So, my goal was set; releasing an album on a budget, spending less than $1000. First step I needed to get the infrastructure in place.
I wanted something lightweight and portable, and based my “studio” on a standard windows laptop (I use a few years old Hp 8440p Elitebook, running windows 7). I bought it used for $300, but since I already had it before starting this project, I think it is fair not to include the cost in my overall $1000 budget.
My first investment would be the Digital Audio Workbench ( or DAW if your into this). The DAW is the core of any studio. It is the central program that ties all audio tracks together. In the DAW you record, compose, edit, cut, paste, insert midi tracks, add effects etc. There are many programs on the market ( wikipedia has a great listing). I found that they all pretty much do the same thing, so it is a matter of taste ( and budget). Some come bundeled with samples or virtual instruments, and cost more (of course) while others more lightweight. After trying a few demos, I went for Cokos Reaper. The install is only 12MB (no bundleled audio), so it is lightweight alright, the cost is only $60 for small business use, and it is low on CPU usage.