With hip hop audio equipment getting cheaper, it is now possible to set up your own home studio for recording hip hop music. This article will be similar to the one I wrote on the best dj set up for beginners although the equipment list will not be the same as the needs are slightly different.


Purpose of home recording studio

Before getting to the list, it is important to know what you will be doing with the set up. Below are 2 important distinctions that you need to decide before going into the equipment list.

  • Vocals or instruments: Some hip hop artists love to include rap and vocals into their music while others just like the instruments. Depending on what you will be doing, the equipment list can be vastly different. For example, if you want to do vocals, a top rated microphone for vocal recording is a must.
  • Composing or Mixing/Mastering: Composing music and then mastering or mixing it into commercial ready quality is different. For the former, you are just trying to get the raw ingredients of your music done so things like acoustic quality, arrangement doesn’t come into play. For the latter, then you need very precise equipment and recording environment to get the best quality audio out

For the purpose of this article, I will be focusing more on beginners who just want to compose hip hop music rather than mastering it. The reason is because the cost of setting up the former can run into tens of thousands and is not something that an blog like this is qualify to give advice on.


#1: Best mic for hip hop vocals

If you want to record vocals, then you need to buy best microphone for recording vocals on computers at home. For under $100, my preference is for the M-Audio USB condenser microphone. It works very well when it comes to hip hop vocals but not so good for loud sounds like amps and such. The USB connection makes it easy for you to mix it later with other notes so it is a win win for me.

For sound quality, don’t expect this to be on par with the likes of AKG C414 which can set up back by as much as $700. As a beginner and for home recording, a simple mic like what I recommending will be sufficient to get things done.


#2: Best Midi Keyboard for hip hop production

Whether you are doing vocals only or for instrument playing, the midi keyboard is very useful for both scenarios. Playing the keyboard is an efficient way to getting the music from your head and into your laptop or computer. It allows you to get really creative with your composing, compared to a piano or just writing musical notes.

A budget midi keyboard I like to recommend is the Akai Mpk mini MK2. It is priced just under $100 and has 25, rather than 49 keys. It is super easy to set up and requires no driver and such. If you like plug and play, this is a good keyboard to consider.

The Akai Mpk Mini MKII also has lots of control knobs for you to get creative with. Coupled with the variety of settings for the pads and arpeggiator, you can really compose some interesting and unique tunes with it.

Last of all, it is compact and very portable so carrying it around to different places is a breeze.


#3: DAW for hip hop

A DAW for hip hop makes your music creating more organized and productive. I am not saying you absoutely need one but if you really into hip hop production, investing in a good DAW is going to be worth in down the road. I am already recommend my favourite, which you can read via the link above.


#4: Pre amp for hip hop vocals

This is not really necessary but if you want to increase the signal output from your mic, a preamp is good to have especially if you are heavily into vocals. If not, this is not needed at all.

For a more extensive read, you might want to refer to this article on the best mic preamp. Be warned though. It is really long to read although there is lots of useful information there for a beginner to refer to.

For beginners, I recommend the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6. Like the mic, it is usb enabled so you can plug it directly into your computer. It produces very clean and crisp sound and the build quality is very good for its price range. With this, all the nusiances of your vocals will be audible so don’t be surprise if you sound badly once the preamp is connected. Simply adjust your tone accordingly and over time, it should sound much better.

The best thing about the 6i6 is the multi inputs and outputs and allows you to connect to different instruments as well as amps or headphones. This means beyond being used in your hip hop home studio, you can also take it on stage for a live gig performance.

One thing to note is that you need to install the MixControl in order to install more drivers. There is no CD drivers that come with this preamp.



With technology bringing the cost down, it is now more affordable than ever to set your home studio for hip hop recording. With the equipment list above, you should have a nice set up within $1000.