Setting up your home studio/workspace can be a challenge, especially in a time where there is a wide variety of products available at a wide range of prices. The learning curve for each individual is different and we may feel the need to upgrade and update our gear when we feel right, but irrespective of that fact, there is some gear that is essential for you to have in your home studio – apart from a computer ofcourse – to get started making electronic music. These essentials would be an audio interface, a pair of studio monitors & a MIDI keyboard.
We’ve listed down what exactly these things are, and some of the best value for money products that are currently out in the market to suit your home studio.
What is an Audio Interface?
An audio interface is a piece of hardware that expands and improves the sonic capabilities of a computer. Some audio interfaces give you the ability to connect professional microphones, instruments and other kinds of signals to a computer, and output a variety of signals as well. In addition to expanding your inputs and outputs, audio interfaces can also greatly improve the sound quality of your computer. Every time you record new audio or listen through speakers and headphones, the audio interface will reproduce a more accurate representation of the sounds. They’re an absolutely essential component in computer-based audio production. They’re used for recording music and podcasts, and in video post-production for recording voice-overs and sound design.
Top 3 Value for Money Audio Interfaces:
iD4 delivers the audio performance of a large format console in a portable desktop package enabling you to record your vocals and guitar simultaneously. Providing one renowned Audient console mic pre, class-leading converter technology, dual headphone outputs, console-style monitor control, JFET D.I and our virtual scroll wheel technology ‘ScrollControl’, iD4 is a professional but affordable solution for your home studio or for when you’re on the road. At around ₹14,000, the Audient iD4 is one of the best value for money audio interfaces you can buy.
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96
Whether you are a musician, producer, or podcaster on a tight budget, the AudioBox USB® 96 audio interface is for you! This simple, handy little audio/MIDI interface has just the right features for basic recording needs, allowing you to plug in and start recording up to 24-bit, 96 kHz audio right away. Bus-powered and built to travel, the AudioBox USB 96 makes recording easy. At around ₹10,000, a good quality audio interface has never been more accessible.
NI Komplete Audio 2
KOMPLETE Audio 2 is a simple, great-sounding audio interface with all the software you need to put ideas into action. From recording songs, to mixing down and playing out – they help you go from a spark of inspiration, to finished results you can be proud of. Choose between two – same sound, same software, different connections – and start creating outside of the box. The AUDIO 2 makes capturing stereo sounds a breeze. It’s the same fantastic sound quality as the AUDIO 1, with a bit more flexibility. Plug in a pair of mics together using the two combi-XLR/jack inputs. Connect to studio monitors or plugin on stage with dual jack outputs. This goes at around ₹12000 and serves a great entry point into NI’s world.
What are Studio Monitors?
Studio monitors are loudspeakers in speaker enclosures specifically designed for professional audio production applications, such as recording studios, filmmaking, television studios, radio studios and project or home studios, where accurate audio reproduction is crucial. Among audio engineers, the term monitor implies that the speaker is designed to produce relatively flat (linear) phase and frequency responses. In other words, it exhibits minimal emphasis or de-emphasis of particular frequencies, the loudspeaker gives an accurate reproduction of the tonal qualities of the source audio (“uncolored” or “transparent” are synonyms), and there will be no relative phase shift of particular frequencies—meaning no distortion in sound-stage perspective for stereo recordings.
Top 3 Value for Money Studio Monitors:
Ever since the 1970’s the iconic white woofer and signature sound of Yamaha’s nearfield reference monitors have become a genuine industry standard for a reason – their accuracy. Unlike studio monitors with added bass or treble frequencies which may sound more flattering at first, HS Series speakers were designed to give you the most honest, precise reference possible, providing an ideal sonic platform to build on throughout the mixing process. By combining acquired knowledge and expertise with state-of-the-art sound technologies, Yamaha’s speaker engineering team has examined, then optimized, every aspect that has contributed to making these monitors the most trusted in the business. At around ₹30,000 the Yamaha HS5 is the best studio monitors to buy in this price range.
KRK Rokit 5 G4
The new 5″ KRK ROKIT RP5 G4 (Generation 4) bi-amp professional monitor takes music and sound creativity to a whole new industry-level. DSP-driven Graphic EQ with 25 settings helps condition your acoustic environment while offering new levels of versatility in a studio monitor. Matching drivers made with Kevlar® ensures the same sonic integrity across all frequencies. A new scientifically designed speaker enclosure and front-firing port offer exceptional low-end extension and accuracy, punch and flexible room-positioning. The new powerful, yet efficient custom Class D power amplifier drives the speakers evenly and more efficiently at reduced operating temperatures and improves audio integrity. At around ₹28,000, the Rokit 5 is another great value for money pair of studio monitors.
PreSonus Eris E5
When you’re serious about creating music, you need studio monitors that will speak nothing but the truth. Eris®-series 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, Eris monitors will ensure your vision is heard. The Eris 5 is around ₹29,000, and serves as formidable competition to the above-mentioned monitors.
All of the above mentioned studio monitors come in smaller and larger sizes, all depending on your room requirements and budget constraints..
What is a MIDI Keyboard?
A MIDI keyboard or controller keyboard is typically a piano-style electronic musical keyboard, often with other buttons, wheels and sliders, used for sending MIDI signals or commands over a USB or MIDI 5-pin cable to other musical devices or computers connected and operating on the same MIDI protocol.
Top 3 Value for Money MIDI Controllers:
Novation Launchkey 25
Launchkey is an easy-to-use MIDI keyboard controller. It’s pretty much the quickest and easiest way to produce and perform electronic music, especially in Ableton Live – because it was designed specifically for that purpose. You just plug in via USB and the keys, faders, knobs, and pads immediately spring into life, giving you hands-on control of your grid, instruments, effects, and mixer. Of course, if you don’t use Ableton, it’ll automatically map to other major music software too. At around ₹13,500 the Novation Launchkey 25 is a great first MIDI keyboard that can be seamlessly integrated with Ableton Live.
NI Komplete Kontrol A25
Music-making is at its best when it’s fast, fun, and physical. Find the right sound, make it your own, perform, and capture the results – all from a responsive, semi-weighted keyboard. Complete with four premium instruments plus MASCHINE Essentials, A-Series keyboards come with everything you need to bring your ideas to life. The Komplete Kontrol A25 is a great buy at around ₹15,000, and that includes a whole bunch of included software as well.
Arturia MiniLab MKII
MiniLab MkII is a high quality, feature-packed controller which gives you hands-on access to the sounds in your virtual studio. Breathe new life into your sounds by playing, tweaking, tapping and twisting its rugged controls. This powerful controller also comes with several critically acclaimed software titles that will have you creating professional recordings in no time. Analog Lab Lite lets you perform using hundreds of legendary synth, piano, organ & string machine sounds. At around ₹10,000 the Arturia MiniLab MKII is cheaper than the above-mentioned keyboards, and apart from the build quality, it is equally as unique.
We put up an article recently naming the Top 5 affordable MIDI Keyboards for your home studio, and these MIDI keyboards, of course, made the cut. Check out that article here to know more about the features, pros, and cons of each.
Gear at our Workstation
This workstation we have for our students was designed with the idea of having it as a basic home studio setup. This setup comprises of an Ableton Push 2, Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25, PreSonus Eris 3.5 studio monitors, PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 audio interface and Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro Studio headphones.
Apart from the Push 2 and the Studio Headphones, this workstation cost around ₹38,000 to set-up.
For more information on gear, prices and more, do get in touch with us.
I’m an Ableton Certified Trainer and the co-founder of Beatworx, one of India’s most acclaimed electronic music schools. I’ve been producing music for over a decade. My tryst with computers began in 1994, when I was three years old, and I’ve been wonder-struck by technology ever since. A high school graduate on paper, I went on to prove that formal education isn’t everything. I’m here to help guide you on the fascinating and ever-evolving journey of making music using computers and hardware.