Building a professional recording studio is a dream for many musicians and music producers out there. Back in the day, this was a task that was impractical and unaffordable to most people. Luckily, with the advances of technology, it has become easier than ever.
As we will see, a professional recording studio should have all the gear and equipment necessary for an artist to record, produce and mix music, depending on their final goal. Plus, it should be properly soundproofed and sound treated.
In this article, we tried to estimate as best as possible an average cost for this kind of investment by researching prices and comparing these equipments.
Today, we break down how much it costs to build a professional recording studio.
What we will Find in a Professional Recording Studio
Before we start talking about the costs, it is important that we list all the characteristics and gear a professional recording studio should have.
- Soundproof walls, floor, ceilings, windows and doors.
- Treated sound with the least amount of echoes and reverb possible.
- High-quality gear
- High-quality cabling
- Computer or laptop
- Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) Software
- Audio Plugins
- Studio Monitors
- Studio headphones
- Additionals (Instruments, MIDI controllers, Stands)
With that being said, let’s break down each of those points and see how much they would cost.
Soundproofing is one the first things any person looking to build a professional recording studio should think about. Soundproofing is done in order to prevent any sound from leaking in and out of the studio. It will prevent neighbor complaints and give you a much more quiet environment to work and record in.
There are a lot of methods and techniques for soundproofing walls and rooms that range from cost-effective and DIY to more professional options. We will take the later into account for the purpose of this article. Here is a list of some professional soundproofing methods:
- Thicker walls
- Sound insulator materials such as rock wool and glass wool
- Acoustic caulk and silicone for sealing air gaps and cracks
- Mass loaded vinyl
- Soundproof acoustic paint
- Green glue
- Double-paned windows
- Heavy, soundproof doors
In a professional setting, these methods should be combined to reach the best possible results. An example of a widely used technique is to combine two thick layers of wall with mass loaded vinyl between them. The walls will create mass to trap the noise in and the vinyl will act as a shock absorber for the sound waves.
On average, the costs of professionally soundproofing a studio falls between $1000 and $2000. However, this cost can be greatly reduced if you have the time and skills to perform some tasks by yourself.
To know more about how to soundproof a wall by yourself, please refer to our article How to Soundproof a Wall – 15 Actionable Ways (link to the article).
Sound treatment differs greatly from soundproofing, even though they seem to be the same thing. This kind of treatment is applied to a room to decrease any echoes, reverb, and resonant frequency, thus making it more suitable for professional audio recordings.
Like soundproofing, acoustic treatment can be done using a variety of methods, but we will stick to the most professional ones on this matter.
Here is a list of professional ways to sound treat a room:
- Acoustic panels
- Acoustic foam
- Diffusion panels
- Bass traps
The purpose of all these materials is to absorb and/or diffuse the sound waves and frequencies that encounter them. Acoustic panels, foam, and diffusion panels will often work better for taking care of the mid and high frequencies, while bass traps are important to prevent the low-end in your room from resonating or escaping the space via vibrations.
The theories and calculations needed for sound treatment are a little complex, so there is a need to hire a professional to take care of this matter. This, of course, adds a lot to the final price.
The price for acoustic treatment will greatly differ based on the dimensions of a room, but just soundproofing, we will keep the average price between $1000 and $2000, including all the materials and work needed.
High-quality cables are an often underestimated aspect of a professional recording studio. However, you need to ensure your cabling work is of the best quality to prevent unwanted noises and artifacts that may affect your audio recordings.
It is hard to give an exact estimate on how much a high-quality cabling system would cost because it depends on a lot of variables such as how many equipments will be in the recording studio.
However, we should expect to spend at least $500 for a mid-sized studio on this matter.
Computer or Laptop
Nowadays the computer is the heart of a studio and where most modern audio recordings are done. A machine intended to be used in a professional recording studio should be able to handle heavy tasks and usage.
Spec-wise, we recommend a computer with at least 8GB of ram and a decent processor. If portability is a must, many laptops nowadays are powerful to perform audio recording and editing tasks and can be taken with you anywhere.
With that being said, we can expect to spend an average of $1500 for a professional recording studio computer.
Here is a list of recommended computers and laptops suitable for a professional recording studio:
- Apple Macbook Air M1 13 8GB RAM 256GB SSD
- Dell XPS 13
- ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15
- iMac 27 8GB Ram 512GB SSD
Suggestion: embed these products on the article via Amazon Affiliate Program.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) Software
A digital audio workstation, often referred to as DAW, is a software designed for audio recording, editing and mixing. There are many DAWs available in the market nowadays and your choice will depend on your operating system and your personal preference.
Here are some of the most popular DAWs:
- FL Studio
- Logic Pro
- Pro Tools
The prices of these software can vary a lot. For the purpose of this article, we will base our average price on the most professional edition of FL Studio, the all plugins edition. The cost for this bundle is at $500.
Suggestion: add affiliate links to each software.
Audio plugins are essential for any studio nowadays. Their purpose is to provide the user with a variety of sound effects, instruments, and synthesizers. They run inside your DAW software and can be applied to audio and MIDI tracks.
Some of the best audio plugin makers in the market nowadays are:
- Native Instruments
- IK Multimedia
Audio plugin prices will vary a lot depending on their functionality and quality. We can estimate that a basic set of audio plugins for a professional recording studio falls around $500. Depending on the DAW of choice, the software may already come bundled with a variety of plugins, thus reducing the need to spend more.
An essential part of any professional recording studio, an audio interface is a piece of gear designed so you can connect microphones and instruments to it and record directly in your computer.
Just like any piece of gear, audio interface solutions come in a great variety of different capabilities and prices. Taking into account the number of recording channels, for example, is important, and will depend on how many instruments you plan to record at a time.
For a professional recording studio capable of capturing instruments that need multiple microphones such as drums, you would need an audio interface with at least 8 channels. You may need more if you’re recording a full band at the same time.
Here are some of the best audio interfaces in the market today:
- M-Track 2X2 M C-Series (2 Channels)
- Focusrite Clarett 8Pre (10 Channels)
- Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (12 Channels)
- Tascam US-16x08 (24 Channels)
For the purpose of this article, we are going to base our price on the Tascam US-16×08, which has an average price of $320 and can record up to 24 channels. Considering the price and its recording capabilities, this is a great choice that would make it possible to even record a full band at the same time.
Microphones are essential to capture instruments such as voice, guitar amps, and drums. We have a wide variety of different types and prices to choose from.
But first, we should differentiate the basic different types of microphones there is. These are:
Dynamic microphones are usually less sensitive than their condenser counterparts and capture only the sound that is coming from the front of the equipment, thus making them more suitable for capturing live vocals in noisy environments and guitar amps, for example.
The most popular models of dynamic microphones are the Shure SM57 and the Shure SM58. Most professional recording studios have one or more of them.
Condenser microphones, on the other hand, are much more sensitive and require a quieter environment to function it’s best.
This type of microphone is best suitable for instruments with rich sound and harmonic content, such as voice and acoustic guitar.
Plus, it will require an audio interface capable of delivering it 48V of power. Most of the audio interfaces have that feature nowadays.
Here are some of the best options in condenser microphones available nowadays:
As you can see, there we have another piece of equipment that can greatly vary on prices. Depending on what microphones you choose and what are your purpose, the costs could be anywhere between $1000 and $10000.
Considering that, for a professional recording studio, we would need at least a pair of dynamic microphones, a set of microphones for drum recording and at least two condenser microphones for recording vocals, we can expect that this basic setup falls somewhere around $2500.
Studio Monitors are usually put in the control room of the studio. They often offer high-quality, natural sound and is essential so that the music producer, the artist, and the sound technicians can hear what’s being recorded.
Some of the most popular options for studio monitors are:
For this article, we are going to choose the KRK RP5 Rokit 5 G5, which starts at a price of around $350 a pair and provides enough quality for a professional recording studio.
Choosing the right model of studio headphones is important to ensure the best sound quality possible. In a professional recording studio environment, studio headphones are often used by artists so they can hear themselves while recording.
However, there are two basic types of studio headphones: open-back and closed-back. The earcup of the first is not totally sealed, allowing more noise to travel in and out between the ears and the headphones. The later is totally sealed, therefore reducing noise leakage and interference.
For the purpose described previously, which is monitoring recordings, a closed-back model should be chosen. Here are some of the best closed-back headphones in the market today:
Let’s use the AKG K92, priced at $50, as an example. A professional recording studio would need at least 5 pairs, that is roughly one for each band member on a band-recording setting. Therefore the final price would be $250.
Additionals (Instruments, MIDI Controllers, Stands)
Instruments and MIDI controllers are additionals that will very much depend on your goals. Even though most artists bring their instruments with them to recording sessions, having some available is of course a great addition to a professional recording studio.
These additionals include:
- Drum kit
- Guitars and bass guitars
- Guitar and bass amps
- MIDI controllers
- Microphone stands
- Instrument stands
Prices can range from a few hundred to thousands depending on what you choose. Let’s consider that our professional recording studio will have a basic drum kit, a pair of basic amps, a MIDI keyboard controller, and, of course, microphone and instrument stands. We could expect a price of at least $1500 only on additionals.
Bonus: Tips for Building a Home Studio on a Budget
You may have already guessed that the costs to build a professional recording studio are considerably high. Before we see our final result though, we prepared this section of tips for music producers and musicians looking to build a home studio on a budget.
- Try some DIY soundproofing and sound treatment techniques. Refer to our How to Soundproof a Wall – 15 Actionable Ways (link the article) for more tips regarding this matter.
- Upgrading the computer you already have may be more cost-effective than buying a new one.
- Choose a DAW software that is bundled with a great number of high-quality stock plugins.
- Download free audio plugins from the internet. There are tons of them available online.
- Choose equipment that offers a wide variety of use possibilities.
Based on all our searches, our professional recording studio ended up having a base cost of $10920. Of course, this cost could go up or down depending on what equipments you choose, and additional costs with furniture, appliances, and renovations; But 10000 dollars is a good estimation of an average price.
To get to this price, we took into account all the basic and essential equipment present in a professional recording studio, such as a computer, an audio interface and high-quality cables; As well as possible additionals such as instruments, MIDI controllers, and microphones and instrument stands.
If you’re thinking about building a professional recording studio, many variables should too be considered when deciding if building a professional recording studio is a worthy investment or not; For example, the estimated amount of earnings and how much time it will take to cover the investment.
We hope we have helped you on calculating how much it costs to build a professional recording studio. Do you have any questions or tips on this subject? Please tell us in the comment section below!
Ian Sniesko is an experienced music producer and musician who loves to share his knowledge about the best audio equipment for making and enjoying great music. For the past 6 years, Ian has written extensively about the audio equipment industry and has contributed to many of the top music magazines.