Welcome back! I'm Streaky. Today, I'm going to answer a question that I get asked a lot in the comments when I review equipment. What is the best starter kit for somebody that's starting mixing and mastering for under $500? So today, I answer that question. I think you're going to be quite surprised by the end of the video of what I actually say. When people think about mastering, they mainly think about buying loads of big bits of hardware like this, like the rack of gear I've got behind me. All massively expensive speakers like these Kii Audio Three. Also, I realized that everyone's not in a fully treated room. Now, if you start adding all these things up, we get up to about £100,000, which I know that isn't in everyone's budget, especially when you're starting. You want to get going.
You're not in a room like this, with speakers like this, with equipment like this, you're more likely to be in a studio like this, which as you can tell from the sound has completely changed from the dull controlled environment that I'm in the studio through there. This is actually my office. There's another desk there with Matt sitting, editing away. (Well, he will be in a minute once I finished talking). So, this is the room that you're probably in. And this is the room doesn't mean that you can't get going and start mixing and mastering with just this setup. I'm sure a lot of you are in that. Now, I would suggest if you are in this set up, you got to keep things minimal. Because you've got a lot of echo. There's all sorts, this is like a roof thing. So there's like different. You can see the shape of the roof. It's all over the place. There's reflections happening everywhere.
I wouldn't even go near speakers with this setup. I don't think that's the right way to go. Because basically as soon as you start cranking it up. It's just going to go all over the place. Now yes, you could deaden this and you could get loads and loads of panels on the walls, but you're going to waste quite a lot of money. And really I’d want something that was portable. So, I got used to it. I could take it anywhere. And, then also what I can do is if I then go to get a more controlled space, I've got a reference that I can go to. So for $500, what are my go-to? What would I suggest for mixing and mastering you use?
So, you need to start with your door. Now, I would say most people buy this stage of the game have probably got their favorite door. I'm not going to include that in the cost. If I was, you could get Pro Tools first, which is free. But normally you're using Logic or one of the other doors out there. You probably already got that. You've got going. If you haven't, I would suggest Pro Tools first. It is limited to 16 channels for mixing so it might get a little tight. So, because I'm a Mac user, I would go for Logic. I think you've probably already got that. I'm really worried about how you're going to hear things. That's my main concern because it's not necessarily about what you're doing and what tools you're using. The main thing we're mixing and mastering is can I hear what I'm doing?
Because the most important thing is translation. By translation, I mean, how's it going to sound from the studio in the real world? So is it going to translate to the real world the same way that I heard it in the studio? And that's really what you want to get right. Because there's like a wind tunnel. If you're into formula one, we've done all the work in the wind tunnel with formula one. Is it going to translate to the track? It is what we've all the little developments that we've done. Are they going to work when we go on track? And you want those to be right. So what I suggest is you get your listening environment right. And, then because of that, every time when you hear something, it's going to sound the same way when you go in a car or whether you hear it on radio or wherever you are.
So, my first suggestion is you need something to be able to listen to obviously. Now, I'm not going to go speaker. As I said, because the room is going to take over. Before we get into headphones, if you like this video, please help me out and just click the like button below. It doesn't take much to just smash it below. And, so headphones. I would be spending a hefty amount of this $500 on say, a set of headphones like these Ollo. I think there are about $250. They're very good. They've got serviceable parts. They sound really flat. They're great little headphones. If you can't get hold of those, then I would get something like this Sennheiser HD 600 or 650, similar ballpark figure to those. Great headphones. Take them anywhere. You're going to get really used to them. Sennheiser are pretty standard.
But the great thing about them is you're going to get so used to hearing tracks on them and your reference material that you're going to know it sounds right. But the problem is what you plug those into. So, you don't really want to be plugging straight into the back of your Mac or PC because the headphone amp on there is one of their last considerations, really. So, you need to get yourself a decent DAC. Now, I liked this company called IFI. They do a really excellent Hi-Fi amp, which is called the Nano IDSD. Now the great thing about this, is if you do want to go and add some speakers later on, you can. It's got an output to put some speakers off the back of it too. So you already know the sound of it via headphones. So, then you get to know the sound of it from a set of active speakers.
So, it's a great little box, they something like that. Or if you want to spend a little bit less, because that's $150, which is really cheap for what it is great headphone amp, and you can pack it away everywhere. I've got a little Behringer here as well, which is rubbish. But it's good enough for what we want it for really. We just want it for a headphone amp. It's going to be a much bigger upgrade than that. That is probably about $40. So, it's super cheap. It does the job. As you can see, when I'm just listening to stuff on the computer. I've got that, I'm plugged into that. So, I say it's rubbish, but I'm using it. But I would probably try. And, if I was doing it and I was doing it for critical listening, I would probably want something like the IFI. There's a lot of other headphone amps in the same area as that I know that cord to do some good ones if you wanted to spend that little bit more, say a $100.
But what we're doing here is we're just making sure that our listening in what we're hearing is going to be the same all the time. So, make sure you've got your reference tracks. But you can just sit here and work. Now when it comes to plugins, what I would suggest, because you're going to need some tools to do some mixing and mastering. So, when it comes to plugins, I would suggest getting either the Slate bundle, which is on a monthly subscription or preferably I would go for the Plugin Alliance because plugin Alliance has loads of different types of sounds. I actually prefer their plugins to the slate stuff, not slating the slate stuff. But I just think that the Plugin Alliance is really good value. So try it. That's $20 a month.
Now they've got plugins in their galore for mixing and mastering. So, there's plenty in there for you to use. There's plenty to get, we'll definitely get you going. And, there's definitely enough there to do all the mixing and mastering you ever need to do, because you've also got your stock plugins in your door as well. Now, there's loads of stuff on my channel about stock plugins, and about how to use those. And there's plenty on loads of other EQs to get you going so that you know exactly what you're doing. There's also Ozone you could use if you were just doing mastering. You could just, get ozone, which I have a link above of my mastering in ozone. So, you can check that out. But that would be all you need really. So, I've got that massive set up in there, which is great.
I do this for a living. I’m a pro. I do it every day. So, I need that set up and I've built it over time. I haven't just gone straight out and bought all of that. I think you need to incrementally build up your equipment. I don't think you should just go in and buy a load of things straight away. I think you should learn one EQ. You should learn one compressor. And, that's the same for plugins too. And, I don't think you should get used to a set of headphones, have the headphones for a year, two years before you change to another headphone. Same with the headphone amp, same with speakers, same with everything. So don't be in a rush, spend the 500. Get your mixing and mastering really tight. So, there is a link coming across the screen now, which is a place you can go to where it lists all the kit that I suggest you get at different budget points. So, there's one, 500, 5,000 under 10 K, but there's a list of all my favorite equipment on there. So, if you want to get that, it's across the screen now, and there's also a link in the description. See on the next video. Thanks for watching. Don't forget to like it. Bye.