Throughout my pro songwriting career I have made it my mission to put together a home recording studio that accomplishes 3 things.
1. Sonically, it has to be master record quality.
2. Creative workflow that won’t bust my groove!
3. Must be affordable!
Co-writing in rooms with so many great producers and track guys has allowed me to try a lot of gear that works in a variety of home and pro situations. I’ve put together my own home recording studio that I’ve used on demos and records; that lives around the threshold where affordability meets performance.
At the center of my recording rig is an affordable Apple computer.
I still run a 2015 MacBook Pro version because it has more connection ports than todays models. BUT, if I was rushing out to buy a new computer, I’d go with a Mac Mini. I’ve seen major studios track full bands with protools on a Mac Mini. You can still get great with plenty of ram and hard drive space on Mac Mini’s for under $999.
Many of you when less demanding projects could dip down under $750 for a Mini and still have enough horsepower for most home projects. Mac’s also come stock with GarageBand and todays’ version is used on pro demos and records daily. But of course, you can run Logic Pro or Protools if you wanna step up your game and price.
Let’s talk about interfaces, baby…
After securing a workable computer, the next step is to get your guitar or voice into your computer. For that you will need a digital interface. The one I see most in writing rooms around the world is the UAD Apollo Twin Duo. The Apollo also comes with killer effects plugins which will save you dollars on that end. Even the most discerning ears agree that it’s hard to beat the sonic quality of UAD gear.
Testing 1…2…3.. Is this Mic on??
When I put together my home rig, I put a lot of thought into what microphone would I choose if I could only choose one. I settled on the Shure SM7. At $399 it won’t crank the bank and it sounds way more expensive. It’s been used on pop vocalists like Michael Jackson and country crooners like Luke Bryan. But it is also killer on just about any situation or instrument you throw at it. I paired mine with a simple Cloudlifter CL-1 preamp for a little extra color and gain.
Monitor speakers are crucial to getting a great mix in your home. You don’t want a speaker that hypes the high end or boost too much low in. You want a pretty even response so that you can get an accurate sonic image. I’ve trusted Yamaha HS5 Powered Speakers for years. they plug right into my Apollo interface and are portable enough to take on the road if i write in a cabin for a week 🙂
What about drums and keys my home recording studio, you ask?
At the top of this page, I have a short documentary video you can watch as I go through my set-up. You’ll notice for drums I love the Native Instruments Maschine Mikro. The pads feel great and there are loads of drum kits and loops you can get for the Maschine. It also sequences and samples for you nerds! It goes for around $269 on amazon. They even have an iPhone version that’s been used on hit records.
Right now I’m using an Arturia Keylab 49 keyboard controller. I first used this in Mat Kearney’s studio and was extremely impressed. It also comes with some tasty sounding keyboard samples that you will need for your productions. These are selling around $209 and rival much more expensive controller in function and playability.
So that’s my tried and true home studio set-up. I’ve put a PDF list of the gear you can download below. As well as a link to a blog where i talk about how I used this gear on one of my #1 singles for Darius Rucker.
Blog - Taking a Song From Demo to #1