How to build a rap / hip hop home recording studio

These days it’s easier than ever to become a music star. Of course, there is a lot of “politics” in the background, but it’s never been easier to propel yourself from someone who is making music in the bedroom to a world wide phenomenon. The music industry knows it, the TV stations know it and ultimately, the music fans know it: the future of music is on the Internet. But don’t get the story twisted, in order to become famous on Youtube, you need talent and a way to record your music. I get many questions on music equipment and many of them are asking me to suggest equipment for building a hip hop home recording studio. As you know, I like to please my readers, so I decided to put together a low-budget setup that will get you started. This setup is great for other music genres, but especially for rap music.

Hip Hop home recording studio

How to buid a rap / hip hop home recording studio?

I will recommend a minimum setup of $300 that will get you started in your journey to build a hip hop home recording studio. This setup does not include the computer/laptop, since I guess you already have one. Also, you should know that this recording setup does not include the acoustic treatment of the room. If you want to go the extra mile, you should check this article on best acoustic foam products. So, let’s get started…

The microphone – $125
This is the first item in the hip hop home recording studio chain and you should not go cheap with it. For this type of low-budget recording setup, I usually recommend AT2020 as the best choice. But since its upgraded version, the AT2035 got so cheap recently (only $125 on, you should definitely consider the latter as the best choice for your home studio.

The audio interface – $109
The best possible choice for a low-cost audio interface is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 ($109.00 on Amazon). I have reviewed this interface in a previous post and let my give you the short version of that review: it’s an awesome interface at a cheap price. Focusrite is known for its award-winning preamps that offers transparency and crystal clear analog to digital conversion.

The monitors, cables, mic accessories
Unfortunately, the $300 budget is too low to consider a pair of actual studio monitors, so you’ll have to work with the ATH-M30 Professional studio monitor headphones from Audio Tehnica ($39). They can also be used when you record your vocals, but also when you mix the songs. Also, don’t forget the mic stand ($15), the 20 foot XLR Microphone Cable ($5) and the pop filter ($7).

Other stuff that you can get for free
You can make your own recording area from large egg crates that are usually free. They work great as audio insulators. For recording, you can use the Ableton Live Lite 8 software + Focusrite plugins that are included for free in the interface’s box. Don’t get too mad because you don’t have the proper monitoring speakers. You can mix the songs on the headphones, export the song to mp3 and listen to it everywhere you can (in the car, on your sound system, give it to your friends and ask for opinion). You will notice what’s missing and what needs to be adjusted in order to make it perfect.

Right now, Youtube is the main website to promote upcoming artists, but there are other alternatives like SoundCloud that are worth taking into consideration. Once you have a dope song, share it on Facebook, create a fan page, ask your friends to share it to their friends. If the song is good enough, you are one step away from celebrity. As Dr. Dre said in a commercial, “Good things come to those who work”. Don’t be disappointment if your first attempt doesn’t become a hit on the Internet. Get back in your studio and work harder, work later and put your soul into your music. That’s the ultimate recipe for success.

What’s your favorite rap studio setup?

5 thoughts on “How to build a rap / hip hop home recording studio

  1. Kev Jones

    While I understand the purpose of this article you are doing a disservice to your readers. Articles like this are why so many people waste their money on junk and never get anything close to what they are looking for. Please inform people that saving their money until they have $1500 would greatly increase the sound quality and professionalism of their craft. Trust me. UA Apollo Twin $499 used at Guitar Center, Sure SM7B $249 used at Guitar Center, and some JBL 3 monitors $129 each on Amazon with even an inexpensive DAW like Tracktion T5 $59 will give you a chance of making a quality recording. Investing in VBT $49 as a sampling/sequencing device and you are all set. For all of the people who think this is too much to spend ask yourself, do you want people to turn your music off before they can even hear you or do you want to have a chance to shine?

  2. Martha Kent Post author

    My friend, at this point I have to disagree with your comment. The setup recommended by you is far from the best choice, and it’s not even cheap. Universal Audio Apollo Twin High-Resolution Thunderbolt Interface with Realtime UAD DUO Processing has 3/5 rating stars on most websites, which means that users were not so pleased with their purchase. Also, the Sure SM7B is a Dynamic Voice Over Microphone, which means that it was not created for recording music vocals, but rather speeches. Oh, and both of the items mentioned above are really expensive.

    1. Drobz

      I know people who’re making waves with second hand 150$ setups. Thumps up to the editor of this website. Talent, drive and persistence will work just fine with that 300$ setup

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