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Music production is a steadily growing field, with roughly 56,000 people working as producers in the United States. As that number continues to grow, knowing what it takes to start making music is crucial.
If you're a passionate music lover, building a music studio is an attractive option. But how can you find the right equipment for music production without wasting money on tools you don't need?
Whether you're a young music lover looking to get started or an avid musician excited to build your studio, we're here to help. Read on for a thorough guide on finding the right music equipment to start your journey as a music producer.
Deciding the Cost
Building a music studio isn't a small feat, and it's certainly not something you should expect to accomplish on a low budget. However, many factors will go into deciding the cost of your music equipment.
Dominantly, these factors include how much equipment you need, what sort of music equipment you'll want, and how you intend to go about making music. Here are some of the main factors in purchasing equipment for music production.
🤖 What Genre?
One of the first factors you should consider is what genre you intend to focus on. Some budding producers don't believe that this makes much of a difference. Recording music is recording music, so why does it matter if it's rap, metal, or EDM?
The short answer is that these genres all require different tools, instruments, software, and more. Some of them are minimal, while others may require specialist equipment and software.
A good example is the difference between EDM and some types of metal. EDM, in its most stripped-back form, is often something you can produce with minimal equipment. Many budding producers get by with a standard laptop and the right music production software.
In contrast, metal and rock require many different instruments. Guitars, bass guitars, drums, and microphones are all critical, as well as different software. Naturally, this varies depending on the music that you're producing, but it's a good rule of thumb to look into.
🎹 How Much Equipment Do You Need?
Once you've decided on the genre you intend to make, you should look into the equipment you can't do without. One thing to remember is that there are often virtual replacements for many things.
MIDI instruments can sometimes replace authentic ones. Some sound libraries will provide you with the sounds you need to produce a full song. However, these aren't always the quality you can get if you're playing and recording the music yourself.
It's important to pick your genre first and then look into the equipment. The music you produce is something you should have a passion for. Simply picking whatever's the cheapest to get off the ground with will often result in lackluster music.
Research your genre, subgenre, and other such factors deeply. See what other music producers use to make the style of music you want to make.
Don't forget to look into what software you need as well. There are many recording and producing software options that are available at various prices. Pick which fits your needs (and budget) best.
🛠️ What Optional Equipment Do You Want?
Once you've sorted out the essentials, you should look into what sort of equipment isn't mandatory. Music production equipment would fall into this category if it isn't crucial to recording and producing.
For example, it may be software that provides effects you don't need but would like to have. It could also take the form of a new instrument to replace another.
🪐 Intentions With the Space
Finally, you should consider what your intentions with your music production area are.
For many music fans, the dream is to have a space where you can record and produce your music. But in many cases, music producers will use their space as a place to help record and produce music for others.
If your space only has the option to produce, you may not have recording capabilities. However, if you've gone to the trouble of building a music studio, you likely have the music equipment necessary to record. As such, you have a space where you can help friends, clients, and others record music.
In this case, you're turning your studio into a business. You should consider what additional costs will come with this situation.
For example, will you renovate the room to make it better for recording and working? If you're bringing in clients, having a professional-looking space is important. You may also want to keep spare instruments on hand if a client needs to rent them for any reason.
If you're building your first music studio and are still dipping your toes into production, we don't recommend making it a business. There are many lessons you'll still want to learn by practicing your production skills.
But if you're building a studio with the express idea of turning it into a business, factor in a considerable budget to do so. The room may need renovations, extra equipment, refreshments, and more. These costs are difficult to estimate, as much of it will come down to your tastes.
Common Equipment For Music Production
If you aren't certain where to start, it's important to know what sort of equipment goes into the average studio. Becoming a music producer means familiarizing yourself with all sorts of music equipment.
It's important to remember that different genres, sounds, and aesthetics will use different equipment. Nothing is set in stone, and while these are the most popular, they aren't used in every studio.
Here are some of the most common types of music equipment you'll run into while you're learning.
The console is one of the most expensive items you'll have in your studio. Also called a mixing console or mixing desk, this item will have involvement in every step of your production.
Signals from microphones, electronic instruments, and all recorded sounds go through your console. Your console is where you'll adjust and mix audio signals of all sorts.
That said, they aren't critical in modern digital recording. Everything that you would generally use a console for can instead take place on your computer. You may need to find specialized software with the features you need, but otherwise, you can replicate a console perfectly.
Another reason to do this is that consoles are supremely expensive. "Low-end" consoles can still cost thousands of dollars. Their prices can reach the five-digit point in many cases.
If you want a console, factor in a large amount for your budget. Expect this to be your most expensive item.
💽 Processors and Modules
Dynamics processors will pair with effects modules to rival your console in cost. These tools are useful for a countless range of applications, from transforming the sound of your instruments to perfecting an audio recording.
As they're so varied, it's difficult to put an exact average on the price. Additionally, purchasing brand-name processors and modules will make them significantly more expensive. Still, you're often paying for the quality along with the prestige, so this isn't always a customizable cost.
You should look into what processors and modules you'll need and keep it simple at the start. Don't attempt to purchase everything at once unless you have an exceptionally healthy budget.
Expect to spend tens of thousands of dollars. Along with your console, this is where the bulk of your music equipment budget will go.
You also shouldn't anticipate this being a one-time cost. New developing technologies are often budding in this category. You may find yourself wanting a new tool every few years, which will raise the price.
Studio monitors are another place where the price will range dramatically. If you aim for the highest possible price point, you can make monitors rival your console in cost. But what are monitors, and do you need them for your studio?
If you're a PC enthusiast, you may assume these are similar to computer monitors. In a music studio, monitors are a type of loudspeaker built into a speaker enclosure. These are almost exclusively used for professional audio production.
Studio monitors are built to produce a "flat" frequency. By doing so, they allow the producer to hear tiny details in a mix. They're critical for polish, but are they mandatory?
If you don't intend to focus on pristine, "high-quality" sound, these aren't as necessary as other tools. One genre that may not bother is many types of indie, grunge, or "lo-fi" genres.
Indie emo or pop-punk are two genres that are particularly fond of "imperfect" recording. Think of what sort of aesthetic you're aiming for in your music. From there, you can decide if the benefit of a monitor is worth your time.
If you've decided to purchase monitors, prepare your budget. You can often find a solid pair of monitors for a few thousand dollars. If you want to aim for the top-of-the-line monitors, expect $15,000 or more.
🖥️ Sound Management
Sound management isn't a piece of equipment, but rather a category. As the name suggests, this is the act of managing how sound interacts in your studio.
For example, many studios often have anti-acoustic foam on the walls. By installing this equipment, producers can enhance audio quality and cut down on echoes or other unpleasant sounds while recording.
Many recording strategies will use sound-proof recording booths. These are also referred to as "isolation booths." They'll help the producer get a pristine, professional sound quality from within.
However, they aren't the only option. With the right budget, you can work to make your recording studio one big isolation booth. Or, if that doesn't fit your needs and desires, you can simply do without.
If you choose to build an isolation booth, you can often accomplish this with about $1,000-$3,000. If you choose to renovate the room for the same effect, the price is significantly higher.
🎛️ Electronic Equipment
Electronic equipment is another category where the price will vary wildly depending on your needs and desires. For the most part, this category consists of any of the electronic equipment you'll use in your studio. Naturally, this depends on your genre, your budgetary restrictions, your producing style, and more.
That said, if you're setting up a music studio for recording, you should look into microphones. Microphones are critical for recording, and quality is extremely important.
If you're recording for clients, most won't settle for a generic store-bought mic. Expect to spend $1,000-$2,000 on a professional-grade mic. You'll need several microphones.
Along with these microphones, consider investing in pop filters. These filters help reduce some of the "flaws" in a singer's voice. They'll filter out some things like breathing, the pop of someone's vowels, and more.
As you may assume, these filters aren't necessary if you aren't recording vocals. You may still want to invest in them to have a fully-rounded collection. Tally what equipment you intend to use and set your budget from there.
📝 Additional Equipment and Upkeep
With all this equipment handled, you still should remember general upkeep in your budget. These bills are difficult to determine, as they can vary immensely by state, location, how often you record, and more.
For example, the electricity and internet bill for a studio is higher than an average home. You'll also want to invest in client amenities if you're recording. These include consumables like bottled water, refreshments, and more.
When all is said and done, the price of a studio can vary immensely based on your personal desires and needs. Don't commit yourself to buying everything at once. It's best to build your studio over time while you search for deals.
Purchasing Equipment For Music Production
Setting a budget for equipment for music production is difficult due to countless factors and variations. It's best to decide what sort of music you intend to produce and how you intend to use your studio space. From there, look into what equipment is mandatory and build over time.
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