Hey everybody! Over the next few posts, we will discuss, investigate, and price the equipment you’ll need for your recordings. There are so many opinions about gear these days. You live in amazing times though because you can purchase high quality equipment for hundreds of dollars that used to cost thousands and tens of thousands of dollars.
For what you are doing, you can get by with a recording rig that will cost you under $1000 total and likely less than that.
First things first, you need a computer. I'm not going to count this in your $1000 budget because many people will already have this vital piece of equipment.
All you need is a Macbook Pro, iMac, Mac Mini, Macbook, Macbook Air, etc or PC equivalent made in the last 4 years ($800 – $1200 new or used). Even an iPad or equivalent tablet could be used these days.
I recommend using a Macbook Pro. I'm an Apple person and a lot of recording software is built with Apple products in mind.
Why a Macbook Pro (a laptop) versus the other suggestions?
Portability, stability, better CPUs for recording, more ports, bigger screen than other Apple laptops and tablets, etc. You'll be happier and more comfortable if you go this route.
Make sure that you also have the following on or with the computer.
- Enough available USB and/or Thunderbolt ports for an external hard drive and your digital Interface to connect directly to the computer (not through a hub).
- A dedicated External Hard Drive for Audio - NEVER EVER EVER EVER record audio to the internal hard drive on your computer. Besides most internal drives being too small these days, your internal hard drive is very busy running your computer's operating system. Recording your audio and playing it back is very taxing and if you add that workload to the internal hard drive, you are asking for trouble. Don't take my word for it, most if not all audio software manufacturers recommend you use a dedicated drive for your audio.
- A mouse to save on wrist/hand/finger fatigue. You will be doing A LOT of clicking/scrolling/moving.
2. Digital Audio Interface with at least two microphone inputs ($200 – $400)
A Digital Audio Interface is the device that takes your recorded audio and makes it into something the computer can understand. It has 2 components that are crucial to making your recording possible.
1. Microphone preamps. These guys amplify the signal coming from your microphone and make it usable.
2. AD/DA converters. Analog to Digital and Digital to Analog converters first convert the analog signal coming from your microphone into a digital signal that the computer can understand and then convert the computer's digital output signal back into an analog signal that your interface can send to your headphones or studio monitors (speakers) can play.
Here are a few interfaces I recommend. They all sound great. Some have slightly nicer preamps. Some have nicer converters. Some come with recording software (Digital Audio Workstation like Studio One from Presonus), and some have name recognition. All sound great and will work well.
Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 - $350
Presonus 44VSL - $250
MOTU 4pre - $450
Behringer FCA1616 - $250
Steinberg UR44 - $300
If you can, spend the most money on the interface. You can get $100 interfaces but I wouldn’t recommend it. The interface is the piece of equipment that converts your recorded sound to digital information. IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT!