Making a Cheap Recording Studio!




About: I'm Connor. I play drums, guitar, piano and make films. My favorite things are chocolate, cake and chocolate cake. That's enough for an about me, right?

This is how you make a recording studio on the cheap. Mine cost about �1200 but i have loads of extras that you don't really need. I'm guessing you could get one going for about �200 if you have a computer. Or if you really need to go cheap you could make one for about �5 if you have a microphone already. This is ideal for people who need high quality recordings quickly and cheaply (if that's a word)

I used this studio to make this music video

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Step 1: What You'll Need

USB Mixing desk (i used a Alesis 8 track) from maplin electronics for 100 quid.
Computer (i use a macbook white) for �700 and odd
Speakers (i use a marshall amp and an Ashdown bass amp) which I just had

Other stuff

Acoustic guitar need condenser microphones. I got mine from maplins for 15 quid.

Drums need drum microphones. These are rip offs and i don't have any ;)

Electric guitars and Bass's can be plugged straight into desks as well as powered acoustics but it's best if it runs through an amp first (although garage band has amp effects and the desk has 100 built in effects)

If your a right nerd:

I use a big ass rack effect running for the sake of it
Also, I have a tape recorder running through the Tape in/out on the desk
And another computer (and it uses sony acid) which i use for making 'buzzin' rave songs :D

Step 2: The Alesis Desk

This is the biggest part of your recording studio. In a nut shell it takes all the inputs going into it and transfers them via USB to your computer. Software then can record your song. This desk has 1 sound-card thing in, meaning It only records to a stereo track.

The alesis is damn complicated but i'll help here.

In english:
WTF is the control room: I use the control room output for my amps so I can hear my laptop's output. I use this because i can completely mute the mix by not patching the mix to control room. This is because I hate headphones and it means i can mute amps so i don't get feedback.

The mix out?: This is meant for the monitors i think but i don't have soundproofing between me and the band so i use this for their headphones/ monitors.

Tape in/out: can be used for any input or out put: I use it input for my other computer and the output runs to a sub-woofer.

Phantom power:

A condenser mic doesn't usually create it's own power so The phantom switch on the back on the desk should be flicked on. Moving coil microphones don't need this.

For more info read the manual!

Step 3: Recording

I use garage band as is it really simple to use.
To record a song:
Get the levels right use the softwares visual bar to monitor input levels. If it's too loud to you but not the software (in my case) i can knock the control room volume down, keeping the master up. Make sure all inputs are at correct levels. The bar in the software should peak just above the middle.

Mute any outputs that cause feedback: When podcasting I mute the monitors by not patching the mix and 2 track to the control room.

Set up panning eg. mix guitar to the left if you want etc.

Do some test recordings (to listen back patch the 2 track back to the control room)

Then record.

If you intend to overdub record drums and Bass first
Then guitar
Any other instruments


Note: For recording two channels at once (instead of one stereo), pan one channel to the left, and one to the right. Then, in software, make 2 tracks and select the desk's left channel on one and the right channel on the other.

Step 4: Ending

You can use this gear for loads of things, I use it for:
Overdubbing audi on my films
Making songs
Playing music REALLY LOUD with out distortion
Podcasting (find Here)

The cheap way.

I did mention an easy way which cost me sod all. At school we have these jack socket to stereo headphone splitters. I nicked one and shoved it into the sound input in my PC. I plugged into an amp and problem solved :)

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    24 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    this siddiq , India,
    i have a very cheaper and working method :

    1)use the software flexi music orchestra - a very user friendly software to play wav. files etc. on the keyboard
    2)download yamaha / ronald / alesis drum samples over the net or from torrents ...they are very quality one and ull have no complaint
    3)load all these sample to the key u want for EACH drum/cymbal ...which is pretty lengthy and save it ..
    4)then comes the hardware ...use and old PC keyboard -ic ...or if u get confused with the ic pins j...just keep it attached to the plastic sheets which are below the keys ...and the pass out a pin ter . rhe conductor holes ..which is again a time taking job ..but cheap and working
    5)now on other ends of the wire ..anttach a piezo...which is the cheapest drum trigger ..of if u r keyboard does not get enouhgh gain on tapping ...the attach 2 /3 in series and keep one above another ,,....and place it beneath the mouse pad (to experiment ) ..the strike u r mouse pad to play ....

    was it helpfull ?????/////////////////////////
    don't forget to tell me how was it .....


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is how I do it

    Macbook White and usb mixer for the producer

    10 feet away is my 4x4 recording room with foam lined walls with mic
    and a 24 inch monitor so I can see the timings as Im recording

    I use acid to record
    and FL studio for the beats


    9 years ago on Step 1

    Don't you need a Direct Box for "unamped" guitars? (those boxes that convert an unbalanced signal to balanced) if you want a kick mic, buy a small, cheap speaker, play some loud music through it for a little bit, then solder a mic (XLR) male end to it. attach the speaker to a stand. presto! Cheap ghetto kick mic! also, the Shure SM57 is a good instrumental mic that you can probably find on the cheap at some sites. if you really want to go cheap for drum mics, a Shure PG48 or SM58 with the top removed should work nicely. PG48's are cheaper. I've seen PG48's for as low as 30$.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    When you start hearing things in your recordings, there are some Instructables on making quiet rooms. What is the exchange rate? How many quid to the sawbuck? ;-)

    4 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    if u want a quiet room you need to condition it. dont sound proof it. get a few wooden frames. like large canvas frames. stretch a soft fabric across the front and fill the frame with little bits of foam. then add a wooden backing. mount them off your walls about 6 inch. mount in places of noise reflection, ie corners, concrete, anywhere the noise bounces. also put as much sound absorbing stuff in the room, big pillows, sheets, Lots of hanging clothing (like a clothes line) is brilliant. glass is also good at absorbing sound but make sure it doesnt rattle. any more questions email me


    9 years ago on Step 4

    What films do u make that you overdub

    by the way great instructable t has really helped me thanx


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Just thought I'd add on a bit about phantom power. Alot of mics don't need phantom power. What it is, as it is sometimes referred to as, is +48V. Alot of mics that are smaller need an extra push of power and that's what phantom power is for. Always test a new mic WITHOUT phantom power, before trying it with as you could overload the mic, and that wouldn't be a good result. Also, if you are going to enable phantom power, make sure you have your system muted, otherwise you'll hear a pop and it's just not good for any speakers that are attached. Other then that, nice job.

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    phantom cant really damage dynamic mics. phantom is only needed if your mic is a condenser, to charge the plates inside the mic.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I didn't say it WOULD, as more I said it COULD. Older mics, even dynamic mics, have a center tap of the transformer grounded, which could cause the phantom power to short the transformer.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    OMG. if you are going to build a basic home studio save a few $$ and buy PROTOOLS!!!. I work on a macbook as well. but i dont touch garage band. yes its a good program if u cant afford editing software. but if u can afford a mac in the first place u should have the money for protools bundled with the Mbox2. or get a 003 rack instead of the mbox. Protools in infinitely better than garageband in everyway. when leveling your tracks u want the peak to be just under the top of your level bar. if u dont u will need to jack up the volume in the mix and thus increasing the noise floor (hiss). also even the best sound card will sound RUBBISH compared to an mbox. and get good headphones. if you are going to make a small recording studio ur minimum requirements are. PROTOOLS!!! with an Mbox2. good headphones. good cable. and a Shure SM58 mic. i understand your still in school and all but i just finished school last year. and am running a studio in australia and doing live tours. trust me you songs will sound worse through rubbish equipment.


    10 years ago on Step 2

    You don't pan and peak your volume lights, you pan and peak your audio signal, left or right in your stereo image.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 2

    I believe he meant "Pan" and "Peak Volume Lights", as if to say that there is a pan knob and a peak volume light on each column. The words just weren't separated well.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Building a recording studio on the cheap is going to cost you about $1000 American dollars. My studio conisists of a HP multimedia computer with 800MB ram and a 2 gigahertz processor, with two 7200 rpm harddrives, with a 2.0 USB port. To get music into this computer, I use the Tascam 122L USB interface (connects to the USB bus). The interface allows you to record guitar and professional balanced microphones that use phantom power (supplied by the Tascam interface unit). The Tascam came bundled with Steinberg Cubase LE recording software, which completes the studio. From that point on all you need is your imagination, and a quiet day!...oh, and don't forget, talent!


    10 years ago on Step 1

    wow, i have the Alesis Multimix 16 USB, other than being bigger the difference is it has slides for volume. great little pieces of equipment by the way, i bought a set of Audio-Technica ST95 Mark II mics and they work great for drum mics. 5 of them were $99 USD from Just buy a cheap kick mic and you're set


    10 years ago on Step 3

    Man, i got a macbook white too and i'd like to record something with my electronic drum using line in (the jack next to phones jack) ,but it keeps on recording with the built in mic...what can i do?