DIY Audio 101

Why DIY?

We believe that building your own gear is absolutely the best way to acquire recording gear. DIY allows you to personalize each piece of gear -- in fact, we offer build-time configuration options in most of our products, as well as custom color options for our most popular kits.

Also, DIY gear costs as little as 1/10 as much as comparable commercial gear. The cost savings is unbeatable.


Tools & Materials

We have collected our favorite, recommended DIY Tools and Accessories on a separate page. Click that link to see our favorite soldering station, solder sucker, side cutters, and more.


Learning to Solder

As much as we love DIY, and we believe that every recording engineer should build his or her own gear, we recommend you NOT buy an expensive microphone kit as your first DIY project. Please learn to solder first. Here's an inexpensive kit that will help you learn to solder.


Your First DIY Audio Project

Once you're comfortable with a soldering iron, you'll be ready to move on to some basic DIY projects. We recommend starting slow.

See a list of our DIY microphone products and kits ranked by difficulty in FAQ #4.

The top item listed in FAQ #4 recommends installing an RK-47 capsule into any of a number of commonly available inexpensive microphones. Here's a slightly longer list:

  • MXL 990 ($99 new, as low as $30 on Ebay)
  • Monoprice 600800 (about $70 new)
  • MXL 770 ($40-$100)
  • MXL V63M
  • MXL V250
  • CAD GXL2200 or GXL2400

Don't pay more than $99 for any of them.

Installing an RK-47 capsule requires soldering 2-3 wires. The new capsule includes a mounting saddle that screws directly onto the CAD/MXL/Monoprice mounting post; the physical installation is easily managed with a few small screwdrivers and 20 minutes of time.

The modified microphone will sound much fuller, richer, and  more balanced. This mod is like gateway drug  for DIY audio. It's simple and very rewarding.


When DIY is a bad idea

If you need a mic by Thursday, please just buy a finished microphone. No DIY project benefits from time pressure. Allow yourself time to build the mic properly.

If you're only considering DIY to save money, please save a bit longer and buy a finished microphone. DIY tools are not inexpensive, and more to the point, we find that successful customers are successful because they enjoy the process. Customers motivated only by the prospect of saving a few hundred dollars tend not to give the build process the attention and care it requires.


When DIY is a good idea

  • When you have the patience to follow our build/install instructions (which are widely regarded as excellent; see customer testimonials on the product pages)
  • When you need premium gear but prefer to save 50-90% of the cost
  • When you wish to personalize/customize your gear to suit your specific needs