So you want to build your own bedroom music studio. This is a fantastic idea that can allow your creativity to thrive at a rate you’ve never seen before. Imagine being able to roll out of bed upon waking, or with a sudden surge of creative energy in the middle of the night, and start making music instantly…
You also won’t have to spend a single solitary cent on recording studio time (unlike shoegaze band My Bloody Valentine who nearly bankrupted their label making their album Loveless)!
I’ve been making music from the comfort of my bedroom for close to a decade now and I’m here to steer you in the right direction to the best equipment for making music from your bedroom. There are some important considerations to make and some things that are must-haves to do this that I’ll share with you.
Just how much easier would it be to make more music and gain more success when everything you need is in reaching distance? Just ask Kevin Parker of Tame Impala – he got his start in music in exactly this way. In fact, he’s the inspiration for this very article.
What equipment do you need to build an at-home recording studio? If you’re new to recording music, it can seem complicated. Do I need “this”, do I need “that”? The answer is a lot simpler than you think.
In addition, if you have a small bedroom then you’ll want to build your music studio layout strategically. This can be a challenge, as I’ve discovered over the years, so I’ll help you out with some design ideas to build a functional, productive and inspiring small bedroom music studio at the end of the article.
Soon enough, you may be hitting the stage (in your best rockstar clothes, no doubt), sharing with the world the amazing things you’ve crafted at home.
Let’s break down the 7 pieces of equipment for making music you need to get started. More good news: that number will be less depending on the genre of music you’re making, so check out the table below for a quick guide and I’ll see you down below!
|GENRE||EQUIPMENT YOU NEED|
|Rock & Metal||Interface
Microphone (w/ stand & pop filter)
DAW & Laptop
Studio Desk & Chair
Microphone (w/ stand & pop filter)
DAW & Laptop
Studio Desk & Chair
Microphone (w/ stand & pop filter)
DAW & Laptop
Studio Desk & Chair
|Electronic/EDM/Hip Hop Beatmaking||Interface
DAW & Laptop
Studio Desk & Chair
1/4 Inch Cable
Microphone x2 (w/ stands & pop filter)
DAW & Laptop
Studio Desk & Chair
The 7 Pieces of Equipment to Get Your Bedroom Music Studio On-Point!
1. Recording Interface – Capture the Sound
This is the crucial bit of equipment for making music that you need. Without it, you cannot record music. It would be like trying to film a movie without a camera.
What it does is it captures the audio from your microphone, or from your instrument directly (e.g. if you’re recording guitar/bass/keyboard without an amplifier). Then it allows the sound to make it to your computer/laptop and be recorded.
If you’ve never used one before, then they can look a little intimidating, but they actually couldn’t be any simpler…
- You plug your microphone or guitar lead into the front of the interface, then plug the USB cable attached into your computer/laptop.
- You then adjust the volume knob so that when you make the loudest sound possible, the light on the knob doesn’t turn red or orange. It can sound nasty if you don’t!
- Hit record in your DAW (recording program – more on this step coming up!)
Which Recording Interface Should I Get?
My favourite interface that I still use to this day is the Focusrite Scarlett Solo. This interface couldn’t be any easier to operate. This is important when your creativity is firing – you don’t want to have the creative process slowed down by technical issues.
As an added bonus, Focusrite interfaces come with FREE recording software, sounds and plug-ins!
If You’re a Drummer…
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is great for most people, but if you’re a drummer or aim to be recording full bands, then you may want to consider upgrading to either:
The reason for this is that the Scarlett Solo only has one microphone input, which means that all your amazing drum performances will only be able to be captured with one microphone. This will severely limit your options when mixing.
Generally for drum recording you want a microphone on the snare, kick drum & two overheads. And this is at a minimum. For a professional recording, you’ll be using up to 8 microphones to record a drum kit. Go with the Scarlett 18i8 or the Scarlett 18i20 depending on how many mics you’ll be using to record your drum kit.
If You’re a Solo Artist/Singer-Songwriter…
There’s also an important consideration if you’re a solo artist/singer-songwriter and want to record live solo performances (for YouTube or Instagram). You’ll want to have an interface with 2 microphone inputs to do that. One microphone for your vocals, and one microphone to record your guitar – either pointed at your amp, or pointed at your guitar (if it’s an acoustic).
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is perfect for the solo artist, coming with 2 microphone inputs (as opposed to just 1 in the Scarlett Solo)!
Here’s a quick breakdown to help you pick:
|Focusrite Scarlett Solo||1x Microphone Input
1x Instrument Input
Great for solo artists that record by multi-tracking/overdubbing
|Focusrite Scarlett 2i2||2x Microphone Input
2x Instrument Input
Great for live solo performances (acoustic artists)
|Focusrite Scarlett 18i8||4x Microphone Input
4x Instrument Input
Great for a basic minimalist drum kit recording
|Focusrite Scarlett 18i20||8x Microphone Input
8x Instrument Input
Great for a professional drum recording or for recording a live band
Check Scarlett 18i8 Current Price!
Check Scarlett 18i20 Current Price!
Pick whichever interface works best for you, based off of how many microphones you’ll be recording, and get creating!
2. Microphone – Record the Sound
No bedroom music studio would be complete without a microphone! Sure, you can get away without one if you’re just a guitarist by plugging directly into your computer and using virtual amps (I’ll get into that topic shortly). You’re completely out of luck if you need to record vocals though!
A good quality microphone will make a huge difference in the quality of your music. Your life will be a lot easier during the mixing process if your recordings sound good!
Which Microphone Should I Get?
I’m a big fan of having a good all-round microphone when you’re starting out. If you’re a beginner, you probably don’t want to (or need to) invest heaps of money into a variety of microphones for every different purpose.
An absolutely classic microphone, famous for being an amazing all-rounder is the Shure SM57. You’ll find this microphone being used in studios all over the world for guitars, drums – even vocals!
In fact, I even recorded an entire album with just this microphone alone. I’d almost go as far as saying this is the best mic for bedroom recording, because it’s such a versatile workhorse (they’re famously hard to break).
You Might Need a Mic Stand
You’ll also need a microphone stand to place your microphone on when recording too (vocals, and when mic’ing up your guitar amp). In my opinion, hand-held microphone vocal recording should generally be avoided unless you have good microphone technique. You might accidentally tug on the lead, which would cause a ‘bump’ sound in the recording, and you generally can’t record hand-held with a pop filter (which is my next point).
Cheap mic stands will break within a year (I’ve been there and done that), but this one is affordable and good quality.
Chuck it on a stand, hit record, shut your eyes and belt it out.
Don’t Forget a Pop Filter for Vocal Recording!
Pop filters are a crucial element you need when recording vocals. Yet it’s one of the most overlooked bits of equipment for making music. If you don’t have one, then things will sound cheap and nasty. Speaking of cheap, the good news is that these are super cheap!
It’s a little device you clip over your microphone that filters out all of the B and P sounds (called ‘plosives’). When you make these sounds, you push more air out of your mouth and this overloads the microphone.
You can test this out with your phone if you record your voice while you talk into it with it close to your mouth. Emphasise those B and P sounds. Sounds bad, right?
Here’s a video demonstration:
Take it from me as someone who mixes and masters music – vocals recorded WITHOUT a pop filter sound awful, no matter how good the performance is. It makes the mixing process hard and hurts the quality of your music, so get yourself a pop filter to get that professional vocal sound.
It literally doesn’t really matter which one you choose as they’re all quite good, but I like using this one.
3. DAW (& a Laptop) – Mix the Sound
When you record music, you need a program that records it. Music programs are called DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation). There’s a lot of them out there and everyone likes different ones, but there’s 2 in particular that I’ve found to be really good for different reasons.
Which DAW Should I Get?
Ableton is an amazing DAW for being creative and getting inspired. It comes loaded with virtual instruments (which you can play with your MIDI keyboard – more on that coming up!), and a bunch of powerful plugins (mini-programs inside the DAW that add effects and alter the sound).
I switched to Ableton from a different DAW a while ago now and my workflow has improved immensely. The music I make is more interesting and everything is just easier to do. Highly recommended (especially if you’re a beatmaker or make EDM).
This is the one I got started on and I still love it. I’ve spent many many hours in this little program recording and mixing multiple albums and it’s very underrated. Reaper is no-frills and easy to understand.
I’d recommend this if you want something a bit more stripped down (e.g. if you’re new to mixing or just record acoustic music). I’ve also found that it has less of a learning curve compared to Ableton, so it would be a great option to get started.
Now unless you’re a time-traveller working on analog equipment from 1976, or a cool indie slacker rocker recording direct to tape, you’re probably going to need a laptop or computer for music production.
Mixing and recording music can take up a lot of processing power, so you want to ensure you have a laptop with enough RAM to handle this process. The best laptop and computer for music production out there will do the job.
I remember how annoying it was when I was starting out and had a piece of junk laptop that couldn’t handle the DAW I was running. It was a glitchy nightmare that made it incredibly difficult to make music.
The more RAM your laptop has, the better. The ideal to shoot for is 16GB of RAM or above. You might see advice on the internet that 8GB is enough, but I’ve been there and it definitely wasn’t. Things would freeze or crash entirely, and even just opening up mix sessions was a tedious process.
Latency problems were also common (the audio you record being out of sync with the music you’re playing to – excruciating to deal with!). Now that I have 16GB of RAM, I have no issues whatsoever.
BONUS TIP: Get Yourself a Mouse Too…
Also trust me on this, get yourself a wireless mouse. Mixing music with just a touchpad is very very inconvenient. So many of the damn sliders in plugins are tiny and fat fingers are prone to skidding around on the pad!
You may be used to using the touchpad, but trust me, once you get yourself a mouse you’ll wonder how you ever got anything done on just a touchpad alone. I didn’t get one until years into making music and I wish I saved myself the frustration.
Which Music Laptop Should I Get?
If you like Apple, then get yourself an Apple MacBook Pro. If you like Windows more, then get yourself a Dell XPS 13. Both of those laptops are famous for being the best laptops for music production, so you’ll be off-and-running making musical masterpieces fast. It absolutely does not matter if you get Apple or Windows, despite what people may try to tell you.
Don’t let technology marketers over-complicate this for you: just make sure to get yourself a laptop with at least 16GB of RAM and don’t worry about other technical mumbo-jumbo, or whether it can make you coffee, or whether it tells you you’re doing a good job – that actually would be pretty nice (you are doing a good job, by the way, and your music matters, my friend).
4. Studio Headphones – Hear the Sound
Now what’s the use in trying to mix your music if you can’t actually hear it? You’re gonna need some headphones, or you’re literally taking a stab in the dark.
You could also invest in some studio monitors, but I probably wouldn’t really bother attempting to do that in a small bedroom music studio unless you do some acoustic treatment. Even then, the small space will still be a huge challenge to overcome. Just grab yourself some good headphones to get started.
I have two different bits of advice for two different types of people:
- if you’re just recording your music and sending it off to be mixed by someone else – you can get away with a budget pair of headphones
- if you’re going to be mixing and mastering music – you DON’T want to cheap out and mess this step up!
If you have poor quality headphones, you will make poor quality mix decisions.
Which Studio Headphones Should I Get?
This is so vital because you need your headphones to be giving you the realest “picture” of what the music sounds like. This means that they need to have a flat frequency response (no, your Beats by Dre with jacked-up bass are not going to do the job, sadly).
I remember starting out and mixing on budget headphones and being confused as to why my mixes wouldn’t translate across different listening devices.
Turns out that the headphones I was mixing on were obscuring the actual reality of how the music sounded, so I was making bad mix decisions based off a bad representation of what I was working on.
This all completely changed when I got some good studio headphones. The whole process sped right up and I would never go back to mixing without them.
These Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro studio headphones are a very popular and classic choice. They have super high sound quality, they’re super comfortable, and they’re a super great choice for your studio.
5. Instruments/Amplifier – Make the Sound
I assume you already have this one already, but obviously instruments are a must-have for a bedroom music studio! I’m a multi-instrumentalist, so I always have a few key instruments within reaching distance so I can make music with ease. If you’re a guitarist, you should definitely get some effects pedals too.
This is also important if you want to turn your studio into a business instead of just a hobby. Having good quality instruments and a good amp for the artist/s to play when they come in to record is a great way to get more clients and stand out from everyone else. It’s always better to spend a bit more money up-front and get the best equipment for making music straight away, so you don’t have to re-buy/upgrade everything later on down the track.
Generally, to cover all your bases you’ll want these 5 things (I’m going to leave out drums here, because you may not have the space in your bedroom for a drum kit):
- electric guitar
- acoustic guitar
- bass guitar
- guitar amp
These 5 things will have you covered for almost all styles of music. Obviously you don’t need all of them (depending on your genre), but having these things available to you will:
- speed up your workflow
- give you more musical options and sounds
- allow you to create better music.
Which Instruments/Amp Should I Get?
This is a very individual decision to make, as everyone gravitates towards different brands. I’ll give you a quick rundown of what I use/have had success with/would vouch for in just a second, but first, something that you should definitely consider getting is a MIDI keyboard…
MIDI Keyboards – Unlock Endless Sounds
Basically, you connect this to your computer and it will allow you to pick and choose new keyboard sounds within your DAW. The sounds you can suddenly unlock with one is absolutely endless, and you can even download recreations of vintage synths online (the ones that cost thousands in real life).
You’re not just limited to whatever sounds your keyboard has programmed into it, and you can also program drum beats in by hand too!
When I was at music school, all of the rooms had Alesis V49s in them. I found them very intuitive and easy to use, and the drum pads and filter knobs unlocked new musical possibilities. They’re dirt-cheap and I would absolutely recommend getting one.
Now here’s my gear:
I use a Fender Stratocaster as my main guitar. It’s an absolutely unbeatable and iconic guitar that’s used in just about every genre. You can’t go wrong here (ever heard of a little guy named Jimi Hendrix?). Must-have.
If you’re just getting started out, then feel free to grab a budget Fender Squier Stratocaster instead – just don’t expect the same quality as the real deal.Check Current Price!
I don’t really make acoustic music, so my acoustic is still the first one I ever owned! It does the job for me, but I’m not going to sit here and recommend it.
However, a great acoustic guitar that I would recommend is a Tanglewood Roadster. One of my old bandmates owns one and he makes acoustic folk music, so I think he knows his stuff! To me, a guitar player of over 10 years, it’s a fantastic acoustic guitar, with a really nice tone, and it’s really easy to play. It’s also extremely affordable too!Check Current Price!
I use a Behringer Deepmind 12 and this thing is seriously astonishing. It’s the best alternative to the iconic Roland Juno-6 that I’ve found (for less than half the price) and the possibilities with it are quite literally endless. It also has a MIDI-out, so you can access more sounds (like I discussed above). Your bedroom music studio will thank you for adding this endless creativity machine to it.Check Current Price!
I own a Hofner Ignition Bass and I love love love it. It’s the same bass that Paul McCartney used in The Beatles, and it’s having a big resurgence from Kevin Parker of Tame Impala using it.
I love its thumpy, rubbery sound and it’s incredibly playable. By far the easiest bass to play that I’ve found, so you’ll look like a way better bass player with this!
Read my full review of the Hofner Ignition Bass right hereCheck Current Price!
I use a Vox Valvetronix. In my opinion, this is the best bedroom guitar amp you can get. Other people may suggest getting a tiny practice amp, but these are uninspiring and not very useful for recording.
It’s a half tube/half solid-state amp and it has the best of both worlds. The tubes/valves will give you that vintage analog feel, while the solid-state aspect brings you some great inbuilt effects and different amp sounds. It also doesn’t take up half your room like a preposterous Marshall full stack will…
I’ve brought this amp to gigs over the years and shared it with the other bands on the lineup and they’ve always said great things about it. It’s not too heavy as well, which makes it incredibly easy to take in and out of the studio and transport it to rehearsals/gigs (without breaking your back in the process). So not only is it the best bedroom guitar amp (in my opinion), but it’s a great one to hit the road and play live with too.Check Current Price!
Avoid the Amp Entirely – Virtual Guitar Amps
You can also skip the amp step entirely and just use virtual amps if you’d prefer. It’s not just physical – digital equipment for making music is a thing! There’s nothing quite like hearing guitar through a real amplifier and feeling the sound in the room, and then capturing that with a microphone, but virtual amps have come a long way over the years.
6. Music Studio Desk & Office Chair – Get Comfy
You’re gonna be spending a lot of hours in your new bedroom music studio, so you want to get comfy. You may already have these things, so feel free to skip this step if you do. If you have a poor quality desk and chair though, read on…
Which Music Studio Desk Should I Get?
Your home recording studio desk should be practical, but also not too big if you’re going to be in a small bedroom. You need that precious space for all your instruments! Something minimal like this to maximise the room space would be perfect:
At a minimum, I would get a desk that has a drawer underneath (preferably a slide-out drawer), so you can keep all your little musical bits and pieces (guitar picks, guitar strings etc) and notes/lyrics book in there. You could also store your Alesis V49 MIDI keyboard in there if you picked one up, then it’s just a matter of sliding out the drawer and start playing (like the photo above).
This is going to be a process of trial and error for you, but look for the most ergonomic chair you can find. Lumbar support is important. You’ll probably be sitting in this chair for many many hours over the years, so you want to invest in something good.
In my experience, the cheap ones are absolute garbage and they WILL injure you. My neck and back are paying the price from sitting on a shitty chair from a while back, so prevent that from happening at all costs.
A good rule of thumb is that if an office worker can sit in it for 40 hours a week and be comfortable, then so will you.
One important factor that guitarists will need to consider is that the arms on a chair can get in the way of your guitar. This will lead to a really awkward posture when playing. It’s just straight-up annoying and not going to work.
Having arms at the right height on a chair is important for keeping it ergonomic and comfortable and preventing injury though (you’ll want the arms there when you’re mixing).
Look for a chair that has adjustable (or even removable) arms so you can adjust them when you’re playing guitar, and put them back when you’re mixing (or watching Louis Cole shred some tight grooves on YouTube).
Which Office Chair Should I Get?
The gold standard of office chairs is the Herman Miller Aeron. Fair warning, these are expensive but think of it as an investment in your health and future music career. Bills to go to a physiotherapist or chiropractor because you’ve caused injuries and developed bad posture over the years will eventually overtake the cost of a life-saving chair. People rave about these chairs despite the cost, so they’re clearly worth it. Just go straight for the best of the best if you can.Check Current Price!
If you’re still convinced that that’s too much to spend (I get that – I would have thought the same until it was too late), then this chair ticks all the boxes for less. Either way, kit your bedroom music studio out with comfortable furniture.
7. Music Cables – Transmit the Sound
This is absolutely NOT a sexy topic (which is why I put it last), but it’s also an absolutely necessary topic for your sexy new bedroom music studio. You need 2 specific cables/leads in order to transmit the sound from your instrument/microphone to your interface.
- Your instrument lead will need to be a 1/4 Inch Cable
- Your microphone lead will need to be an XLR Cable
Heck, your instrument will often have a 1/4 Inch Cable included in the pack. Sometimes microphones will also have an XLR Cable included (not always though – mine didn’t unfortunately!).
Which Music Cables Should I Get?
Like the pop filter, it doesn’t really matter what brand you pick, but a quality 1/4 Inch Cable will prevent unnecessary electrical hum in your recordings. Cheap Chinese cables from eBay are a no-go (I’m telling you from experience), but buy from any reputable retailer and you’ll be able to get good stuff. These are what I like to use:
Layout Ideas – Small Bedroom Music Studio
Alright, so now we’ve got all our equipment for making music and we’re ready to get our hands dirty and CREATE.
“But I live in a tiny room in a small sharehouse – how am I going to fit all this stuff?”
I’ve been in this position and we’re going to need to be strategic here.
You need to remove the unnecessary clutter from your room to maximise the free space. Anything that isn’t a bed, a side table, or music-related should go in your closet or under your bed.
Here’s a quick diagram and I’ll explain more below:
- First things first: your bed. Get that bad boy into a corner of the room. Have it on the length of the room that the door is on too (the door is dead space). My personal preference under normal circumstances is having my bed in the centre of the wall/room, but this is not going to work in a small bedroom music studio. I did this for a while. It ruined my workflow completely having to navigate the room around the bed (and stubbing my toes on the regular).
- Get your desk into the centre (or slightly off-centre) of the wall that’s parallel to your bed. Being in the middle of one side of the room allows you to access instruments on either side of your desk very quickly. No need to run all the way to the other corner to access your guitar, for example.
- Put your amp/pedals in a corner of the room to your left or to your right. Raise your amp up on a chair or a stool (I use a drum stool). Having your amp off the floor makes for a better sounding recording and you can also hear the sound of your amp better because it’s closer to your ears. If it’s on the floor, then all of the sound is shooting at your feet (and you don’t hear with your feet – I hope).
- Lastly, keep your guitar and bass on stands on either side of your desk. If you grabbed the Behringer Deepmind, then get it on a stand and put it towards the free corner of the room. If you grabbed the Alesis MIDI keyboard, then it should fit nicely under your desk.
Quick advice for you: keep all your equipment for making music set up at all times. Make it as easy as humanly possible to be creative and spontaneous. Don’t fold your microphone stand down and pack your microphone away. Don’t store your interface in your closet.
Those are unnecessary obstacles that get in the way of you getting stuff done and, in my experience, it leads to less musical output.
Have as few steps as possible between you picking up an instrument and you hitting record. The goal is to be able to just open your DAW and start recording immediately. Take the path of least resistance.
Building your own bedroom music studio is a fantastic idea. You’ll find that you’ll be more productive than ever and make more art when it’s literally right there in front of you. It’s a great option for people living in sharehouses or small bedrooms.
I know that the world of equipment for making music can be a bit intimidating if you’re new to it, but there’s no need to over-complicate it. Grab yourself the things mentioned here and you’ll be off and running and creating masterpieces in no time – all without having to spend a single cent on studio time.
Let me know what you thought of this article by dropping a comment down below. If you need any assistance in getting started with this or want more clarity or advice on getting a bedroom music studio up-and-running, then please also feel free to reach out to me directly via email if that’s more your vibe.