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  • Zoe Lim

A Short Guide to Home Recording

A home recording music studio

Clairo, Cuco & mxmtoon are some of the most popular artists today who have recorded albums from the comforts of their own bed. With the rise of digital tools, it has become extremely easy and convenient for anyone to start recording in their own home.

If you are an aspiring musician looking for a way to begin your journey in music, these are the top 5 essentials that you need for a home recording studio. Let's check it out!

1. DAW - Digital Audio Workstation

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is a software program needed for producing, recording and mixing your songs. Some of the most popular DAWs in 2020 are:

  • Logic Pro X

  • GarageBand

  • FL Studio 20

  • Audacity

  • Reaper

  • Ableton Live

When it comes to choosing a DAW, you might want to consider 3 things - your music genre, compatibility with other platforms and the quality of your songs.

For example, Ableton Live is highly recommended for EDM (electronic dance music) producers. However, if you just want to create simple songs, you might want to get GarageBand which comes free with almost every Apple product (MacBook, iPhone, iPad).

2. Microphone

If the songs you are recording are vocally-heavy, you might want to consider getting a proper microphone with the best sound quality.

The 2 most common microphones in the market are :

  • Condenser microphones - Has superior sound quality due to its high sensitivity & accuracy

  • Dynamic microphones - Able to handle high sound pressure, relatively cheap

Each of these have their own sound characteristics and traits. It depends on what you are looking for when recording. If you want something basic and simple, you may even want to try out the microphone on your earpiece. On the other hand, if you want to record instruments with higher frequencies and harmonics, you might want to consider getting a condenser microphone.

Another factor to consider while getting a microphone is getting a pop filter. A pop filter is a noise protection filter for microphones. As suggested by its name, a pop filter reduces or eliminates plosives or 'popping' sounds when recording. Getting a pop filter is highly recommended when recording vocals or speech.

3. Microphone/XLR cables

Microphone cables are a topic that is rarely talked about, even among professional musicians. Many think that 'cables are just cables' and the difference in quality between a budget and a premium cable isn't much. However, that can only be further from the truth.

Without a good quality microphone cable, the sound transmitted will be interfered and the final output of the recording will be distorted. Thus, when purchasing a cable, you need to ensure that they provide a clean sound. Some of the top microphone cables in the 2020 market include:

  • Mogami Gold STAGE-20 XLR Microphone Cable

  • Planet Waves Classic Series XLR Microphone Cable

  • LyxPro Balanced XLR Cable 15 ft Microphone Cable

4. Audio interface

An audio interface is a hardware gear that connects your microphone, instruments and monitor speakers to your computer to get a more professional sound. Again, which audio interface you should get depends on the type of connectivity and the type of music you are going to make.

There are 3 computer connectivity options:

  • Thunderbolt - High speed and low latency/delays, useful for Macs

  • Firewire - Reliable for recording, multiple channels at once but less interfaces use Firewire

  • USB - Good for mobile recording with laptop, common use with many interfaces

If you are a singer-songwriter, you might want to get something simple with 1-2 inputs. Some recommendations are :

  • Scarlett 2i2

  • Presonus Audiobox iTwo

  • Avid Fast Track Solo

For a more serious music production, such as producing film scores and/or EDM, you would probably need an audio interface with more inputs and outputs. Some suggestions include :

  • Arturia Audiofuse Studio Audio Interface

  • Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools

  • PreSonus Studio 24c 2x2, 192 kHz, USB-C Audio Interface, 2 Mic Pres-2 Line Outs

5. Headphones

Lastly, headphones. There are 2 types of headphones to consider, both with very different purposes.

The first type is called Closed Back Headphones which are used for recording.

The second type is called Open Back Headphones which are used for mixing.

For closed back headphones, you want to be selecting the one that offers the highest sound isolation so that you can monitor the track closely as they play. The best models right now are :

  • Focal Stellia

  • Sennheiser HD280 Pro

  • Sony MDR-7506

On the other hand, when it comes to considering open back headphones, maximum sound quality is prioritised over sound isolation. When you are mixing a track, you want to gain the most authentic sound. With open back headphones, they provide optimal sound quality with minimum resonance. Below are the top picks in 2020 :

  • Grado GW100

  • AKG K702

  • Sennheiser HD660 S

Now that you've read through the guide to home recording, all you need is creative mind to bring your ideas to life! Good luck in your journey!


Zoe is an avid fan of all kinds of music. Her primary instrument is the guitar but she is always passionately learning how to play other instruments such as the drums and keyboard. She is currently playing the bass guitar in a band and has been routinely involved in music since she was a child.

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