Essential Recording Studio Setup Gear – What You Must-Have

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This guide is for anyone who’s considering a recording studio setup. It’s not the cheapest hobby, but it is incredibly exciting. The best approach is to opt for good quality equipment that will last for years. You also need a studio that’s expandable so that you can build on what you have over time. The first step is to set your budget and then go through the list of essential items.

Recording Essentials

There are 9 recording essentials and a few supporting accessories. It’s not hard, but you need to make sure everything works in harmony. There are plenty of cheap products for each of the categories. My advice is to buy the best you can afford. Avoid gear at the bottom of the bargain basement unless it’s part of a promotional sale or a quality secondhand purchase.

Below are the 9 recording essentials needed to create your home studio setup:

  1. Suitable laptop or desktop computer
  2. DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
  3. Audio Interface
  4. Studio headphones
  5. Microphone
  6. Mic stand
  7. Studio monitors
  8. Acoustic room treatment
  9. External hard drive

You may need a few accessories to support the above. For example, some mics don’t include a cable. There could be other items like adapters, stands, and storage cases.

The rest of this guide examines the above list and includes a few examples for each category.

About My ‘Recording Studio Setup’ Guide

The primary purpose of this guide is informative. The products included are all excellent examples of recording equipment. Feel free to print this page off and refer to it whenever you need a refresher. You may want to keep a simple checklist to help keep track of your potential setup.


#1 Laptops or Desktop Computers?

Laptops or desktops, Windows or Macs, those are the questions. You may know what’s right for you or have your computer already. Laptops are lightweight, powerful, and portable, and desktops are becoming the choice of yesteryear. Even so, they still check a few boxes for audio recording. They’re fast, have lots of INs and OUTs, and super-easy to customize. But desktops are not portable.

Mac laptops are often the preferred choice for music recording, but it’s just that—a preference. The options are Mac Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, and Mac Mini. The Mac Pro is the workhorse for studio recording. Those with cash to spare might want to consider the incredibly powerful iMac Pro. Windows laptops are easier to upgrade, tweak, and customize more generally than Macs. They’re cheaper too.

Powerful 14” ASUS ZenBook Ultra-Slim Laptop

Powerful 14” ASUS ZenBook Ultra-Slim LaptopView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

The powerful ASUS ZenBook is a 14-inch, ultra-slim Windows laptop. Its NanoEdge bezel display adds to viewing comfort over extended periods. Data entry is effortless thanks to the dual-function touchpad with its quick-switchable numeric keypad. The ErgoLift design is also worth mention as it improves the typing position and user comfort. ASUS’ ZenBook ultra-slim laptop is a quiet device too.

This computer uses the 8th gen Intel Core i7-8565u Quad-Core-Processor. The biggest downside—from a recording perspective—is that it doesn’t have a touchscreen. That’s sure to bother some as more Digital Audio Workstations start to embrace touchscreen capability.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: ASUS
Processor: i7-8565U
Display: 14 FHD
Screen-To-Body Ratio: 92%
Graphics Chip: GeForce MX150
Memory Speed: 2666 MHz
Hard Drive: 512GB flash memory
Dimensions: 12.6 x 7.8 x 0.6”
Product Weight: 2.4 lbs.
Warranty: 1 year
The Pros
Ultra-slim, portable design
8th Gen Intel CoreProcessor
NanoEdge bezel display
Dual-function touchpad
ErgoLift design
Quiet machine
The Cons
No touchscreen
Exaggerated battery life
Quite expensive

Apple MacBook Pro 16” Space Gray w/ Touch Bar

Apple MacBook Pro 16” Space Gray w/ Touch BarView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5

Apple fans don’t need any convincing but keep reading if you’re on the fence. The Apple MacBook Pro 16” is an incredible powerhouse for recording artists. This model sports a beautiful Retina display with slim bezels. It has a comfortable XL touchpad, powerful Intel Core i9 CPU, and long 11-hour battery life. It’s fair to say that it’s beyond capable for speech and music recording purposes.

It’s not perfect, though, no computer is. But it does check most of the essential boxes for studio work. The most significant letdown is no touchscreen. That matters if you use a DAW that supports touchscreen technology. It also lacks a MicroSD card slot, which many users still find useful today.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: Apple
Processor: Intel Core i9
Display Size: 16 Retina
Graphics Chip: AMD Radeon Pro 5500M
Max Battery Life: 11 hours
Hard Drive: 512GB up to 8TB
RAM: 16GB up to 64GB
Memory Speed: 2666MHz
Dimensions: 14.09 x 9.68 x 0.64”
Product Weight: 4.3 lbs.
The Pros
Stunning Retina display
Slimmer bezels
Large screen size
Powerful CPU
Comfortable XL touchpad
Touch Bar, Touch ID
Ultrafast SSD
Six-speaker system
Long battery life
The Cons
No touchscreen
No MicroSD card slot
High price tag

DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

Music and audio producers use a Digital Audio Workstation or DAW to record. DAW can be a software program, a hardware console, or a configuration of both. Most DAW is of the software variety. It lets you create and then manipulate the recorded audio. It’s an essential tool for special sound effects, Foley, music, podcasts, and so on. DAWs can differ, but they all share similar abilities.

DAW lets you record voice, compositions, live or virtual instruments, and all things audio. The best thing about DAW is that you can see and edit whatever goes into it. Examples are to arrange tracks, or musical notes, and automate how or when the audio enters or leaves a timeline. It’s then a case of mixing the creation. If you can think it, there’s a good chance you can do it in DAW.

DAW System Requirements

A DAW must be able to work with your system. DAW system requirements include:

  • Windows and or macOS versions
  • Minimum Intel® Core™ processors
  • Minimum available hard drive space in GB
  • Minimum GB RAM requirement
  • Internet connection for installation and program activation
  • Minimum monitor resolution
  • Touch-enabled monitor (not all DAWs)

The more powerful your system, the better the DAW will function. Check out the Studio One page for a typical list of system requirements for its program.

Studio Audio Interface

An audio interface (AI) is at the heart of a home recording studio. It takes analog signals and converts them to digital. And the playback function lets you connect headphones or studio speakers to listen to what you’ve done. For that to happen, the AI converts the digital signal back to analog. In short, an audio interface helps you to record voice, vocals, and musical instruments in the highest quality.

Connectivity and Controls in Brief

Here’s a quick breakdown of the connection and controls of a standard audio interface:

  • Connects directly to a computer or iPad
  • Connection can be via USB, FireWire, PCMCIA to ExpressCard, and PCI
  • The AI performs analog-to-digital conversion and vice versa
  • Users can edit the stored audio streams directly from a computer
  • An audio interface has various inputs for mics and instruments
  • Controls may include Gain, Volume, Pad (Attenuator), Source, and Direct Monitor
  • Some audio interfaces have midi inputs and outputs for keyboards
  • The audio interface gives high-quality playback as well as recordings

Internal Vs. External Audio Interface

Computers have sound cards, and that’s what an audio interface is. So, why invest in a dedicated external option? Why not use the internal one that comes with a computer? The answer is limited sound quality and minimal Input/Output or I/O. A built-in sound card is also prone to jitter, electromagnetic interference, and latency. Thus, they’re not ideal for pro-quality recording.

Below are 2 examples of popular audio interfaces for use in the home studio.

BEHRINGER 4CH USB Audio Interface for Mics & Instruments

BEHRINGER 4CH USB Audio Interface for Mics & InstrumentsView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

The BEHRINGER U-Phoria UMC404HD 4-Channel Audio Interface is for recording mics and instruments. It’s little black boxes like this one that brings mixes and recordings to life. This USB interface model has 4 inputs, 4 outputs, and MIDAS-designed microphone preamps. Users experience ultra-clear performance with zero-latency monitoring, which means no lag and no delay.

This audio interface gives excellent value overall. It’s got 48V phantom power via USB port. The box is rugged yet lightweight, with a small form factor and simple connectivity. Novice users will also find it beginner-friendly. On the negative side, the interface only has a single XLR input and no 1/4” output for monitors. An extra headphone monitor output would have also been welcome.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: Behringer
Form Factor: Desktop
Connectivity: USB 2.0
Number of Inputs: 4
Number of Outputs: 4
Number of Preamps: 4
Phantom Power: +48V
A/D Resolution: 24-bit /192 kHz
MIDI I/O: In/Out
Dimensions: 11.5 x 5.1 x 1.8”
Product Weight: 2.65 lbs.
The Pros
Feature-packed audio interface
Rugged and lightweight
Small and portable
Simple connectivity
Multiple inputs/outputs
MIDAS-designed mic preamps
Zero-Latency Monitoring
Phantom power
Excellent value
The Cons
Only has 1 XLR input
Only 1 headphone monitor
No 1/4 output for monitors

3rd Gen Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 USB Audio Interface

3rd Gen Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 USB Audio InterfaceView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5

Focusrite Scarlett is well-known in the recording world. This product is the 4i4 (3rd Generation) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools. It’s a great choice for artists who need a portable interface to expand their recording setup. Its switchable air mode enhances vocals and instruments with brighter, more open sounds. The device also has Phantom power for use with condenser type microphones.

Physical Features

On the front of the unit are two instrument inputs and pads for each of the mic preamps. The pads are essential for recording loud sound sources. There’s a large, smooth monitor control for adjusting playback levels. The high-fidelity headphone output has its own dedicated volume control. On the rear of the interface is a Type-C, USB 2.0 port for connecting PC or Mac computers.

Other physical features include a MIDI I/O, 2 balanced monitor outputs, and 4 balanced line inputs. The main downside to this audio interface is the setup procedure. Novice users may find it fiddly, frustrating, and time-consuming. Skilled users shouldn’t experience any problems, though.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: Focusrite
Form Factor: Desktop
Connectivity: USB Type-C
Protocol: USB 2.0
Phantom Power: +48V
Preamps: 2, Pads: 2
Instrument Inputs: 2
Line Input: 4
Analogue Outputs: 4
Headphone Outputs: 1
A/D Resolution: 24-bit/192 kHz
Dimensions: 4.7 x 7.3 x 1.9”
Product Weight: 0.98 lb.
The Pros
Well-established brand
Switchable air mode
Phantom power
2 instrument inputs
Large monitor control dial
HiFi headphone output
Headphone volume knob
The Cons
Time-consuming to set up

Studio Headphones Matter

No home studio setup is complete without headphones. Part of the recording process is to monitor what you do as you do it. There are lots of headsets to consider, but some are much better than others. The preferred choice for recording purposes is the closed-back variety. That’s because they’re 100% sealed around the back and prevent noise from bleeding out.

Open Back Vs. Closed Back

Open-back headphones don’t block the outside world like the closed-back types. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it depends on user preference. Open-back headphones also breathe better. That’s worth consideration if you expect to wear them for extended periods. The ‘in your head’ effect of closed-back headphones is not something that everyone’s comfortable with.

I’ve included one of each in the headphone samples below. Be sure to read any user reviews, especially from those who use them for home recording and mixing applications.

Sony MDR7506 Pro Large-Diaphragm Headphones

Sony MDR7506 Pro Large-Diaphragm HeadphonesView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

Sony’s MDR7506 Pro headphones use neodymium magnets and 40mm drivers for clear, powerful sound. The closed-ear design cuts out most external noises and is comfortable to wear for extended periods. The product folds up for secure storage and comes with its own soft travel case. The 9.8ft heavy coiled cord is either a pro or a con, depending on who you ask and usage. It’s also hardwired.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: Sony
Type: Dynamic, closed-ear
Magnet: Neodymium
Frequency Response: 10-20kHz
Impedance: 63 Ohms
Sensitivity: 106dB
Cord Length: 9.8ft
Product Weight: 8.1 oz.
The Pros
Adjustable headphone design
Rugged, built to last
Superb sound for the price
Comfortable with extended use
Closed-back design isolates sound
Decent cord length
1/4-inch jack adapter
Soft storage/carry case
The Cons
Heavy coiled cord
Cannot detach the coiled cord

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Pro Studio Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Pro Studio HeadphonesView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Pro are quality studio headphones. It’s a bestselling product that boasts exceptional sonic performance with deep bass response. The headset exploits large 45mm aperture drivers, rare-earth magnets, and copper-clad aluminum voice coils. The earcups swivel by 90°, which is ideal for one-ear monitoring. The headphones come with 2 detachable cables.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: Audio-Technica
Application: Tracking, mixing, personal
Collapsible: Yes
Driver Size: 45mm
Sensitivity: 98dB
Impedance: 38 ohms
Frequency Response: 15-28kHz
Earcup Swivel: 90 both directions
Dimensions: 11.4 x 10 x 4.1”
Weight (w/o Cable): 10 oz.
The Pros
Studio-grade headphones
Exceptional sound quality
Outstanding noise cancellation
Foldable and adjustable
Detachable cables
Soft storage/travel pouch
Superb value
The Cons
Earcups may prove too small for wearers with larger ears
Can get a little uncomfortable with prolonged wearing

The Studio Microphone

Microphones come in all shapes, sizes, quality, and price ranges. It can seem an impossible choice for anyone new and inexperienced. The first step is to know how to break down your needs and expectations. Some mics are best suited for specific applications, so that already reduces choice. Do a little homework so that you can make a better-informed decision (see next).

You may want to use the points below as a personal checklist.

  • Set a min and max budget, but avoid the low bottom-end
  • Know the genre(s) you plan to record
  • Get familiar with microphone specs and what they tell you (see below)
  • Dynamic or Condenser mic? Know the difference
  • What microphone accessories does your studio need

There are some essential studio accessories for microphones. They include cables, stands, pop filters, shock mounts, and portable vocal booths. You may also need a mic activator.

Be Tech Spec Savvy

There are plenty of easy-to-grasp articles online that explain microphone tech specs in plain English. Your home studio is quite a technical space anyway, so it pays to learn about these things.

The table below shows the mic specs that every budding audio engineer should know:

Microphone SpecificationDone
Microphone Type:
Build Materials:
Capsule Size:
Dynamic Range:
Maximum SPL:
Mic Polar Patterns:
Power Requirements:
Self-Noise or Equivalent Noise Rating:

Buy the best mic that you can afford at the time once you know what you need and why. A decent quality mic should last for many years and is an excellent investment.

The examples below get lots of positive feedback from real users. They may or may not be the right mic for you. It’s still worth visiting them to get familiar with the specs and terminology.

Rode NT1-A Anniversary Condenser Mic Package

Rode NT1-A Anniversary Condenser Mic PackageView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

The Rode NT1-A Anniversary is one of the best value condenser microphones out there in its class. It delivers a pleasing warmth, has an impressive dynamic range, and high SPL ability. The mic works well for recording vocals and instruments. It’s quiet too, thanks to the low 5dB(a) self-noise level. The kit comes with a shock mount, studio-grade pop filter, long cable, and a useful instruction video.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: Rode
Type: Studio condenser
Connection: XLR 3-pin
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Power Supply: Phantom +48V
Max SPL: 137dB
Frequency Range: 20Hz–20kHz
Max Output Level: 13.7mV
Dimensions: 15.2 x 4.5 x 11”
Kit Weight: 4.6 lbs.
Warranty: 1 year
The Pros
Bestselling studio microphone
Exceptional sound for its class
High-quality construction
Extended dynamic range
Works for vocals & instruments
Includes shockmount & pop filter
Long cable included
Protective storage pouch
Instructional video
The Cons
Takes a while to master

Aston Microphones Origin Large-Diaphragm Condenser Mic

Aston Microphones Origin Large-Diaphragm Condenser MicView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

The Aston Microphone Origin is a large-diaphragm condenser mic with a cardioid pickup. It’s designed and manufactured in the UK by professional engineers and artists. It sports a rugged, stainless steel, laser-cut, etched body. The mic comes with a built-in steel mesh knit pop filter and custom molded end caps. It’s a versatile, lovingly-engineered studio mic, ideal for vocalists and instrumentalists.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: Aston Microphones
Mic Type: Studio condenser
Connection: XLR
Power Supply: Phantom 48V
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Pad: -10dB
High-Pass Filter: 80Hz
Frequency Range: 20Hz–20kHz
Max SPL: 127dB
Mic Sensitivity: 23.7 mV/Pa
Product Dimensions: 20 x 10 x 10”
Product Weight: 15.8 oz.
Warranty: 3 years
The Pros
Designed and made in the UK
Exceptional rugged build
Warm, crisp sound
Suits both vocals and instruments
Low noise microphone
Built-in mesh-knit pop filter
Custom-molded end caps
Integrated XLR & stand adapter
Long warranty
The Cons
Heft (also a pro)
Single polar pattern

The 101 of Microphone Stands

Every studio microphone needs a stand, and the sturdier, the better. They are among the cheaper accessories but essential nonetheless. There’s more to choosing a stand than first meets the eye. You don’t want one that’s too big or bulky if you run a mobile type studio. And nor do you want one too light and flimsy that knocks over with the slightest touch.

Types of Microphone Stands

There are 6 microphone stand categories, and only you can decide which design fits your purpose. You also need to consider the studio space and the specific mic applications.

  1. Tripod stand
  2. Tripod Boom
  3. Desktop
  4. Round base
  5. Low profile
  6. Overhead

A studio mic stand should be hard to knock over, rugged, and easy to use. Not all stands are. Other considerations are clip types, quality of the clutch, and a microphone’s weight. Some of the cheaper boom arms are not strong enough to support heavier mics for extended periods.

Pyle Universal Entry-Level Mic Stand W/ Heavy Base

Pyle Universal Entry-Level Mic Stand W/ Heavy BaseView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

The Pyle mic stand is a superb entry-level choice for around 20 dollars. Its sturdy die-cast base keeps it firmly on the ground, making it topple-resistant. The product is easy to assemble out of the box and offers flexible height adjustments from 33.5” to 60.24”. Novice buyers often overlook the maximum height, hence the mention here. This one may be a tad on the short side for taller stand-up users.

The stand is also quick to disassemble if you need to store it away or travel. Pyle’s mic stand is an excellent entry-level product for use in studios, on the stage, or at an office.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: Pyle
Color: Black
Stand Type: Round base
Height Adjustable: Yes
Base Diameter: 9.8”
Base material: Steel alloy
Dimensions: 1.7 x 8.9 x 8.9”
Product Weight: 9.92 lbs.
The Pros
Excellent value mic stand
Easy to assemble and adjust
Heavy-duty die-cast base
Non-slip rubber
Pivot angle adjustable clip
Quick and easy to disassemble
The Cons
Too short for some users
Plastic mic holder feels flimsy

LyxPro SMT-1 Heavy Duty Professional Mic Stand

LyxPro SMT-1 Heavy Duty Professional Mic StandView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

The LyxPro SMT-1 is a pro-level microphone tripod stand that costs around 100 dollars. It has a rugged build with an overhead telescopic studio boom arm. That makes it a versatile product for a wide variety of people and instrument applications. The adjustable counterweight means it can accommodate all mic types, be they big, small, light, or heavy. And the included clips help to keep the cables tidy.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: LyxPro
Color: Black
Stand Type: Overhead studio tripod
Telescoping Boom Range: 45–76”
Extendable Shaft Height: 59–93”
Maximum Stand Height: 169”
Product Weight: 15 lbs.
Warranty: 1 year limited
The Pros
Rugged, heavy-duty construction
Professional microphone stand
Overhead telescopic boom
Collapsible design
Moveable counterweight
Extendable shaft height
Non-slip feet
Accommodates all mic types
Includes cable clips
The Cons
Plastic adjustment knobs

Studio Monitors

Prepare for a surprise if you’ve never listened to sound with a flat response curve. Studio monitors may seem lacking compared to regular stereo speakers with less bass and more noticeable highs. Don’t worry—they’re supposed to sound different. And it doesn’t take long for the ears to adjust. The whole purpose of studio monitors is to reproduce sounds accurately, and not for general listening.

This short guide doesn’t get into the specifics. The four points below highlight the essential areas to consider before you invest in any studio monitors.

  1. Amplifier to drive the speakers
  2. Room adjustment controls and EQ
  3. The speakers deliver a wide dynamic range
  4. Power considerations (more is better)

You can use the two examples below to learn more about studio monitor specs and capability.

PreSonus E4.5-4.5” 2-Way Near Field Studio Monitor

PreSonus E4.5-4.5” 2-Way Near Field Studio MonitorView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

The Presonus E4.5-4.5” is an affordable example. It’s a pair of 2-way near-field studio monitors with 4.5” Kevlar low-frequency transducers. They have a 1” ultra-low mass silk dome tweeter with high-frequency transducer and 50W class AB amplification. The Eris E4.5 studio monitors guarantee a smooth, accurate frequency response that makes it easier to work with mixes and tracks.

See the table below for further details:

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: PreSonus
Type: Near field studio monitors
Frequency Response: 70Hz-20kHz
LF/HF Amplifier Power: 25W
Peak SPL (@1m): 100dB
Low Cut: Flat, 80Hz, 100Hz
Acoustic Space Control: Flat, -2dB, -4dB
Dimensions: 16.5 x 9.1 x 11.8”
Product Weight: 13.01 Lbs.
The Pros
Well-made built to last
Good choice of ports
All cables included
Convenient front controls
Pleasing aesthetics
Superb sound for the size
Balanced outputs (TRS)
Affordable product
The Cons
Shortish connecting cable
Case prone to scratching

Yamaha HS Series HS5 2-Way Studio Monitor (Pair)

Yamaha HS Series HS5 2-Way Studio Monitor (Pair)View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.9/5

The Yamaha HS Series HS5 is a 2-Way 70W pair of studio monitors. The heavy-duty enclosure makes sure unwanted resonance doesn’t get to influence the sound. The monitors have dedicated power amps that work in perfect harmony with the woofers and tweeters. The rear controls include Room Control and High Trim—the latter used to regulate high-frequency response.

See the table below for further details:

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: Yamaha
Color: Black
Material: MDF
Total Output Power: 70W
Power Consumption: 45W
Type: 2-Way Bi-amped monitors
Frequency Response: 54Hz–30kHz
Crossover Frequency: 2 kHz
Input Sensitivity: -10dBu /10 kΩ
Inputs: Balanced XLR3-31, TRS
Controls: Level, High trim, Room
Dimensions: 22 x 15 x 18”
Product Weight: 36 lbs.
The Pros
Heavy-duty, well-made monitors
Highly-accurate sound reproduction
High-performance drivers
Large magnets
Dedicated power amps
Room Control
High Trim response control
Low resonance enclosure
Uses noise reduction technology
The Cons
Could use a subwoofer

Acoustic Room Treatment

Ambient or background noise can often cause unwanted distractions in a home studio setup. The good news is you can treat a room for very little outlay. Affordable foam panels can remove excess natural reverb. However, it’s easy to overdo treatment to the point where the space sounds dead if you’re inexperienced. In that case, diffusers can help to add and scatter a few reflections.

Bass Traps are a type of acoustic energy absorber that do an excellent job of absorbing bass, mid, and high frequencies. Get to know what kind of treatment your space needs before you do anything. For example, does it need simple soundproofing or acoustic treatment? The former minimizes any unwanted noise that travels in and out of a room. The latter controls sound reflections.

Learn how to evaluate the acoustics of your recording space to prevent buying the wrong gear. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials if you need guidance with acoustic treatment clap testing.

External Hard Drive

The only way not to lose crucial data is to back it up. Making copies of your saved work is the least glamorous job in a home studio, but the most critical. And sod’s law says the day you need a backup is the day you failed to make one. Seriously, losing your hard work is the most annoying and depressing feeling ever. It happens, and those studio sessions are lost forever without a backup.

Even worse than losing personal projects is to lose the work of clients if you have any. Internal hard drive failures are more common that most people realize. I keep an identical copy of all my work on another computer and an external hard drive. I archive completed projects in the cloud as well. External hard drives are also vital tools if you record in studios other than your own.

Types of Hard Drive

You have two types of external hard drives to consider. The older technology is the hard disk drive or HDD. It’s the cheapest option and gives more storage space for a lot less money. However, these drives are bigger and heavier than the newer Solid State Drives (SSD). Not only that, but the read/write speeds are slower too. My suggestion is to opt for an SSD if budget allows.

I’ve included both HDD and SSD drives in the example below.

Transcend Rugged 1TB USB StoreJet 2 External Hard Drive

Transcend Rugged 1TB USB StoreJet 2 External Hard DriveView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

The Transcend StoreJet Classic is a 1TB USB 3.1 Gen 1, external hard disk drive (HDD). Its rugged build boasts 3-stage anti-shock protection. That means it passes US military drop-test standards. The StoreJet 25M3 has a convenient 1-touch auto-backup button. The 5Gbps transfer speeds are impressive for an HDD. The product comes with some useful Data Management Software.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: Transcend
Color: Iron gray
Technology: HDD 2.5
Transfer Rates: Up to 5Gbps
Capacity Range: 1TB (2TB available)
Connection(s): Micro USB–USB Type-C
Shock Protection: Yes
Dimensions: 5.1 x 3.2 x 0.7”
Product Weight: 8 oz.
Warranty: 3 years
The Pros
USB 3. 1 Gen 1 interface
3-stage shock protection
One-touch backup button
Data management software
Data recovery software
Super-fast transfer speeds
2 colors available
Excellent value
The Cons
No password protection

Sabrent Rocket Pro 1TB USB SSD Drive

Sabrent Rocket Pro 1TB USB SSD DriveView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

The Sabrent Rocket Pro (SB1TB-PRO) is a plug-n-play external SSD, which makes it OS independent. You can use the Rocket Pro seamlessly with any Windows or Mac computers. It has an ultra-slim design and an aluminum shell that’s both sleek and durable. This is a versatile drive for recording studios, with high transfer speeds up to 10Gbps, and up to 1000MB/s with a USB 3.2 interface.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: Sabrent
Color: Space gray
Technology: SSD
Transfer Speeds: 10Gbps & 1000MB/s
Capacity Range: 1TB
Connection(s): USB 3.2
Shock Protection: None, though rugged
Dimensions: 4.1 x 1.8 x 0.6”
Product Weight: 15.2 oz.
Warranty: 1 year
The Pros
Sleek design w/ aluminum shell
Lightweight, durable, & portable
Works with Windows and Mac OS
Lightning-fast transfer speeds
Effective heat management
Supports SMART/TRIM commands
Advanced wear leveling
Bad block management (BBM)
The Cons
No protective bumper skin

Samsung SSD 860 EVO 2TB SATA III Internal Drive

Samsung SSD 860 EVO 2TB SATA III Internal DriveView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.9/5

This is an internal drive as old ones can—and do—die, or the studio computer needs and upgrade.

Samsung designed its 860 EVO to work seamlessly with laptops and desktop PCs. Its 2TB internal SSD uses 3D V-NAND technology and is reliable, durable, and ultra-fast. Its read speeds can reach 550MB/s and write speeds up to 520MB/s—perfect for studio work. The SSD comes with a Data Management Software suite that includes data security. Samsung stands by this product with a 5-year warranty.

Note: Check the drive’s compatibility with your computer’s model number before you order.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Brand: Samsung
Color: Charcoal gray
Technology: Internal SSD
Hardware Platform: PC, Mac
Hard Disk Form Factor: 2.5”
Hardware Interface: SATA 6.0 Gb/s
Transfer Speeds: Up to 550MB/s
Capacity Range: 2TB
Connection(s): Internal
Dimensions: 3.94 x 2.76 x 0.27”
Product Weight: 2.12
Warranty: 5 years
The Pros
Easy to install
Works with Windows & Mac OS
Durable build quality
Backward compatible
Samsung V-NAND Technology
Fast read/write speeds
Secure data encryption
Multiple form factors available
Samsung Magician Data Software
The Cons
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