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Top 5 essential tools for
building a home studio

In this article we're going to run through our top 5 essentials tools for building a home recording studio. Setting up the perfect home studio isn't easy and will be different for everyone based on specific needs. Getting your studio up and running requires time, a bit of knowledge and money.                 

Top 5 essential tools for building a home studio

1. COMPUTER

Let's start off with the brains of the operation and when we say brains, we're talking about the Computer. We're going to assume you have a computer already so we wont dive too deep in this topic. But if you are in need of a computer/tablet here are a couple things you should look out for.

The first thing you want to figure out is whether you want to run Mac or PC. There's an on going war as to which is better, Mac or PC? But we feel this is all about preference and what you're used to. There's tons on this topic so hit up Google and research which works best for you. Me personally, I'm a Mac user and that's just what I'm used to working with.
But for the most part, you want to make sure that your computer meets the minimum system requirements.

Below are the minimum requirements to run Ableton Live 10 and this is just to give you an idea of what to look for :

Windows
Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10
64-bit Intel® (Intel® Core™ i5 processor or faster recommended) or AMD multi-core processor.
4 GB RAM (8 GB or more recommended)

Mac
OS X 10.11.6 or later (see compatibility notes on macOS Mojave here)
Intel® Core™2 Duo processor. Intel® Core™ i5 processor or faster recommended.
4 GB RAM (8 GB or more recommended)

Keep in mind, these are the minimum requirements need to run Live 10, you may need higher specifications in order to work most efficiently.

Once you have your computer, the next thing you'll need is a DAW or Digital Audio Workstation. This is the most important tool you'll need as this sits directly in the middle of everything. There are many DAWs to choose from and we'll outline some of our favorites down below. But the important thing is that you choose a DAW that you're happy with and that it will help you get your ideas quickly and efficiently. Here are some options to consider:

2. DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

Ableton Live 10
This is my favorite and I'm sure many other producers will agree. Ableton established themselves not only as a recording program for composers/producers but also a performance instrument in itself. With the updates slowly leaking out for Live 11, I'd say Ableton has really set the bar high for their competitors.

FL Studio (Image-Line)
FL Studio or how I know it, Fruity Loops. This is an Iconic DAW that many, including myself, have used for a long time. It's GUI is quite simple and you can get started on creating a track pretty easily. A great thing about FL Studio is that in Version 20, they've created a 64-bit Mac version! So there's no need to figure out workaround for Mac users. Another thing about FL Studio that you may want to consider is that they offer lifetime free upgrades. So whenever FL Studio drops an update or new version, you'll automatically be able to download that for free!

Logic Pro
For mac users, Logic is definitely one to consider. Although Apple's Logic Pro is not a trend setter they still offer great value for the money and optimized performance on a Mac. With their latest updates, Logic includes an Ableton-esq Live Loops that allow the user to jam to their ideas before actually recording. Not only that but they've revamped their samplers and included a new step sequencer. If you're a Mac user this is definitely one to look out for.

Presonus Studio One
Over the past few years, I've been hearing more and more about Studio One. I actually own and frequent Studio One from time to time. I must say, Presonus Studio One has really matured throughout the years. Their recent updates included many of the key features from other DAWs and in certain areas exceeded their competitors. There's lots of potential here and I can only see Studio One growing and making a name for themselves in this industry.

Avid Pro Tools
This is the standard and remains the standard in recording studios across the globe. If your main objective is to record vocals, this is your best bet and you cannot go wrong. There are many industry producers that even compose in Pro Tools. With recent updates you now have improved workflow and there is now an Avid Cloud Collaboration, which connects you with others in the audio field. Avid Pro Tools is definitely one to consider!

There are many other DAWs out there like; Reaper, Bitwig, Cakewalk, Cubase, and more. But (IMO) the DAWs we mentioned above are probably the most used and definitely provide the best value for you money.

3. Audio Interface

An audio interface is what you'll need to connect your microphones or any other audio gear to your computer. Basically, an audio interface converts analog signals into digital information for your computer to process, then, reverses the process so you can hear the audio from your monitors or headphones. You may be thinking, my computer has a built-in sound card. Isn't that like an audio interface? Technically, yes. But many sound cards have a consumer grade in/out making it a less than ideal way of recording and monitoring prograde audio.

Choosing the right audio interface will depend on your goals. Some questions to ask yourself; Are you just producing/composing? Will your main focus be recording vocals? Will you be using external hardware like, synths or effect modules? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you figure out which Audio Interface to choose.
Below are a few options with some insight on how you can use them.

Focusrite 2i2
This is probably one of the most popular Audio Interfaces out on the market and potentially the value for your money. I've actually used a focusrite 2i2 for many many years and honestly this is probably one of the best audio interfaces I've ever owned. The 2i2 houses 2 XLR inputs with 48v phantom power, 2 outs, headphone jack with a separate gain knob and sample rates that go up to 192kHz/24Bit.
I would recommend this to anyone with a fairly simple setup and for those who rarely record vocals.

MOTU M4
I recently made the switch from the 2i2 to the MOTU M4. The MOTU M4 is a USB type-C Audio/Midi interface with 4 ins / 4 outs, 32-bit/192kHz AD/DA, Phantom power and MIDI I/O. Not only that but the MOTU M4 has a full-color LCD with I/O metering, ESS digital to analog converters which drive the main outs including the headphone jack and a power switch?! (I think its actually cool lol). The reason why I switch is because I was looking for something with additional inputs so i can run my external gear simultaneously and MOTU M4 provided great value for its costs.
For those with multiple pieces of hardware that want to use them simultaneously, definitely research this audio interface.

Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII
The Apollo Twin is an impressive audio interface. 2x6 Thunderbolt audio interface with 24bit/192kHz audio conversion, UAD-2 DUO Core Processing with near-zero latency and access to LUNA Recording Systems. The Twin MkII comes in a few configurations to pick from the SOLO, DUO and QUAD which all offer superb audio quality. There are many more features and we suggest you head over to www.uaudio.com/audio-interfaces.html to learn more!

There are many ways to use your producer tag and these ways may vary from producer to producer. Someone with no following and is working towards getting their foot in this industry may want to think about getting a producer tag. As we mentioned before, having a producer tag not only offers a layer of protection but it also helps promote your brand and helps you gain recognition for your hard work. Much like a photographer watermarking their photographs, a producer tag is your watermark but in the form of audio.

You can make your producer tag clean and smooth or grimy and in your face! It’s all up to you and what suits your brand. 

4. MONITORS

Studio monitors come in many different sizes and vary in terms of performance and price. If you're searching for a pair of monitors then it's definitely worth it to head to your local music store and test some out physically. Compared to consumer speakers, studio monitors are designed to have a flat frequency response so you can actually hear how a mix is without the accentuated frequency's like what you'd find on consumer grade speakers. Like I mentioned before, test some out to find the ones that suite your preferences.
Here are a few of our favorite monitors as a reference.

JBL LSR305's MkII
The JBL's are probably the best bang for your buck! These monitors are very affordable and they offer high quality sound. Also, regardless of your rooms acoustics, these monitors will get you a neutral and consistent sound throughout the room.

Adam Audio F5
Another great pair of studio monitors. The Adams have dedicated drivers for the low and hi frequencies that offer an improved audio response. The response range of these monitors are pretty wide too and also have multiple input options, XLR, RCA, and TRS inputs.

IK Multimedia iLoud MTM
These little studio monitors their mid-tweeter-mid design with 3.5" woofers and 1" tweeters are guaranteed to surprise you! Despite their size, these monitors provide a well defined, precise and transparent sound. The compact design of these monitors work best in smaller rooms making them very portable and versatile. Overall, these are a great option especially for those who travel often or are looking for something that doesn't occupy so much space.

5. MIDI Keyboard Controller

MIDI Keyboard Controllers come in different sizes ranging from 25keys up to 88keys. MIDI keyboards are important because they help you translate your ideas into sonic reality. A few things to consider; Size, DAW integration, Connectivity and Budget. Below are a few of our top picks.

Arturia Microlab
The Microlab is a very popular MIDI keyboard thats budget friendly and offers some features you can find on larger, pricier controllers. The Microlab is a 25key Velocity sensitive mini keyboard that is "universally compatible" meaning it can connect to tablets, ipads and other class-compliant devices. You may feel a little limited because of its form factor and lack of controls but is worth the trade off for its ease of use portability.

Akai MPK mini Mk2
Another pocket-sized midi keyboard controller. The Akai mini is a 25key midi keyboard controller with many features and controls. 8 assignable rotary knobs, bend/modulation joystick and 8 MPC style pads. Not only that, this MIDI keyboard also has a built in arpeggiator and is bundled with plenty of software to help fuel your creativity. This is a lightweight, portable MIDI keyboard thats affordable and worth considering.

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol Series
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol series Midi keyboards comes in many different sizes. Ranging from 25keys all the way up to 88keys. Regardless of which you size buy, you get a get a multitude of Komplete Kontrol software. Each MIDI keyboard has a 4-Directional Push Encoder, 8 Touch sensitive Control knobs, Smart play features (Scale/Chords) and deep integration with Maschine Software. Although these MIDI keyboards may be pricier than others, you get an awesome amount of quality hardware and software for your money. 



CONCLUSION


We hope this guide gives you an idea of the top essential tools needed to build a home studio. We recommend you do more research on product reviews and brands. Doing so will for sure help you choose the right product for you and will also help you spend your money wisely.

If you have any questions or suggestions, hit us up!
And feel free to browse the website for sample packs and drumkits to accompany your new gear!

PEACE

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Founded by acclaimed music producer and DJ, Triza, The Producer Kit supplies music producers with the drum samples, loops and presets they need to create the next industry superstar. Triza has worked with Justin Bieber, Rico Love and Sound Oracle, the producer/chief sound designer for Timbaland and has the industry knowledge and experience needed to create and provide the top quality samples, tutorials and information producers want.

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