microphones, make sure that the microphone preamps have phantom power to power those microphones (most usually do).

Line-level inputs, also known as hi-Z inputs, are for plugging your instruments directly into. If you want to plug a guitar or bass directly into your audio interface, you need to make sure that it has this feature (again, most do), although if you want to plug in a stereo sound source, such as a keyboard, turntables or drum machine, then you want to ensure that you have a pair of inputs to record the left and right channels.

Many audio interfaces feature digital I/O. While this may not be necessary for beginners, they can be useful further down the line. S/PDIF and ADAT connections will allow you to connect additional equipment further down the line to increase your number of simultaneous inputs, which can enable you to record a full band. Be wary of audio interfaces that offer 16 or more inputs as many of these only do so with the addition of external microphone preamps connected via these digital connections.

Concentrate on your number of microphone and line-level inputs. Match it to the number of microphones and/or instruments that you want to record simultaneously.

3. MIDI capability

If you want to use virtual instrument software or your focus is electronic music, then you will want to choose an audio interface that has MIDI input and output.

Most audio interfaces include one MIDI input and one MIDI output. If you want to connect multiple MIDI instruments at once, then you will need to look at a dedicated MIDI interface. However, many MIDI devices include USB connectivity, so you may not need a MIDI interface if you only have 2 or 3 devices.

Check for MIDI I/O on your audio interface if you want to connect a MIDI instrument. If you have multiple MIDI instruments that you want to use at once, be aware that you might need to invest in a MIDI interface too.

4. Sample rate and bit depth

These more technical aspects to consider when choosing an audio interface tell you about the quality of the conversion from analogue audio to digital.

In simple terms, the sample rate is the number of digital snapshots of audio per second, measured in kHz, while the bit depth is the dynamic range (the range from quiet to loud), measured in bits.

There is no need to go into the science of these here, all you need to know is the higher the number, the better the quality, but also the more processing power and disk space will be used.

Professional audio engineers tend to work with a bit depth of 24 bits and a sampling rate of at least 96kHz. The good news is, you’d be hard-pressed to find a modern audio interface that doesn’t offer these bit depths and sampling rates.

Only consider audio interfaces with maximum 16bit/48kHz if you are only recording rough demos or making MP3s. Otherwise, aim for 24bit/96kHz from your audio interface.

5. Software compatibility and integrated software

The last key consideration is the software package to go with your audio interface.

Many audio interfaces come bundled with some recording software – usually �?lite’ versions of the manufacturer’s flagship software. These can be perfect for beginners and you know that you won’t have any compatibility issues. The truth be told, most audio interfaces will work with any recording software, so don’t feel like you have to use the bundled software. Just be aware that some software, such as ProTools by Avid, don’t support every interface.

Increasingly, audio interfaces also come with some integrated software, giving you control over the signal processing in the audio interface. This can be useful for managing latency, adding effects or having greater control over headphone volume without using any of the CPU power of your computer – meaning more power for other things like additional tracks and effects.

If you already have some recording software, choose an audio interface that is compatible with the software you have. Give consideration to the bundled software and don’t disregard the features of the integrated software.

Best Home Studio Monitors

If you’re reading this now because you’re in the market for some studio monitors for your home recording exploits – congratulations! You’ve either got some very understanding neighbours or you live far enough away from them for it to matter!

In all seriousness though, if you want to get the best mix of your music as possible, then some good studio monitors are what you need.

Mixing on headphones is all well and good when making noise is a problem, but it doesn’t compare to the accuracy that you get from decent monitors.

More than any other aspect of a home recording studio, there is a big difference between low-end and the high-end monitors. This is the one area where more money does, sadly, equal better quality.

So, rather than stick to a price range here, we’re going to look at size. Yes, you can spend thousands on some studio monitors if you’ve got the money, but that’s pointless if they’re way too big for your recording space.

Mercifully, there are some good options that aren’t too expensive and are adequate for all but the most discerning h0me recording artists

The Main Features

As with our look at the best studio headphones, we can get very technical here. Let’s not do that though and instead look at the main features that you should be looking for, which are:

  1. Size
  2. Far-field or near-field
  3. Passive or active
  4. Frequency response
  5. Power

You can get monster monitors that will dominate the room, but these are way too much for home recording. The monitors featured here can fit on a modestly-sized computer desk or mounted on the wall or small speaker stands easily enough.

Far-field and near-field refers to the distance of the listener (you) to the monitors. Anything under 6 feet and you want near-field.

Passive or active relates to how the monitors are powered. Passive monitors require a separate amplifier and active monitors do not. So, unless you want to fork out and have space for an amplifier, look at active monitors.

When it comes to frequency response, the wider the range the more detail the sound has. The human listening range is 20Hz to 20kHz and you can’t hear anything outside that. However, having a little more either side doesn’t hurt.

Finally, the power is how loud the monitors can go. Unless you really want to annoy your neighbours, 50 watts of power is more than enough.

With those in mind, let’s take a look at the best studio monitors for a home recording studio. These will give you accurate, clear sound without taking up too much space.

Note that studio monitors do not usually come with leads as standard. Check before you buy what’s included.

KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3

$299/pair

KRK-Rokit-5The KRK Rokit 5 are fantastic entry-level active studio monitors that are perfect for a home recording studio. Measuring 28cm x 18cm x 23cm (height x width x depth) these are small enough to fit onto most computer desks without getting in the way.

The distinctive yellow speaker cone looks awesome, but that’s not as important as the sound. A frequency response range from 45Hz to 35kHz means that you get sparkly top end and punchy mids, but the low frequency is lacking a little.

Nevertheless, at this price, you get great value with solid build quality and 50 watts of power. If you want a bit more oomph in the lower frequencies, the Rokit 6 and Rokit 8 are decent options, but the size goes up, as does the price.

M-Audio Studiophile AV40

$149/pair

M-Audio-Studiophile

A cheaper alternative to the KRK Rokit 5, the M-Audio Studiophile AV40 monitors are popular and pack a decent punch.

At 22cm x 15cm x 18cm (HxWxD), these are quite a bit smaller and lighter, which might be a benefit for some.

You do lose some accuracy with the 85Hz to 20kHz frequency response and the power is just 20 watts, so these are far from the best offering here. However, the bass is adequate and accuracy is pretty good until you start pushing the volume.

Consider these if the budget is tight – the sound quality can’t be beaten at this price.

Alesis M1 Active 320

$79/pair

Alesis-M1-Active-320If the Studiophile AV40 are still too expensive for you, then the Alesis M1 Active 320’s are good value for money.

These are especially popular amongst beginners as they double-up as an audio interface, although don’t expect the same kind of quality as you’d get from a separate unit.

Coming in at 19cm x 16.5cm x 13cm, these are very compact. 10 watts of power means that they don’t cope well with being turned up loud, but the frequency response range of 80Hz to 20kHz gives an accuracy comparable to the Studiophile AV40 at lower volumes.

Worth noting is that these have USB connectivity, hence how it works as an audio interface. The connections are on the back (2 x line level inputs and 2 x phono inputs), which is a pain if you’re switching instruments. There are no powered XLR inputs either, so forget about using a condenser microphone with these.

Definitely a huge step up from any consumer PC speakers, but these aren’t the best choice for home recording and you might prefer to save up for the AV40’s or Rokit 5’s. But if you can’t wait, you won’t find better at the price.

Yamaha HS5

$399/pair

Yamaha-HS5A rival to the KRK Rokit 5, the Yamaha HS5 are probably the best studio monitors available for the price.

Featuring beefy 70 watts of power and a frequency response of 54Hz to 30kHz, these will deliver loud, clear sound with crisp highs, full mids and deep bass.

Measuring 28.5cm x 22cm x 17cm, these are also a bit bigger than the Rokit 5.

For the same money, you could get the Rokit 6, which are a slightly beefier version of the Rokit 5, but your money would be better spent here.

Also available in white, if that’s your bag. The larger versions in Yamaha’s HS series even give the artisan brands coming up next a run for their money. If you can afford these, buy them. You won’t be disappointed!

There’s currently an excellent deal on Amazon for the HS5 including speaker stands, cables and monitor isolation pads for $399. Get on it!

Adam Audio A3X

$718/pair

Adam-A3XStepping up in price and quality, we have the Adam Audio A3X. These guys generally make high-end professional studio monitors.

Measuring at 25cm x 15cm x 18.5cm, these near-field active monitors are aimed at home recording artists. They may look like tanks, but the build quality is actually a bit less than what you would expect from this company. Nonetheless, they are serious speakers.

The frequency response is from 60Hz to 50kHz and, although the power is just 25 watts, these things have smooth and round bass. You can comfortably crank these all the way up without losing any clarity – something that the Adam Audio brand gives you that the previous monitors don’t.

If you’ve got the room, you could get the larger Yamaha HS8 for the same price, which can eat the A3X’s for breakfast when it comes to loudness. However, the A3X’s deserve a place on this list for delivering professional quality at a desktop size.

Genelec M030

$1250/pair

Genelec-M030

Let’s complete this list with a real artisan pair of active near-field speakers – the Genelec M030. These are the kings of small monitors for home recording.

Ok, the frequency response is ‘only’ 58Hz to 20kHz, but don’t let that fool you. Genelec make high-end, professional studio monitors with the highest quality of components and have years of experience. This translates well into this, the smallest and cheapest pair of monitors that they produce.

Hearing these is an experience – the bass pumps and the treble sparkles, while the mids will hit you in the chest. Measuring 27cm x 19cm x 19cm, for such small speakers, they make a huge sound!

The price is a bit excessive for a home recording studio, but if you can afford these, buy them and enjoy the most accurate sound you can get from monitors of this size.

The Bottom Line

There you have 6 options for home recording studio monitors. There are many brands out there – Mackie, Dynaudio and Focal deserve a mention – and there are some close calls out there. But, for my money, the monitors featured on this list are the best you can get for the size and at each price point.

If there were a ‘best’ pair studio monitors here, not including the Genelec M030, then my pick would be the Yamaha HS5. The KRK Rokit 5 are undoubtedly the most popular, and it’s not just because they look cool but they do deliver great sound. However, the Yamaha HS5 are so solid, powerful and clear, it’s hard to fault them.

It’s unfortunate that the more you spend does relate to the quality that you get. However, you can get professional-sounding results using even the Alesis M1 Active 320’s.

There are a few things to consider when buying some studio monitors.

How you position them is important as they usually have a ‘sweet spot’ where they really come to life, and you want to be sitting right where that is.

You also need to consider accessories – leads, stands if necessary and some isolation pads to sit your monitors upon.

Finally, make sure that you have an audio interface to connect these to – they’d be pretty useless without one!

Whether you choose one of these or a different brand, the ‘wow’ factor when you first hear some music through some proper studio monitors is something else. If you’ve been using headphones to mix before, get ready to take your mixing to the next level!

Numark MIXTRACK 3 DJ Mixer Review 2018

Best dj controllers for beginners

The Numark MIXTRACK 3 DJ Mixer is designed as a step up from the regular MixTrack and provides a level of professionalism that is remarkable for the price.

It is designed as a step up from the regular MixTrack and provides a level of professionalism that is remarkable for the price.

It offers features that would be expected for double the price, including two touch-sensitive decks, two built in audio outputs, microphone inputs and a headphone.

The buttons on this DJ mixer are extremely easy to use, with the loop and effects buttons and pitch knobs on the top for easy accessibility. A unique feature is the browser knob right in the middle of the console, so you can browse your iTunes directly.

The mixer comes with an amazing number of features, and Virtual DJ software is included. It is extremely light and portable so you can take it anywhere. The sound quality of the Numark MIXTRACK 3 DJ Mixer is great and the simple layout will enable the beginning DJ to mix faster and more easily, while having fun at the same time.

Numark MIXTRACK 3 Mixer Features

  • Two touch sensitive decks with total mixer capability.
  • Built in sound card with two audio outputs and microphone inputs.ks with total mixer capability.
  • Controls are easily accessible and light up for full visibility.
  • Browser knob in center of console enables full browsing of library with no need to use computer.
  • Virtual DJ software included.

Numark MIXTRACK 3 DJ Mixer Reviews

The MixTrack 3 will be a welcome relief to beginner DJs who complained about the lack of a built in sound card on the regular MixTrack.

This DJ mixer has additional features that we found really commendable. For instance the browser knob on the center of the console, which means you can browse your tunes library without having to go through your computer. Generally, our reviewers find the product extremely easy to use – “this is simply a must-have for aspiring DJs,” “ you can learn so fast with this controller.”

The easy interface “puts everything at my fingertips – cues, looping, effects, EQ, pitch bend.” The  Numark MIXTRACK 3 DJ Mixer can compete with mixers at double the price, with two sound outputs, plus headphone and microphone inputs, as well as two touch-sensitive decks. The quality of the sound is “amazing.”

There are conflicting views over the scratching capability of this product. Some of our reviewers praise the “excellent response in terms of scratching.”

However another one of our reviewers says “scratching is not that great” while one user states “this controller is not meant for scratching … it just can’t handle it.”

This problem is attributed by one reviewer to the latency, although others insist there is no latency with this product. An issue many users have with the Numark MIXTRACK 3 DJ Mixer unit is its plastic construction, which they complain feels cheap and flimsy – though of course it contributes to the lightness and portability, which is praised.

A couple of users also complain that one of the jog wheels shakes or does not spin smoothly, while another couple do not like the fact that the crossfader is too sensitive and moves too easily. These really are fairly isolated issues. Generally the Numark MIXTRACK 3 DJ Mixer is considered an excellent unit for those for whom it is designed – “would recommend this to any beginner DJ who would like to start DJing at home.”

 

USB Microphone Reviews

USB microphone are just like any other ordinary microphones designed to input voice into the computer, with one different type of the connection, via USB ports and usually are plugged and play with no additional software.

USB microphones can be varied within the designs and dimensions but usually provides the same ability. Others option like stands, pop filters or shock mount are also available in the market.

These works with almost all GUI primarily based os’s like Microsoft OS, Mac and Linux. They are easy to use, portable and easily storable. You don’t need a mixer or pre-amp or any other complicated components to record your voice into your computer.

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we have list the best USB Microphone which it suite for your need and budget, check our list below;

Types of USB Microphones

1

Samson G Track USB Microphone

Marking the revolution of USB microphones, Samson G Track is the ultimate piece of gear that is action-packed, that one will surely wonder how he has operated his studio without this device.

Part of the product’s description is its USB connectivity, an audio interface for the computer and to ensure a monitoring with zero-latency, it has stereo headphone jack.

This instrument allows one to record vocals straight to a computer, a combined audio interface residing snugly inside the body of the microphone and a huge diaphragm studio condenser. Its headphone has three position switches for mono, computer and stereo monitoring.

This Samson G Track will absolutely take you from your favorite musical inspiration to desired finished tracks. The very first USB condenser microphone in the world that has a built-in mixer and audio interface, it also permits real-time input of guitar, keyboard, bass and vocals and at the same time, allowing close monitoring with the use of a headphone output on board.

The detailed 19mm capsule of the Samson G Track with its diaphragm of 3-michron plus the pick-up pattern of super-cardioid makes it perfect for recording not only vocals but also acoustic instruments and any other source of sound you can think of. If simultaneous recording is what you are after, the Samson G Track microphone is more than just ideal for you.

2

Audio Technica AT2020 USB Condenser Microphone

With a design based on the much celebrated AT2020, the Audio Technica AT2020 is out to offer its user a studio-quality intelligibility and articulation.

By simply plugging it directly to the USB port of your computer, it can seamlessly function perfectly with your much-loved recording software. With USB digital output, this is the ideal USB microphone with natural and crystal-clear sound ideal for field and home studio recording, voiceover and podcasting.

Similar with its origin of design, the AT2020, Audio Technica AT2020 also has a custom-engineered, low-mass diaphragm that is for superior transient and extended frequency response. Due to its low self-noise, it has made itself very suitable equipment for highly sophisticated digital recording. It’s up to date manufacturing techniques and design ensures that the Audio Technica AT2020 complies with Audio-Technica’s renowned reliability and consistency standards.

Its cardiod polar pattern is responsible for reducing pickup of noises and sounds from rear and sides, thus improving the seclusion of the preferred sound source. Nothing to worry about outside and unwanted interferences, this is simply what you need if you are after perfection with your recording’s result.

With appealing specifications and features, it also comes with fully furnished accessories namely a pivoting stand mount for specific height of thread stands, a threaded adapter, tripod desk stand, soft protective pouch and a USB cable.

Say goodbye to all those noisy sound recordings and unclear voice backgrounds. Plug in Audio-Technica AT2020 and transform your sound to something beyond your expectations.

3

Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone

If a versatile and advanced USB microphone with multi-pattern is what you are looking for, the Blue Microphones Yeti is here to resolve your dilemma.

A combination of four various pattern settings and three capsules all in one, this is the ultimate device, which will allow you to create numerous astonish recordings, right on your computer. Certified by THX because of its exceptional performance and sound, this microphone can capture everything with such an ease and clarity that you can ever hear of in any other USB microphone.

Blue Microphones Yeti features an innovative tri-capsule array of Blue. This allows stereo recording or your own choice unique tri-pattern, which includes cardioids, bidirectional and omnidirectional. In short, you are endowed with the chance of a recording capability in one single instance, which used to require several microphones.

The Blue Microphones Yeti also boasts of a mute-button, gain control and a headphone output with zero-latency. Unapparelled recordings can be created and sent to your personal computer directly with this microphone that is perfect for musical instruments, vocals, podcasting, interviews, voiceovers, conference calls and field recordings.

Because of being exceptional, it is the first ever microphone that has earned the distinction of being a THX Certified. Its high fidelity, balanced frequency response and low distortion made it worth the recognition.

As for usage, you need not worry for it is very user-friendly. No need for any drive installation, just plug Blue Microphones Yeti to your computer, load your favored recording software and start recording amazing records!

About USB Microphones

Microphones have sensors that transduce (or change) acoustic sound waves into an electric signal. They typically use an XLR cable, but the output is still in analog form.

To record or transmit the audio, the signal needs to be converted to digital. Without an USB microphone, you need an analog-to-digital converter, but they can be expensive and more involving than what a casual user wants to invest in.

With the USB microphone, the analog signal is converted into a digital signal without needing additional hardware. You can simply plug the USB microphone and begin using it right away. Whether you're using the microphone for gaming, Skype or another VOIP, recording a podcast, conference calling, or recording instruments and vocals, USB microphones are very convenient.

Types of USB Microphones

There are various types of USB microphones, as there are numerous types and uses of microphones:

  • Desktop Microphones are usually designed to sit next to your computer and pick up your voice.
  • Condenser Microphones are very sensitive mics. If you want clarity and detail, such as recording a guitar, you need a condenser microphone.
  • Dynamic Microphones aren't as sensitive as condenser microphones, but are great for recording voice or guitar amplifiers.
  • Conference Microphones are usually condenser microphones that sit next to a computer and pick up audio in a room.
  • Headsets combine a headphone with microphone, convenient for gaming.

As you shop for USB microphones, be sure to read the product descriptions since they will suggest ways that the microphone should be used. Keep in mind that each microphone is unique and developed to meet that need.

Select Professional USB Microphone

If you need great sound, you simply aren’t going to find it from the USB microphone. Alternatively, you could still end up getting acceptable audio tracks from these. Most of these options make USB microphones perfect for computer sound recording and podcasting.

This is not necessarily surprising, since these types of mics are mostly used at home within the professional studios, however, these types of far-less-expensive USB microphones are created with consumers who benefit from computers (as well as their unique budget) in the mind. Nonetheless it implies that when you’re searching for excellent sound, you’re never going to buy this in one of this kind of USB microphones.

Earlier, USB microphones would probably drop off the radar at that time simply because their less-than-perfect quality wasn’t up to professional criteria. That’s no longer the fact. USB microphones haven’t truly acquired a good reputation. Several different kinds of USB microphones may also be incorporated into another USB devices including headsets, notebook or PC cameras and even more.

The Yeti Blue Microphones USB Microphone bring up a brand-new time related to high quality recording without to have any mixers, pre-amps including expensive studio products needed.

Simply put directly into your computer, set your preferences, and you’re shortly on your way expert top quality recordings! All these recordings, the result is considered clear in any way wavelengths, a long way ahead of other USB microphones used in the earlier days, and much better than normal mics having a traditional mixing machine.

The Best Home Studio Headphones- Take Your Recording to a Whole New Level

The value of a good pair of studio headphones cannot be over-estimated. Not only will they allow you to work on your tracks without disturbing others, but you’ll be able to record with a microphone without introducing feedback or recording the output of your speakers.

Not just any pair of headphones will do. A pair of Beats by Dr Dre might sound great when listening to music but they’re not meant for recording and mixing. Consumer headphones like these tend to add some bass and treble frequencies to enhance the music.

Studio headphones should give you a flat, uncoloured sound that is accurate, and that’s what you need when you’re making music.

If you shop smart, a pair of studio headphones should last you many years. As with other audio equipment, you can easily spend hundreds on a high-end pair of headphones.

This isn’t necessary though, and you should be looking at the $150-$250/£100-£200 price range. At this price, you’ll be getting accurate, high quality sound and a good build design that is durable and comfortable to wear for long recording sessions.

The Main Features

We could get very technical here talking about drivers, sound pressure, impedence and so on. But for those of us for aren’t audiophiles, let’s keep it simple and focus on what’s important.

The main features that you should be looking for in a pair of studio headphones are:

  1. Durability
  2. Comfort
  3. Open-back or closed-back
  4. Frequency response

The first two items here are obvious – we want maximum durability and comfort to cope with extended use.

When it comes to open-back or closed-back, the common school of thought is that open-back headphones are better for mixing because they allow some of the bass frequencies to escape, whereas closed-back are better for recording because they don’t let any sound escape into the microphone.

In reality, you can use either type for both purposes. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need to get a seperate pair of headphones for each task. However, if you’re recording in a quiet environment, and you just want to get one pair, go for some closed-back headphones – they will cause you fewer problems when recording.

If you’re really worried about using closed-back headphones to mix, then you could consider some semi-open-back microphones, which are kind of a halfway house – a bit better than closed-back headphones for mixing, but there will be some sound leakage when you record.

Frequency response is simple – the broader the range, the better. Bear in mind that the human ear can only hear between 20Hz and 20kHz – anything above and below this is inaudible. Nevertheless, having a little extra at either end can have an effect on the perception of sound quality.

The following pairs of studio headphones are some of the best on the market at the $150-$250/£100-£200 price range. Choose one of these and you’ll not have to worry about buying another pair again.

Nothing feels better than listening to music and feeling every low beat any booming bass with a great level of clarity and precision, every detail so noticeably, that when you listen your music in a studio while it was mixed and recorded.

When I think of the Best Studio Headphones this is the class of dynamic sound feeling you can expect.

Sample in conjunction with Best Studio Headphones that developed over the ear headphones was so normal people like you and I would be able to listen to music the way producers and artists. Every instrumentation, and voice so crystal clear-cut that a whole new feel.

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Types of Studio Headphones

1. Pioneer HDJ-2000

This Pioneer HDJ-2000 sound device is a high-end, high-quality set of headphones ideally suited for professional mixing and is excellent for personal music listening as well.

These headphones resonate with sounds that clearly and accurately reproduce the original audio. The output is solid and the HDJ-2000 delivers a great low frequency range.

The level of comfort and durability are first class. The ear pads are made from NASA-graded memory foam for maximum comfort and superb noise isolation.

Some users report no experience of discomfort even for long-period use. Pioneer HDJ-2000 headphones feature light-weight magnesium alloy components yet yield high durability that withstands demanding conditions and frequent touring.

>> Check more reviews and pricing from Amazon<<

The price of these headphones may be a put-off for some. The price is matched by the high standards of sound reproduction and the quality of material used. The headphones can travel tough with you, get dropped by you – and they will still hold up well.

The price of these headphones may be a put-off for some. The price is matched by the high standards of sound reproduction and the quality of material used. The headphones can travel tough with you, get dropped by you – and they will still hold up well.

Typically, DJ headphones are so fragile that they are the first items of a DJ’s gear to break. But the Pioneer HDJ-2000 is an exception. If you believe in getting the best and are willing to spend, these are the headphones worth investing in.

2. Shure SRH840 Headphones

Shure SRH840 Professional Monitoring Headphones are the flagship model of the Shure family. They are designed for professional audio engineers and musicians, who require quality studio headphones for their studio recording and critical listening.

What you get is some beefy closed-back headhones with memory foam cushions on the earcups. While this does add some extra weight to the headphones, they offer supreme comfort and isolation of external sound.

The frequency response is 5Hz to 25kHz, which isn’t the broadest on offer here, but the sound is accurate and flat.

Other features are the replaceable cable, large earcups for those with larger ears and the headphones are collapsible for portability.

The main reason for choosing these, though, is the supreme comfort – not a feature to be overlooked.

For sound quality, they deliver deep bass, detailed mids and sweet treble that suit any style of music, and even movie watching.

For comfort, these SHR840 studio headphones’ memory foam ear pads are designed for the super comfort and increased sound isolation.

The headphones come with replaceable cable and a set of replacement ear pads to ensure a long-lasting lifetime of use. They also include threaded 1/4in (6.3mm) gold-plated adapter for perfectly connected music.

>> Check more reviews and pricing from Amazon<<

SRH840 studio headphones are closed and foldable, and the sound provides uniform experience across all uses. Shure has a good reputation for rugged durability and great sound at a reasonable price.

To sum up, these are the headphones that most suitable for anyone looking to get serious about their mixes. But even if you don’t record or mix music, these are still great for simple audio playback of MP3′s.

3. Shure SRH440 Headphones

Shure SRH440 Professional Studio Headphones reproduce sound to an incredible clarity with a bass that is a tad bit heavy without being overbearing.

The low end of the audio spectrum was handled beautifully, with only a tiny hint of distortion at very high volumes.

The built quality is great. The soft ear cup cushions felt extremely comfortable to wear over extended listening hours. The cups feature a single-sided detachable coiled cable which extends to 3m.

When it comes to audio quality, the Shure SRH440 is a great pair of headphones for the price under $100.

The quality of this studio headphones is on par with other higher priced professional studio headphones on the market, and although they don’t have electronic noise-cancelling, they do a great job of physically isolating you from other sounds.

>> Check more reviews and pricing from Amazon<<

I simply cannot hear anyone that is trying to talk to me with them on which makes it perfect for either casual listeners or audiophiles.

The bottom line, for the price of these headphones, you won’t go wrong.

4. Audio-Technica ATH-M50s

Audio-Technica ATH-M50 studio headphones are designed especially for professional monitoring and mixing.

Highly recommended, the ATH-M50X from Audio Technica are arguably the best pair of headphones, studio or otherwise, that you can buy at this price.

Sturdy and collapsible, and with a solid metal adjuster on the cups, these can take a beating. The leather-like material on the over-ear cups and headband is rugged and very comfortable.

Most importantly, the sound quality is phenomenal with booming bass and sparkly detail in the treble. The frequency response range of 15Hz to 28kHz is more than enough to give a highly-accurate account of your music.

These are closed-back headphones, so they are not perfect for many hours of continuous mixing and you’ll need to give your ears a rest every hour or so to let the bass out. Don’t let that put you off though – these are a fantastic choice in every respect.

Their driver technology and great components ensures exceptional power handling and high SPL capabilities while they maintain a great clarity of sound throughout their extended range, with deep, accurate bass and outstanding high-frequency extension.

These headphones feature collapsible design ideal for easy portability and convenient storage. The adjustable headband is generously padded for ultimate comfort during long mixing sessions.

These studio headphones are outstanding not only for professional monitoring and mixing but for all-around listening too. They do require a period of burn-in before they deliver even more incredible sound.

>> Check more reviews and pricing from Amazon<<

Overall, these are fantastic bang-for-the-buck studio headphones that are all you need and you will not regret purchasing them.

5. Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO-80

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO-80 is a pair of closed dynamic headphones and has been designed for critical music and sound monitoring.

They are lightweight (approximately 9 ounces) full-sized earpads intended mainly for studio and monitoring use. But they can be used at home as well.

The DT 770 is truly circumoral headphones that completely cover the ears. The specially designed cushion system allows the DT 770 PRO-80 to be used comfortably for long periods of time. The single-sided cable also makes handling the headphone easy.

To conclude, while they may not be the most compact headphones on the market, the sound and performance you will get from these Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO-80 headphones is fantastic.

Order a pair if you’re looking for an extremely comfortable, very clear, and accurate listening experience. There are better headphones out there, but you will pay a lot more for them.

>> Check more reviews and pricing from Amazon<<

In terms of sound and quality, the DT 770 PRO-80 headphones are as good as one can get for only about $200.

6. Beyerdynamic DT 770-PRO

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 model is a set of closed dynamic headphones specially designed for critical music and sound monitoring in an open environment.

These high-end headphones deliver exceptional sound quality suited for the most demanding of professional and audiophile applications.

Its adjustable sliding earpiece and soft ear pads, with a single-sided connecting cable, ensures a complete listening comfort during extended periods of use. This extended comfort and accurate performance make the DT 770 PRO a perfect monitoring headphone for recordings, post production and broadcasting.

The sound you get from these DT 770-PRO headphones is so natural and articulate that you can clearly distinguish depth with the music. The bass is great and full. Even at a low volume, depth and clarity are still prevalent.

>> Check more reviews and pricing from Amazon<<

So, if you are looking for super-high quality headphones for sound reproduction, mixing or casual listening, these headphones are just what you need!

7. Sony MDR-V900HD Studio Monitor Type Headphones

The Sony MDR-V900HD Headphones HD Driver is designed to really make use comfortable even in long hours. And if ever you have had a part like the earcups unintentionally torn off or worn out because of heavy use, you can simply buy new replacements parts. The headphones also deliver high-quality sound matched with the right level of noise cancellation to fit your listening needs.

There will be many headphones with high functions but most of them will also cost you very high. That is why the MDR-V900HD headphones are made; to make sure what you have paid is just right for the quality of the headphone you will receive. Having them around will kick your listening experience to the front.

>> Check more reviews and pricing from Amazon<<

The best feature of which are the drivers and neodymium magnet systems that makes sound highly distinct and clear. The reversible ear cups are also there for those times wherein you only need an ear to hear and monitor sounds for comparison. Also, the cord used is concealed to make sure it still has that great style for multi-purpose use.

8. AKG K240MKII – AKG Semi Open 55OHM HP

In a very long list of studio headphones, the AKG K240MKII – AKG Semi Open 55OHM HP would surely be one of the top choices for professional and non-professional music lovers alike.

A cheaper semi-open-back alternative to the DT880 Pro’s would be the AKG K240 MK II studio headphones.

With a frequency response from 15Hz to 25kHz, you do lose a bit of range compared to the DT880 Pro’s, but don’t let that put you off – these are the updated version of the popular K240 headphones found in studios across the world, and they’re popular for a reason!

Accurate sound and comfortable to wear, these also have an interchangeable cable which you can replace if you ever need to – a nice feature that extends the life of these headphones.

These high-end headphones have the best quality for headphones pricing, just above a hundred dollars. These headphones will shatter your expectations as its features are way above what one would normally expect.

Money used for purchasing is more than worth it as the AKG K240MKII – AKG Open 55OHM HP offers only the best sound to be heard with its high-fi stereo headphones and speakers.

>> Check more reviews and pricing from Amazon<<

The headband and the ear pads are designed to fit your needs along with the earcups to provide you both comfort and the best listening experience.

9. Sony MDR7509HD Professional Headphone

In a world of where music evolves with technology, surely you will never miss to use a Sony MDR7509HD Professional Headphone. With the whole music industry getting bigger, use of headphone has extended from just listening to music to critical monitoring of songs in studios.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the HD380 Pro, the Sony MDR-7506 are worth looking at. Not as solid as the ATH-M50X or HD380 Pro, but these produce excellent clarity and detail that is comparable.

The frequency response range is 10Hz to 20kHz, so not as broad, but more than adequate for home studio use.

These are another closed-back pair of headphones, so they are ideal for recording, but taking breaks from mixing applies again.

Consider these if the ATH-M50X are over your budget and you don’t fancy the HD380 Pro, but don’t bother looking at the Sony MDR 7509HD. These should be a step up in terms of sound quality, but other reviews universally state that this isn’t true.

These headphones with all its features will surely fit all your headphone needs as it can be used almost anywhere a headphone is needed. Use it while remixing songs, while having fun as the DJ, or as a forensic audio analyst. These earphones are more than just flexible in use.

The headphones can be observed to be bigger and bulkier than its predecessor which some find to be unnecessary, but, others do say it is durable. It is probably highly dependent on the extent of use and care of the product.

10. Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro

If you’ve got a little bit more to spend, consider the Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro.

These are semi-open-back, making them a bit better for mixing than the previous pairs in this list, and they have an impressive 5Hz to 35kHz frequency response, giving superb accuracy to your music.

The soft velvet-like padding and flexible headband give superb comfort and you can easily forget you’ve got them on! Just be aware that this padding and the semi-open design means that some sound will leak from these. This might be a problem if you’re wearing them while recording vocals close to a sensitive microphone.

The DT770 from Beyerdynamic offers a closed-back design, which are great headphones, but not worth the extra that you pay for these over the ATH-M50x’s or the HD380 Pro’s. The Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro, on the other hand, are well worth the extra money and can be picked up for $379. However, these are open-back, so not ideal for recording, and although one of the best for mixing, require a headphone amp to power them.

Conclusion

The Bottom Line

That rounds up the list of recommended studio headphones for the home recording studio. There is a lack of open-back headphones here and this is intentional.

Yes, open-back headphones are better for mixing, but you can learn how to use closed-back headphones to get good mixes.

Open-back headphones leak sound. If your microphone picks this up, you won’t be able to remove it from your recordings without compromising quality.

Not only this, but further down the line, you’ll want to add some studio monitors to your studio to mix upon. Your open-back headphones become a bit redundant then, but your closed-back headphones will always come in handy.

As usual, look at your budget, see if you like any of the unique features of those featured here and make your decision. There are loads of other headphones out there, but you will not be disappointed with any of the studio headphones on this list.

When finding a headphone, look for the functionality of each and compare them among others to see which fits you best.

If you want a headphone for many purposes, then purchasing a Sony MDR7509HD Professional Headphone would certainly be a good choice.

MIDI Controller Keyboards

A MIDI keyboard brings MIDI to the next level. Compared to professional keyboards and synthesizers, a MIDI controller keyboard is less expensive. A MIDI keyboard is can teach you how to play the piano by interfacing it with computer software.

Scientifically, MIDI is a basic link between a MIDI instrument and a host machine that runs computer software that processes MIDI signals into sound. When a note is played on a MIDI keyboard, the computer chip inside transfers this data into a message that is sent to the host computer for further processing.

MIDI is just the method of transferring information from one instrument to a computer. MIDI sequencers and software are what turn the message into sound that is heard by the human ear.

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Types of MIDI Controller Keyboard

1. Akai MIDI Controller Keyboards

Akai MPK MIDI Controller Keyboards are a perfect fit for DJs, programmers, producers, musicians and professionals. MIDI via USB makes Akai MIDI Controller Keyboards easily portable for use with laptops during live performances and comfortable in the studio.

Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII 25-Key USB MIDI Controller

Akai Professional LPK25 | 25-Key Ultra-Portable USB MIDI Keyboard Controller for Laptops

 Akai Professional MPK49 | 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with MPC Pads

2. Behringer MIDI Controller Keyboards

Behringer competes at the top, known for producing quality audio products. Many well-known professionals use Behringer products and tout this brand for amazing sound.

Some of these workstations provide on-board sound cards with a massive sound bank such as synthesizers for live performances, but also have MIDI capability for composing and recording music using computer programs.

Behringer UMX25 U-Control 25-Key USB/MIDI Controller Keyboard

Behringer UMA25S | U-Control Ultra Slim 25 Key USB MIDI Controller Keyboard

BEHRINGER MOTÖR 49

3. CME MIDI Controller Keyboards

CME is a digital music production products manufacturer whose focus is providing high quality digital products to professionals. CME compares to Behringer in producing top notch audio production products.

They include:

Portable Musical Keyboard, CME Xkey 37 Air MIDI Mobile Keyboard

CME Xkey Air 25-key Bluetooth MIDI Controller

CME Xkey 25-key Ultra-slim USB Controller Keyboard

4. Edirol MIDI Controller Keyboards

Edirol, whose parent company is Roland, offers a wide variety of MIDI interfaces for recording live performances or in the studio, including MIDI Controller Keyboards. Example of Edirol MIDI controller keyboard is:

Edirol PCR30 32-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

5. Korg MIDI Controller Keyboards

Korg has a huge product line of MIDI Controller Keyboards for use as workstations or synths, live performances and studio use. Korg is the "World Leader of Musical Instruments".

They include:

Korg nanoKEY Studio Bluetooth & USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

Korg nanoKEY2 Slim-Line USB Keyboard in Black

Korg nanoKEY - 25 - Key USB Controller Keyboard, Black

6. Yamaha MIDI Controller Keyboards

Yamaha owned the keyboard market until the invention of MIDI Controller Keyboards. To compete, Yamaha released the KX series of affordable MIDI Controller Keyboards.

They include:

Yamaha KX8 88-Key Keyboard MIDI Controller Mint Condition

 Yamaha KX25 USB Midi Controller 25-Key

 Yamaha NP32 76-Key Lightweight Portable Keyboard, Black

7. Kurzweil MIDI Controller Keyboards

Kurzweil MIDI Controller Keyboards double as synthesizers with an on-board sound bank and as a recording MIDI keyboard for use with a computer.

These workstations feature an unlimited-track sequencer and more effects processing power than other leading brands.

Examples are:

Kurzweil PC3A8 88-Key Performance Controller

Kurzweil PC3K8 88 Note Performance Controller and V.A.S.T Workstation

Kurzweil Artis 7 76-Key Stage Piano

8. M-Audio MIDI Controller Keyboards

M-Audio has the largest selection of MIDI Controller Keyboards than any other brand. M-Audio is very affordable, reliable and leading the industry with their MIDI features.

Examples are:

M-Audio Keystation 49 II | 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV | 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard

M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 | Ultra-Portable 32-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

9. Novation MIDI Controller Keyboards

Novation claims to have unrivaled MIDI Controller Keyboards and solutions. Their MIDI Controller Keyboards range in size and features. Novation is a very affordable brand for the great features they provide from the factory.

They include:

Novation Impulse 49 USB Midi Controller Keyboard, 49 Keys

Novation LAUNCHKEY-49-MK2 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

Novation 49 SL MkII USB Midi Controller Keyboard 49 Keys

10. Studiologic MIDI Controller Keyboards

Studiologic is all USB and MIDI compatible, and comes with an on-board sound bank, along with highly demanded features such as note hammer-action keys, velocity sensitivity, semi-weighted and are easily portable.

They include:

Studiologic SL88 Studio Lightweight Midi Controller with 88-Key Hammer Action Keyboard

Studiologic NumaCompact 88-Key, 10-Sound Piano Controller Keyboard

About Midi Controllers

MIDI controller is very popular nowadays here in the music industry. For the reason a MIDI Controller is use to increase the performance or the quality of the sounds of music. By mixing the quality of the music it is very easy to operate with MIDI controller.

The MIDI controller is an abstraction of the hardware performance to increase the good quality. Sometimes it can be used to transmit a MIDI data stream of the performance, which we use nowadays. It is use sometimes to enhance the unique quality of the output sound.

One common type of MIDI controller device is the organ or keyboard. For the reason the sound quality of it can be edited and mix with the tempo of the sound it can create. If there’s a device that can make a unique sound that can be controller, it is a MIDI controller.

Well in summary of MIDI controller it is one of the most important things that you must have when it comes to music. Well even the price of it to the market is slightly high; it is just fine because you will enjoy having a MIDI controller.

This device is very easy to find nowadays because of its popularity. This device is use to transmit nowadays especially to music industry.

Things to Note Before Buying a MIDI Controller Keyboard

Having a high end electronic music making programs might make you all the envy of most of your pals, nevertheless, you’d probably have to mortgage the house to fund this. Several electronic music-making program designers have got inexpensive lite versions with their larger products for the beginning electronic music composers.

Whenever choosing exactly which electronic music making program to acquire, there is no need to run out and purchase a whole new pc as most of these lite-versions tend to be stream-lined enough to be able to run on your older Mac or PC.

Although no additional equipment is necessary to compose your own songs, you might like to consider enhancing your experience by buying additional add-ons. The money it will save you through not buying a brand-new pc is much better allocated to the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) controller, keyboards and drum pads.

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Microphone Pop Filters

The basic function of a pop filter is to disrupt or divert the air made by the P or B sound hitting the microphone.

There are a few different types of pop filters that work in different ways however they all are designed to dampen the impact of the excessive air flow that is caused when the voice pops. Some are designed with a fabric that resembles a nylon stocking to diffuse or reduce the air flow while allowing the pronounced sound to get through to the mic.

Some achieve this affect by having more than one layer of such fabric. Some metallic pop filters are designed to change the direction of the abrupt air flow and divert the wind created away from the microphone. To understand more about how a pop filter works we need to look at the physics of a microphone.

Have a close look at some of the most ordered pop filters on Amazon.com and how they differ. Orders over $25 may qualify for free delivery in the US.

1. Nady MPF-6 6-Inch Clamp On Microphone Pop Filter

2. Musician’s Gear Pop Filter, 6″ Great Low Price

3. OMNITRONICS EPF-15A Mic Pop Filter by CAD

4. Blue Microphones The Pop Universal Pop Filter

5. Nady SSPF-4 Mic Pop Filter with Shock Mount

6. Musician´s Gear Double Pop Filter, 6″

7. Gator Cases 6″ 2 Layers, split level “pop” filter

8. Stedman Corporation Proscreen XL – Black

9. Stedman PS101

The Shure Popper Stopper Pop Filter

The PS-6 Popper Stopper pop filter is a tried and tested industry favorite for eliminating voice plosives. The filter itself is a 6-inch nylon filter and has a four-layered screen fitted. The gooseneck is 14 inches long which sits on a 4-inch base clamp.

The clamp itself is universal and will easily fit on most booms, microphone stands and desk stands, by simply screwing into place. It does its job admirably in eliminating both breathing and plosive sounds.

The goose-neck itself is quite flexible, and given its ample length, it can be fitted to the mic stand in two distinct ways. It can be fitted to reach up from under the mic, or it can be fitted with the pop filter hanging over the mic.

This second configuration, it avoids clumsy hands for artists that are used to holding onto the mic stand.

The Verdict

All round the PS-06 Popper stopper is a solid performer. It has a professional look and feel which is handy for use in video productions such as video podcasts.

The company has been about for years and offers good support on all its products and their staff are quick to respond on their websites. Again, I have reservations recommending a nylon pop filter that will be used by various performers as in a studio setting.

For home recordings, podcasts and voice-overs, the Popper Stopper is more than you will need.

Typical Use

The PS-6 Popper Stopper, like almost all nylon pop filters, is better suited to situations where only one person will be using the filter.

Being a nylon filter, hygiene becomes an issue when it is to be used by various people. Of course, it can be easily washed with warm water in between sessions, but this will wear it down. With frequent use and daily washing routine its studio life can be less than one year.

In studio type settings where multiple people will be using the same mic, it may be best to look at a metal mesh pop filter. With all this, if the filter is to be used by the same person and is washed weekly, the filters life can be extended to a few years.

VO: 1-A-PF Metal Mesh Pop Filter

Part of the Harlan Hogan Signature Series, this pop filter is ideally suited to the VO:1-A condenser microphone popularly used in voice overs. The clamp is a precise fit for the 1-A and its size should be noted before purchase for use with different microphones.

Unlike other pop filters that are designed to be attached to the microphone stand, this one clamps onto the microphone handle or body. The VO:1-A microphone has a diameter of 1.85 inches or approximately 47mm.

The Vo: A-1 Microphone

The VO: 1-A Harlan Hogan Signature Series Microphone itself is based on the MXL 2006 series where you can check out its output on the owner’s manual. Being a cardioid condenser microphone a pop shield or foam windshield is an essential extra and that’s why this filter was designed. The filter is also suitable for the MXL 2006 series microphone which shares the same dimensions.

Other metal mesh or nylon pop filters that attach themselves onto the boom or mic stand can also be used. Make sure to check the length and flexibility of the gooseneck for a desirable fit.

If the VO: 1-A-PF Metal Mesh Pop Filter is ideal in video production as its stylish looks invoke memories of the Abbey Road Studio recordings with The Beatles. It has a classy polished metal finish which you would expect in such a professional tool.

Durability and ease of cleaning are standard features for any metal filter.

Microphones and the voice.

Microphones work by picking up sound vibrations. All microphones have an element in them or a membrane that responds to sound vibrations. It then converts these vibrations into an electrical signal be it analogue or digital. We all know the sound that a microphone makes when we deliberately blow air into it or tap it with our finger.

When we use our voice to create a sound we send vibrations towards the microphone in the form of air. The microphone picks up other vibrations as well such as:

  • background noise,
  • noises made we bump the microphone or the microphone stand,
  • breathing and hissing noises we make when speaking or singing.

How does a microphone pick up a pop sound?

A lot of air is needed pronounce the letters P or B, we basically build up air pressure behind our pressed lips and eventually release this pressure when we open our lips.

The built-up air pressure is then released in the direction of the microphone in the form of abrupt wind which is known as a Pop sound or a plosive. If you put your hands a couple of inches away in front of your mouth and sing the words Penelope Pitstop, you will notice the wind created by your voice hitting your hand. Try it. Then try something like in times of distress where you should notice hardly any air at all.

I have come across a great video which demonstrates a pop sound when a speaker speaks directly into the microphone.

Metal Pop Filters

Most people agree that the metal ones are easy to clean and are much longer lasting. The metal lovers also point out that the nylon ones can get smelly and their parts can get flimsy over time.

When it comes to sound the metal pop filter fans believe more higher frequencies of their voice get through and the sound is more natural. On the other side, we have the nylon lovers.

Nylon Pop Filters

A lot of people swear by nylon. Some prefer to make their own using a wire coat-hanger and some nylon tights. A quick search on YouTube and you even see some home-made ones that look professional made from embroidery clasps and stockings.

Nylon lovers say how easy they are to rinse and if you need to dry them quickly you can always get the hair dryer out. When it comes to sound, you will people that use spoken word or sing sweetly are more comfortable with nylons. There are a lot of advocates of double layered nylons as well.

Although the jury is still out on which one to choose, it seems to come down to personal preference. One thing is for sure. If you buy a metal filter you don’t run the risk of getting a run in your hose.

Metal Pop Filters Pros and Cons

Metal filters are often touted as being able to retain the higher frequency sounds this implies that they can be lost with a nylon filter. Many vocalists find the metal ones more natural sounding, in that they don’t muffle the sound. Some talk about the nylon ones removing the color of the voice, like singing behind a curtain, it tends to lessen the higher frequencies.

The Pros

  • Easy to clean
  • Claimed to be more natural sounding and less muffled.
  • Retain high frequency voice gain,
  • durable so will get lots of life out of it and although higher initial spend they will cost less in the long run.

The Cons

  • Some clasps for booms or mike poles are difficult to apply. Check before you order.

By far, the most popular model that I found on the forums is the Stedman PS-101 Proscreen Filter which uses a metal mesh. Curiously this model is better priced than their Stedman Proscreen XL made of a patented material.

Nylon Pop Filters Pros and Cons

Nylons are usually cheap and wash easy. A big advantage they have over meta filters is that they increase the life of the microphone by protecting it from Singers spit.

The Pros

  • Usually the cheaper of the two although some nylons can run over $50 dollars.
  • Usually have more universal clasps or clamps for boom poles or mic stands,
  • Will protect the microphone from spit. Some mics are very sensitive to moisture.

The Cons

  • Cheaper ones can have cheap materials which are more likely to need replacement which can be costly in the long run. Many have trouble with the goosenecks over time.
  • Can develop a smell over time even after a good wash.
  • More likely to be damaged when stored away or attacked my pets or children.

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