Whether you’re converting a spare bedroom or an old office space, having your own studio could save you a lot of money. While there might be thousands of studios to hire in the UK, at least 44% of open studios are located in London and the South East . So, along with avoiding rental costs, making your own studio means you’ll be able to save on travel too.  

When it comes to designing a music room or recording studio, bigger rooms are better. But if you’re only just starting out, these resources might come at a premium – so you’ll need to be able to adapt. Here’s how. 

Table of Contents

Planning Your Home Studio

small home studio

Before diving into purchasing equipment and setting up your home studio, it’s essential to plan and consider your needs, goals, and available space. This will ensure that your studio is tailored to your requirements, making it a more effective and enjoyable workspace.

Assessing Your Needs and Goals

Start by identifying the primary purpose of your home studio. Are you planning to record vocals and live instruments, produce electronic music, or create podcasts and voiceovers? Understanding what you want to achieve with your studio will help you make informed decisions about the necessary equipment and room layout.

Consider your budget as well. Knowing how much you’re willing to invest in your home studio will help you prioritize equipment purchases and avoid overspending.

Choosing a Suitable Room or Space

Selecting the right space for your home studio is crucial. Ideally, you’ll want to choose a room that is quiet, free from external noise, and has enough space for all your equipment. Spare bedrooms, basements, and dedicated office spaces often work well for this purpose.

Pay attention to the shape and size of the room, as these factors can impact the acoustics. Rectangular rooms with high ceilings generally provide better sound quality than square rooms with low ceilings. Avoid setting up your studio in a corner, as it may cause unwanted sound reflections and standing waves.

Acoustic Treatment and Soundproofing Considerations

Proper acoustic treatment and soundproofing play a significant role in achieving high-quality recordings and a comfortable working environment. Acoustic treatment focuses on improving the sound quality within the room by using materials like foam panels, bass traps, and diffusers to manage sound reflections and reduce unwanted echoes.

Soundproofing, on the other hand, aims to prevent sound from entering or leaving the room, ensuring a quiet space for both you and those around you. Some simple soundproofing measures include sealing gaps around doors and windows, using weatherstripping, or adding mass to walls with extra insulation or acoustic panels.

Keep in mind that achieving perfect acoustics and soundproofing can be challenging, especially on a budget. However, even small improvements can make a noticeable difference in your home studio’s sound quality and overall functionality.

Use space efficiently 

Before you get started, you need to make your new studio space efficient.  

Any alcoves or awkward spaces need to be used and could play a useful role in providing acoustics or storage too. Writing out a plan prior to starting out will help you understand the space you have available and what the best layout could be. 

It’s likely that you’ll need to store spare equipment, devices, and even smaller instruments in the room too. Instead of keeping loose items sprawled over your workstation, investing in fitted furniture for alcoves could keep your studio looking smart

Choose the right equipment 

Once you’ve understood the space you’ll be working with, you should start looking into the equipment to bring your space to life. Start by removing everything that you don’t need from the room – particularly anything taking up floor space, hanging off the walls, or anything that vibrates. 

Adding some gear could be the most exciting part. Choose a stylish and versatile desk and pair it with a comfortable chair since you’ll be spending most of your time there. As for recording equipment, you should choose the highest possible quality within your budget – and make sure it’s suitable for your genre too. 

Essential Equipment For Your Home Studio

1. Audio Interface

Importance of an Audio Interface

An audio interface is a critical component of any home studio, as it serves as the bridge between your computer and your recording equipment. It allows you to connect microphones, instruments, and other audio sources to your computer for recording, while also providing outputs for studio monitors and headphones.

In essence, an audio interface converts analog signals from your recording equipment into digital signals that your computer can process and store.

A good audio interface not only ensures high-quality sound recordings but also provides low-latency monitoring, allowing you to hear your performance in real-time without any noticeable delay.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Audio Interface

When selecting an audio interface for your home studio, consider the following factors:

  1. Input/Output (I/O) Configuration: Determine how many inputs and outputs you need based on the number of instruments and microphones you plan to record simultaneously, as well as the number of studio monitors and headphones you’ll be using.
  2. Connectivity: Ensure that the audio interface is compatible with your computer’s available ports (e.g., USB, Thunderbolt, or FireWire). Some interfaces also offer additional connectivity options like MIDI or ADAT for more advanced setups.
  3. Preamps and Phantom Power: High-quality preamps are essential for capturing clear and detailed sound from microphones. If you plan to use condenser microphones, make sure the audio interface provides phantom power (typically +48V).
  4. Latency and Performance: Look for an audio interface with low-latency monitoring capabilities and a stable driver performance to ensure a smooth recording experience.
  5. Budget: Finally, consider your budget and try to find an audio interface that offers the best combination of features and quality within your price range.

Recommended Budget-Friendly Audio Interfaces

There are several affordable audio interfaces on the market that deliver excellent performance and quality. Some popular budget-friendly options include:

  1. Focusrite Scarlett Solo or 2i2: These compact USB audio interfaces offer high-quality preamps, low-latency monitoring, and a simple plug-and-play setup.
  2. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96: This audio interface features two combo inputs with preamps, MIDI I/O, and compatibility with most DAWs.
  3. Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD or UMC404HD: These audio interfaces provide multiple inputs and outputs, MIDAS-designed preamps, and ultra-low latency monitoring at an affordable price.

2. Studio Monitors

Role of Studio Monitors in Music Production

Studio monitors play a crucial role in music production by providing accurate and uncolored sound reproduction. Unlike regular consumer speakers, which often enhance certain frequencies to create a more pleasant listening experience, studio monitors are designed to deliver a flat frequency response. This enables you to hear your recordings as objectively as possible, allowing you to make informed decisions when mixing and mastering your tracks.

Using studio monitors helps ensure that your music will translate well across various listening environments, such as headphones, car speakers, or home audio systems.

Active vs. Passive Monitors

There are two main types of studio monitors: active and passive.

Active monitors have built-in amplifiers, which means they can be connected directly to your audio interface without the need for an external power amp. This makes them more convenient and easier to set up. Active monitors are generally the preferred choice for home studios due to their simplicity and space-saving design.

Passive monitors, on the other hand, require an external power amp to drive them. This allows for more customization and control over the monitor’s performance but also adds complexity and cost to your setup. Passive monitors are less common in home studios and are typically found in professional recording environments.

Tips for Selecting and Positioning Studio Monitors

When choosing and setting up studio monitors for your home studio, consider the following tips:

  1. Size and Power: Select studio monitors that are appropriate for the size of your room. Smaller rooms typically require smaller monitors with lower wattage, while larger spaces may benefit from bigger monitors with more power.
  2. Budget: As with any studio equipment, consider your budget when selecting studio monitors. While higher-priced monitors often offer better sound quality and accuracy, there are still many affordable options available that deliver excellent performance.
  3. Positioning: Proper positioning of your studio monitors is crucial for achieving accurate sound reproduction. Set up your monitors at ear level and form an equilateral triangle between the two speakers and your listening position. This will create a “sweet spot” where you can hear the most balanced sound.
  4. Acoustic Treatment: To further improve the accuracy of your studio monitors, consider adding acoustic treatment to your room. This can help minimize unwanted sound reflections and improve the overall sound quality in your studio.
  5. Monitor Isolation: Place your studio monitors on isolation pads or stands to decouple them from your desk or floor. This can help reduce vibrations and improve the clarity of your sound.

3. Microphones

Types of Microphones (Dynamic, Condenser, Ribbon)

There are three main types of microphones used in home studios: dynamic, condenser, and ribbon. Each type has its unique characteristics and is suited for different applications.

Dynamic microphones are known for their durability and ability to handle high sound pressure levels, making them an excellent choice for recording loud instruments like drums or guitar amplifiers. They also tend to be more affordable than other microphone types. However, dynamic microphones may lack the sensitivity and detail required for capturing subtle nuances in vocals or acoustic instruments.

Condenser microphones are more sensitive and accurate than dynamic microphones, making them ideal for recording vocals, acoustic instruments, and other delicate sound sources. They require phantom power, which is typically provided by your audio interface. Condenser microphones can be further divided into large-diaphragm and small-diaphragm varieties, with large-diaphragm condensers generally being preferred for vocals and small-diaphragm condensers for acoustic instruments.

Ribbon microphones use a thin metal ribbon to capture sound, resulting in a smooth and natural tone that’s often favored for recording instruments like guitars, strings, and brass. Ribbon microphones tend to be more delicate and expensive than dynamic or condenser microphones, making them less common in home studios.

Selecting the Right Microphone for Your Needs

When choosing a microphone for your home studio, consider the following factors:

  1. Purpose: Determine the primary purpose of the microphone (e.g., recording vocals, instruments, podcasts, etc.) and select a microphone type that best suits your needs.
  2. Polar Pattern: Microphones can have different polar patterns, which determine how they pick up sound from various directions. Common polar patterns include cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8. Choose a polar pattern that suits your recording environment and desired sound.
  3. Budget: As with any studio equipment, your budget will play a role in your microphone selection. While higher-priced microphones often offer better sound quality and features, there are still many affordable options available that deliver excellent performance.

Budget-Friendly Microphone Options

There are several budget-friendly microphones on the market that offer great sound quality and versatility for home studio use. Some popular options include:

  1. Audio-Technica AT2020: This large-diaphragm condenser microphone is an excellent choice for recording vocals and acoustic instruments, offering impressive sound quality at an affordable price.
  2. Shure SM58: A legendary dynamic microphone known for its durability and versatility, the SM58 is an excellent choice for recording vocals, podcasts, or even live instruments.
  3. MXL 990: Another budget-friendly large-diaphragm condenser microphone, the MXL 990 offers solid performance for vocals and instruments at an accessible price point.

4. Headphones

The Role of Headphones in a Home Studio

Headphones play a vital role in a home studio, serving multiple purposes such as tracking, mixing, and critical listening. They offer a personal monitoring solution when recording vocals or instruments, allowing you to hear your performance without any bleed from the speakers. In addition, headphones can be useful for checking the stereo image, panning, and other details in your mix that may not be as evident on studio monitors.

Having a good pair of headphones is particularly important if you’re working in a space with less-than-ideal acoustics or if you need to keep noise levels down while working late at night.

Closed-Back vs. Open-Back Headphones

There are two main types of headphones for studio use: closed-back and open-back.

Closed-back headphones have an enclosed design that isolates sound, preventing audio from leaking out and external noise from entering. This makes them an excellent choice for tracking, as they minimize sound bleed into the microphone. However, closed-back headphones can sometimes create a more “boxed-in” sound due to their isolation.

Open-back headphones feature a more open design, allowing air and sound to pass freely through the ear cups. This results in a more natural and spacious soundstage, making them ideal for mixing and critical listening. However, open-back headphones are not suitable for tracking due to their lack of sound isolation, which can cause sound bleed into the microphone.

Recommended Budget-Friendly Headphone Models

When selecting headphones for your home studio, consider both your budget and intended use. Some popular budget-friendly options include:

  1. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x (closed-back): These headphones offer excellent sound quality and comfort, making them a popular choice for both tracking and mixing in home studios.
  2. Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro (closed-back): Known for their durability and comfort, the DT 770 Pro headphones provide accurate sound reproduction suitable for tracking and mixing.
  3. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro (closed-back): These affordable headphones offer excellent sound isolation and a flat frequency response, making them suitable for recording and mixing in a home studio.
  4. AKG K240 Studio (semi-open-back): The AKG K240 Studio headphones provide a more open soundstage, making them a good option for mixing and critical listening at an affordable price.

5. MIDI Controller

Benefits of Using a MIDI Controller

A MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controller is a valuable addition to any home studio, offering numerous benefits for music production:

  1. Versatility: MIDI controllers enable you to play and record a wide variety of virtual instruments, such as synthesizers, drum machines, and samplers, using your digital audio workstation (DAW). This expands your creative possibilities and saves space compared to using multiple hardware instruments.
  2. Control: MIDI controllers often feature assignable knobs, faders, and buttons, allowing you to control various parameters within your DAW and virtual instruments. This can improve your workflow and make it easier to shape your sound during the production process.
  3. Expression: Many MIDI controllers include features like velocity-sensitive keys, pitch bend and modulation wheels, or aftertouch, which enable you to add expression and dynamics to your performances.

Key Considerations When Choosing a MIDI Controller

When selecting a MIDI controller for your home studio, consider the following factors:

  1. Keyboard Size: MIDI controllers come in various sizes, ranging from 25-key mini keyboards to full-size 88-key models. Choose a size that suits your playing style, space limitations, and the type of music you produce.
  2. Features: Consider the features you require in a MIDI controller, such as pads for finger drumming, assignable knobs and faders for controlling your DAW, or pitch bend and modulation wheels for added expression.
  3. Compatibility: Ensure that the MIDI controller is compatible with your DAW and operating system. Most MIDI controllers use USB connectivity and are compatible with major DAWs, but it’s always a good idea to check before making a purchase.
  4. Budget: As with any studio equipment, consider your budget when selecting a MIDI controller. More expensive models may offer additional features or better build quality, but there are still many affordable options available that deliver excellent performance.

Suggested Budget-Friendly MIDI Controllers

There are several budget-friendly MIDI controllers on the market that offer great value and functionality for home studio use. Some popular options include:

  1. Akai MPK Mini Mk3: This compact 25-key MIDI controller features velocity-sensitive keys, eight MPC-style pads, and eight assignable knobs, making it an excellent choice for those with limited space or on-the-go producers.
  2. Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3: Another compact 25-key option, the Launchkey Mini Mk3 offers 16 velocity-sensitive pads, eight rotary knobs, and seamless integration with Ableton Live.
  3. Alesis V49: This 49-key MIDI controller provides a larger playing surface, along with eight drum pads, four assignable knobs, and four buttons, plus pitch bend and modulation wheels.
  4. Arturia KeyLab Essential 49: Featuring 49 keys, eight pads, nine faders, and nine rotary knobs, the KeyLab Essential 49 offers excellent control options and comes with a suite of software, including Arturia’s Analog Lab virtual instrument.

6. Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

What is a DAW and Why It’s Essential

A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is a software application used for recording, editing, mixing, and producing audio files. It serves as the central hub of your home studio, allowing you to record and arrange multiple audio tracks, apply effects and processing, and create a final mix or master of your music. A DAW is essential for modern music production, providing a powerful and flexible platform to bring your creative ideas to life.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a DAW

When selecting a DAW for your home studio, consider the following factors:

  1. Features: Evaluate the features offered by each DAW, such as the number of tracks and plugins supported, built-in virtual instruments, audio editing capabilities, and automation options. Choose a DAW that provides the tools you need for your specific production style and workflow.
  2. Compatibility: Ensure that the DAW is compatible with your computer’s operating system and hardware specifications. Some DAWs are available only on specific platforms, while others may have different versions for Windows and macOS.
  3. Ease of Use: Consider the learning curve associated with each DAW. Some DAWs have more intuitive interfaces and are easier to learn for beginners, while others may require more time and effort to master.
  4. Price: DAWs can range from free to several hundred dollars, depending on the features and included content. Determine your budget and choose a DAW that offers the best value for your needs.

Popular DAW Options for Beginners

There are several DAW options available that cater to different skill levels and budgets. Some popular DAWs for beginners include:

  1. GarageBand (macOS): GarageBand is a free DAW for macOS users that offers an intuitive interface and a good selection of built-in instruments and effects. It’s an excellent choice for beginners looking to learn the basics of music production.
  2. FL Studio (Windows, macOS): FL Studio is a popular DAW with a user-friendly interface and a wide range of features, making it suitable for beginners and experienced producers alike. It offers a free trial version and various paid editions with increasing functionality.
  3. Ableton Live (Windows, macOS): Ableton Live is known for its unique workflow and is favored by electronic music producers. It offers a free trial version and multiple paid editions (Intro, Standard, and Suite) to suit different budgets and needs.
  4. PreSonus Studio One (Windows, macOS): Studio One offers an intuitive drag-and-drop interface and comes in three versions: Studio One Prime (free), Studio One Artist, and Studio One Professional. The free version provides a solid starting point for beginners.
  5. Cakewalk by BandLab (Windows): Cakewalk is a fully-featured DAW that is now available for free, making it an excellent option for Windows users on a budget.

Setting Up Your Small Home Studio

small home studio 1

Organizing and Positioning Equipment

When setting up your small home studio, it’s essential to organize and position your equipment correctly to optimize your workflow and achieve the best sound quality. Here are some tips for organizing and positioning your gear:

  1. Desk placement: Place your desk against a wall, preferably in the center of the room to avoid corner bass build-up. Leave some space between the desk and the wall to minimize sound reflections.
  2. Studio monitors: Position your studio monitors at ear level and form an equilateral triangle between the two speakers and your listening position. This will create a “sweet spot” where you can hear the most balanced sound. Avoid placing your monitors directly on your desk; instead, use isolation pads or stands to reduce vibrations.
  3. Microphone: Set up your microphone in a quiet part of the room, away from noisy equipment like computers or air conditioning units. Use a pop filter and a shock mount to reduce plosives and vibrations.
  4. Headphones: Keep your headphones within easy reach, either on a dedicated headphone stand or hooked onto your desk.
  5. MIDI controller and other gear: Arrange your MIDI controller, audio interface, and any other equipment in a way that allows easy access and minimizes cable clutter.

Connecting Gear and Setting Up Your DAW

Once your equipment is organized and positioned, follow these steps to connect your gear and set up your DAW:

  1. Connect your audio interface: Use the appropriate cable (usually USB, Thunderbolt, or FireWire) to connect your audio interface to your computer.
  2. Connect microphones and instruments: Plug your microphones and instruments into the input channels on your audio interface using the appropriate cables (e.g., XLR for microphones, 1/4-inch for guitars).
  3. Connect studio monitors and headphones: Connect your studio monitors to the output channels on your audio interface using balanced TRS cables. Plug your headphones into the headphone output on your audio interface.
  4. Set up your MIDI controller: Connect your MIDI controller to your computer using a USB cable or dedicated MIDI interface.
  5. Install and configure your DAW: Install your chosen DAW on your computer and follow the setup instructions to configure your audio interface, MIDI controller, and any other devices. Ensure that your DAW is set to use your audio interface for both input and output.

Creating a Comfortable and Inspiring Workspace

A comfortable and inspiring workspace is crucial for productivity and creativity in your home studio. Consider these tips to create an inviting environment:

  1. Ergonomics: Ensure that your chair, desk, and equipment are set up ergonomically to reduce strain and fatigue during long studio sessions.
  2. Lighting: Use soft, warm lighting to create a relaxed atmosphere and reduce eye strain. Consider adding LED strip lights, desk lamps, or floor lamps to create the desired ambiance.
  3. Acoustic treatment: Improve the sound quality in your room by adding acoustic treatment, such as bass traps, acoustic panels, or diffusers. This can help minimize unwanted sound reflections and improve the accuracy of your studio monitors and headphones.
  4. Inspiration: Personalize your workspace with decorations that inspire you, such as artwork, posters, or plants. Keep your instruments within easy reach and consider adding a small area for relaxation or brainstorming.

Think about noise 

Depending on the type of music you’re planning to produce, your home studio could quickly become a nuisance to neighbors. Try to make sure you’re using headphones or professional in-ear monitors while you work, especially if you’ll be mixing into the night. 

You need to block out external noise – but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to soundproof a room in your home without renovation.  

However, there are several things you can do to minimize the noise on a budget. Adding carpets or rugs might help to absorb sound, especially if you have a hard floor. Any thick foam or rubber insulation could support the soundproofing capacity of your walls. 

Along with thinking about your neighbors, it’s important to read advice on sound and hearing health protection for musicians. You should be aware of noise regulations concerning not only the industry overall but also protecting your own hearing health. 

Make it multifunctional 

Multifunctional equipment will be a necessity in a smaller space. For example, if you usually work from home during the week, converting your mixing desk into a general-purpose office desk could be invaluable. And making this possible could be as simple as swapping out your decks for the laptop. 

If you’d prefer to keep your ‘box room’ as it is, you could set up a small studio in a dedicated space or corner of your living room. If you keep it tidy and organized, any DIY solution could work just as effectively. 

Tips for Maximizing Your Home Studio Experience

To get the most out of your home studio experience, consider these tips to improve your workflow, sound quality, and creative output:

Investing in Quality Cables and Accessories

High-quality cables and accessories can make a noticeable difference in the performance and reliability of your studio setup. Investing in good cables can reduce signal loss, noise, and interference, resulting in cleaner recordings and mixes. Some other accessories to consider include:

  1. Pop filters for reducing plosives when recording vocals.
  2. Shock mounts to isolate microphones from vibrations and handling noise.
  3. Monitor isolation pads or stands to decouple your studio monitors from your desk or floor, improving clarity and reducing vibrations.
  4. Cable organizers to keep your workspace tidy and reduce cable clutter.

Learning the Basics of Recording and Mixing Techniques

Understanding fundamental recording and mixing techniques is crucial for achieving professional-sounding results in your home studio. Invest time in learning about:

  1. Microphone placement and choosing the right microphone for different instruments and vocals.
  2. Gain staging to ensure optimal signal levels throughout your recording and mixing process.
  3. EQ, compression, and other audio processing techniques to shape your sound and create balanced mixes.
  4. Reverb and delay for adding depth and space to your tracks.
  5. Automation and creative effects to enhance your music and create unique textures.

There are many resources available online, such as tutorials, articles, and forums, to help you learn these skills and techniques.

Networking with Other Music Producers and Artists

Connecting with other music producers and artists can provide valuable feedback, collaboration opportunities, and inspiration. Consider joining online communities, social media groups, or attending local events and workshops to network with like-minded individuals. Sharing your work, asking for feedback, and learning from others can help you grow as a producer and improve your home studio experience.

Continuously Improving Your Skills and Knowledge

The world of music production is constantly evolving, with new techniques, technologies, and trends emerging all the time. To maximize your home studio experience, commit to continuous learning and skill development. Stay up-to-date with industry news, attend webinars or workshops, and experiment with new techniques and tools in your studio.

By investing in quality cables and accessories, learning the basics of recording and mixing techniques, networking with other music producers and artists, and continuously improving your skills and knowledge, you’ll be well-equipped to maximize your home studio experience and create professional-sounding music.


The unique demands of a studio mean that a small room might not be the most natural or inviting space to help guide your creative process. But it’s important to remember that with a little bit of effort, you can make the most of the space you have.  

FAQs About Setting Up a Small Home Studio

Do I need expensive equipment to set up a small home studio?

No, you don’t need expensive equipment to set up a small home studio. While high-end gear can offer better sound quality and features, there are many affordable options available that provide excellent performance. Focus on investing in the essentials like a good audio interface, microphone, headphones, and MIDI controller, and gradually upgrade your gear as your budget allows.

How important is room acoustics when setting up a home studio?

Room acoustics play a significant role in the sound quality of your recordings and mixes. Poor acoustics can cause issues like uneven frequency response, excessive reverb, and standing waves. To improve your room’s acoustics, consider adding bass traps, acoustic panels, or diffusers, and pay attention to the placement of your desk, studio monitors, and other equipment.

Can I use regular speakers instead of studio monitors for my home studio?

It’s recommended to use studio monitors rather than regular speakers for your home studio, as they provide a more accurate and flat frequency response. This allows you to make better-informed decisions when recording, mixing, and mastering your music. However, if you’re on a tight budget, you can start with regular speakers and upgrade to studio monitors later.

What should I prioritize when setting up my small home studio on a limited budget?

With a limited budget, prioritize essential equipment such as an audio interface, a versatile microphone, headphones, and a MIDI controller. Also, focus on improving your room’s acoustics with affordable DIY solutions, such as using thick curtains, rugs, or bookshelves filled with books to help absorb and diffuse sound.

How do I choose the right DAW for my home studio?

When choosing a DAW, consider factors such as features, compatibility with your computer’s operating system, ease of use, and price. Evaluate different DAWs based on your specific production needs and workflow preferences. Many DAWs offer free trial versions or lite editions, allowing you to test them out before making a decision.

Can I set up a home studio in a small room or apartment?

Yes, it’s possible to set up a home studio in a small room or apartment. Focus on optimizing your space by using compact equipment and organizing your gear efficiently. Pay attention to room acoustics and use acoustic treatment to reduce sound reflections and improve sound quality. Additionally, consider using headphones for mixing and monitoring when you need to keep noise levels down.


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