If you’ve been around me or read this blog for any length of time you’ve probably heard that I think all you need to get your home studio going strong is about $500 worth of gear. I suggested going the Pro Tools route and specifically picking up Digidesign’s Mbox 2 Mini, which is a great little 2 in/2 out interface. But recently a good friend of mine (and phenomenal drummer to boot) asked me over on Facebook what I recommended for him as he wants to record his drum set in his home studio. The Mbox 2 Mini won’t cut it if he wants to record with more than 2 tracks at a time. Here are a couple of suggestions I made to him that I think would serve any home studio well and keep costs down…unfortunately if you are a drummer (or recording a band with drums) you will have to spend a bit more, but honestly it’s not much, and it is well worth the investment!
M-Audio Fast Track Ultra – 4 to 6 tracks at a time
If you want to use Pro Tools (and I highly suggest you do) then you have to use a qualified audio interface made by either Digidesign or M-Audio (both companies are owned by Avid really). If you want more tracks, then you’ll need an interface that allows recording more channels at once and comes with more microphone preamps (mic pres) built in. A super affordable option is the Fast Track Ultra from M-Audio…
Priced at only $349, the Fast Track Ultra is a USB 2.0 device that gives you 4 analog ins (with 4 great mic pres) and 2 digital ins. It even has DSP technology for routing headphone mixes without draining your CPU. If you only need to record 4 tracks of drums at at time (Kick, Snare, and stereo Overheads) then you’re good to go out of the box. You can always expand up to 6 tracks at a time later with the addition of a 2 channel preamp that has digital outs. You can also of course plug your guitars, bass, and keyboards right in to channels 1 and 2 for all those direct recoding needs. On top of that they through in MIDI connections and multiple pairs of outputs (analog and digital). Very nice!
M-Audio Profire 2626 – 8 to 26 tracks at a time
If you can spend a little more and want a box that gives you the ultimate in affordable flexibility than look no further than the Profire 2626. This is a beast of an audio interface to be quite frank. It is a firewire interface (the name gives it away) that can also act as a stand alone set of preamps. What you get out of the box is 8 amazing sounding mic pres, plenty of outputs, DSP for routing and submixing, as well as 16 channels of ADAT ins and outs and digital S/PDIF for adding more preamps later.
For the street price of $699, this can really be the hub of your bedroom studio as well as a professional project studio where what you record pays the bills. No joke guys. You don’t even really need any more preamps when you have this thing, as you can track 8 channels of drums right away (Kick, Snare, 3 Toms, stereo Overheads, and even a room mic). If you grab this box, you won’t regret it. Period.
What about Pro Tools? Unfortunately the M-Audio interfaces don’t come with a full copy of the software so you’ll have to spring for that yourself. A copy of Pro Tools M-Powered will run you $249.
Of course with wanting an interface to record 4 to 8 tracks of drums, comes the need for 4 to 8 microphones. You could buy mics seperately, or you could you spring for a drum mic bundle. I’ll save you the trouble and recommend one for you right now…
Samson 8Kit ($349) – This is such a great deal. For the price of 3 quality microphones you get 8 mics, each appropriately suited for your drums. You get one kick drum mic, one snare drum mic, 3 tom mics, a matched pair of large diaphragm condenser mics for overheads, and a small pencil condenser mic for hi hats. Talk about a steal! These mics are quiet, accurate, responsive, and full sounding.
But the best part is this: if you read my post about the $500 studio, I encouraged you to purchase one good studio condenser mic for about $100. You use this for vocals, acoustic guitars, amps, etc. Well one of the mics I recommend (the Samson C01) is included in this bundle. Actually you get two of them! That’s it, you don’t need any more mics for your studio!
Recording Drums – Total Cost
So let’s add it all up and get you the final figures so you can go out there and start recording killer drum tracks. Keeping in mind you will need a few more mic stands and cables for the additional tracks you are recording, here is my total break down for a drum capable home studio…
Option 1: Fast Track Ultra (4 channels) – $1200
Option 2: Fast Track Ultra (6 channels) – $1500
Option 3: M-Audio Profire 2626 (8 channels) – $1650
There you have it. For between $1200 and $1700 you can have a rocking home studio capable of recording drums, complete with plenty of preamps, drum mics, vocal mics, cables, stands, Pro Tools software, headphones, pop filter, etc. So pick an option and start making music!