Building A Music Studio On A Budget
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Thinking Of Building A Music Studio?
I’ve had a few home music studios I grew out of and sold. But I always noted the best gear. Curiosity killed the cat and so did bad speakers! You want to think about noise reduction and acoustics, computer stability, processing speed and latency plus cooling. Microphones will have the tone you want, depending on your own personal taste of course. Keyboards should respond and play well. I’ll try to explain in greater detail below, the different types of sounds that you can accomplish with different bits of kit.
“Old Is GOLD”
Find what you can on eBay and save yourself some pretty pennies! Or ship music gear in from the USA it’s often cheaper. I’m going to demonstrate to you all, how I can build a top music studio for less than £300!
I hope that you’re with me on this challenge!
I wanted to buy computer parts or PC, software, XLR mic, Preamp, Keyboard and USB mic, I was hoping to get a Rode but I went for an alternative in this instance. I also wanted to get some monitors or an amp speaker. Let’s see how I do!
Acid Next £7, Acid Pro 7 Acid Studio 10 £10, PC with minor fault £10 (dual-core and 64bit Win 10) + £3.60 bus, SE 1X mic & booth £70 + £6.90 train, 2000 mic £55 including delivery. That’s half the budget gone! So I have 2 mics and a sound reflector unit for £130 which I’m very happy with. £160 spent, so now what do I spend the other £140 on? Well, I’ve seen a budget guitar/reject from the music store. They have quite a few so I thought it should be alright a learner guitar for £20. So that will leave me with £120 to buy a keyboard and a speaker pair/single. Can I really do it? I think I can. (I wanted a keyboard with drum pads ideally like M Audio 61).
How it’s looking so far… Acid Pro is something I have been wanting to use since my college days! I found Orion which is one of the free sequencer/synths similar idea to FL there is another one I don’t remember the name of. I’ve been looking for these basic song/pattern software for ages. I discovered I didn’t need to buy the Scarlet studio bundle because the Protools was free anyway. The only software I’d hoped to have got was Xpand2 that comes free with the Mini V keyboard by Alesis. I decided that I have used Xpand before and it wasn’t that good because you still had all of the naff sounds. I want soundbanks where everything sounds right and no messing about. After some thought, I decided to purchase a larger keyboard rather than a mini and large controller. I don’t want full-sized, thinking about weight, speed and all the rest of the setbacks to owning a large USB keyboard, I will go for a 61 drum pad keyboard which I’ve seen secondhand. That should do the trick. I’m going for USB rather than firewire. It will be a bit more fiddly but will save me a few hundred pounds. Protools audio unit with firewire is expensive plus USB works okay.
What I’m most looking forward to is getting ProTools up and running again, importing some of my old session files if I can. I’m also looking forward to trying the USB mic which I heard a demo of Marantz 1000 not Marantz 2000 on Youtube. It made the guys voice sound amazing. The Marantz 2000u costs £35 more and it’s a real result! Described as picking up all the vocal nuances (which I described as drip-drip sounds).
Accidental purchase: Samson C 1 Pro USB that I bought half price too and it has to be sold as I can’t afford that £35 from the budget, I can sell it for £45 easily. That means I got the Marantz much cheaper wit pop shield and flight case for just £45.
“Free Music Software: Protools First is FREE no purchase necessary! SoundLab/Cakewalk and Orion”
Top Tips For Newbies!
Look out for these names, they have quality as standard:
- M Audio
- Audio Technica
New controllers coming out with VIP and what they control
Next step securing your most expensive musical items with a loop lock called a Kingston lock. Or screwing them into rack bays/ workstation.
My Story (Skip To Read About Music Studio Gear)
So I’m currently getting into music after nearly 10 years away. I was recording at home and in the studio at entry level and as an assistant. There were two main reasons I left Music, one was that I didn’t really like the grime genre and the fact that everyone sounded the same. The other was security. You need to do prechecks when working with clients these days. Now I only record by myself, just in case!
Unless it’s a high-end laptop, please don’t, it will just overheat/melt. And it’s a waste of funds. Medion was a stable well-built laptop that lasted a long time. But I don’t want you to buy fancy things when they could potentially break. I will stick to an older tower and then back up my files regularly. It’s safer that way. Ideally, you will run Windows XP Pro-Windows 7 Pro -Windows 10 64 bit is obviously better if possible. Baring the future in mind, you will also think about additional software system requirements. You will find however that all good music software is backwards compatible with Win NT and XP. But NOT the Hardware! Read everything when you make a purchase.
I had bought two towers that may have had the old gold components inside I think in the chipset. One was a Sony PC, I have a Dell, I had a Mini Mac with Logic it was good/hands on but I need to return to the ProTools and older Software I used way back in the day. I am still searching for those.
The computer I sold was a Sony and probably was the best one. Now I have 1 Dell and 1 Levono. I might try to find a pc with HDMI, though the scarlet interface runs on the USB2. I think Windows 7 or 10 Before I was using XP Pro/64 bit. Maybe I will look for another Sony! Trying to find the gold chipset =)
That will enhance the music in my opinion. above 1.8 and above dual core 3.6 *hyperthreading*.
No, it’s not mumbo jumbo so you can read more about it HERE. I was a PC repair girl! Gold is great for music & games. Pentium GOLD was launched in 2017 but I want to let you know that instead of paying for 1K for a tiny bit of gold. You can already find the older models with the hyperthreading. If they haven’t been used excessively, or for video streaming, then they should be suitable for your project! Look out for popular rated models, over 1.8 dual or quad core!
For those buying a new music/gaming PC XEON or AMD Ryzen have Hyperthreading. Some people seek to disable hyperthreading due to heat and power consumption. This is done via the BIOS setup.
It can go wrong, especially in LAPTOPS, so proceed with caution. I think I read Windows 8 Laptops get issues when removing hyperthreading.
Remember Old Is GOLD!
I am going to build this studio in a very nitpicky way, as per my tastes and results. The Rode NT1A or another classic microphone is a must have. You need the best monitors too! ProTools so I can use some exciting sounds like Arturia Analogue Synth and Predator was always my favourite!
Older Software To Look Out For
Synapse Audio –Orion Studio, Magix Acid Pro, (there are lots more I have to search for) Cakewalk music arranger/studio has a nicer richer sound in my opinion. Magix Music Maker Free Edition!
What I’m Leaving Out Of My Studio
I’m leaving out any of the software that these talentless or copycat producers and artists are using. It has to sound different. So I’m leaving out Fruity Loops, Cubase, Propellerhead Reason and Ableton Live.
The fact that you buy software that costs hundreds, that other people steal and then cheaper versions appear. It became something I no longer wanted to mess around with. Besides, after all this time I know what feels right.
I do like Logic, But I need to fix my Mac and set up my valued sounds properly into it. So I’m leaving it for now. I can’t use the same old things where you search for any decent sounds. ALL THE SOUNDS SHOULD BE GOOD! Everything in your set up needs to sound inspiring and ORIGINAL. It has to be HANDS ON RECORD TOO!
As for Hardware: This time I won’t be using the Firewire as I can’t afford to at the moment. I bought my previous ProTools from the USA
List Of What I Own In My Music Studio And What I’ve Ordered:
Here’s the good news/the exciting part (forgetting the ProTools I had with Ignition pack and this and that). I have found
plenty of older software licenses that can be used independently of that suite. Nope, I’ll need my old email/ProTools oh well!
- ROB PAPEN PREDATOR is a BEAST of a Synth, suitable for Rave, House, Dance, Bass sounds it goes above and beyond.
That baby there is my pride and joy. Every sound is at a maximum level yet it doesn’t scream at you. It works on PC and Mac as VSTi and RTAS. The behaviour of the synth is unchained! It’s just phenomenal. It should be compatible with XP and upwards. I bought that separate great!
2. Magix Acid Pro Next Suite, There is also Maxix Acid Studio 11 on sale at the moment. I wanted to try out Next Suite before buying the more expensive (but inexpensive) studio production suite. Next features a chopper sampler for remixing. I can download an acapella, remix tunes or create a mixtape, I can also remix my own work. Brilliant! I’ve already found and downloaded some acapella samples.
3. I’ve ordered Alesis Mini V keys (25) because although they are going to be small and not have amazing aftertouch, I don’t expect much from any of the smaller keyboards and as for the larger ones, I don’t want the latency. So for my budget, this is just fine. The mini v keys are the upgrade from the previous 25 keys that have already had mixed reviews. The 49 keys were reportedly more solid but that’s an extra 25-30 bucks and why I want them is the software. Is there any point in buying larger keys if you don’t have the full 88? I will try the 25’s first and see how I get on! For the sounds of bass, lead and sound of sustained melodies I think the smaller keys are just a bonus for the software XPAND 2.
4. Instead of going for the Focusrite Scarlet Studio Bundle Pack, I’m going for a single audio interface unit and I’ll buy my own microphone on a budget. I figure I need ProTools and I need a mic input/audio processing. I haven’t decided whether to get the 2 mic in or not. The thing is I could sell the mic and speakers that go with it, but there’s no guarantee. Maybe I’ll do that. We’ll see.
5. Though the Mackie Monitors are on sale they are not getting the best reviews. It was tempting but I’ll leave it. The other speaker I’d glimpsed at was the Marshal Bluetooth Portable Speaker Single. It Looked really cool, but unfortunately, I missed the deal! I want to make my studio smaller and easy to move. I do want perhaps a karaoke portable system or DJ system instead. Or maybe some near fields. I had KRK Rokit 6’s but eventually, they got issues from plugging in the mobile phone. They hum and now one doesn’t work. The fuse is gone somewhere. I will update this post on what speaker/s I go for.
This is my ultra budget studio:
- Dell, Sony or another cheap PC tower with Hyperthreading Technology Under £50
- ProTools Lite (Premium Recording DAW) From £75 with Focusrite Scarlet
- Rode NT1A or similar (Premium Vocal Microphone) From £75
- Predator (VSTi/RTAS) Approx £100 can’t remember as previously owned.
- Xpand 2 (VSTi) £Free
- Orion (Similar To FL/Old Skl Sequencer/Arranger/DAW
- Mini V 25 Keys comes with XPAND (4 Pads and Sustain)
- Acid Pro Next Suite Cost me £7 the Studio 11 costs £49 instead of £199 grab it while you can!
- Speakers. I need to find a nice speaker or speaker pair from £50-£100!
I can go to the websites of the other software I own and see if I can get downloads and updates. I can reregister my old email perhaps to try and access older logins and codes…
So in total, my studio budget is around 300-450 baring in mind I already had Predator and a PC. I’m only spending around £250-£300 and that gets me back online with some of the best gear and sounds! I don’t need £800 PC or £800 Audio Interface to make good music. Well. we’ll see. What you need to do is: optimize your PC, add a hard drive/audio drive or even an external drive. Optionally partition the hard drive. I no longer do big mixes, spend hours and hours or need to do these complicated setups. But I will attempt to get all my audio from my old drives. And probably just use an external 1TB audio drive. I will take unnecessary effects off the PC, such as shadow under the pointer and all the unneeded effects. If I remember there was something about flash player, Quicktime and drivers. Make sure everything is up to date and tip top. Don’t store files on the desktop. And you should be good to go.
You must lock or secure all your studio gear, especially when buying smaller products that people can just pick up and walk out with, or buy a lock for the room containing your gear. It would be a shame if it got stolen. Look out for a desk that you can fit your gear into slot bays or use a Kensington lock. Buy a desk that can secure your equipment.