What Equipment do I need to Record Music? (Our Top 10) [2024]


Man singing and recording vocals with headphones and vocal booth

Updated for 2024 with new product recommendations!

Want to start recording your own music, but don’t know what equipment you need? Here’s a list of the most essential equipment anyone at any level needs to record and mix music. In this article, we’ve explained why you need each item and some recommendations for choosing the right equipment for your needs.

I started recording music with a guitarist friend in high school with a couple of SM57 microphones, hooked up to a mixer that ran into a tape recorder. The

In summary – you need the following equipment to record music;

  • A Computer (PC or Mac)
  • Recording software / DAW software (Digital Audio Workstation)
  • An Audio Interface
  • A microphone
  • Studio Headphones
  • A Microphone Stand
  • A Pop Filter
  • Studio Monitor Speakers
  • Acoustic Treatment
  • Power Conditioner

In a hurry? Check our top home recording equipment recommendations!

Sale
HP 15.6 inch Laptop PC, Processor: 13th Generation Intel® Core™ i7, Graphics: Intel® Iris® Xe…
  • POWER TO DO WHAT MATTERS MOST – The reliable processing power of a 13th Generation Intel Core i7-1355U processor paired with ample storage…
Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface for Guitarists, Vocalists, Podcasters or Producers to record and playback studio quality sound
  • Pro performance with great pre-amps – Achieve a brighter recording thanks to the high performing mic pre-amps of the Scarlett 3rd Gen. A…
Avid Pro Tools
Avid Pro Tools is the industry standard recording and editing software used in many professional and home recording studios throughout the world. It is well supported with many helpful training resources available online.
Shure SM57 Dynamic Instrument Microphone
  • EXEPTIONAL VOCAL PERFORMANCE – The SM57-LC delivers high-quality vocal reproduction, thanks to its tailored frequency response and…

We’ve explained each item of equipment in more detail below.

What is the best computer for music production and recording at home?

Unless you are reading this from your time-machine in the 1970s, you’ll probably want to build your recording setup around a computer. I know there are some purists out there who only use analog equipment which is all very retro and nice. However, for the average person, this equipment isn’t affordable or very easy to use. So let’s assume you’ll be using a computer for producing music or recording at home!

These days, most modern computers are completely capable of getting you started with digital recording, so you can probably use what you already have.

If you do want to start with a dedicated machine that has plenty of power, here are a few things you should look for.

  1. At least a quad-core CPU – something like an Intel i5, i7 or higher. Multi-core CPU’s provide much more powerful processing ability which you’ll need to handle things like multiple tracks of audio, processing plugins and virtual instruments.
  2. Plenty of Memory (RAM). RAM stands for ‘Random Access Memory’ and this memory is used for temporarily storing information as it’s being processed. The more RAM you have, the more information your computer can process at once. I recommend 16gb RAM as a minimum
  3. An SSD Drive (Solid State Drive). SSD drives don’t have a spinning platter like older style hard drives, they use flash memory for storage which means they can access information up to 6 times faster. This means files and programs load much more quickly, resulting in a faster experience for you. This is important with audio production as you’ll be working with large files.
  4. Plenty of storage. This ties in with the above – make sure the computer has plenty of storage space – if it’s a laptop it may only have one drive, so make sure it has enough room on it for all your files. I recommend an SSD drive with a minimum of 256gb storage.
  5. A high-resolution display/screen. If you’re working on a large project with lots of tracks – you’ll want a high-resolution screen – at least 1920 x 1080.

The best computers for recording. (Our Recommendation)

Either a laptop or a desktop computer will be fine for recording and editing audio. Modern laptops are very powerful so if you want a versatile option that you can transport easily – we recommend you invest in a good laptop.

Here are a couple of excellent laptops that will work great for recording and editing audio. We’ve provided both Mac and PC options.

Sale
Apple 2023 MacBook Pro Laptop M3 chip with 8‑core CPU, 10‑core GPU: 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR Display, 8GB Unified Memory, 1TB SSD…
  • SUPERCHARGED BY M3 — With an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU, the Apple M3 chip can help you blaze through everyday multitasking and take on…
  • UP TO 22 HOURS OF BATTERY LIFE — Go all day thanks to the power-efficient design of Apple silicon. The MacBook Pro laptop delivers the…
Sale
HP 15.6 inch Laptop PC, Processor: 13th Generation Intel® Core™ i7, Graphics: Intel® Iris® Xe Graphicsc, 16 GB DDR4-3200 MHz RAM, 512GB SSD,…
  • POWER TO DO WHAT MATTERS MOST – The reliable processing power of a 13th Generation Intel Core i7-1355U processor paired with ample storage…
  • BE SEEN AND HEARD ON YOUR TERMS – Chat with ease knowing you have Full HD resolution with a camera you can close when not in use to keep you…

What is the best DAW Software/Recording Software for home recording

DAW is an acronym for ‘digital audio workstation’. Your DAW software is like the engine that drives your digital recording setup. It allows you to record multiple tracks of audio, edit your audio files, mix, and even master your final song. Most DAWs also have MIDI production capabilities which means you can compose and arrange digital music using virtual instruments and mix this with recorded audio.

The right DAW software is essential for your recording setup. To help you choose the right one for you, we’ve written a detailed article on the easiest DAW for beginners.

If you want to get started without spending much, I recommend using Garageband if you’re on a Mac, or Reaper which costs only $60 to get started.

If you want to invest a little more, then Avid Pro Tools, Presonus Studio One and FL Studio are my top picks as they are the easiest to use, there are great training resources online and they are used by many industry professionals.

Studio One 6 Professional/Download Card
Avid Pro Tools Perpetual with 1-year Update & Support Plan (Boxed)
Image Line FL Studio 20 Producer Edition
Studio One 6 Professional/Download Card
Avid Pro Tools Perpetual with 1-year Update & Support Plan (Boxed)
Image Line FL Studio 20 Producer Edition
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Studio One 6 Professional/Download Card
Studio One 6 Professional/Download Card
Avid Pro Tools Perpetual with 1-year Update & Support Plan (Boxed)
Avid Pro Tools Perpetual with 1-year Update & Support Plan (Boxed)
-
Image Line FL Studio 20 Producer Edition
Image Line FL Studio 20 Producer Edition
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What Audio Interface do I need for recording at home?

An audio interface is the heart of a recording studio as it enables you to connect multiple analog audio devices (like microphones, guitars, and keyboards), convert the audio signal into digital, and send it to your computer for editing.

Yes, you can compose and program music using virtual instruments inside your DAW – but nothing beats the authenticity of a real performance on a real instrument.

An audio interface also enables you to multiple connect output devices like headphones and monitor speakers.

Sound is digitized when analog audio is converted into digital signals by an audio interface. Some computers come with a microphone or line input, but the quality of the built-in converters is not as good as the quality you’ll get in a dedicated audio interface. An audio interface can also provide more features and connectivity options like multiple mic preamps with XLR inputs and hardware gain controls, MIDI I/O and multiple output options.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen 2×2 USB Audio Interface Bundle with 2x H&A 6′ XLR Cables, For PC & MAC, Great for Music…
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen USB Interface – USB-A to USB-C Cable – Software Suite (Download) – Focusrite 3 Year Limited Warranty – 2x H&A…
  • 4th-Generation mic pres: With a huge 69dB gain range, Focusrite’s 4th-Generation Scarlett mic pre is the clearest and most detailed ever…

Why do I need an audio interface for recording?

A dedicated audio interface will provide the correct audio inputs to enable you to connect a microphone or instrument to your computer so you can record directly into your DAW software. Most computers don’t have an analog audio input, or if they do it will not offer the level or quality or options that a dedicated audio interface can offer.

Audio interfaces can also offer multiple inputs so you can record multiple tracks or instruments at once (such as a full drum kit, or even a complete band for a live recording.

For starting out, a 2 channel audio interface is usually enough – read our reviews on the best 2-channel USB Audio Recording Interfaces under $200.

What Studio Headphones should I use for recording at home?

If you’re just starting out, you don’t need to buy expensive studio monitor speakers – a good pair of studio headphones will get you started.

General consumer headphones often artificially emphasize the bass frequencies and scoop out some midrange frequencies.

Studio headphones are built specifically for professional work and deliver accurate sound that helps in critical listening to hear every single flaw in audio. This helps producers spot distortion, noise, and frequencies that need adjusting, and mix more accurately. If you’re recording live audio, a good pair of studio headphones are essential for monitoring so you can sing or play your instrument along with a click track or other backing audio.

beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro Studio Headphones – Over-Ear, Closed-Back, Professional Design for Recording and Monitoring (80 Ohm, Grey)
  • Closed over-ear headphones for professional mixing at home or in the studio
  • Perfect for studio recordings thanks to the their pure and high-resolution sound

Why do I need Studio Headphones?

  1. To accurately hear the full spectrum (from the low-frequency bass notes to high-frequency treble). Built-in computer speakers won’t do the job, and consumer headphones or hifi systems often falsely emphasise certain frequencies, so you won’t hear your mix accurately
  2. For monitoring, while recording live instruments like vocals and guitars
  3. Studio headphones are clearer and more accurate than consumer headphones
  4. They are more durable than other types of headphones

To learn more about studio headphones, read our detailed guide: What are the best studio headphones for recording?

What Microphone do recording music at home?

A microphone captures live sound and converts it to an electrical signal. It’s one of the essential components in your recording studio. In fact, many recording studios have whole cupboards full of microphones! Different microphones are suited for different purposes – which we’ll explain below. There are three main types of microphones: Dynamic, Condenser, and Ribbon.

Should I get a Dynamic Microphone for home recording?

Dynamic microphones are the most common type of microphone and generally the most affordable.

Dynamic Microphones have a heavier diaphragm which means they can capture louder instruments and bass frequencies particularly well (the most popular mics for bass guitar cabs and kick drums are generally dynamic microphones. Dynamic mics are often used for live audio as they are more durable and resistant to humidity changes.

The Shure SM57 is a great dynamic microphone to start with. For around $99, they are excellent value and have been trusted for decades by professionals for recording guitars, guitar amps, snare drums, horns, vocals and more.

Shure SM57 Dynamic Instrument Microphone
  • EXEPTIONAL VOCAL PERFORMANCE – The SM57-LC delivers high-quality vocal reproduction, thanks to its tailored frequency response and…
  • INDUSTRY STANDARD – The first choice for performers around the globe, the SM57 Dynamic Vocal Microphone is ready to bring any performance to…
  • CLARITY & CARE – The uniform cardioid polar pattern reproduces every note as it was intended, delivering warm, crisp sound time after time.

Should I get a Condenser Microphone to record music?

Condenser Microphones have a very light diaphragm which makes them very sensitive. They are great for recording quieter instruments like vocals and acoustic guitar. They will also pick up high frequencies very accurately so they are often used for capturing the sparkle and sizzle of cymbals or as drum overheads.

Condenser microphones are pretty versatile and, if you can afford one, we recommend you invest in a mid-range condenser as your first mic.

Condenser microphones are usually pretty fragile and sensitive to humidity. You’ll want to handle your condenser microphone carefully and keep it is a dry controlled environment.

RØDE NT1 Signature Series Condenser Microphone with SM6 Shockmount and Pop Filter – Black
  • Large-diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone ideal for music production, vocal recording, streaming and podcasting
  • HF6 1-inch true condenser capsule with a smooth frequency response, high sensitivity and extremely high SPL handling
  • Exceptionally low noise (4dBA) – the world’s quietest studio condenser microphone

Are Ribbon Microphones good for recording at home?

Unlike Dynamic and Condenser mics, Ribbon Microphones don’t have a diaphragm. They have a very thin strip of metal (the ribbon) that is suspended in a magnetic field. The ribbon thickness could be as thin as 1.8 microns – compared with a human hair which is 100 microns! This means ribbon microphones are very delicate and fragile.

Ribbon mics capture a detailed accurate sound with clear highs and precise low frequencies. They have a mellow sound – some people say they have a slightly dark tone to them.

They are also more expensive – usually a ribbon microphone would be purchased when you are further along your recording journey, not when you are first starting out.

MXL R77 Professional Ribbon Microphone With Traditional Yoke Mount Form Factor
  • High SPL handles electric guitar, horns and percussion
  • Smooth transient response and stunning realism
  • Classic body design with gold and chrome metal finish

Microphone Stand for home recording studio

Hercules Stands MS533B with 2 Inches 1 Hideaway Boom

When recording music, a great quality mic stand helps reduce the chances of damaging something as fragile and valuable as a condenser microphone. Can you imagine buying a cheap stand ‘serving its purpose’ until it falls with your expensive mic along with it? Mic stands are so underrated and don’t get enough credit for how crucial their function is in keeping your rig secure.

The Hercules MS533B Hideaway Boom Stand is a tripod boom-type mic stand. It’s rock solid and stays in place where you need it! For sure your microphone will be safe and secure with it.

Hercules Stands MS533B with 2 Inches 1 Hideaway Boom
  • Convertible Boom/Straight Microphone St with Tripod Base 2-in-1 Hideaway Boom

What does a Pop Filter do and do I need one?

Stedman Proscreen XL Pop Filter

Have you ever wondered what those black fuzzy round things in front of microphones do? Those are called pop filters, and they cancel out popping sounds usually heard as a thudding noise of letters ‘p’ and ‘b’. That’s just one reason, the other is to ultimately protect your microphone from the saliva of enthusiastic vocalists!

The Stedman Proscreen XL Pop Filter is one we recommend. This pop filter isn’t made of the typical and cheap pantyhose material which makes it a longer-lasting option. It uses a unique patented material where instead of simply blocking out the popping sounds, slots in the filter are angled down to redirect the sound energy away from the mic.

Sale
Stedman Proscreen XL Pop Filter
  • Screen diameter: 6″
  • Length: 26.5″
  • Weight: 10 oz.

Do I need Studio Monitor Speakers for recording at home?

You can absolutely use a great pair of studio headphones for all your recording, editing and mixing. There are a few good reasons why you’ll want to eventually invest in a pair of studio monitor speakers though;

  1. Mixing on headphones for long periods can fatigue your ears
  2. Headphones have an inaccurate stereo image (too wide), which means mixes done on them won’t have good stereo separation when you listen to them on other audio systems.
  3. Most headphones don’t have a perfectly flat frequency response (unless you’re spending up into the thousands on a very expensive pair). This means you’ll often mix frequencies inaccurately while using headphones.
  4. Certain instruments like synth and vocals sound more energetic and alive in headphones – which means you’ll tend to leave them too dry – where you should be adding a little bit of reverb or delay.
  5. Headphone mixes can end up sounding too ‘full-on’ or loud.
  6. At some point, you’ll want to playback your mix to a group of people who can’t all share your headphones at once!

While headphones can help you get started if you’re on a budget, we recommend getting a decent pair of studio monitor speakers when you can afford them.

PreSonus Eris E4.5BT 4.5-Inch Near Field Studio Monitors with Bluetooth Bundle with Studio Monitor Isolation Pads for 5-Inch Speakers (Pair) and 6 Feet TRS Cable (2-Pack) (4 Items)
  • Bundle Includes: PreSonus Eris E4.5BT 4.5-Inch Near Field Studio Monitors with Bluetooth, Studio Monitor Isolation Pads for 5-Inch Speakers…
  • Easy-To-Use Controls: A speaker’s response is affected by where you place it and the acoustics of your space. That’s why Eris E4.5 BT…
KRK RP5 Rokit 5 G4 Professional Bi-Amp 5″ Powered Studio Monitor Pair, Black
  • Professional grade 5“ (bi-amp) studio monitor designed and engineered in the USA
  • 5” matching woofer and 1” tweeter made with Kevlar
YAMAHA HS5 2-Way 70W Bass Reflex Bi-Amplified Studio Monitor (2-Pack) Bundle (2 Items)
  • Bundle Includes: 2 x YAMAHA HS5 2-Way 70W Bass Reflex Bi-Amplified Studio Monitor
  • Response Controls: The YAMAHA HS5 speaker features two response controls with detailed settings that allow it to adapt to the surface…
Adam Audio T5V Active Nearfield Monitor (2-Pack) Bundle 25-Feet XLR Male to XLR Female Microphone Cable (2-Pack) (4 Items)
  • Bundle Includes: 2 x Adam Audio T5V Active Nearfield Monitor, 2 x 25-Feet XLR Male to XLR Female Microphone Cable
  • Ergonomics: The Adam Audio T5V Active Nearfield Monitor is a highly affordable two-way nearfield monitor optimized for small control rooms

What is Acoustic Treatment and do I need it for home recording?

It isn’t enough to simply have amazing equipment and trust the world to cooperate when you’re recording. It’s never safe to assume you will create the best sounding audio only because you have invested in expensive microphones and the right DAW software.

The room you’re recording in plays a huge factor. Some basic acoustic treatment on the walls can help reduce reflections and echos that would otherwise be picked up in your recorded audio.

Acoustic foam treatment for recording studio

Acoustic panels are very affordable and will make a big difference to your room – not just for recording but for monitoring and mixing too.

If you aren’t able to treat the whole room, but you want to reduce some resonance and echos while recording vocals, you could consider getting a mini portable vocal booth or acoustic isolation booth.

These handy little portable acoustic isolators can be mounted on your mic stand and wrap around you as you sing or talk into the mic, significantly reducing the reflections and echos from the room that you’re in.

Neewer® Microphone Isolation Shield Absorber Filter Vocal Isolation Booth with Lightweight Aluminum Panel, Thick Soundproofing Foams, Mounting Brackets and Screws for Mic Stand with 5/8″ Thread
  • High quality soundproofing material(various types of soundproofing foams + aluminium sheets),breaks up room reflections and absorbing noise,…
  • 3/8″ and 5/8″ thread adapter for stands and microphone holders
  • Mountable on most conventional microphone stands

Do I need a Power Conditioner for home recording studio?

While not essential when you’re starting out, once you get serious, a power conditioner is an important addition to a home studio. It protects your equipment and reduces interference in your recordings.

Power conditioners are designed to safeguard all your equipment by smoothing out fluctuating voltages, interference, and electric surges which can be deadly for your equipment! RF Interference (like hum and buzzing) from your power source can also be picked up in your recorded audio. 

The Furman PL-Plus DMC Power Conditioner with Voltmeter/AMMeter is a great investment!

Sale
Furman PL-PLUS DMC Power Conditioner with Voltmeter / AMMeter
  • Furman’s exclusive SMP technology provides the highest level of surge & spike protection available.
  • Isolated outlet banks minimize inter-component interference and noise contamination.
  • 15 Amp rating featuring a high inrush magnetic circuit breaker for added protection.
  • Retractable LED rack lights with on/off/dimmer control Isolated outlet banks to minimize inter-component

Frequently Asked Questions

What equipment do I need to record music at home?

The most important home recording equipment is a computer, DAW software, an audio interface, headphones, and a great microphone!

What do you need to record a song?

To record a song, you need a Microphone, Mic stand, mic cable, audio interface, computer and recording software (DAW software).

How do you record at home with studio quality?

To be able to record amazing audio with studio-quality, you need to invest in your skills and the right equipment. Our top 10 list of the right equipment is a good starting point.

What is the best home recording studio package?

If you want to get started on a budget, we highly recommend the Focusrite Scarlett recording studio bundle. It’s a comprehensive bundle and includes the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 recording interface, basic DAW software, the Focusrite Scarlett Studio microphone, The Focusrite Scarlett Headphones, mic cables, a mic stand and a pop filter.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio 3rd Gen Recording Bundle with Amazon Basics Adjustable Boom Height Microphone Stand
  • Product 1: Includes: Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface, condenser microphone, headphones, 10’ XLR mic cable, mic stand clip
  • Product 1: High-performance converters enable you to record and mix at up to 24-bit/ 192kHz.
  • Product 1: Quick start tool to get up and running easier than ever.

In Summary – what do I need to record music at home? (And how much does it cost?

In this article, we discussed the essential items you’ll need to get started recording music at home. They are; an audio interface, DAW (recording) software, a microphone, studio headphones. Chances are you’ll already have a computer, but if you want to set up a dedicated recording machine, we also discussed the recommended minimum specifications you’ll want in a computer for best performance.

Wondering how much all these items will cost? If you already have a suitable computer then you can get everything you need to get started for well under $1,000.

  1. Computer / Laptop: $700 – $1500
  2. DAW Software: Free – $500
  3. Audio Interface: $150 – $200
  4. Microphone: $100 – 200
  5. Mic Stand: $50 – $80
  6. Headphones: $100 – $180

If you’re on a budget, you can add some of the items later such as studio monitoring speakers, a power conditioner, and acoustic treatment. These are all nice to have, but you can definitely get started without them!

Got questions? You are very welcome to reach out to me on our contact page and I’ll do my best to answer.

Tim Wells

Hi I’m Tim Wells – an experienced session and live drummer, mixing engineer and all-around lover of music! I’ve been passionate about music from a young age and I’ve had the great privilege of creating and performing music all around the world. I've had the incredible experience of touring as a live drummer through over 10 countries, performing in festivals, clubs, street corners, churches and cafes in front of audiences anywhere between 8 and 8,000! I've also spent time in the recording studio as a session drummer, but also as a recording and mixing engineer.

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