What’s The Best Equipment for Starting My Own Home Studio


Dear Tommy,
This is Lil Memphis, I’m a rapper and producer from Memphis Tn. I wanted to ask you two questions. 1st do you mix and master tracks if so how much do you charge and 2nd what would be the best equipment that I can get for starting my own home studio?

Justin Atkins

Justin, first off I would like to thank you for reading the column and participating. The answer to your first question is yes I do mix and master but since my purpose in the column is to provide general help to aspiring producers and recordists I would rather not publish my rates. You can feel free to e-mail me directly at

Regarding the “best” set up, this question has about 1000 answers if not more. Choosing equipment depends on your budget, your level of recording knowledge, and even the style of music you produce. Even in this digital age many producers still prefer 2″ analog tape. Of course these machines are way out of the budget range of most of us. For self producing urban music there are a lot of computer based choices which give the beginner a whole lot of bang for the buck. One thing to consider is your current instrument capability. Do you have a beat machine, a synthesizer or friends who play musical instruments? IF not, then it would be wise to choose a recording package that not only offered a recording platform but also had sounds built in that you could control and execute with an external midi keyboard.

As a start, the ProTools MBox, The Omega and Lambda systems from Lexicon, the Mackie Spike, are but a few places to start. The nice thing about these packages is that they give you an interface (a way to get mics and instruments into the computer) and software to record all in one package.

An important point to remember is that no one system is ever going to satisfy all your needs. In my own case I own about 20 different large diaphragm condenser microphones. Which one is best? They all serve different purposes. What you are going to find our with building your own studio is that with each recording you make your ear is going to improve and you will demand better and better equipment.

When you consider which equipment to purchase, take a moment and examine the components of recording. Then before you purchase something make a note of how each options answers these questions.

1) What interface does this system use?
How many inputs do I need? Does my computer accept this interface.
2) How will I generate beats/music?
Does the software you are considering offer sounds OR is it just a recording platform? Will I need to buy a keyboard or external beat machine?
3) How does this system allow me to mix and make finished CDs?
Can I make a mastered CD with this equipment.
4) What am I going to use to listen and mix with?
5) If it is a computer based system, does my computer have enough juice to get the job done.
Buyer beware, if your computer only meets the minimum requirements or a program, trust me, once you start editing, adding effects and building more tracks your computer is going to run out of gas. Music eats memory and challenges CPU power.
6) Does this system allow me to grow and expand to the place I envision myself in 3-5 years?
7) Will the purchase of this system prevent me from buying other key components like good monitors and a good microphone?
8) What is my total budget for my studio?

If you ask yourself these questions ahead of time it will make your buying experience a lot easier and the salesman will be working to pick out gear that satisfies your needs, instead of pushing you into what he needs to sell.

Sometimes it makes sense to purchase an inexpensive, all-in-one platform knowing that in a year or two you will trash it for better gear, but always have your future in mind.The one thing I can tell you is that no equipment will make up for bad engineering and production. Making quality records is an art and it takes years to learn the craft. While you are out there purchasing equipment, invest in a subscription to one of the many excellent recording magazines out there. Knowledge will take you further than any equipment will.

On a closing note, as a bit of shameless self promotion, I might suggest my book, MAKE MONEY WITH YOUR STUDIO, Hal Leonard publisher. It is available at all major book sellers,, Ebay and pretty much any source that sells books. At $12.95, it packs a wallop.

Hope this helps.

Tommy V

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