Essential kit for audio creators
A bunch of budget-friendly gear for capturing your vocal talents
Desperate to get started on a new career/hobby/side-hustle as an audio creator? Then you’ll need to invest in a few bits first, because while you can simply hook up a cheap USB mic to your laptop and start chatting into it, you’re not going to sound truly professional unless you put some more effort into things.
Thankfully, you don’t have to shell out thousands and thousands for a good quality home recording setup. Assuming you already own a computer (even an iPad will do) and some basic digital audio recording software (Garage Band or Audacity are both free and fine for first timers), a few simple items are all you need to start out. As for finding something compelling to talk about? That’s all on you, we’re afraid.
A great buy for anyone taking their first steps into home audio recording, the AT2020 is a highly sensitive condenser mic that’ll readily pick up subtle details in your voice (which makes pairing it with a pop filter highly recommended) and can handle loud sounds without distortion. It connects to your audio interface via a high-quality XLR cable (which you’ll need to buy separately, unfortunately) and has a hardy, durable design that means it should last you a lifetime – or at least until your creative career takes off and you can invest in a pricier replacement.
£89 | audio-technica.com
Because condenser mics are super sensitive, it pays to whack them on a stable, high-quality stand. Like this one, designed to sit on a desk or tabletop. Height adjustable between 260mm and 405mm, it’s all-metal with a heavy, solid base to ensure it won’t shift around when you’re in full flow.
£25 | rode.com
Shure PS-6 Popper Stopper
Nobody wants to have your plosives puncturing their eardrums when they listen to your voice, so a decent pop filter is a must. There are cheaper ones around the PS-6 Popper Stopper, but its high-quality construction and performance won’t let you down. It clamps on to most stands, sitting between your mouth and the mic, and cuts out both unwanted breath noise and plosives.
£40 | shure.com
Recording crisp, uncoloured and pro-quality vocal or voiceover work requires control over the acoustics – and this miniature foam shield does a great job for its size. It’ll fit on most microphone stands, with its high-density 38mm-thick foam helping to deaden reflections and give you a clean take every time. You can easily spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds on more effective treatment or a vocal booth that’ll contain your entire body, but we reckon this is a lot easier to live with if you’re just starting out on your audio creator journey.
£49 | reverb.com
Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen
Dinky enough to sit on a small desk or coffee table, this entry-level audio interface represents a step up from recording direct to your computer with a USB microphone. With connectivity for XLR mics and a USB-C output, it can hook up to your PC, Mac or iPad with ease (and be powered by them to boot). While perhaps a little light on features compared to some interfaces, it’s ideal for recording your voice with clarity and precision and small enough to take with you on trips.
£115 | focusrite.com
Compact and flexible, this portable powered monitor speaker can be used to check the quality of your recordings – but thanks to a direct XLR microphone input it can double up as a small PA system for live events. The 30W speaker, which weighs just 2.1kg, can be used solo for monaural work or paired up for stereo monitoring.
£150 | uk.yamaha.com
Sennheiser HD 206
If you’re looking for some bargain ear goggles that deliver, these brilliantly budget-friendly over-ear headphones from Sennheiser should be top of your shopping list. Lightweight, comfy and costing less than a steak dinner, these closed-back cans are great for studio use thanks to a lengthy 3m cable and accurate performance that punches above their weight.
£34 | en-uk.sennheiser.com