Recording Studio Equipment List: The 17 Things You Need

Recording Studio EquipmentHome recording studios have a funny way of snowballing

What starts out as a simple project studio, quickly evolves into full-blown obsession.

And you’re constantly on the lookout for that one piece of gear that will elevate your music-making to the next level.

So let’s make things simpler for you.

In this article I have compiled a list of virtually everything you could possibly want in the home recording studio of your dreams.

The question is…which of these 18 items is missing from your studio?

To start with, I’m going to assume that you already have the 7 essential items necessary for a bare bones beginner studio.  Just in case you don’t, these are the items I’m referring to:

The 7 Basic Items Items to Get You Started

  1. mic and vu meterA Computer
  2. An Audio Interface
  3. A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
  4. Studio Monitors
  5. Headphones
  6. Microphones
  7. Acoustic Treatment

If you don’t have these items yet, click here to learn how you can assemble them all into a basic studio.  Or, click on each of the individual links for more detailed info on each topic.

Once you’ve got all the essentials in order, the next step is getting all those cool add-ons to elevate your studio to the next level.

Items such as these…

10 Items to Supercharge your Recording Studio Setup

As your recording skills mature, so will the sophistication of your studio.  Slowly but surely, you will refine your once modest studio into a streamlined music-making machine of perfection.

Over time you will acquire new tools, which will make your studio faster, more efficient, more fun, and capable of greater sound.  Tools such as…

1. A Power Conditioner

Furman PL-Plus DMC power conditionerRecording studio gear requires electricity.  To get electricity, you need outlets.  Lots of them.

The problem is, most rooms have only 2 or 3 outlets, and your studio needs dozens.  A power conditioner solves this problem by turning one outlet into many.

As a side benefit, it also protects your gear from damage in the case of a power surge.

2. A Control Surface

Avid Artist Mix

We all have dreams of sitting at an extravagant analog mixing console the size of a conference table.  Seems fun doesn’t it?

In real life, mixing on your computer screen with your mouse is not nearly as romanticized.

But there’s a better option – one that allow you to mix with real knobs and faders like back in the old days.

It’s called a control surface.  It speeds up your workflow dramatically, and make your job a hell of a lot more fun in the process.

3. Software Plugins

Waves Gold BundleWhat happens once the sound from your recording enters the DAW?  You make it sound even more awesome than it already does.

You shape it.  You tweak it.  You embellish it.  And you make it all gel together.

How?  You do it with software plugins.

Think of them as mini software programs that you can open right from within your Pro Tools tracks.

Equalization, compression, delay, reverb, pitch correction, stereo widening…the list goes on and on.

4. A Monitor Management System

Dangerous D-BoxHere’s a question for you:  So how do you actually control your studio monitors?

The monitors themselves have no controls whatsoever.

Yet…something needs to control the volume.  Something needs to control the muting.  And something needs to reroute the sound to the secondary monitors as needed.

Obviously, something is missing.

And that something is a monitor management system.

5. Headphone Amp/Headphone Distribution

Hear Technologies Hearback headphone ampSo how do you actually distribute and control the sound that outputs to the headphones.

Headphone routing can get quite complicated…especially in cases where you have multiple musicians recording simultaneously.

You need a tool that makes it simple.

You need a headphone distribution system…also known as a headphone amp.

6. Microphone Preamp

DigiMax D8 DI InputsMicrophone signals are inherently weak.  Like super ridiculously weak.

It’s a problem.  Because in it’s natural state, mic signals are quite useless to all your other gear.

You need a separate tool to amp it up.  A tool to give it some power.

What you need is a microphone preamp.

7. Direct Box

Avalon U5 Direct BoxRecording an electric guitar amp can be a hassle.

Sometimes it’s unnecessary.  Other times you’re just lazy.  In a home recording studio, excessive noise may be a problem.

Those are the times when you use Direct Injection, aka a DI Box, to plug your guitar straight into the mic preamp.

It’s much simpler.  It’s much quieter.  And it can be very useful at the appropriate times.

It can make your life a lot easier.

8. The Digital Converter

Lynx Aurora digital converterTo get your music into the computer, an analog signal (a stream of electricity) must first be converted into a digital signal (a series of binary code).

In a beginner’s studio with budget gear, the audio interface almost always takes care of this job.

In an advanced studio, a separate device is usually dedicated to this one purpose alone.  And that device is known as a digital converter.

Click here to learn more about digital converters.

9. Portable Control Surface

DAW Remote HDHome recording studios can get quite lonely. :(  When you’re alone, you do everything, all at once.

That gets tricky when trying to play an instrument and control your DAW from across the room.

The solution is a portable control surface.  With this one tool, you can control Pro Tools from anywhere.  When you work alone, it’s a life saver.

10. Secondary Monitors

Avantone Mix CubesYou’ve already got one pair of studio monitors.  Why on Earth would you want another?

The reason is that pro studio monitors sound exceptional when compared to average consumer speakers such as an iPod deck or car radio.

And 98 percent of the time, your finished work will be heard on cheap speakers such as these.

So the only way to know for sure how your mixes will translate is to listen to it on a pair of speakers that are designed to sound cheap.

Hence, your secondary studio monitors.

11. Virtual Instruments/ MIDI Controller

M-Audio Axiom AIR 61Even if you know a ton of talented musicians, the time will come when your song requires an instrument that you simply don’t have…like a tympani for instance.

The solution is to use virtual instrument software.  With one single software program, you literally have access to hundreds of rare instruments that would otherwise be impossible to record with in real life.

To control this software, you use a piece of hardware known as a MIDI controller, like the one pictured above.

…And that’s a Home Recording Studio

You finally made it all the way though.  Damn, that was a hell of a long list!  Good job.

I got some bad news for you though.  Reading this list was only part one of your job.

Part two is actually going out and buying all this crap.  So get going…time’s a wastin’.  :)

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