Basics for a Home Recording Studio

There are five basic essentials to your studio: a fairly new computer, a sound card, a midi controller, software, and monitors.

Lets start with the computer. Today your average new PC is powerful enough for what you need, anything with a processor over 2 gigs. Should be plenty to work with, although don't get discouraged if you have something less, it just puts a lower "creative limit" on what you can and cannot do.

The sound card - most PC's will come with a standard sound card, these sound cards don't give you any options like using midi or multi track recording. I would recommend getting a sound card that offers a mic pre-amp, and midi (in/out).

A midi controller or midi synth will allow you to play both soft synths on your PC and if its a midi synth than you can use your PC to play the synth. You can also change parameters (knobs on the synth) from the PC to the hardware and vice versa.

Software is a really touchy subject there is no all in one solution, most producers use a conjunction of a variety of different programs when writing a song from scratch, and with VST compatible software its almost impossible not indulge in the thousands of freeware synths and effects on the Internet. Its almost like having a library of virtual instruments that you can play, and then shape with effects into any sound you want.

The basics that you will need are a sequencer or software studio, VST instruments, effects, and a wav editor. I don't recommend buying software unless you've tested it out first (demo versions are always available), and there are great options for free software - audicity is great for multi track recording, and for a very cheap price fruityloops should not be overlooked.

Now for the speakers, plugging your PC into your home stereo may sound great for listening to your Mp3 collections but when you are producing music, studio reference monitors will allow you to master your productions to sound great on all stereos. You can find these fairly cheap (about $100+) I would also grab powered ones so that you don't have the additional cost of an high end amplifier.

Another option is headphones, you'll at least want a high quality pair that has a vary wide frequency response so that you can hear all the lower frequencies in what you are producing. Many argue that you can't master with headphones but for now your starting off, in time your studio will grow and you can use both good headphones and studio reference monitors.

Take all of this into consideration and start building one piece at a time. Soon you'll be diving head first into producing your own tracks and growing your home studio to your own individual production needs.