Recording studio

How to Upgrade Your Home Recording Studio


Getting all this gear won’t magically improve your sound, but it will make it possible to get better sound. Think of it as the difference between a DSLR camera and your phone’s camera. The processors in your phone do a lot of work to make your photos look decent, but a DSLR gives you control of the knobs and knobs so you can take exceptional photos.

It’s also worth noting that most professional audio equipment is long-lasting, and there haven’t been many major seismic changes in the industry over the past few decades. Which means you can usually find used versions of most of the gear you want on sites like eBay that still work great and are compatible with each other. We’ll list current retail prices for the gear below, but if you get a sticker shock, look for the used versions. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about every link in the audio chain.

Choose a good microphone

Microphones are such a huge field, explaining them all might be its own guide. But if you’re reading this one, you’re probably only going to want a few basic recommendations anyway. Typically any microphone you get will use an XLR connector. Don’t worry, audio hardware hasn’t changed much in decades, so you won’t have to buy new cables and gear every few years.

For podcasting or streaming, Audio-Technica AT-2020 is a great starter option. This microphone uses a cardioid recording pattern, which offers great flexibility if you move your head a little while recording. You are speaking into the side of this microphone, not the top as it might sound, so you can position it under or to the side of your head while you broadcast using a simple microphone arm.

If you are recording from further afield you may want a shotgun mic like the Audio-Technica AT875R. These microphones have very narrow recording patterns, so they pick up things directly in front of them much better than things behind or beside them. Some interviewers use them as hand microphones in convention halls where it is very noisy. By pointing one directly at the topic of the interview, he can focus only on his voice while still picking up the ambient noise of the crowd.

For interviews you can also see the Shure SM58, a classic hand-held microphone. This mic is often seen in live performances or interviews, and at $ 100 it’s extremely affordable. It also comes in a much more expensive wireless version, but if you’d rather not carry heavy cables during your interviews, this could be the way to go.

Get a preamp … eventually

Photography: Amazon

To connect your microphone to your recording device, you need an interface and probably want a preamp. I stress these differently as most interfaces include a rudimentary preamp that will do the job. If you’re just starting out and need to save as much money as possible (all of this gear can add up), you can skip the preamp. But at least learn why they’re important first.