Equipment! What a scary thing to look at! If you don’t have the right tools, how are you going to get an awesome recording program off the ground? Where do you even start? How can you possibly budget and keep yourself in good graces with your business office?

It’s not nearly as difficult as it may seem to get a RAMP program off the ground. Depending on the number of students you anticipate in your classroom, it can actually be a fairly cost-effective curriculum. If you don’t need new computers to run your software, I can guarantee that a $400 investment can get you off the ground.

Here’s where to start:

Computers

Don’t worry: if your students have access to computers, you’re already almost guaranteed to have a computer that will work with at least one of the many digital audio workstations (DAWs) available today. MacBooks already come equipped with an excellent DAW option, and PCs can accommodate many free or nearly-free options without any special hardware requirements. Chromebooks, or other similar cloud-based operating systems, may present a challenge, but beyond that, you can use what you already have without fear of falling short of the basic hardware requirements.

Digital Audio Workstations

The software component is the DAW. As stated above, you’re good to go if you have a Mac of some sort (GarageBand is a great starting point). But if you have a PC, you have other options to look at. PreSonus offers a free DAW that works very well and runs on relatively basic computers. Reaper offers a low-cost option that also works on almost any PC.

Audio Interfaces

While not necessary for a mix-only course structure, this item is absolutely imperative to a recording arts course where students will be tracking original material. This is the piece of equipment that translates the analog signal from an instrument or microphone into a digital signal that can be saved and edited later. PreSonus, Focusrite, and Behringer all offer great options for as little as $100 each. Some even come with the DAW license so you don’t have to spend extra on the software!

Microphones

These pieces of equipment can get expensive, but don’t get bent out of shape if you can’t afford the high-end models available. Look for a $100 large-diaphragm condenser, a similar dynamic microphone, and a couple pencil microphones to start with. You could easily restrict your budget to $300 or less and come out with a decent mic locker for your first year. Sterling Audio, Shure, and CAD offer excellent options for low prices. MXL also has some great options in a wider range of varieties, including multi-pattern and ribbon microphones.

Final Thoughts

Don’t be afraid to get started because of equipment needs. Honestly, this is a small budget for a program that could bring big ideas to your students! If you want to explore more options, the budget will need to increase, but students can get off the ground with less than $500 in the first year.

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