by Metal Mastermind

July 8, 2020

home recording studio setup

In our modern era technology has made it possible for just about anyone to record a metal song or even a full album at home.

But there are two key problems most all of us face:

  1. We think we need the most expensive, latest, and greatest gear
  2. All of the options can be so overwhelming that we don’t know where to start, thus we never start

We’re going to help you cut past all of the confusion and tell you the basic studio necessities you need to literally start recording today.

**If you already have your home studio setup, or in the process, you’ll get some awesome tips, some of which will save you time and money!

Basic Studio Gear for Recording Metal Music at Home

You already have your instrumentals for playing metal music, and perhaps you play live gigs. So that’s half of the gear you need for recording at home (and technically, you don’t even need an amp to record at home).

We’re going to take you through the basic and necessary components. These are items you must have if you’re serious about recording quality music.

There are budget-friendly options and this will help you get started. But we’re also going to cover when you should consider going with higher-grade studio gear.

On that note (no pun intended), there are several pieces of studio equipment that you can go with the least expensive option and still make quality recordings.

However, there are some pieces of gear that you may want to consider investing more into. We’ll cover all of that as we go…

The 4 Basic Studio Necessities

Below are the basic recording studio essentials. And chances are you already have some if not all of these components. But this is the absolute minimum you need to get started:

  1. Computer 
  2. Recording software
  3. Monitors
  4. Audio interface

Of course, there are things like cables, mics, amps, instruments, etc. And in many cases, you may not even need a mic if you’re recording music like instrumental metal using virtual amp plugins (we’ll talk more about that, later).

Obviously this doesn’t just pertain to recording metal music – this is the basic setup you need to record any style of music. But since we’re all metalheads here, we’re catering this to metal music!

Computer

Your computer is the first and perhaps most important piece to your studio puzzle. You don’t have to get a suped-up gaming system to record your music. But you at least want to make sure what you’re getting has adequate processing power and RAM to smoothly run your recording software.

  • What Jason uses: iMac 27-inch, i7 processor, 8 GB RAM
  • What Ken uses: Super ‘Hackintosh’ machine, self-built!

The two things you want to look at are:

  • The processor
  • RAM

An i5 and up is a good place to start for processing power. An we recommend at least 8GB of RAM. Probably sooner than later you will start using more and more plugins and possible virtual instruments. So you want to make sure you get a solid machine that can handle all of that.

Storage is also important. Everytime you record a track, your studio saves that as a file. Those files can add up quickly.

The best thing to do for studio musicians is to have an external drive for storage. And even better, consider getting two drives so that you always have a backup (you could use your computer for your main source and use an external drive as your backup).

Don’t get too caught up in the Apple vs PC war. Both make machines that are fully capable of running your software. Just make sure you do the proper research and due diligence regarding your recording software requirements and the room you need to grow.

Your DAW

There are many choices for recording software, also called DAW. The most cost-effective one if Reaper. In fact, Reaper is free (you can purchase upgrades). But don’t let that fool you. There are professional people in the industry that use this software.

Some of the more common software include Pro Tools, Steinberg Cubase, and Presonus Studio One. Sweetwater Music has an awesome write-up on their blog Best Recording Software for Beginners.

*If you’re new to software recording, don’t worry…there’s an abundance of tutorials on YouTube for practically every DAW that will show you how to use it.

Studio Monitors

Getting a solid pair of studio monitors is essential to both tracking and mixing. With so many to choose from and the wide quality and price range, it’s a good idea to read reviews of different types of monitors. Studio headphones fall into this category as well.

On that note, try to read reviews from people who are in the same music genre as you. Different styles often make a difference in the type of monitors needed.

Audio Interface

Lastly, you’ll need an audio interface to record music. Like everything else, there are many options. Some of the top brands are Universal Audio, Focusrite, and Antelope Audio.

Of course, there are budget-friendly to pro-grade versions of each component. We’ll talk more about the differences below and how to assess what you really need.

Here’s a video we made comparing cheap vs. expensive audio interfaces:

**We did not cover room treatment in this episode as that is covered in the next episode called ‘The Golden Rule of Recording.’

Basic VS High-grade Gear

Now, here are some questions you may be thinking about…

  • Is there really that much difference?
  • At what point should you upgrade?
  • What components are most important to upgrade when you have the means?

One of the things you need to think about is the future of your recording and your purpose. And to answer the above questions you need to ask yourself the questions below…

  • Are you only recording your own music and instrument?
  • Or are you using your studio to record other people’s music?
  • Or, are you responsible for recording your entire band?

High-grade gear typically means it can handle more. Budget-friendly gear os great if you’re jus starting out or if you simply don’t require more than the basics for your music.

There’s a guide specific for metal musicians here (this is one of Jason’s blogs): Complete Recording Guide for Metal Guitarists

Choosing the Right Studio Gear

Here’s the thing about studio gear. If you’re planning to expand it’s best to save up and invest in better gear now. You may find that you quickly ‘grow out’ of the basic components and need to upgrade sooner than later. This may actually end up costing you more in the long run.

Also, if you’re recording your entire band or plan to do studio work for others, you’re going to need to a bit beyond just the basics. You have to think about things like processing power required, if you need multiple audio inputs, getting the appropriate monitor size for your room, etc.

Now, if you’re in a small room and just plan to record your own music with limited instruments, you can more than likely get by with basic budget-friendly studio gear.

For example, if you’re primarily a guitarist that just wants to record your own guitar tracks at home. And you plan to hire out more complex tasks, like recording drums. Basic gear may be all you ever need. Especially if you’re recording live amps and using minimal plugins.

Watch the LIVE Episode of What You Need to Record Music at Home

Be sure to catch the replay of our YouTube Live episode on this topic. We go through everything you need to properly setup your home recroding studio.

In fact, you’ll get two versions…the simple, basic gear and also some options if you have a bigger budget. Either way, we show you what you need to get started recording music at home!

**If you have any questions, just open the YouTube video in a new browser, leave us a comment, and make sure that you subscribe to our channel!

***Make sure you download our free home studio setup guide here: Ultimate Home Studio Recording Guide

We hope this post helps you and if so, please share it!

Horns Up,

Ken & Jason
Metal Mastermind

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