How to build a home studio to record music with a computer

How to build a home studio to record music with a computer
How to build a home studio to record music with a computer

A home studio is a valuable tool for a composer, musician, singer, and anyone wishing to create or arrange music. With a computer and a little free time, you will have a lot of fun while having an exciting art activity. You don't even have to be a musician, many famous composers and producers cannot play an instrument and absolutely cannot read music!


Method 1 of 2: Build your home studio

Build a Home Studio for Computer Based Music Recording Step 1

Step 1. Define your goals

Why do you want to have a recording studio in your home? Do you want to create electronic or classical music? Are you going to need a vocal booth to record vocals? If you bring in musicians, you may need to soundproof a room, the drummers are quite noisy… This is important to know exactly what accessories you will need to get (if necessary). You can find information about the hardware in this wikiHow article.

Build a Home Studio for Computer Based Music Recording Step 2

Step 2. Obtain the necessary items

Depending on the type of music you are going to record, you may need an amplifier (s), a mixer, microphones, musical instruments, and of course cables to connect everything. As far as the computer is concerned, a recent mid-range model will be sufficient (8 gigabytes of RAM, duo-core processor, i3, i5, i7…).

  • If you can, buy a good sound card like an M-Audio M-track, a PreSonus, a Focusrite, an Icon Cube or an E-MU 1212M PCI … For good quality, preferably opt for an external USB card (most practical) or if your budget is important, a Thunderbolt.
  • If your project is serious, you will need decent quality monitors (small speakers) (tunes in pro jargon). Genelec has great products, but there's also M-Audio and Mackie (good value for money) or Presonus.
  • If you are doing electronic music, hip-hop or dance, a turntable (or two) will be welcome, for example to scratch in real time.
  • A keyboard or a controller (keyboard without tones) will be very useful for controlling expanders, virtual synths, and playing basslines, beats or piano parts. M-Audio here again, but there is a plethora of makes and models. Here you have to consider your budget and the importance of this tool.
Build a Home Studio for Computer Based Music Recording Step 3

Step 3. Get computer music software

The MAO (Computer Assisted Music) software is essential to register. Some are free, such as Audacity which you can download here or Kristal audio engine, Traverso DAW, Studio one free or FL Studio (you can download a free demo version from this link. If you have a Mac, you certainly have Garage Band in your machine. Professional software is sometimes quite expensive, but the quality is better. There are among others Cubase, Nuendo, Adobe Audition, Reason (with built-in virtual synths) or Pro Tools (than the commonly seen in professional recording studios).

Build a Home Studio for Computer Based Music Recording Step 4

Step 4. Connect everything

It's time to get down to business and sweat a little … You must first connect your sound card to the computer and then, if you want to optimize the sound quality, connect the latter to a mixer to which you will connect instruments like guitar and bass as well as microphones. Then connect your monitors to the sound card (directly or through a mixer). If they are not amplified, you will have to send the signal from the mixer or the sound card to an amplifier (studio, no HiFi system!) And you will go from the amplifier to the speakers.

Build a Home Studio for Computer Based Music Recording Step 5

Step 5. Familiarize yourself with the recording

You should get used to recording an instrument connected to a mixer or sound card input, using virtual synths and then mixing the tracks to then get the final WAV file that you can convert to MP3 format. Then you can even burn your CDs on your computer!

Build a Home Studio for Computer Based Music Recording Step 6

Step 6. Soundproof a room

This is optional, but if you record musicians, your neighbors will thank you (especially if you do trash metal…). Working through headphones or at a low volume level, you will normally not have any problems.

Build a Home Studio for Computer Based Music Recording Step 7

Step 7. Save

Now that everything is ready and wired, you can start! In general, it's a good idea to record a beat first, whether it's a loop or a beat you've programmed. Then add a bass line then the voice, the synths, the guitars… When all the tracks are ready, you go to the mixing which allows you to modify the color of the sounds and to make certain instruments more or less present. At first, do not strive for perfection, but explore the possibilities of your equipment and familiarize yourself with the machines. Remember, the main goal is to have fun doing what you love.

Build a Home Studio for Computer Based Music Recording Step 8

Step 8. Educate yourself

You can find valuable advice on sound recording and mixing in certain magazines or on the internet, for example on this site. To obtain quality songs, it is essential to understand and master certain recording techniques and to know how to mix the sounds according to their sound spectrum.

Build a Home Studio for Computer Based Music Recording Step 9

Step 9. Let go

Once you have acquired the basics, it is time to go beyond the limits and experiment with sounds, virtual synths, effects (reverbs, delays, compressors, loops, plug-ins…).

Method 2 of 2: Build a (very) economical home studio

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Step 1. Obtain a computer

Laptop or desktop computer, the centerpiece of your home studio is the computer. Place it in the room you will be recording in.

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Step 2. Obtain an interface

You need an audio interface, a microphone and a listening system. Think of the Focusrite brand (eg a Scarlett Studio model), with a 2i2 interface, a Focusrite CM 25 mic, and headphones like an HP 60.

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Step 3. Connect the hardware

If you opt for the Scarlett Studio system, cables are normally provided.

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Step 4. Start your DAW

On Mac, your DAW (Digital audio workstation or in French digital audio workstation) will be Garage Band or Logic Pro X. On PC, you will use software such as Cubase or Audacity (free).

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Step 5. Purchase a control keyboard

The M-Audio Key Station Mini 32 performs very well. Connect it to your computer.

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Step 6. Save

Create your songs while having fun!


  • Machines can be expensive. If your budget is tight, start with the basics and familiarize yourself with your gear. You will make it evolve gradually.
  • Obtain a hard drive (external or internal) that you will use only for your recordings. When uncompressed, audio files (WAV) take up a lot of space …
  • Remember that it is the weakest link in a chain that determines its strength. If you change certain elements of your home studio, renew those with the lowest quality. Is it the microphone, the computer or the sound card?
  • Go to YouTube and look for tutorial videos that will help you set up your gear, use it, and get the most out of it. Some tutorials are excellent.
  • Get things that are of the best possible quality (depending on your budget), even little by little. It is better than buying a lot of bad or mediocre machines.
  • Go to musical instrument stores in your city (or region) and ask the sellers for advice. You can also go to a professional recording studio near you and ask the manager if they can help you get discounts on the purchase of equipment.
  • Some software allows you to mix your tracks and save your recordings in stereo in different formats. Sometimes, they are not cheap, it is the case of Nuendo, Soud Forge, Adobe Audition, Pro Tools, Cubase… Audacity is a powerful free software which offers you many possibilities, just like its big brothers costing hundreds of dollars. euros. You can save your songs in MP3 format to upload them and easily listen to them.
  • If you want to record acoustic instruments like a guitar, but have a warm, natural analog sound, get a microphone and place it in front of an amplifier to which you have connected your instrument. Connect the microphone to the sound card, computer or mixer. Some amplifiers allow you to connect a line output (from the amplifier) ​​directly to the audio input of the computer or sound card. This way, you won't pick up any background noise and the sound will be clearer.
  • To avoid background noise problems, you can get a DI box to which you connect your guitar, bass, synth… to send it to the sound card or to the computer. This device reduces background noise and white noise considerably. All the pros use it in concert …
  • The first recordings you make are certainly not going to be fantastic in terms of sound quality, no matter what computer music software you use. It's normal ! You must familiarize yourself with the techniques of recording, mixing, effects, mastering (creation of the final product)… Little by little, you will get the sound you are looking for. The quality of your listening (speakers) plays a very important part in the mixing of your songs and you must know them well to know their faults and their strong points.


  • When you turn on your machines, remember you need to turn on your speakers after all other devices, otherwise you risk damaging the speakers with the sharp snap that some devices like an amp or mixer will produce. This noise is also dangerous for your eardrums, be very careful when using headphones.
  • Sometimes you need to vent static electricity which can damage your equipment. Be careful with your cables and speakers.
  • When unplugging your mics, make sure you have turned off phantom power on the mixer, as you can damage your preamp and mics.
  • Pay attention to your eardrums and don't turn up the volume too loud, especially if you are using headphones!

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