Kitting Out Your Home Studio on a Budget

It’s often been said that music production is a pricey passion, but in 2023, it’s quite possible to get your hands on some quality hardware and software whilst abiding to a fixed budget. In this feature we’ll outline some solid choices to fit the core needs of any home studio.

Creating a home studio is by no means a one-size fits all situation. Beyond the room you’re working with, the volume levels you’re allowed to exceed and the keyboard and hardware space you’ve got in play, you also really need to work within a realistic budget to prevent that all-too-easy slide into bank-breaking territory. 

While some might scoff at the idea of not investing every penny into making a home studio as high-spec as possible, realistically, most people don’t start off their studio ambitions with limitless cash at their disposal. More often than not, a home studio build is a gradual, cumulative process that takes several months, if not years, to establish.

But, getting that foundation right is very important, and in the following sections, we’ll highlight five core studio essentials – DAW, Interface, Monitors/Headphones, MIDI Keyboard and Microphone – as well as an extra add-on that can augment or enhance a budget home studio. We’re keeping to strict price-restrictions, from (just under) £3,000 to as little as £1,000. While affordable and accessible, all the products listed are recommended choices for any home studio. 

YOUR UNDER £3,000 / $3714 STUDIO

INTERFACE – Universal Audio Apollo Solo 

The titans of the audio interfacing world, UA have muscled into the budget-end of the market in recent years, with the Thunderbolt 3-powered Apollo Solo being their latest foray. Sporting two mic/line inputs and a simple-to-use main display, the interface also houses a DSP chip, enabling it to take on the processing power of some of the company’s acclaimed UAD plugins. A brilliant first step into the UA’s advanced interfacing universe. 

DAW – Apple Logic Pro X 

Apple’s flagship DAW has evolved into a versatile music production workstation over the last decade, with the freshest updates bringing Dolby Atmos support, heaps of in-built samples, instruments, impactful drum and sample-triggering sequencers and a multitude of mix-shaping plugins. For the price, it’s astounding how far you can go in Logic Pro.

MONITORS – Neumann KH 120 A 

As any producer will tell you, hearing your mixes with absolute clarity is pivotal to ensuring the end results sparkle. We’d recommend spending the biggest chunk of your budget on your monitors if you can. Neumann’s KH 120 A’s are suitably high-end, bi-amplified options, sporting customised waveguides, premium-level tweeters and long-throw composite bass drivers. A pair of these would be a wise investment. 

MIDI KEYBOARD – Arturia Keylab 88 MKII  

With the budget you’re working with, you can afford to splash out on a more expansive MIDI controller keyboard. Arturia’s Keylab MKII 88 is an 88-note aftertouch keyboard, sporting sensitive pads, hardy faders and robust rotaries. Arturia’s hardware gels extremely well with the vast majority of DAWs out there right now, and its transport controls will synchronise instantly with their core parameters. 

MICROPHONES – Warm Audio WA-47 JR 

Taking their cues from the microphone heavyweights of yesteryear, Warm Audio have a rep for bringing expertly crafted microphones in the vein of the icons, at an accessible price. The WA-47 JR is a transformer-less FET condenser that imparts a similar warmth to its Neumann inspiration. Its large diaphragm capsule easily captures every nuance of vocals, acoustic guitar and anything else you throw its way. 

EXTRA – Vicoustic Flexi Screen Lite 

With the bedrock established, you can use the remaining cash to invest in one of Vicoustic’s noise-eliminating Flexi Screens. The Lite version won’t set you back much, but will totally eradicate outside noise spill when recording vocals. Vicoustic’s special absorbing material is expertly woven to make sure that the vocal frequency is isolated from any intrusion. 

TOTAL = £2,894 / $3582


YOUR UNDER £2,000 / $2476 STUDIO


Condensing the technical expertise of one of the industry’s large-format goliaths into a desktop interface, you’ll be guaranteed superior clarity when using the SSL 2+ as your main I/O. A 2-in, 4-out interface, the SSL 2+ also houses a pair of stunning microphone preamps, as well as the company’s Legacy 4K analogue colour enhancement. It’s an affordable way to capture premium-grade audio. 

DAW – PreSonus Studio One 6 Professional 

PreSonus’s DAW has had a slew of appealing upgrades recently (as explored in our recent review) meaning it’s now every bit as robust as some of the more popular DAW figureheads. Its Smart Templates make starting focused projects super easy, while the in-built plugins span every studio process. A mightily slick DAW that won’t break the bank. 

MONITORS – IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors 

IK’s initial leap into the monitoring world may have been dismissed by some because of their diminutive size, but ask anyone who’s mixed with a pair and they’ll explain that these bi-amped beauties are anything but disappointing. Delivering a combined 50 RMS of power via class D power amplifiers, the Micros present a stunning depiction of the stereo field. Extraordinary for the cost and footprint.  

MIDI KEYBOARD – Novation Launchkey 88 MK3 

Novation’s brand of Launchkey MIDI controllers are aimed at the expressive player, with top-notch DAW integration and tactile build quality throughout. Famed for its synth acumen, Novation’s breadth of controller and sample triggering options have become a core focus for the company over the last few years, and the 88-note Launchkey is the daddy of them all.

MICROPHONES – Aston Microphones Spirit 

A bona-fide modern classic, Aston Microphones’ large diaphragm condenser may only have been released a few years back, but its astonishing sonic quality has garnered praise and respect from many big names. Switches on the side allow you to change up the polar pattern, while its distinctive aesthetic will make it a snazzy stand out in your budget studio. 

EXTRA – Sonarworks SoundID Reference for Speakers and Headphones 

With the essentials in place, the remaining cash is able to be put to good use on some high-end studio calibration. Sonarworks are experts in this field, and their measurement mic/software combo Reference will allow you to correct those difficult to tame resonances and bouncing frequencies in your studio, calibrating audio response across your entire system.

TOTAL = £1,805 / £2234


YOUR UNDER £1,000 / $1237 STUDIO

INTERFACE – Audient EVO 4  

Studio legends Audient have been a desktop interfacing champion for years, and the 2in/2out EVO 4 is arguably their most impressive yet. Don’t be put-off by its dinky size and simple controls, within this versatile, mobile-ready box, are a pair of beefy analogue EVO mic preamps that present immaculate audio quality, in tandem with the digital hyper-accuracy of Smartgain to auto-adjust levels. A mighty little powerhouse, EVO 4 does the job and then some.

DAW – Ableton Live 11 Standard 

Regularly hailed as one of the most creatively stimulating DAWs, the formerly dance-music angled Ableton Live is now a multi-faceted artistic paradise, and one of the world’s most beloved musical playgrounds. Packed with sample-based synths, a raft of processing effects and a thriving community of add-on developers. Designed for both production and performance, the Live eco-system provides endless scope. 

HEADPHONES – Audio-Technica ATH-M70x 

Headphone monitoring tops using speakers if you want to zone into your projects in detail, and Audio Technica’s ATH-M70x’s provide some of the most pristine clarity available for the price. The 45mm large-aperture drivers provide the power, while the carefully-tuned frequency response brings perfect balance, without a hint of colouration. The contoured ear-cups bring all-important comfort also.


A controller which takes the time out of set-up. Akai’s MPK Mini MK3 brings universal integration and a dinky but hardy route into hardware control. With 25 Mini keys, an OLED display for parameter feedback and 8 infinitely tweak-able rotaries to control MIDI CCs, the MKP Mini is a highly recommended first foray into hardware control of your software. 


Rode’s respected NT1-A is a low-noise, large-diaphragm condenser that is able to handle well in any situation, from piano, guitar, drum or vocal recording. The gold-sputtered capsule within has been manufactured to sub-micron tolerances to provide that characteristic warmth you’d typically find among the vintage stable of microphone icons. 

EXTRA –  GIK Acoustics B4 4’ Bass Trap 

With the remaining cash, you’ll be able to take some first steps toward making your recording space behave better acoustically. GIK Acoustics offer a range of standalone panels, absorbers and reflectors. Installing a bass trap can be one of the most discernible additions, particularly in small rooms. One or two of these will do wonders for flattening out any low frequency resonances that your room might be emphasising.  

TOTAL = £966.50 / $1195

With these product suggestions, we’ve hopefully made the point that establishing a legitimate home studio doesn’t have to cause painful financial outlay. The above options could be used as your foundation, or mixed and matched as part of your own set-up. A crucial factor to underline is that acquiring the gear is just one part of the process. Learn to use and get the best out of each item you own, and you’ll be able to maximise its potential when making your music.