Assuming that you’re  already equipped with a laptop and your digital audio workstation of choice. An artist/ producer would most often find themselves hiting a wall or just be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of gear to choose from, it can be difficult to separate the “bare essentials” from “Inspiring Toys”.Not to forget the vast amount of choice within the same range, setting up becomes quite the daunting task. The frustration of being unable to demo the pieces before the purchase is something that we have all been through and can relate to, hence the following article seeks to provide a step by step guide to one of the many possible ways you could go about setting up your home studio under ₹35,000.

  1. Audio Interfaces
  2. Monitors / Headphones
  3. MIDI Keyboard
  4. Synthesizers

1.Audio Interfaces

The first thing you’re going to need is an interface, an audio interface upgrades the sound output of your computer. Most computer sound card outputs (including the ones that come installed in Macs) are not intended for the higher resolution output associated with music production.

For music production, you’ll probably want a quality interface because you’ll need to input sound (analog and digital) into your computer.

“How does a different number of inputs and outputs affect an interface?”

Having multiple inputs allows you to record from more than one source. If you’re recording multiple musicians/instruments/synths simultaneously, you’ll want to record them on separate inputs.Multiple outputs allow you to send your output to multiple sources. For example, if you want to perform a live set while recording into a recording device, you’ll need separate outputs. If you’re in a club situation where you have separate master speakers and booth speakers, you’ll need separate outputs if you want to adjust the sound of the two speaker sets separately.

If you’re looking to record multiple instruments simultaneously then it’s advisable to invest in an interface with multiple inputs, however if you’re just starting out and looking to record a single hardware synth you may settle for something a little less flexible but giving you optimum quality.

Each sound interface has a separate character and quality, you may want to demo a few of them before you make your decision.

1.1 Audient ID 4 / ₹13,500

Audient iD4

On the front is a D.I input and dual headphone outs—one 1/4 and one 1/8 inch jack—which would let for example a guitarist and a vocalist record and monitor at the same time.The main surface is clearly laid out, with gain knobs for the two inputs plus a monitor mix between input and DAW signals to achieve what Audient claims to be “near zero” latency

The volume dial has a third function, which you can access by pressing the ID button. Doing so turns the volume dial into a scroll control in software meaning that when you hover the mouse over certain knobs or faders in your DAW, it scrolls them left or right, up or down. The recording results from the iD4 are crisp, clear and very accurate.

Specs

  • High performance 2-in/2-out USB 2.0 audio interface
  • 1 x Class-A Audient Console Mic Preamplifier
  • 1 x Discrete JFET Instrument Input
  • iD ScrollControl Mode
  • Monitor Mix & Pan
  • Dual Independent Class-AB Headphone Output
  • Monitor Control Functionality
  • All-Metal Enclosure

1.2 Presonus AudioBox iTwo/₹10,990

PreSonus iTwo

The PreSonus AudioBox iTwo USB audio interface is an outstanding solution for small-format recording projects. With two Class A mic preamp and 24-bit/96kHz recording quality, you’re well equipped for stereo recordings, vocal/instrument combinations, MIDI production, and much more. You also get PreSonus’ Studio One Artist DAW software.Whether you’re producing music on your Mac, PC, or iPad, you’re in for a great experience with the PreSonus AudioBox iOne USB audio interface.

Specs

  • Bus powered USB audio interface for Mac, PC, and iPad
  • Low-noise, high-headroom mic preamps are perfect for recording vocals and instruments
  • Included Studio One Artist DAW software gives you a full-featured recording and mixing solution
  • Capture Duo iPad app makes it easy to record and transfer projects to your Studio One Artist 2 DAW
  • Completely portable with no power supply required

2.Monitoring / Headphones

Now that you’ve got your Audio Interface, the next thing you’ll want to be looking at is a medium to hear your work in the most flat/colourless way possible. This can be achieved with a pair of monitors in a semi treated environment or headphones.

There’s quite a vast choice over here, both monitors and headphones have their pros and cons. A good pair of production headphones is quite handy when you’re dealing with the spacing and the stereo image of your sounds since headphones give you a lateral perception of the sounds.

Monitors on the other hand give you a preview of what your work would sound like on a PA system, another advantage being your ears tire less easily on monitors as compared to headphones in terms of prolonged usage.

If you decide to pick up monitors however, you’re going to have to treat your room to the best of your abilities and given that you’re trying to build your studio within a budget, a DIY treatment is very much possible.

 2.1 Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro/₹21,999

The Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro headphones are an outstanding choice for extended listening sessions, monitoring while recording drums or amplified instruments, or for general-purpose stereo listening. The semi-open design gives you the strengths of both open and closed headphones. You’ll have just enough “air” when tracking instruments while still having the isolation you want when using open microphones. The lushly padded headband makes the Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro headphones extra-comfortable for extended use.An amazing 5Hz-35kHz sound spectrum with clean, clear detail from the deepest bass to the highest highs. The highs are crystal-clear without being unpleasant and are impressive even at low levels. The neutral balanced mids are analytical and strong, without being predominant. The DT 880 Pro’s bass is voluminous without being too obtrusive.

Specs

  • Single-sided, coiled cable with gold vaporised stereo jack plug
  • Easy servicing – all parts replaceable
  • Leather pouch included
  • Dynamic transducer with semi-open earpieces
  • 5Hz-35kHz frequency response
  • 250-ohm nominal impedance
  • 96dB nominal SPL
  • Gold vaporised stereo 1/8″ mini-jack and 1/4″ adapter

2.2 AIAIAI TMA-2 Studio Preset/13,799.00

TMA-2 Studio meets the requirements of the on-the-go musician and producer. Moreover, the nuanced, immersive sound experience is fully realised due to the development of new over-ear PU cushion that makes details stand out in full clarity. This is robust and thoroughly crafted audio technology for the frequently traveling, professional DJ/ producer who needs headphones that can perform while on the road, at the airport or in the air.Engineered with a 40 mm titanium coated driver to reduce distortion, and designed with a fully sealed driver, providing a full and rich sound. The sound is full and warm, the unit plays bass very well even at low volume levels.The Speaker Unit housing is injected moulded from durable ABS material and is coated with rubber to give a matte look with a soft feeling. Both plugs feature a cable lock that securely locks the cable in place.

Specs

  • Driver diameter – 40 mm
  • Sound Pressure Level – 117 dB
  • Resonance Frequency – 90 Hz
  • Impedance – 32 Ohm
  • Rated power – 30 mW
  • Max power – 70 mW
  • Diaphragm – Titanium coated
  • Magnet – Neodymium
  • Weight – 277 g

2.3 Presonus E5/25,000

The Presonus Eris E5 monitors deliver a smooth and accurate frequency response, powerful Class AB amplification with loads of headroom, and a suite of acoustic tuning controls to mitigate room anomalies. Whether you’re recording your first album or your latest hit.Given their pricing, both monitors deliver great quality, and though spending more might give you a little more in the way of fidelity. The Eris E5s are remarkable value for money. What sets them apart from most other options at this price point is that they don’t attempt to offer a hyped, flattering sound. They won’t blow you away with deep bass response and searingly bright highs. They won’t blast your eardrums with obscene sound pressure levels. They won’t make everything sound amazing. Instead, they’ll do exactly what a true reference monitor should do: provide a clear, revealing and accurate impression of your music with a relatively flat frequency response.

Specs

  • Frequency Response     53 Hz – 22 kHz
  • Crossover Frequency     3 kHz
  • LF Amplifier Power     45W
  • HF Amplifier Power     35W
  • Peak SPL (@ 1 meter)     102 dB
  • LF Driver     5.25″ Kevlar®
  • HF Driver 1” silk dome
  • Input Impedance     10 kΩ

2.4 Ultracoustic Isolation Pad/‎₹1,400

When your studio monitors sit directly on a stand, desk, or floor, they transmit vibrations that cause the surface they are on to act like a lower-frequency speaker. Ultracoustic Ultra Pad separates your speakers from their intended stands, stopping the transfer of vibrations. This is called decoupling; it helps you mix more accurately without false low frequencies. You’ll be surprised by how much better your mixes will playback on other systems. Fine-tune your studio with exact monitor positioning. Ultracoustic Ultra Pad let you position your studio monitors in different angles as needed, allowing you to create the perfect sweet spot for listening.

Specs

  • Acoustic isolation for your studio monitors and more
  • Dimensions: 12″ L x 4″ W
  • Maximum Weight Capacity: Up to 25 Kgs
  • Suitable For: Small – Medium Sized Speakers, Monitors, Woofers, Laptops, Soundcards
  • Increased Midrange Resolution
  • Deeper, more Focused Sound
  • Improved Low-Frequency Definition

3. MIDI Keyboard

A simple midi keyboard is the next thing you’re going to want, to chart out your musical ideas by hand instead of programming the same through a piano roll. The Nektar LX and GX series ship in a range of 25/49/61 and 88 key variants, while the GX series comes with the basic functionality you’d expect from a simple midi keyboard the LX series has eight channel and one master fader, recording/play back integration, individual track arming, eight knobs and pads to control and trigger your sounds along with smart integration which auto maps through a downloadable script to each instrument and parameter within your DAW.

3.1 Novation Launchkey Mini/₹ 9,240 

Launchkey Mini is our most compact and portable MIDI keyboard controller. It may be small, but it gives you everything you need to create new tunes in Ableton Live without cluttering up your desk.

Specs

  • Ultra-portable mini-keyboard controller
  • 16 three color, velocity sensitive launch pads for triggering loops and playing drums
  • Turn your iPod into a performance instrument for Mac or PC
  • In Control enables Launchkey Mini to control your DAW/music software
  • Comes with Ableton Live Lite and Loopmasters sample pack

3.2 Nektar LX25+ /₹8,250

The Nektar LX 25+ is comfortable in front of a computer and delivers powerful functionality not even found on more comprehensive controllers. Following suite from their successful LX series, the new LX+ brings forth a whole bunch of new features. Based on the award-winning Panorama and LX49+/LX61+ before it, the Nektar Impact LX25+ USB MIDI controller uses intelligent mapping to give you hands-on control of your DAW session. Switch between Mixer, Instrument, and Preset modes for a fast workflow. The Impact LX25+’s synth-action keys give you a smooth, precise feel, as do its pitch and mod wheels. In fact, all controls on the LX25+ – including the knobs, 30mm fader, and performance pads.

Specs

  • 25-key USB MIDI controller with intelligent mapping for major DAWs
  • Comes pre-mapped and configured so you don’t have to spend hours assigning MIDI controls
  • DAW integration with Bitwig Studio, Cubase, Digital Performer, Garageband, Logic Pro, Nuendo, Reason, SONAR, Studio One, FL Studio, and Reaper (includes Bitwig 8-Track)
  • 8 performance pads (assignable Green/Orange/Yellow/Red) can easily be assigned to MIDI notes or messages
  • 30mm fader and 8 control pots give you lots of hands-on control
  • Full transport controls

3.3 Arturia Keystep / ₹11,250

KeyStep is a new breed of portable musical tool combining the functionalities of a keyboard controller with a polyphonic step sequencer to control both analog and digital devices.

You need a portable USB MIDI controller but also want a keyboard that provides a musical playing experience? You have some MIDI modules you want to connect as well but don’t want the footprint of a large keyboard? You have modular and analog gear you want to control via CV/GATEs? You want a step sequencer with polyphonic capability that can sync to your favorite modern and vintage gear?The KeyStep controller does all this and more.

4. Synthesizer 

A synthesiszer is usually a luxury for most studio, but today with a wide choice of affordable synths making their way to home studios, there is hope for every wallet size. Also having a synthesizer lets you get hands on with your music, often leading to happy mistakes tweaking knobs that end up becoming your musical master pieces. They also let you embrace the inner geek in you when you get deep understanding their architecture. Some of them even provide audio inputs to process your digital sounds via their analog filters.Here are a few options fitting various budgets.

4.1 Korg Volca Bass/₹11,250

Powerful analog bass sound creation and an Electribe-inspired sequencer for the ultimate bass lines. Aggressive sounds that stand up to the drums; fat sounds that support the rhythm; funky sounds that generate a groove – The volca bass is an analog bassline groove box that has what you need for a wide range of bass lines.  Although simple in structure, the analog sound engine has an unmistakable presence with subtle nuances that cannot be reproduced by a digital simulation; it’s a great choice for acid house and many other styles of music. The step sequencer distilled from the Electribe is not only visually intuitive; it’s also a powerful way to generate “free form” bass loops that will stimulate your inspiration.

Specs

・Three oscillators generate a variety of bass sounds
・Newly designed analog filter for crisp, bright response
・Simple structure with single VCF, VCA, LFO, and EG

・Step Sequencer distilled from the Electribe series
・Slide function that’s indispensable for acid and other types of electronic music
・Active Step function generates new bass lines by removing or inserting steps

・Self-tuning function overcomes pitch drift – the weak point of an analog synth
・SYNC jack and MIDI IN connector allow synchronized performances with multiple units or with your DAW
・Compact size, battery-powered operation, and built-in speaker for enjoyment anywhere

4.2 Korg Volca Beats/11,250

Peerless beats generated by solid analog drum sounds and an Electribe-style sequencer. Those thick sounds have the power to stand up to guitar and acoustic drums, and are still indispensable for track-making or live performance. The volca beats gives you those analog drums plus the easy-to-use step sequencer of the Electribe; it lets you turn your inspiration into reality and generate beats with the best high quality sounds.

Specs

  • Electribe-style 16-step sequencer with eight memory patches
  • Sync In and Out allows clock sync of multiple instruments from the volca Series
  • Stutter for glitch or delay-like effects
  • MIDI In for note entry, plus external sync and control from your DAW
  • Go-anywhere analogue: play anywhere with the built-in speaker and optional battery power

4.2 Korg Volca Keys/₹11,250

The ideal introductory synthesizer, with a simple – yet powerful – polyphonic analog sound engine and loop sequencer. Volca Keys is a long-awaited synthesizer that adds a new chapter to the long and storied history of Korg’s analog synthesizers. Volca keys is a 27-key analog lead synth that generates unbelievably powerful sound from its compact body. Starting with a filter section that uses the circuitry of the legendary miniKORG700S (1974), it delivers astonishing sound that takes full advantage of Korg’s half-century of know-how in circuit design. With a simple structure that includes delay effect and a sequencer, it’s also an ideal choice as a first analog synth. It offers the richly expressive sounds that are distinctive of an analog synth, providing the enjoyment of simple yet deep sound-creation.

Specs

  • Three note true analogue synthesis with one knob per function for easy hands-on tweaking
  • 16-step sequencer with Flux mode for non-quantized free flowing loops
  • Sync In and Out allows clock sync of multiple instruments from the volca Series
  • MIDI In for note entry, plus external sync and control from your DAW
  • Go-anywhere analogue: play anywhere with the built-in speaker and optional battery power

4.3 Arturia Microbrute/27,000

If you’re new to synths, you’re looking at one of the easiest to use and most unique-sounding synthesizers we think money can buy. And if you’re a synth veteran, we think it won’t have escaped your attention that MicroBrute is also a seriously capable semi-modular sequence-able beast. This may be a tiny version of the MiniBrute, but its equally as powerful. Featuring a single VCO with three wavesforms (Saw / Square / Triangle) combined with multiple waveshapers, an overtone generator, a classic Steiner-Parker multimode filter and Arturia’s “Brute Factor”, the MicroBrute is packed with everything you need and want. You also get a step sequencer and a Mod Matrix that gives you tons of modulation options and connectivity with other synths. A 100% pure analog signal & semi-modular flexibility at an incredible price! Make this your first synth.

Specs

  • 100% Analog Audio Signal Path
  • Steiner-Parker Multimode Filter (LP, BP, HP)
  • Voltage Controlled Oscillator with new Overtone Sub-Osc, Oscillator Mixer (Sub, Sawtooth, Square, Triangle)
  • Ultrasaw generating shimmering sawtooth waveforms
  • MIDI Inwith 5-Pin DIN connector, USB MIDI In/Out, 1/4-Inch Audio Output and 1/8-Inch Headphone Output

 

Waldorf Streichfett/ 20,900

Streichfett combines the best of the previously extinct species of String Synthesizers of the 70s and early 80s. Its dual sound engine features a fully polyphonic strings section and an eight voice solo section, which is essential for recreating how adult movies sounded thirty years ago. The Ensemble Effect handles lubrication of the String Section, while the Effects section adds adjustable Phaser and Reverb. Additionally, the Animate Effect can be used to modulate the strings registration, allowing spectacular sound morphs.

Specs

  • 28 voice fully polyphonic Strings section
  • Continuos morphing of Violin, Viola, Cello, Brass, Organ, Choir and more Registrations
  • Animate Effect for Modulation of Strings Registration
  • Ensemble Effect for Strings
  • Eight voice polyphonic Solo section
  • Layer/Split for Solo section
  • Continuos morphing of Bass, E-Piano, Clavi, Synth, and Pluto for Solo Tone
  • Tremolo for Solo section
  • Phaser
  • Reverb
  • 12 programmable patches
  • Stereo output
  • Headphone output
  • USB
  • MIDI in/out

Summary

Assuming your computer is already covered, a bare bones setup with an Presonus iTwo Audio Interface, Nektar LX25+ MIDI Keyboard and AIAIAI TMA2 Studio Preset Headphones will let you not sell a kidney and have a setup for under  ₹ 35,000. If you’ve made that extra money from a gig, you can swap the headphones for the Presonus E5 monitors and running out of the Audient ID4, you can feel the bass in your studio for under ₹47,000. If you choose to buy the Arturia MiniBrute you can skip the MIDI Keyboard whilst adding analog goodness into your setup for just under ₹ 65,000. If polyphonic sounds is your territory, get yourself the Waldorf Streichfett and a Korg Volca Keys with a DIY hack with CV inputs can be controlled by the modestly powerful Arturia Keystep with any audio interface featured here will be under ₹ 55,000.

Feel free to do your own research to see what’s best suited for your requirements, after all these are tools that only help you ideate your musical vision. If you should need any help on choosing between various gear, we’d be more than happy to help you. Write in to us or leave your feedback in the comments section below.