Audio Recording Equipment Guide

What home recording equipment do you need? With so many things competing for your wallet, you must know exactly what you need so you can shop with confidence.

When I started looking into home recording, I had no idea what kind of equipment I needed. That's when I went to other people to help. That did the trick! I felt so much more confident when shopping for audio gear.

Your turn. This page will guide you to picking out what you need to get started recording.

You Must learn what you do and don't need

Categories of recording equipment

Here is a brief tour of what is out there. You will NOT need one of everything here - this list is an overview of everything that might apply. 

It can be as simple as a mic, cable, interface, computer, and headphones.

Here is a quick overview:

We can't go into all the details here - click through to each link above to learn more about what you need.

To make a recording, you must have some of them, but not everything. Probably the most important of all? The interface. It's what connects your computer to the audio side of things

The next most important recording equipment is microphones. They capture the sound from the air and convert it to electrical signals. Think of them as the windows into your system. If the window is clear, people can see through easily. If not, it's harder to "see" what's going on.

What you actually need

If you're starting out, I recommend this as a starter package.

  • A good microphone
  • A mic cable
  • A mic stand
  • An audio interface than includes a preamp
  • A computer (you probably already have this)
  • Recording software (whether something free or better featured)

This is what I started with, and it worked fine. It's OK to save and get cheaper things sometimes, but not for the mic. Get the best one you can. That's true for all audio gear, but especially mics. 

Why? Because it will make a difference in the quality of your sound.

Does it affect your sound?

When you're researching recording equipment, this is the question to ask:

Does it affect my sound?

A microphone affects your sound. Audio plugins affect your sound. A preamp affects your sound. A volume control for the monitors does not affect your sound.

So your sound will be better for buying a mic or plugins, but not for buying a controller.

This isn't an exciting way to think about it, but it is helpful.

How do we use this?

Now we understand how recording equipment works together. How can we use this information to our benefit? 

When you want to make a recording, evaluate what you need. 

If you don't have something, now you know what to shop for. You know what you'll be using it for, so you can look for something to suit your needs perfectly. 

Ask other people about what they have. See what other people like or dislike - this can be valuable help. 

For example

Say you want to record a voice for a radio ad. He got a sound track and wants to do the mixing on his computer, but he wants you to record someone speaking the ad. What do you need? 

Easy. Run down the chain - looks like you need a mic, cable, computer interface and your computer. The interface includes a preamp so you're good to go. 

Where is a good place to buy audio equipment?

About the Author Lee Weaver

Lee started his career in recording with an auspicious goal - record tracks of his own voice singing in harmony. As a hobby project, it didn't have the funding to go to a studio and pay for someone to do it for him. Like many of you, he pulled himself up by the bootstraps to learn the art of recording.

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