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By Jeff Strong

You may think that you need to spend a ton of money to get everything you need to set up a home recording system. Fortunately, a lot of home-recording systems are available that contain many of the components you need, so that you don’t have to buy everything separately.

  • Studio-in-a-box (SIAB) systems: These are all-in-one units that have everything in them except for the sound source, input device, and monitors. For very little money (starting well under $1,000), you get almost everything you need to start recording. These types of systems are also easy for a beginner to use and are great for musicians that don’t want to spend a ton of energy tweaking their setup.

  • Computer-based systems: These systems use the processing power of your computer to record, mix, and process your music. Computer-based systems, parallel to the studio-in-a-box system, perform many of the typical recording functions at once. When you have one of these systems, you only need your sound source, your input devices, and your monitors.

  • Stand-alone systems: These systems are reminiscent of traditional recording studios in that all the pieces of gear are separate. The downside is that you have to buy all your components separately, which can cost you more than buying one of the more inclusive systems (for example, the SIAB and computer-based systems).

    For people who already have a bunch of gear, such as a mixer and signal processors, this can be a decent option because you’re buying only what you need at the time.

  • Ultra-portable systems: Ultra-portable systems are designed so that you can record nearly anywhere with little fuss. These types of systems include linear recorders and tablet computers. Like SIAB and computer-based systems, most of what you need is included so all you have to worry about are your sound sources, input devices (or not — some come with mics already), and monitors (most often just a set of headphones).