I recently decided to pursue my music hobby after quite a while being a dad. It is quite hard to be a dad, yet also be a rockstar musician. While I used to play in bands, and loved being a “rockstar” at gigs, being a dad there isn’t much time to pursue this. Most of the time I spent was just providing for my family, and my daughter, and I actually let my hobbies go, with all the responsibilities I had.

Well, my daughter just turned 17 last week, and perhaps doesn’t need me quite so much as she used to. She is usually in her room talking to her friends, and playing games with them, if she isn’t doing her homework, or studying. I must admit, after all these years, dedicating everything I do for her, it is a bit confronting that she now “doesn’t need me” as much, not that that is a bad thing. It is all part of her growing up. But it did make me face my passions again. I am sure most parents would relate to this.

So in these recent times, while she is busy and doesn’t spend as much time with me (and I am sure the older she gets the worse this will get), I decided to get back into my main passion, music. I do have some great guitars, one of them being a Peavey Wolfgang, the guitar designed by Eddie Van Halen that I let go rusty and dusty.

I bought this guitar over 6 years ago, but again, with my duties as a father, and working so much, i really haven’t had time to play it. So one day just before Christmas, and especially after 2020 being stuck at home with the pandemic and all, and sharing custody with my daughter’s mom, I decided it was time to get back into playing my music.

So one day, I looked at my amp, all the dust it had collected, but you see, the input connector for a patch cable was broken so I couldn’t plug my guitars into it. Now sure, I could have gone and trying to repair it, but far too difficult just to play my electric guitar. So I went out and got a new amp. The amp I chose was actually quite perfect for me to play my electric guitars again. So I bought it, and got home. I plugged my guitar in to play, but alas, I hadn’t played my guitar for so long, the strings and pickups had rusted. Damn!!

So I went back to the music shop. Luckily I found a really good one. So I returned to this music shop where I bought my new amp, and got some new guitar strings and some cleaning equipment to really polish up my old Peavey.

When I got home, and cleaned up my guitar; it took me two hours. It was good enough to play, but still needs some work. I noticed the pickups were a bit rusted. So I will have to bring it in to a place that can replace the pickups, but that will have to wait for another day. It is good enough to play again at least, even if it doesn’t sound the best.

But after I cleaned it up, it dawned on me. You see, just playing my guitar with an amp really isn’t good enough. After playing with bands, getting back to just playing on my own without all the other equipment like drums, bass guitars, etc, it just didn’t feel right. Now I could have gone out and found/formed a band, but with the pandemic and all, really wasn’t a workable solution.

I have always wanted to mix music, using my computer. I really missed playing in a band and all, so I decided to build a home recording and mixing studio. I also needed a pair of headphones, so I wouldn’t annoy the neighbours or my daughter as she sleeps in until noon, and perhaps a set of speakers for my new home recording/mixing studio. But I had no where to start.

So I went back to the music store and asked them. They showed me the latest equipment I could buy for my home studio. I thought it would cost me thousands. At this point, it wasn’t about the guitar anymore, but making REAL music. Oh dear, my passion for playing just went way through the roof, and even beyond that and was what I have always wanted to do, be able to mix and record music, the way I want to, as if it was playing with a band. So I was off. So I wrote this, for those who want to get started with a home music studio.

The absolute minimum you need to setup a home mixing and recording studio, is a computer, sound box, and software at a minimum. As long as your laptop or desktop computer is “ok” either Windows or Mac, this will do. I have a mac, but the software works on Windows as well. Now this is a professional mixing software package, and may be a little daunting at first, but there are plenty of tutorials to get you started once you register it, and on You tube. I chose this for just my own mixing, but there are even more advanced products available with a lot more ports available, but for a home music studio this is quite fine.

 

Sound box: Cost $150AU ($100US)

PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2×2 USB Audio Interface

Best thing I have ever bought. Cost less than two hundred dollars, but has ports for two microphones, or guitar patches (these are interchangeable), and comes with both an output for speakers, and a microphone. It is absolutely brilliant. It is enough to use for any instrument (whether played with a mic, or plugged directly in). This does only have two input jacks, but that is enough. It has a a USB port to connect to my computer, and anything I have on my computer (eg: a MIDI keyboard via USB) can be captured with the software, and output to this box to amplify out to speakers or a headphone. Equally important it comes with a full featured professional mixing and recording software called Studio One. This software has all the features needed to create a professional recording and mixing of instruments, to studio quality sound. There is an upgrade to get many more pre-mixed loops and instruments, but this has enough to get anyone started.  The software can also be used LIVE!

 

Headphones: Cost $100 ($50US)

AKG K52 High Performance Closed-Back Monitoring Headphones

To get the most out of this Sound Box, you need either a good pair of headphones. The ones I chose were AKG K52 High Performance Closed-Back Monitoring Headphones. These are very high quality and soundproofing headphones to really turn up the volume (without waking a 17 year old teenager).

 

Speakers: Cost  $250 ($150US)

PreSonus Desktop Speakers

Now, I chose these speakers, because they are great quality, and won’t blow my windows out. There are cheaper ones available, which are smaller, not as full sounding sound, but these were a great balance of size, and audio quality for me. They also plug directly into the AudioBox SoundBox. With a teenage daughter, I have to think about these things. 

MIDI Keyboard, 32 Keys: Cost $100

M-AUDIO KEYSTATION MINI 32 MK3 | Ultra-Portable USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

MIDI is a programmable interface for the software, and allows any key to be substituted with any sound. None of this is controlled by the keyboard at all, but rather the software. This keyboard isn’t fancy, but then again you don’t need it to be. The software that comes with the Sound Box, will handle any possible sound you want to get out of the keyboard. Want to play a violin on your keyboard? Simple find some violin MIDI plugins or libraries for the software (these are at an additional cost, for the really good ones, but you can get them when you want to).

 

Total Cost: $600. I haven’t gotten started on my guitar or microphones yet!

Here is a song I created with just my MIDI keyboard, and the software.

Listen to my first song!