Recently there’s been a lot of discussions/debate on the interwebs on whether or not a home studio could be built with $300. While I agree on both fronts that gear does matter, while minimal budget gear should not prevent you from creating and recording music, the more important question is what would one really spend that $300 on?
I remember when I first started out, the audio interface and the microphone alone had cost just about that much, but there’s a lot more variety of options at lower costs with better quality available now (such as with audio interfaces and headphones).
Let’s ballpark it in numbers. Keep in mind that one may need to hunt in the used market to keep within budget.
- DAW: Reaper ($60)
- Microphone: SM57 ($70 Used)
- Mic Cable: XLR ($15 Used)
- Audio Interface (USB-interface): $100
- Headphones: $40-60
- Mic stand: ($15 Used)
You may decide to get a used pair of monitors for $100 instead, but that would also require purchasing of 2 more cables for that. (Headphones come with cables) – adding more to what’s already over $300.
The great thing about this list is that Reaper’s a great DAW for a great price and contains far too many features than some of the DAWs costing 8-10 times more. Its stock plugins are very useable. SM57 is a classic used in most electric guitars and snare drums for the last couple of decades. Most of the gear on the list would come at a one-time cost but chances are, that you would likely not need to upgrade those in the future.
This whole list assumes that the person already contains all the instruments needed for recording, and not need to make any additional purchases. Otherwise there’s no way to meet that $300 mark.
While there’s a lot of quality gear that don’t come expensive, there’s also a lot of poor quality things out there (<$99 audio interfaces, <$100 made-in-Asia condenser microphones) that one needs to look out for. While a bit of a stretch indeed, it’s not entirely impossible.
On the subject of gear vs technique – my dear friend Ronan explains it best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPLqA7jEF1