If you are a musician of any type, you may want to be able to record your music at home. This could be useful if you are a small independent startup band trying to record an album, or if you just want to mess around with mixing some music.
1. Digital Audio Workstation
The first thing you will need is a program to record your music in. A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is just what you need. You can get something for free such as Garageband or Audacity, but ideally, you might want something with a little more power.
I recommend Reaper. It is a full DAW and is very powerful and only costs $60. When you compare this to the $300 price tag on Pro Tools, you realize this is a steal. If you aren't sure, you can get a 60-day free trial before you buy it at their website.
You will now need a way to connect your instrument to your computer. This is called an audio interface. You will likely want one with a 1/4" input AND an XLR input, so you can connect both guitars and microphones, respectively.
This interface by Behringer is a bare-bones interface, but still gives you everything you need: both types of input, a headphone out for monitoring, and some EQ controls.
3. MIDI Keyboard
A great way to record piano into the computer is by using MIDI. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, and essentially allows you to record from a keyboard while preserving data for which notes were pressed, when, and at what velocity. The notes you play will be isolated from each other so that you can edit them individually. You can also use instrument sounds built into your DAW to make your MIDI keyboard sound like any instrument from a tuba to a violin, or even a drum kit.
This MIDI keyboard is only $36, which is really incredible when you consider that most entry level midi controllers run at about $100. It also has some controls for pitch and modulation.
If you sing, beatbox, or play an orchestral instrument, you will want a microphone. You can get different types of microphones such as dynamic or condenser. There are also different types of microphones for different instruments.
This is a standard Cardioid Dynamic microphone. It is most useful for singing and beatboxing but can be used for instruments as well.
However, if you'd like a better fit for a brass or woodwind instrument, consider this one. For $10, this is a great microphone given that it is comparable to the $100 industry standard by Shure.
Foam is a great soundproofing material, which is vital for getting a clean recording. These can be hung on the wall to absorb excess sound.
Don't forget your cables and microphone stands! Here is a good microphone stand.
You also will need XLR cables for your microphones.
You may also need standard (1/4") cables for your guitars.
Finally, your interface and MIDI keyboard may not come with USB cables. If this is the case you will need to get those as well. They will likely need USB-A to USB-B cables.
This list should give you everything you need to get started recording. You can pick and choose based on your needs, since you may not need everything. Everything on this list totals only $205 which is not bad for what you can do with it. If you don't want to spend quite that much, you can still get all the essentials: a DAW, an interface, a MIDI keyboard, and a microphone, for just $150.