Cheap Ways to Record Music That Will Sound Professional

By Tiara Ogabang

There are expensive ways to record music and there are cheap ways to record music. Today, we'll be looking at the latter. 

Maybe you're a newcomer to the music scene or maybe you just haven't been able to get into a studio for months and you can't let all your musical ideas go dusty in the meantime. 

No matter your situation, we have some good news: recording music from home is a time-honored tradition, even among famous musicians with big label deals. 

Whether you're trying to make a demo or just want to create some professional-sounding tracks with minimal financial investment, we're ready to offer some advice. 

So keep that wallet in your pocket and start looking for a corner where you can set up a makeshift studio. 

Soundproof or get out 

If you've ever worked in a professional recording studio, then you already know that every one of them has a dead room, where the only sound that's going to get picked up is whatever the musician puts into the mic. 

In reality, if you wanted to create a full-blown dead room in your home for the purposes of recording, it would cost thousands of dollars and would also probably make your landlord pretty angry. 

But there are other ways to cut out room noise, and thankfully they don't cost nearly as much. 

Soundproof or get out 

First up, try to look for a space in your home that's naturally pretty small, the smaller the better (as long as you can still fit inside it with an instrument). 

Next up, find ways to deaded the sound of the space even further. One of the lowest-budget options is to use empty egg containers, since they have a shape conducive to catching and stopping sound from reverberating. 

But if you don't already have lots of those lying around, you could also try to use pieces of fabric. Blankets, in particular, are very popular with bedroom musicians, the thicker the better. 

On the more expensive end of things, plenty of e-commerce sites offer foam soundproofing panels, but depending on how many you'll need for your recording space, this option could get pretty pricey. 

No matter what you're using to soundproof, make sure to test out that environment with different instruments and, if possible, with different microphones. 

It's less about achieving industry-standard results and more about achieving a result THAT YOU LIKE. Try to narrow down a sound that matches your style.  

Choose your DAW 

A DAW (digital audio workstation) is a piece of software that lets you formulate and finalize your music. These programs range from very basic to incredibly complex, and as such, the prices also range from free to hundreds and hundreds of dollars. 

On the free end, programs like Audacity and Garage Band can be downloaded for no charge, as long as you have the space for them and a compatible device. 

Paid DAWs include the likes of Ableton Live, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, and FL Studio. As we already mentioned, these programs can cost a lot, but there's no arguing when it comes to how many features they offer. 

Choose your DAW 

Aside from a clean recording environment, many also include lots of built-in virtual instruments and even effects units that can help bring your music to life. 

Aside from getting one of these programs on your computer, you also need to be completely comfortable using the program of your choice. 

That's not something that comes naturally, either, especially with the more complex DAWs. Don't expect to pop right in and know exactly what you're doing. 

It will take time to get familiar with the program, but don't worry, there are many, many tutorial videos online for each and every one of these programs, both provided by the software companies themselves as well as individual users who just want to share their knowledge with the larger community. 

Mics on a micro-budget 

Since we just talked about DAWs, we might as well mention that not every home-recording musician is going to need a microphone. There are plenty of artists today who compose entirely in programs and who therefore don't need to record any live sound. 

But as a general rule, it's a good idea to have at least one quality microphone close at hand when you're working on your music. 

However, choosing a microphone that sounds great and doesn't cost a bundle can be tricky business. 

High-end studios often use new and vintage mics that cost thousands of dollars each, and as you might expect, they sound wonderful. 

But even if your mic budget is only 50 bucks, you still have lots of options. 

If you're willing to work with XLR mics (mics that require an XLR cable and a USB audio interface), then the world-famous Shure SM57 should be in your sights. 

Just about everyone has used this microphone, and most importantly, it only costs around $100. 

If you'd prefer not to worry about a USB audio interface, there are lots of USB mics that sound great and are very easy to set up. 

Blue has released several different USB mics that are popular with musicians, voice-over actors, and content creators. The Yeti and Snowball in particular are affordable while still offering some serious quality. 

Instruments, real or imaginary 

This is another area where your musical preferences should take precedence. If you're the kind of musician who likes to use real-world instruments to create tracks, then you'll need to have some reliable and great-sounding instruments in your home studio. 

If you're in need of a new guitar or maybe some specific world instruments, we recommend looking at used options first, rather than trying to buy instruments brand new. 

Even minor damage to many instruments won't seriously affect the quality of the sound, but it will let you get your hands on an instrument for far less cash. 

On the other hand, if you prefer to use mostly electronic and virtual instruments, then it's going to come down to the instruments included in your DAW and which ones you can find in add-on packs. 

Simply Googling virtual instruments and sample packs will get you started on your search, and you can also find reviews for each package that will help guide you to the sounds that fit your vision.