How I Put Together a Home Studio on a Budget

If you are anything like me, and you love to write and record your own music, then it is super important for you to save costs wherever you can. Unless you have tons of money, you may not have all the resources to be able to go out and spend the megabucks to get your songs done.

Before you get going, make sure you have a good computer, with plenty of memory. The more memory you have, the lower the latency.

Whatever you choose for your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), pick something that is commonly used, whether it be Protools, Logic Pro, or BandLab. I use Sonar for my DAW, which has now become Bandlab. My DAW came with some decent plugins, which I do use in my set up. I mainly use Sonar’s EQ and reverb on occasion.

When it comes to adding additional plugins for your DAW, I would suggest finding the best bang for your buck. In my case, I started by looking at free ones, of which there are many available.  Keep in mind that most of the free plugins are not good enough for someone trying to produce professional music. However, after doing a lot of testing,  I was able to stumble across a few that I would say are surprisingly good quality. Here are the free plugins I typically use in my setup:

  • Antress Modern Compressor
  • Antress Limiter
  • Braindoc Pitch Shifter
  • Synth Edit Auto Pan
  • Bram Mad Shifta
  • Magnus Ambience
  • GSnap
  • YouLean Loudness Meter
  • Tal Dub III
  • Tal Tube
  •  Vlag Sound Limiter 6
  • 4 Front Bass
  • Piano One
  • Electro Studio Davo Synth
  • Electro Studio Model Pro
  • Z3ta+ 1

Along with my DAWs plugins and the free ones I mentioned above, I have also invested in T-Racks 5. Since I am conservative, and I did not have to spend over $100.00 on these, I totally went for it! These plugins are really good for mastering and other things. Once I added T-Racks 5, all of a sudden my songs went to the next level! Here are the T-Racks 5 plugins I am using:

  • TR5 Equal
  • TRS Classic EQ
  • TR5 Classic Comp
  • TR5 Classic Multiband Limiter
  • TR5 Dyna-Mu
  • TR5 Classic Clipper
  • TR5 Master Match

The next thing I added was a great set of reference monitors. I am using KRK Rokit 5 monitors.

For my outboard rack mount gear I invested in the following:

  • M-Audio Ultra 8R
  • Behringer Ultra Patch Pro
  • Line 6 POD pro
  • AKG perception 220

The final thing I will mention, which I use a lot for bass, keyboard, synths and drums, is a Yamaha MX 49.

Whatever plugins and gear you use in your studio setup, I think you have to find what works best for you. Do not go out and buy everything all at once. Rather, stay on the pay as you go plan. Keep a modest budget, and save money whenever possible, until you get to the point where you can justify paying for that Karma super studio!


Author: Paul Arow

Paul Arow is a gifted singer/songwriter who arranges and produces quality music. The music is easy-listening, country rock, blues and light rock written in a classic style. Paul has had a lifelong love of music and started writing songs during high school and then became a member of the Arizona Song Writers Association. His involvement with this association helped to hone his song writing skills. He is currently an independent producer/ recording artist.

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