You can get started with recording your own music at home with as little equipment as a smartphone. But to achieve better results, you should make a home studio with mics, an audio interface, and a decent DAW.
My name is Donovan, and I’m a home studio enthusiast and longtime musician. I’ve worked in the music industry as an artist and producer and have spent countless hours recording my music from the comfort of my home.
This post will show you how to record your own music at home. I’ll highlight what equipment you need to do this, why you should set up a recording space, and other considerations to help you get your music out into the world.
Let’s get started.
- Key Takeaways
- How to Record Your Own Music at Home
- How to Record Music at Home Without Equipment
- Final Thoughts
- You can technically record your own music at home with just a smartphone, such as using GarageBand on your iPhone.
- Getting some basic audio equipment will help you create better recordings and improve your recording skills.
- A simple home studio setup includes a laptop, audio interface, DAW, and microphone. The sky is the limit with home audio equipment from there.
- Getting very professional recordings from a home studio is possible, but you’ll need good equipment and plenty of experience to get there.
How to Record Your Own Music at Home
It’s never been easier to record music at home, thanks to easily available recording equipment that just about anyone can access. If you are just starting to explore the world of home studios and recording, that’s excellent news.
And even though it can take a lot of time and practice to gain professional-level skills as a studio engineer or producer, there aren’t many barriers to entry to get started with developing these skills at home.
Even more, you don’t need to spend much money on super high-end equipment to make decent home recordings. You can get better quality and more possibilities with more gear, but it’s not necessary for the average home studio.
I will break down how to record your own music here by giving you a few action steps to get you pointed in the right direction. There is no right or wrong way to go about it, but these considerations will help you jump in and start recording quickly.
Step 1: Choose Recording Equipment
You can technically get by with little to no equipment and still record songs from home, and I’ll show you how in the next section. But the starting point for every home studio is to get some gear that you can put into action.
You can get by with a smartphone or laptop if you have zero recording experience. But to take things in a more serious direction, I recommend starting with these basic equipment items:
- Audio interface
- Studio Headphones and/or monitors
- MIDI Keyboard or other controller
- DAW of your choice
- Musical instruments of your choice
- Cords, cables, and stands to connect and set everything up
- Any materials for soundproofing/acoustic treatment if building the studio from the ground up
This is not an exhaustive list, meaning you might want or need plenty of other things in a home studio. But it’s a very solid start that will allow you to make pretty excellent home recordings.
A laptop or another computer is a must. This is the brains of the operation, and you won’t get very far without it. You’ll run your DAW (digital audio workstation) from your computer and can control all of the elements from here.
An audio interface acts as a bridge between your instruments and microphones and your DAW. There are many features they can offer and they will give you certain inputs for everything you want to record.
You’ll need at least one microphone to start recording unless you are doing everything in the box, i.e., not using physical instruments or your voice. You’ll likely want several mics if you do a lot of recording.
Studio headphones or monitors allow you to listen to the music you record and give you the ability to listen while you lay down tracks. These are essential because you don’t want to just listen to the speakers on your computer or phone.
A MIDI keyboard or other controller will give you hands-on control over your DAW. These can allow you to take advantage of software instruments and help you dial in a workflow as you get more comfortable with your recording software.
Depending on how you approach making music and writing songs, you’ll want to get all the instruments you expect to play and record. You also want all the cables, stands, and other connections you might need to make everything work together.
Step 2: Choose a DAW
A digital audio workstation is basically just recording software. The pros use several different options, and I recommend going with Logic Pro X or Pro Tools if you want pro-level capabilities.
There are also free DAWs, like GarageBand, you can use if you don’t have a budget for software. But the basic operation of a DAW is pretty straightforward to figure out, so I recommend using a decent option if you can pull it off.
Step 3: Set up a Recording Space
If you already have a home studio, you can skip this step. But if you don’t, you need to set up a recording space where you’ll work. A bedroom, large closet, garage, or living room can all work, and it just depends on your situation.
If you want to build a full home recording studio, check out some of my tips and instruction for making one in your room here. I won’t go into details of a complete studio build in this post because that’s a different subject altogether.
You can still record music at home without a dedicated home studio space but always pick a relatively quiet room. You don’t want to record road noises or other unwanted audio if you can avoid it.
When you choose your room, set up your computer and plug in all the other equipment you want to use. The more setup you do ahead of time, the easier it will be to stay focused on recording when you dive in.
Step 4: Open a New Project in Your Recording Software
Regardless of which DAW or other recording software you choose, you’ll want to set up a basic session before recording. This will allow you to properly route all of your inputs and allow you to edit the parts later on.
Standard elements of setting up a session include deciding the number of tracks, routing the inputs through your audio interface, and checking levels. The exact process for doing this can vary depending on the DAW, but the concept is the same for all of them.
Step 5: Start Recording
Now that you have everything set up, it’s time to start recording. When you are ready, hit that big red button and lay down a track. Don’t worry if you don’t nail everything the first time. You can record as many tracks as you need to.
If you are recording a song with multiple parts and tracks, you can do everything separately or set up your session to record multiple instruments/musicians at once.
Be sure to save every track you record because you might want to mix in various aspects of each when you get to the editing process. Saving your work frequently is a critical aspect of at-home recording.
Step 6: Edit and Mix
Once you have all of the basic tracks recorded, it’s time to edit and mix them. This can be as involved as writing and recording, or even more so. And you’ll need to have a decent understanding of your DAW to work effectively.
Editing is where you alter aspects of the tracks you just recorded. You could mix and match vocal takes or shorten a guitar solo. This is an essential part of getting a good home recording unless you have a simple session and nail it in one take.
Mixing involves changing audio levels, adding effects, and doing other things to help make the recording shine. You can make a basic recording without mixing, but mixing is critical if you are going for release-quality tracks.
Those steps are an abbreviated look at home recording. There are plenty of other little things you might want to add or subtract to the process, and that’s all part of the art and magic of being a musician or producer.
But it’s not that complicated to start recording at home. Getting some decent equipment will help you out a lot. But even if you can’t buy new gear right away, learning a DAW will help you make better recordings quickly.
How to Record Music at Home Without Equipment
You can easily record music at home even if you don’t have any equipment. A smartphone is all you really need to make a basic recording, and many of them come with recording apps or software you can use.
If you have an iPhone, it comes with GarageBand, which you can use to record music. Just fire up that app and open a new session. Set it up however you want to, and then record yourself singing or playing an instrument through the built-in microphone.
The same can be done with a laptop, and you can use the built-in microphone on your computer to record directly into a DAW. Just be sure you set up the built-in mic as your audio input source so the DAW knows where the recorded signal is coming from.
You can record multiple tracks this way just as easily as you could with a real microphone but understand you won’t get as good of audio quality with a phone or computer mic. You can make demos or hash out ideas easily, but you won’t get radio-ready tracks without some equipment.
You don’t need a full home recording studio to start recording music. And starting with just the basics will give you some much-needed experience while highlighting why some of the other gear I recommend is so important.
Here are a few short answers to some of the most frequently asked questions related to recording your own music at home.
What do I need to record my own songs at home?
You can use your smartphone with an audio recording app, such as GarageBand on an iPhone for basic recordings. If you want better quality recordings, you’ll want to get an audio interface and a good microphone or two.
What is the best way to record live music at home?
It’s possible to record live music at home with a single microphone or device. You just need to place your recording device in a spot that will pick up everything that needs to be recorded. Having a complete home studio will help you isolate tracks and get better-sounding recordings.
How can I record a song at home for free?
If you have an iPhone, you can use the GarageBand app to record a song at home for free. This is a very simple-to-use audio recording app that has everything you need to make a decent-sounding home recording. Other apps are also available for other phones.
What is the best place to record music at home?
There are several options for the best place to record music at home, and a small to medium-sized room with a bit of reverb can be a good option. Some people also like the acoustics in small spaces, like a hallway or bathroom.
Is it hard to record your own music?
It isn’t that hard to record your own music on a basic level. Modern apps and equipment make it really easy to get started with the recording process. But if you want to record full-band tracks or an entire album, it takes more effort and experience than basic recordings.
With some decent equipment and a good recording space, you can easily make and record music from home. I know plenty of musicians who work exclusively from home and have written and recorded many albums without going into a proper studio.
One great thing about home recording is that anybody can do it. Whether you have years of experience or just learned how to play an instrument, modern equipment and technology make it easy to press record and quickly document all of your musical explorations.
Do you have any tips or tricks for recording music at home that I didn’t mention here? Let me know in the comments below.