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I enjoy producing house music using my computer. However, I am looking to upgrade to a budget home-studio; mainly because I am interested in recording vocals. I am aware that I require various equipment, such as a:

  • Microphone
  • Audio Interface
  • Studio Monitors
  • Headphones (though not strictly necessary, it gives me flexibility to alternate between headphones and studio monitors)

... along with other equipment. Apparently, it seems to be possible to purchase some of this equipment, as part of an all-in-one pack, as can be seen here. At the same time, it is also possible to purchasse all of this equipment seperately. Therefore, my questions are:

Which option presents better value-for-money?

Which option will result in better quality?

Of course, I am aware that it depends on which exact equipment you purchase, but I would just like to know the general consensus. Thanks for your comments in advance.

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Headphones are not really optional for recording vocals, because you don't want the backing tracks to bleed into the vocal mic (usually).

Also, you should look at some kind of acoustic treatment. The best thing to have would be a walk-in closet where you can set up the vocal mic and headphones and put up some treatment to diffuse and absorb sound to reduce early reflections.

Regarding packages versus buying it in pieces - buying microphones, monitors, and headphones are all like buying musical instruments. No one instrument is the right one for every musician. You want to look at your budget and then get what makes the most sense to you. The problem with any package is that if you pick a package based on the headphones you like, then you're stuck with whatever microphone comes with it, or vice-versa. I don't see them really saving you much money either, especially if you get sick of one component quickly and want to replace it soon.

On that last point, it's better to buy quality equipment that will last and sounds good than to get something inexpensive that you'll want to replace, since the latter will cost you more in the long run.

The most affordable vocal microphone that you will almost certainly never want to get rid of is the Shure SM-58. It has a reputation as a live vocal mic but does get used on major albums, like Achtung Baby by U2. It would certainly work for House music. If your budget is bigger than that, look for classic microphones, not "affordable" microphones. Re-20, MD-421, SM-7, SM-57, AT-4033, C-451, are all good examples of classic mics at non-ridiculous prices.

If you can invest $80+ or so on headphones from AKG, Sennheiser, or Audio-Technica (depending on your preference), those should last and continue to please you for several years.

Audio interfaces still tend to become obselete after 2 - 5 years, so this is one area where I would look a little more towards saving money. Focusrite and PreSonus make some decent low cost interfaces.

Monitors are hard to buy, because under at least $1000 a pair they are full of design compromises and are just speakers sold by music retailers. Once you get up to the $1500 per pair and up market, it does become partly preference and partly a choice of which compromises you prefer. At the lower price points, I wouldn't worry too much about getting the best product, because they are all going to be difficult to trust.

  • Most of this is very good advice, but as a vocalist, I disagree on getting an SM-58 or other dynamic microphone for recording vocals, because they are not going to capture the high end of your voice like a condenser microphone. The more frequencies you capture in your initial recording, the less processing you have to do, the better your final product. – Simon White Feb 11 '16 at 21:31
  • @SimonWhite Condensor mics are very popular for vocals. More high end is not always better, in fact, the more high end you capture the odds are the more processing you'll have to do, not less. Processing cannot add frequency response, only take it away. If you capture the sound you want in the final mix, then you've saved yourself a lot of time in the mix stage. Many Grammy-winning and top-selling recordings have dynamic mics used on vocals, including the best-selling album of all time, Thriller, on which a Shure SM-7B was used for vocals on most of the songs, including "Billie Jean". – Todd Wilcox Feb 11 '16 at 23:20
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Certain Packages offers greater saving.

Before going and purchasing anything few things have to be part of the decision.

In any kind of studio or Music Production... If input is a necessary then our gain stage or Pre amp and convertor are of utmost importance. Also the monitors as they give us reference.

Audio is goes in--- Analog to Digital Conversion {Here the quantisation process- where all the continuous analog data is made into discreet digital steps} is very important and 'Sound Card' is the important element in the chain specially in Home studio setup!

at the same time Speakers aka monitors play an important role as they give you reference of your production decision you took in the box and possibility of translation of the mix ie how it will sound in headphone computer speaker, night club etc.

Bundle deal is nice if all the components is what you need for your individual requirement. Do not sacrifice on Sound card and Monitors only cause they were few $$ cheaper in the bundle.

  • 1
    I don't think I understand what you're trying to say... – Mr Chasi Nov 13 '15 at 9:01
  • All i mean is do a little research on the the products you want to buy. Avoid jumping in to the bundle deal only because they are cheap. Whatever hardware you'll buy pay extra attention to the SoundCard (ADDA) and Monitors as they will play very very critical role. And microphones and headphones can be bought in plenty over period of time. But Sound Card and Monitors are long time investment. – Akash Nov 14 '15 at 9:13

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