Budgeting for Home Recording Studio Equipment
Regardless of the industry sector or creative background you come from prior to the start of your voice acting career, the purchase of a professional-grade home recording studio is the largest, most tangible investment.
Home recording studio equipment used to be an expensive investment, but today, it’s more affordable than ever. This is good news for voice actors, the majority of whom now work from home. If you’re in the process of setting up or upgrading your home recording studio, fret not—there are small changes you can make that won’t break the bank to have all of the home studio recording equipment you will need to produce high-quality audio.
Most people can build a decent home recording studio for a minimum of $2,000. In fact, our recent State of Voice Over Report shows that 46% of voice actors have invested under $1,000 on their home studio recording gear.
With the advent of new, more efficient technologies, the costs associated with building a top-tier audio recording studio have plummeted, making some aspects of the previously unattainable multimillion-dollar studios of a decade ago available today.
What you’ll find in this article is:
- A start-up cost chart for all the equipment you need to set up a home recording space
- Five tips from an audio expert on how and where you can save money
- Additional tips and tricks for setting up a formidable budget home studio
Home Studio Start-up Cost Analysis
For a quick analysis of start-up costs based on a professional home-based recording studio, check out the chart below. This table shows you the high-end costs, some of which you may not immediately need when you build your in-home studio. Others you may have already purchased.
|Category of Expense||Entry Level||Professional|
Apple iMac 24″ 2022Apple M1 Chip8-Core CPU7-Core GPU256GB Storage256GB storage¹8GB unified memory24-inch 4.5K Retina display²Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports
Apple Mac Pro3.5GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.0GHz32GB (4x8GB) of DDR4 ECC memoryRadeon Pro 580X with 8GB of GDDR5 memory256GB SSD storageStainless steel frame with feetMagic MouseMagic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad – US English
Display included with iMac
Apple Pro Display XDR32-inch Retina 6K. Astonishing colour accuracy. Super-wide viewing angle. And Extreme Dynamic Range.
|External Monitor Stand||$0.00|
Display included with iMac
Pro StandHeight, tilt, rotation — it’s completely adjustable.
Audacity or ProTools Free
Adobe Audition 12 Months
Rode Nt USB
Neumann TLM 103
Not Needed for USB Microphones
Mobile Phone Headphones
AKG K 240 Semi-Open Studio Headphones
PreSonus Eris E3.5-3.5″ Professional Multimedia Reference Monitors with Acoustic Tuning
KRK RP5-G4 Rokit 5 Generation 4 Powered Studio Monitor
Wood Microphone Isolation Shield – Vocal Booth & Studio Recording Acoustic Panel
|Accessories, Adapters, and Cables||$100||$300|
|Total Budget for Home Studio||$2,329.00||$27,797|
Get Home Recording Studio Equipment on a Budget
The above chart is just a guide. Audio expert Bob Breen from Armor Pro Audio shares how you can best set up your voice over recording studio while sticking to your budget, which means being able to get what you need for far less than the $2,300 quoted above.
These five tips will help you to acquire the best studio gear, illuminating where you can save money and where you should spend a little bit more, in order to produce the best voice over recordings.
Take a quick peek at this short video with Bob Breen for a run-through of what gear considerations should be top of mind and how they relate to your budget.
1. Get the Best Microphone You Can Afford
When it comes to building a studio, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with the tech and gear that’s on the market. So if you’re wondering where to start, Bob recommends beginning with the gear that matters most to voice recording: your microphone. Shop around to find the right microphone for your voice.
“Spend a bit of money on your microphone, as this is one of the most important pieces of equipment you will need,” says Bob.
After you’ve acquired a great mic, move on to finding good quality cables and a preamp. These important pieces of equipment will play a large role in the quality of sound you are able to capture in the studio.
Don’t know what mic options are available? Check out our blog on the Top Mics for Voice Actors.
2. Home Recording Studio Gear Tip: Skimp on Audio Recording Software
While the software you are using to record your audio is important, there are many different types of recording software available–including free audio recording software.
When it comes to expensive software versus inexpensive software, the price doesn’t necessarily play a major factor in how the software operates.
Bob says, “Free software manipulates audio just as well as expensive software, especially the recorded human voice.”
They all essentially perform the same functions, so this is one area where you can cut back on your costs.
3. Get a Great Set of Headphones
Next is the output of the audio. You will want to spend a bit more of your budget on a decent set of headphones.
“It’s great to record with headphones on so that you can hear exactly how your voice will sound,” says Bob.
Using headphones will allow you to hear if you are making any unwanted sounds with your mouth or if there is any other interference in your voice recording.
4. Save on Speakers
Speakers are a piece of equipment that you can save a bit of money on. Bob mentions that all speakers essentially function the same, so whether you spend a lot or a little bit of money on your speakers is entirely up to you. However, you’ll want to experiment with the placement of your speakers in your room. Eighty percent of what you hear is going to be the room noise, so Bob recommends experimenting with where the speakers sound best.
Bob suggests focusing on things like the microphone and preamp before other pieces of equipment like your computer or software. You can always upgrade anything else at a later time once you at least have the main components.
5. Buy Used!
There is no shortage of second-hand equipment looking for a good home. Cut down some of your costs by purchasing gently used recording studio equipment.
Here’s a few ways you can tell if the equipment is worth the asking price and will happily meet your needs:
- Check physical condition in the ad: Always assess the physical condition in the ad, ask the seller to describe the condition, or arrange to check it out before committing to the purchase.
- Ensure the item is as described: Check for scratches, dents, loose items, and quality.
- Pay attention to brand name: It’s worthwhile to note that brand names the likes of Shure, Neumann, and Digi002 are high-end, and may command a higher price.
- Get an idea of how the equipment has been used: Ask where the item was purchased, how much it was purchased for, and when it was purchased.
Knowing these variables will give you the leverage you need to decide whether the equipment is priced fairly. You can also request a copy of the original receipt. Ask for original boxes, warranties, and user guides.
Other Tips and Tricks for Building Your Own Recording Studio
Having the right setup and the right equipment is key to building out a successful voice over recording studio.
Once you get your hands on all of the essential pieces of gear, Bob has a little advice on how your setup should be created.
- In order to soundproof your space effectively, make a fabric panel and put a layer of insulation behind it. You can probably get away with spending under $300 to do this, depending on the size of your studio space.
- Avoid using eggshell foam insulation, which tends to be a popular choice in terms of trying to soundproof a studio space, as it will take away the high-end sound that you need.
“You’re just as well off to put some insulation in the corners and hang blankets on the walls,” recommends Bob. “If you do hang a bunch of blankets around the room, just be sure to space them out about 1 inch apart from each other.”
- Make sure you seal all the way around the doors so that no sound gets out. You can buy an inexpensive weather-proofing plastic ‘sweep’ for under your doors from your local hardware store.
- If your air conditioner or heating system is making a lot of noise, you can replace your metal ducting with flex tubing that has insulation on it. This is a fairly cheap way to cut down the airflow noise.
Building a voice over recording studio that works well for you and gives you great quality sound recordings doesn’t have to be an expensive project. There are simple fixes to locking external noise out of the room and providing you with budget-friendly soundproofing.
Remember, your focus should be on getting a good quality mic that highlights your talent. Everything else can be upgraded once you start to turn your voice over work into a lucrative career.
Remember: Putting Care and Attention into Building Your Home Recording Studio Can Pay Off
Home studio equipment doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Plus, as studio technology progresses, professional-quality gear becomes cheaper, and thanks to the internet, finding solutions to any roadblocks you may face is only one search query away.
Once you get up and running, don’t be surprised if you discover how fun it can be to have your own equipment. You can play and experiment, get creative, and maybe even discover a new skill that you can offer your clients.