If your audio recording budget seems insufficient for the project you have in mind, don’t let it bring you down. Most successful singers, bands, and voice artists did not have a very high budget at the beginning of their careers either. They also did not have as many options as artists have today to make the best out of almost any shoestring budget. With that in mind, let’s get straight into how budding artists can maximize their investments.
Don’t Buy What You Can Rent
The rule is as simple and straightforward as it sounds, which is a good thing for budding voice talents. Starting from the noise-canceling microphones and studio headphones, to digital audio workstations (DAW) and amplifiers, almost everything that you need to record high-definition audio can be rented these days.
Given how costly any half-decent recording setup can turn out to be, renting options are what keeps things affordable for most struggling/budding artists. The process of bringing equipment into a rented studio from outside wastes time, effort, and money, so bring down the recording costs further by renting all equipment from the same studio you will be recording at.
Create a list of essential recording equipment you will need for the project, do your research on available studios nearby, and then select a place that can provide everything you will need for your recording session(s). You can check Pirate.com to find two of the city’s best-equipped, but flexibly priced Los Angeles recording studios. There’s one in Silver Lake and one in West Adams, but in case you are looking for similar options near the Big Apple, you will find Pirate’s fully equipped recording studios available for rent in South Brooklyn, The Queens, and Bushwick as well.
Recording at Home: Is It an Option?
Alongside the dedicated space and professional equipment, recording studios also have the advantage of perfect acoustics. These are rooms built to provide the ideal sound recording environment and unless you have a studio at home, the effect cannot be completely replicated at home. Be that as it may, recording music and creating audio content at home is not impossible.
Although it will not be comparable to a studio recording, the technology is available to create a setup at home and at least get started with recording your songs/audio content. So many famous bands started from their parent’s garage, but nowadays, you can record a few high-quality songs in there too! Next, we have provided a minimum list of things that you will need to arrange for creating a decent home recording setup.
The Recording Room
A large and mostly empty room like the garage, a shed, an unused barn, or even a large home office will do if it is located in a relatively quiet location. You should consider insulating the place for better noise isolation, which can improve the recording quality quite a bit.
Bands will need at least two condenser microphones with active noise cancellation and mic shields to eliminate unwanted noise. Condensers have several advantages over traditional handhelds and even dynamic microphones. For starters, you will not need to invest in as many mics, mic stands, mic wires, and cables for each member of your band, if you have just two of these. Go with USB connectors to minimize the wire clutter and directly connect the microphones to the editing computer. In case you are podcasting, live streaming, or recording solo, just one condenser microphone is sufficient.
Their low-mass diaphragm allows condenser mics to have an excellent transient response and offer a very wide frequency response (wider than any other type of microphone); both of which are of the utmost importance when you are trying to record vocals and/or instrumentals with as few mics as possible. The best part is that you don’t need to shell out thousands of dollars for a condenser microphone anymore these days. Quite a few pro-grade options are available within the $200 – $300 bracket from Blue, JBL, and Audio-Technica.
Content Editing Rig
Thanks to the massive progress made in computer hardware, almost any computer with up-to-date spec can be used to run a DAW and edit music, voice recordings, etc. Both Macs and PCs can handle it, but the PC supports a wider range of software tools. More importantly, at roughly half the price of a new iMac, you can assemble a more powerful PC on your own.
Nevertheless, if you already have a MacBook Pro or iMac (not older than two years from the official release date), it should be able to handle the needs of moderate sound editing effortlessly. An assembled content creator’s desktop PC, on the other hand, is going to be a much more powerful, cost-effective, and modular option. Do make sure that the PC has all the necessary ports, a Ryzen 7 processor (for video editing), an RTX series GPU, and a powerful sound card to build the best audio and video editing rig.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
A digital audio workstation or DAW is the primary software used to record, play, edit, compose and mix recordings. The good news is that the actual quality of the sound recording is not affected, even if you select a cheap workstation for the time being. That being said, the final, post-processed sound quality will vary from software to software.
There is no shortage of free and affordable options today and you don’t need to spend excess money on a DAW just yet. Popular workstation software applications of choice are Pro Tools, Ableton Live, FL Studio, Studio One, and Adobe Audition, but if you are using a Mac though, Logic Pro X should be your default choice. Try out a few of them yourself and see what works best for you.
Read Also: 7 Most Rewarding Non-Performing Careers in Music
Confusion between closed back and open back headphones are common because both types are being marketed as studio-quality nowadays. Audiophiles prefer the acoustics of well-engineered, open-back headphones while listening to certain genres of music. In a recording studio or home studio, the gaps on an open back will allow distortion and noise to seep through, affecting your judgment of the recording. Therefore, closed-back headphones are the only options to consider here.
Audio interfaces are not as necessary as they used to be once, because assembled, sound editing PCs should have one inside with the sound card itself. Unless you forgot about it during assembly, or you are using a Mac, an audio interface will be needed for plugging in the microphones, speakers, amplifiers, and headphones into it. It will then convert the analog signals into digital signals and send them to your main rig. This leaves a chance for distorted sound quality, unfortunately, so direct connectors are highly recommended.
Speakers and Amplifiers
Unlike a consumer-grade speaker set, studio monitors will be neutral, because you are trying to “monitor” the sound for quality. You will be able to add bass as required, with the help of an external amplifier. You do not need to go for the best product out there, but test a pair out before buying.
It is important to treat the costs of recording as investments, rather than expenses. Unless you adopt that outlook, you may find yourself to be over-restrictive with the budget, which could end up sabotaging your own talents. Whether it’s about studio quality or personal recording equipment, tread the line between cheap and cost-effective care.