Building a home studio on a budget

Smithers XKR

Well-known member
My own belief is that you need to set yourself a budget cap for every item, otherwise you may get carried away.

I set myself no more than £100

People may say that you will get nothing for that but I got.
Roland JV1080 with 3 plug ins for £100
Behringer stereo graphic new for £99
Behringer compressor new for £99
Alesis Midiverb 4 new for £100
Rode studio condenser mike new x2 for £100 each with frame and pop shield.
Akai S2000 sampler for £85
Alesis ADAT x2 for £80 each.

If you ferret around on the second hand market then there is a lot you can get for £100 or less if you negotiate. And even with new stuff, if you kindly make an offer to the shop then often they will negotiate.
Its a buyers market in these difficult times and the retailers need to sell, so it is always worth putting an offer in.
Obviously this gear is not industry standard but for my means then it is good.
Cheers all 😉😄👍👍
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
That seems like a really shortsighted way of assembling a studio. You're ~£850 in and you still don't have monitors or a mixer to tie everything together. How much more will you need to spend? Will the ADATs hold up or will they need repair? You can figure at least £80/hr for a shop to work on them. That part scares me the most. They would be fine if they were new, but we're talking about 30 yr old devices.

For $420 I bought a Zoom R24 new, already had a pair of Studio Projects B3s ($200) and I have two JBL305s that cost $210 for the pair. At current exchange rate, that's £708, and I can record mix, monitor, have compression and reverb. Add AKG240s for $60. I still have $160 to play with, so I can get stands, a Senn e835 and cables.

If I went used, I could probably cut that by at least $200. A couple of MXL V67Gs run about $65 each, and a couple of AKG P170s are $60 each, a used Senn 835 is $60. That's 5 mics for $300, all are usable. A Zoom R24 is $325, a Tascam DP24SD is $300 used. A pair of used MAudio BX5s, KRK RP-5 or Kali LP6s are under $200. Some stands and cables, and you can do a lot of recording for $800-850.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
A price per item is a simply crazy way to build a studio equipment collection. I had those akai samplers. I’d never, ever include one in a list now. Mine are in land fill, years back. Back then, they did things you couldn’t do. They hissed, their editing was cranky and they were just awkward. Kontakt on a computer is so far away from these old samplers as to make them dinosaurs. All that old kit is great if you are building a historic recreation of the good old days, but a studio with one reverb and one compressor is not something I’d want to go back to. I’m guessing you want a totally analogue studio, and I can see the idea with classic gear, but not with what was budget gear when new? The midiverb had a couple of good programs and I liked the composers. Not sure if the graphic is important, depends if your mixer cant do this kind of thing?

buying a 1990s video recorder chassis modified to record audio is totally bad news. I had three, two originals and one newer one and very rarely were all three ever working. They’re ticking time bombs. No spares, and worse, no local engineers who can fix the damn things. Remember parcelforce did well shipping these to and from the service centres, which no longer exist.

The Rode mics are great bits of kit, and a working Roland 1080 is nice. I have one. Not been plugged in for years.

the rest of the list is a lovely collection of kit I frankly don’t miss. When I had mine in the 90s, it was what I could afford then. I cannot see any sense in recreating what I had back then, time moved on. Old is not always good. It’s nostalgic, and great to see and read about, but not with my money. If somebody offered me the reverb, compressor, sampler and graphic for fifty quid, I’d say no. Nothing wrong with the sound. I just don’t want them.
 
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mjbphotos

What?!?
What Rode mic can you get new for 100 English pounds ($119 US dollars)? The only one I know about is the mini with USB. Not a good choice.
The Alesis Midiverb 4 sells for that amount USED. The Behr outboard gear? Why? Don't scrimp on cheap outboard gear when there are plug-ins that do the job better.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
The Rode M5s are 200 for a pair. I saw them for $170 on Amazon. I think Smithers got his NT1s for some kind of super deal. Even used, the NT1 is about $150 a pop. You can find used the NT-1a for around $100-120. They are more common, but some people feel they are too hyped and bright.

BTW, I like the M5s for recording my dreadnought Taylor. My Lauten LA120s seem to boost the bottom too much. The M5s are lighter sounding, which matches well with the guitar.
 
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Smithers XKR

Well-known member
That seems like a really shortsighted way of assembling a studio. You're ~£850 in and you still don't have monitors or a mixer to tie everything together. How much more will you need to spend? Will the ADATs hold up or will they need repair? You can figure at least £80/hr for a shop to work on them. That part scares me the most. They would be fine if they were new, but we're talking about 30 yr old devices.

For $420 I bought a Zoom R24 new, already had a pair of Studio Projects B3s ($200) and I have two JBL305s that cost $210 for the pair. At current exchange rate, that's £708, and I can record mix, monitor, have compression and reverb. Add AKG240s for $60. I still have $160 to play with, so I can get stands, a Senn e835 and cables.

If I went used, I could probably cut that by at least $200. A couple of MXL V67Gs run about $65 each, and a couple of AKG P170s are $60 each, a used Senn 835 is $60. That's 5 mics for $300, all are usable. A Zoom R24 is $325, a Tascam DP24SD is $300 used. A pair of used MAudio BX5s, KRK RP-5 or Kali LP6s are under $200. Some stands and cables, and you can do a lot of

What Rode mic can you get new for 100 English pounds ($119 US dollars)? The only one I know about is the mini with USB. Not a good choice.
The Alesis Midiverb 4 sells for that amount USED. The Behr outboard gear? Why? Don't scrimp on cheap outboard gear when there are plug-ins that do the job better.
Bought 2 NT1s and the MV, all new, for £300 all in, from Gear4Music, an online UK retailer, in a Xmas sale about 5 years ago, honest ! 😄
I bought the Behr stuff coz its good value and I dont have much to spend 👍
 

Smithers XKR

Well-known member
Bought 2 NT1s and the MV, all new, for £300 all in, from Gear4Music, an online UK retailer, in a Xmas sale about 5 years ago, honest ! 😄
I bought the Behr stuff coz its good value and I dont have much to spend 👍
Sorry, they are the NT1a, still a good deal
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I think we're trying to say yes, it's good value and you got a great deal on the mics - but the most basic DAW, even the free ones offer compression, EQ and reverbs - and there are so many free plug ins out there you won't ever be limited to just one! NT1A's are still nearly two hundred quid each - so that's not cheap on your scale?
 

Smithers XKR

Well-known member
That seems like a really shortsighted way of assembling a studio. You're ~£850 in and you still don't have monitors or a mixer to tie everything together. How much more will you need to spend? Will the ADATs hold up or will they need repair? You can figure at least £80/hr for a shop to work on them. That part scares me the most. They would be fine if they were new, but we're talking about 30 yr old devices.

For $420 I bought a Zoom R24 new, already had a pair of Studio Projects B3s ($200) and I have two JBL305s that cost $210 for the pair. At current exchange rate, that's £708, and I can record mix, monitor, have compression and reverb. Add AKG240s for $60. I still have $160 to play with, so I can get stands, a Senn e835 and cables.

If I went used, I could probably cut that by at least $200. A couple of MXL V67Gs run about $65 each, and a couple of AKG P170s are $60 each, a used Senn 835 is $60. That's 5 mics for $300, all are usable. A Zoom R24 is $325, a Tascam DP24SD is $300 used. A pair of used MAudio BX5s, KRK RP-5 or Kali LP6s are under $200. Some stands and cables, and you can do a lot of recording for $800-850.
I have a small desk, got as part of a settlement when my band broke up a couple of years ago, and I use an old pair of speakers from a home stereo, which I like and work fine.
I do get what you and Rob say about old hardware vs new DAW and free plugins, it doesnt make a lot of sense, but I drive an old gas guzzling V8 Jag instead of a modern hybrid, so that doesnt make sense either 😉😅 (Disclaimer - I only drive it 1000 miles a year and I recycle and get a new phone/TV/PC about every 8 years, so on a holistic level my carbon footprint is ok 😅😅😅👍👍)
Strangely enough Tal, actually prefer recording on the cassette based Yamaha MT8X multitracker over the ADATs, maybe it was a mistake, but for the money I paid....I will persevere with them. Have a mate who I studied electronics with back in the day who can fix anything, so not worried about repairs. I know all the theory but cant hold a soldering iron the right way round, no practical skills at all 😅

Cheers 👍
 

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mjbphotos

What?!?
Smithers - what we are getting at is your 'advice' is very one-sided. Great that you got deals on some gear a few years ago, that doesn't help anyone now and would not be what we would advise to someone starting out.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
Smithers - what we are getting at is your 'advice' is very one-sided. Great that you got deals on some gear a few years ago, that doesn't help anyone now and would not be what we would advise to someone starting out.
I think that it is always good to have all the differing points of view represented. Kind of proportional representation of the forums, so to speak.
98% of the punters wouldn't go near Smithers' advice/thoughts, but there are that 2% for whom his thoughts are the way to go. Just because you don't subscribe to it, that's no reason to leave that 2% out in the wilderness.
I say, each to their own. And let's hear about them all.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
A price per item is a simply crazy way to build a studio equipment collection
It's not really. Are you opposed to a disciplinary price cap or the fact that it's £100 ?
Assume that the person pursuing that kind of direction has a fairly good idea of what they want, but not tons of cash.
At the end of the day, all that matters is whether one likes the music they put out. If you like their music, how much their gear cost is as relevant as whether Rishi Sunak's trousers look too short. Dang, he's the prime minister !
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
My own belief is that you need to set yourself a budget cap for every item, otherwise you may get carried away
I personally wouldn't do this although I understand the reasons for doing so. The reason I wouldn't do this is because I might not find that which I need if I impose a price cap. What if you want something and you've set your cap, but it costs an additional £40 ?
I do agree that there has long been, in home recording, too big an emphasis on gear and cost. I advocate balance and a person's choice.
 

Smithers XKR

Well-known member
I personally wouldn't do this although I understand the reasons for doing so. The reason I wouldn't do this is because I might not find that which I need if I impose a price cap. What if you want something and you've set your cap, but it costs an additional £40 ?
I do agree that there has long been, in home recording, too big an emphasis on gear and cost. I advocate balance and a person's choice.
I am starting to get a bit hurt by all of these verbal slap downs here 😟 I never set out to upset anyone and I certainly do not want to pass off my opinions as any sort of fact or what people should do. I was just sharing my own personal experience on a budget. I think now I will just keep my gob shut.
Thanks for your support Grim
🥰😅😉👍
 

Smithers XKR

Well-known member
I personally wouldn't do this although I understand the reasons for doing so. The reason I wouldn't do this is because I might not find that which I need if I impose a price cap. What if you want something and you've set your cap, but it costs an additional £40 ?
I do agree that there has long been, in home recording, too big an emphasis on gear and cost. I advocate balance and a person's choice.
What I should have really said is that the £100 is a benchmark, not a limit. So if something is £140 and really good value then yeh cool. I just dont want to fall out with anybody here. I am a musician and do not know a fraction of what tech guys know here. I came here to learn, not to get engaged in conflict, so I apologise
 
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Smithers XKR

Well-known member
Smithers - what we are getting at is your 'advice' is very one-sided. Great that you got deals on some gear a few years ago, that doesn't help anyone now and would not be what we would advise to someone starting out.
My MO was never to trumpet on about the deals I got or to say people should follow my advice mj, it was merely to talk of my experience and that you can build a decent studio on a budget for people like me who do not have a lot of money to spend. So I apologise
 
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TalismanRich

Well-known member
Relax Smithers, We're not really trying to rag on you, well maybe a bit. :-) I think most people's feelings here are that you don't have to spend a fortune to get decent sound, but you need to look at alternative paths to the target. Setting arbitrary limits like that might cause you to miss some really excellent gear that fits a need.

I've read tons of threads that basically say you need to spend about $3000-5000 on a mic or 2, $2500 each on a pair of mic preamps, plus another $3000 for a compressor, and another $5000 on an AD/DA converter. If you don't have $20,000 to sink in a very basic system, then all you will get is garbage. I would rag on that one just a much as the $100 is the limit approach.

Luckily, we're at a point where you can get high quality sound from a $1000-1500 system. When you think that in 1976 buying a Teac 3340 alone cost you about $1000 with no mixer, mics, or anything else (and that's in 1976 dollars when you were lucky if you made $4/hr), being able to do an 8 channel recording with monitors and everything you need AND with very high fidelity for that price is simply amazing.

At this point, I've spent far more than I had planned on recording gear, but that's because it's one of my few hobbies, and at this point in my life, I can afford to do it. Yeah, I could buy a U87 tomorrow, but from what I have heard, it would not give me 10 times the performance of my NT-1 or my Miktek 300. My Tascam interface sounds great to me. My Zoom makes excellent recordings for a relatively paltry sum. Quality doesn't always follow the price.

One thing that hasn't changed over the years is that recording garbage is the same in both 1976 and 2022. The quality starts with the source material.
 

Smithers XKR

Well-known member
Relax Smithers, We're not really trying to rag on you, well maybe a bit. :-) I think most people's feelings here are that you don't have to spend a fortune to get decent sound, but you need to look at alternative paths to the target. Setting arbitrary limits like that might cause you to miss some really excellent gear that fits a need.

I've read tons of threads that basically say you need to spend about $3000-5000 on a mic or 2, $2500 each on a pair of mic preamps, plus another $3000 for a compressor, and another $5000 on an AD/DA converter. If you don't have $20,000 to sink in a very basic system, then all you will get is garbage. I would rag on that one just a much as the $100 is the limit approach.

Luckily, we're at a point where you can get high quality sound from a $1000-1500 system. When you think that in 1976 buying a Teac 3340 alone cost you about $1000 with no mixer, mics, or anything else (and that's in 1976 dollars when you were lucky if you made $4/hr), being able to do an 8 channel recording with monitors and everything you need AND with very high fidelity for that price is simply amazing.

At this point, I've spent far more than I had planned on recording gear, but that's because it's one of my few hobbies, and at this point in my life, I can afford to do it. Yeah, I could buy a U87 tomorrow, but from what I have heard, it would not give me 10 times the performance of my NT-1 or my Miktek 300. My Tascam interface sounds great to me. My Zoom makes excellent recordings for a relatively paltry sum. Quality doesn't always follow the price.

One thing that hasn't changed over the years is that recording garbage is the same in both 1976 and 2022. The quality starts with the source material.
Thanks Tal...

Sure, thats right .... GIGO

I get it and appreciate the advice. Just dont like it when someone cuts my head off. Perhaps I need to curb my enthusiasm and throttle back and chill with my opinions a bit, guilty as charged mate.

Thanks 😉😉👍
 

Smithers XKR

Well-known member
Relax Smithers, We're not really trying to rag on you, well maybe a bit. :-) I think most people's feelings here are that you don't have to spend a fortune to get decent sound, but you need to look at alternative paths to the target. Setting arbitrary limits like that might cause you to miss some really excellent gear that fits a need.

I've read tons of threads that basically say you need to spend about $3000-5000 on a mic or 2, $2500 each on a pair of mic preamps, plus another $3000 for a compressor, and another $5000 on an AD/DA converter. If you don't have $20,000 to sink in a very basic system, then all you will get is garbage. I would rag on that one just a much as the $100 is the limit approach.

Luckily, we're at a point where you can get high quality sound from a $1000-1500 system. When you think that in 1976 buying a Teac 3340 alone cost you about $1000 with no mixer, mics, or anything else (and that's in 1976 dollars when you were lucky if you made $4/hr), being able to do an 8 channel recording with monitors and everything you need AND with very high fidelity for that price is simply amazing.

At this point, I've spent far more than I had planned on recording gear, but that's because it's one of my few hobbies, and at this point in my life, I can afford to do it. Yeah, I could buy a U87 tomorrow, but from what I have heard, it would not give me 10 times the performance of my NT-1 or my Miktek 300. My Tascam interface sounds great to me. My Zoom makes excellent recordings for a relatively paltry sum. Quality doesn't always follow the price.

One thing that hasn't changed over the years is that recording garbage is the same in both 1976 and 2022. The quality starts with the source material.
I wont be buying any more old gear Rob. The only reason I got the Akai S2000 was that it was cheap for £80 and filled the final 2 units in my rack! Dickhead? Yes 😅😅
What is the most cost effective interface for my Rode Condensers for DAW? Can you get a plugin virtual DAW PC mike interface instead of hardware?

Thanks 😉👍
 
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