Here, you’ll find a list of music studio equipment and the best examples of production tools and gear. Unlike the previous home recording studio equipment list, this post includes additional items besides the bare essentials.
Workstation or Desk
Whatever the purpose or size of a recording studio, its centerpiece is the workstation or desk. And so, it is actually the first ever “equipment” that you need for music production.
Any desk that you have in your home will be just fine especially if you’re just starting out. There is no need to burn a ton of cash for a workstation – doing so is really unnecessary.
But there is also nothing wrong in getting a better desk, especially if it improves your efficiency and organization. A good example that does that is the Studio RTA Producer.
After the desk, the studio chair is the next item that you should probably get for your music studio. Unless of course, you plan to produce music while standing up, as if you’re performing in a concert.
As with the workstation, any chair will be just fine for a studio – a high end one isn’t really necessary. But as you sit on it more, you’ll probably want something more comfortable and practical.
If you do want something better, an office chair like the AirGrid is a good step up. But if you want something that’s really meant for music playing, you can opt for a drum throne or a musician’s chair.
Without acoustic treatment in your studio, you’ll probably have a hard time producing any decent recording. And if there’s an acoustic treatment that you should prioritize, it ought to be bass traps.
Unlike the other kinds of acoustic foam, bass traps are capable of absorbing the entirety of the frequency spectrum. And they are quite good when it comes to low frequencies, which are the usual cause of problems in studios.
A good example of bass traps is the Auralex LENRD. They are considered cheap as far as bass traps go, and yet they get the job done surprisingly well.
Acoustic panels aren’t very good in absorbing bass frequencies, but they are quite effective with the middle to high range. More notable though is their effectiveness in managing standing waves.
Standing waves are a common challenge for most recording studios, which are usually cube shaped rooms. Because of their parallel walls, sound reflections tend to go to-and-fro in the same part of the room.
With the use of acoustic panels, standing waves are tamed, and you get well balanced mixes. If you need to get some, the Auralex Acoustics Studiofoam is a popular choice among studio owners.
It’s common for some people to produce music by themselves. But as what most solo musicians will tell you, it’s not easy being a multi-instrumentalist. For one, you have to be decent at playing different musical instruments. And of course, you have to actually own them in the first place.
Obviously, it isn’t practical to buy every musical instrument. But recording with what you only have can get boring, and might hamper creativity.
This is where virtual instruments are handy. For less than the price of real ones, you can buy software that lets you use their sound for your music. That said, they can’t copy every single musical instrument, but they are surprisingly realistic with some (like drums and keyboard/synth).
The challenge with virtual instruments is that, it’s difficult to play them with a mouse and computer keyboard. It feels awkward, and it’s time consuming to setup even a basic melody or rhythm.
So while virtual instruments “remove” the need for actual instruments, it helps to still have at least one. And that’s what MIDI controllers were made for. Basically, MIDI controllers are the physical interface through which you can use virtual instruments.
Bottomline is, virtual instruments are simply more intuitive with the use of a MIDI controller. A good example of such is the M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV.
Electronic Drum Set
For most people, virtual drums are good enough for producing music. But for some, especially drummers, they are probably not.
Acoustic drums are always ideal. However, they can be expensive and space-consuming for some music studios, especially home based ones. And so, a good alternative are electronic drum sets. You’ll get the advantages of virtual drums, while having physical, drum-like instruments to play with.
The sound quality and realism of electronic drum sets have come a long way since the 80s. This is evident in good examples like the Roland TD-11K-S.
In a music studio, cables may extend over long distances to reach where their ends need to be. This makes them very much prone to unwanted signal noise, especially in the case of guitar cables. This is were direct boxes (also called DI units) become handy.
A direct box takes an unbalanced signal from an instrument, and converts it into a balanced mic signal. This can then go through long distances as needed, without gathering noise along the way.
Most audio interfaces now come with 1 to 2 direct box channels, so you might not actually need one anymore. But as you use more instruments for your music, you’ll likely need to have another jack in your studio. In that case, you should get a good direct box like the Radial J48.
As you add more production equipment to your studio, there will come a time that it will look very cluttered. Cables will probably be all over the place.
In which case, your go-to solution would be snake cables. What they do is help you substantially tidy up your studio by combining lots of cables into one. They also keep them organized, and so you won’t have to trace a cable through the mess of other ones.
Now, most snake cables available out there were made for the larger music studios. They’re a bit too much for most other situations, so something like the Hosa Little Bro is usually already adequate.
Being Equipped for the Job
So there goes our run down of music studio equipment and the best production tools and gear. You might also want to read a composer’s views on music – it might just inspire you in making your own compositions.