Looking to set up small home-based recording studio on a budget.

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by johndatserakis, Sep 12, 2009.

  1. johndatserakis macrumors member

    Dec 9, 2008
    Hey everyone here at the audio forum, I have a couple of questions concerning the setting up of a small, serious, recording studio. I have done my research but am still a little confused on what I should be buying and what I actually need. A lot of the guides I've read weren't exactly clear on what each part does. As a newbie to the audio game I'm just trying to soak up as much information as possible so any help would be great.

    I'm looking at a pretty tight budget. I want to buy the most affordable quality products. (I know, don't we all.)

    I play guitar. I have an electric-acoustic, so I can plug into something, but I don't know what exactly. I would like to take the sound from it and be able to do as I please: distort it, change it's sound, or even leave it acoustic. Would this plug into an mbox type deal?

    I hear a lot about mbox's, is that what I'm really looking to buy? The one I've been reading about (M-box 2 mini) is usb powered, I have a mac pro so if firewire is better on the versions then I'll go with that. Will I be at a total disadvantage by going with the mini vs. the pro?

    I also want to make drum beats so I'm going to need a drum pad of some sort, hopefully someone here can suggest one that will work with my setup.

    I will also be doing rapping plus other vocals, quality mic suggestions would be great.

    Finally, I'll need a midi controller keyboard type deal. I hear that weighted keys are a no-no for what I'm trying to do.

    Obviously I will need to commit to one of the various recording programs. I know that the mbox's come with software so I'll probably just end up using pro tools.

    I know I have a lot of questions and seem like a total newb, but I learn fast and just need a little direction. If anyone knows a good link (not too old) that I could read to get more info that would be greatly appreciated. Oh, I have a 2008 mac pro 2.8 quad so I'm not really worried about running any of the products.

  2. brmaki macrumors regular


    May 2, 2009
    This link will help you a ton. The Guide, rigs section or forums have a ton of information on where to start and what you need.

    I currently use a Presonus Audiobox which has been great to me so far. It was cheap, I think I paid $150 or so, it has two inputs, phantom power (if you decide to use condenser mics) outputs for monitors and some midi inputs. I also have an Axiom 25 midi controller which might suit your needs as well. It's 25 keys as well as 8 pads and has performed just as well as I expected it to.

    As far as mics for rapping go, I've read that dynamic mics are better for that application, but I have no personal experience with it, so I don't know. Check out the mic forum on that link I posted, there's a ton of great information there about mics and their specific applications.

    Good luck!
  3. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020


    Jun 18, 2009
    City of Angels
    Yeah, check out tweakheadz. They even have sample studio rigs you can copy

    Far as what I know, since you're looking for a keyboard controller and a drum controller, you can also get a keyboard/pad combo controller like an Akai MPK. 25 keys with 12 pads retails about $300. You're gonna need sequencer software + drum samples to work it, which may or may not be included in whatever software you pick

    For a low end keyboard controller, the Axioms are good and have aftertouch. Depending on what I'm trying to do, I switch between a 25 key semi-weighted Oxygen 8 and a weighted 88 key KX8. I've been playing the piano since I was 7 so I use the weighted because the piano feel helps me play more expressively. If I had no piano background, i wouldn't even bother with weighted. Also check to see if the controller has an arpeggiator, which creates riffs on the fly. If you're composing, sessioning or aren't a master keyboard player, it can come in handy.

    For drums, you can get a 16 pad USB controller. An Akai MPD is about $200 though you can find other brands for around $100. Also wanted to point out you can also use a plain keyboard controller to sequence drums. If you didn't come from the MPC world, you might find this easier and then you won't even need to buy pads. But if you're going to make hiphop beats where you chop up sampled loops, definately go for the pads.

    For mics, a Shure SM57 or SM58 dynamic mic is a good way to get started if you're recording rap. It's a actually a stage mic but a lot of rappers prefer it in the studio. If you're recording singing, you'd probably want more color and would want a Condenser. I use an NT1A for rap vocals, which is a lower-end condenser that sounds pretty good. Also if you're recording rap, you'll eventually want to learn how to use a compressor so check if your software package has one as an effect
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    There are many audio interfaces. "mbox" is just one brand.

    Start by thinking about software. Apple bundles Garage band with every mac, so yo already have that. A big step up is Apple's "Logic". It is kind of a grown up GB.

    Another saftware is "Protools" but it ONLY runs if you buy the mbox hardware. (OK there is "m powered" protools that runs on m-audio's hardware too) So the reason you'd choose to buy mbox over some other is so you could run pro tools.

    Logic will run on any hardware as will most of the others.

    The other thing I'd add is "Start Small". Start with something like the e-mu "0202" and you can plug in a mic and your guitar and record to Garage Band and get started for $250 (price of 0202 and a shure mic) Later you can add more equipment and likely move on to oother software. Start with a simple set up, lear how to use it then address problems one at a time with upgrades.
  5. johndatserakis thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 9, 2008
    Hey guys, thanks for the help and sorry it took so long to respond, I just got all the stuff I ordered in the mail. I like to keep my threads updated and hopefully this will help somebody look to set up a studio on a budget. I talked with a friend who is in the business and we decided on the following parts.

    I spent around $550-$600 total.

    M-Audio KeyRig 49 (For my midi controller, beats and whatnot)
    M-Audio Nove condenser mic (a really nice mic)
    On stage mic stand with boom
    M-Audio Firewire solo interface (also pretty nice)
    Pro tools M-Powered 8 (I got it for $150 from an Academic outlet online because I go to college. A steal!)
    Sennheiser HD202 headphones. (Really nice, only $30!)
    Mic and guitar cables from monoprice.com

    Everything works great, I would definitely recommend this set up for beginners! Thanks again for the links guys, it really helped!

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