The most common question we’re asked is:
How do I start recording songs that sound professional?

You can record very high-quality music with:
✓ free software
✓ inexpensive hardware
✓ a bit of knowledge / practice.

Our free guide will show you all of this, step-by-step.

The gear, software and services listed in this guide are either FREE
or as inexpensive as possible without sacrificing quality.



If you are an artist who plans on releasing music to the public, you need to use a microphone that is designed specifically for capturing vocals to get a high quality recording.

Using a computer microphone (or the one on your mobile phone) is fine for recording personal demos or fleshing out song ideas. But you can’t publicly release music recorded this way.

If you have any plans to release the music online, a high-quality microphone is absolutely necessary.

You can get a high-quality microphone for as cheap as $40 USD.

You will need to choose between two types of microphone:
dynamic and condenser


  • For both home-studio use
    and live-show use

  • Generally less sensitive, not as good
    for gentle vocals or singing

  • Suitable for loud vocal styles,
    such as hard rock or aggressive rapping


  • Primarily designed for
    studio use only

  • Generally more sensitive,
    but can pick up unwanted noise

  • Suitable for singing, rapping
    and voice-overs



High quality doesn’t have to mean expensive — which is why we put together our short list of inexpensive microphones (ie. under $100) you should consider investing in as an up-and-coming artist.

These are traditional microphones (ie. not USB microphones) and will require you to purchase an audio interface to record vocals onto your computer.


Behringer C-1

The Behringer C-1 Condenser Microphone is most inexpensive microphone for a home recording setup that we recommend.

This is a condenser microphone that is meant for home studio use. It is not typically used in a live-music setting.

If you want professional quality recordings at the cheapest price, this is the mic for you. Anything we tested cheaper than this had serious quality issues that would negatively impact an artists songs.


MXL 990

The MXL 990 Condenser Microphone is a great entry-level microphone for a home recording setup.

This is condenser microphone that is meant for home studio use. It is not typically used in a live-music setting. Some aren’t a fan of its look, but its aesthetics should come secondary to its capacity to record professional quality audio.

A great part about the MXL 990 is that it comes with some useful hardware - a shockmount and a mic stand adapter.



The Shure SM58-LC Vocal Microphone is virtually the gold standard for those who want high-quality, durability and versatility in an inexpensive microphone.

The SM58 can be used for both home-recording and live shows, and it performs admirably in both scenarios. Industry pros have used this microphone for years, no doubt you will be happy with this microphone.

Because this is a dynamic microphone, it is more suited to aggressive vocal styles such as hard rock or rapping.



Your microphone will need some way to plug-in and communicate with your computer - this is where an audio interface comes in.


Behringer UMC22

The Behringer UMC22 Audio Interface is the most inexpensive audio interface for a home recording setup that we recommend.

This is a solid unit that does exact what you need it to — it takes the feed from a microphone and routes it to your computer via USB connection, enabling you to save your recordings on your computer.


Focusrite Scarlett Solo

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo Audio Interface is a step-up from the UMC22 and (if it’s in your budget) well worth the extra cost.

A bonus is that the unit comes with Pro Tools and some other software options that you can use for the recording process.



AmazonBasics XLR cable

To connect your microphone to your audio interface, you will need a cord or cable — we recommend the ultra-cheap AmazonBasics XLR Microphone Cable. You won’t find a cheaper XLR cable than this! Great quality too.


DragonPad USA Pop Filter

A pop-filter will help improve the quality of your recordings, especially hard syllable sounds like B’s and P’s.

The Dragonpad USA Microphone Pop Filter is inexpensive (under $15) and should also be added to your list if you want the best recordings possible.



Once your hardware is in place, you will need to install recording software onto your computer.

There are dozens of Digital Audio Workstations - sometimes called DAWs - to choose from online.
Most will run you a few hundred dollars.

Thankfully, there’s Audacity — free, open source recording and audio editing software.