How to Set Up a YouTube Studio

Written by
Olivia Abtahi
min read

In a world with creators vlogging from their cars, kitchens, and even bathrooms, it’s easy to assume that nobody cares about sound and image quality. But that’s not true at all — with a bajillion videos uploaded to YouTube every second (or whatever), quality is a huge differentiator. So it will pay to be deliberate about all your choices, including where you shoot your videos.

A YouTube studio can give your content a clean, polished, and professional look that helps you rise above all the run-and-gun videos flooding the internet. Plus it saves you from setting up your camera and lights in a new space every time. A YouTube studio setup can even serve as a break from on-the-move footage or provide a backdrop for the entirety of your video.

While what qualifies as the best video equipment for YouTube is subjective depending on your preferences and needs, we have some recs. Whether you have an entire room in your office building or just a corner in your dorm, we’ll walk you through how to build a vlog room setup that works for your channel.

Video is clearly an effective way to engage your customers and convert new ones. Descript makes editing video production easy and collaborative, without sacrificing any of the power or functionality of more complicated software.
Tell your story with video. No training required

6 video equipment essentials for YouTube

1. Camera

When you have a space with good light, good sound quality, and a steady tripod, you don’t have to splurge as much on a high-end camera. That said, a camera is a must-have on any YouTuber essentials list, and there are options for every kind of budget and skill.

Beginners can probably get away with a smartphone with HD capabilities.. Even if your phone doesn’t have 4K, a minimum of 1080p is a solid resolution for a YouTube video. One of the pros of using a phone is that it’s easy to upload your footage to your computer for editing, or even edit through a mobile app.

If you’re already familiar with filmmaking and want to increase your production value, a dSLR is your best bet. A model with a pop-out monitor will make it easier to watch yourself as you film and make sure you’re in focus. Also, consider picking up a lens with autofocus capabilities that’s compatible with your camera body. This makes it easy for you to move around in your studio while having the camera keep you in focus, something a smartphone does automatically.  

Lastly, if you’re gaming or streaming, a webcam can work wonders with good light and sound. For all cameras — but especially a webcam — it’s imperative that you have a solid, immovable mount or tripod to keep your camera from shaking, especially if your webcam is perched on top of your computer or desk. Which leads us to…

2. Tripod

If you’re using a smartphone, a tripod with a ring light is a solid choice. For about $30, you’ll get a mount (you nestle your phone inside the ring light) plus lighting capabilities —  so you can do things like adjust color temperature or light intensity and cycle through ROYGBIV colors.

If you have a dSLR or a bigger camera, you’ll need something more heavy-duty. Check the weight specs for a tripod that can carry your camera load, and look for one with a bubble leveler, which will help you make sure your frame isn’t crooked. There are tons online for under $100 online, and you can often find dependable brands like Manfrotto or Benro at thrift stores and used camera stores. Before you buy, always double-check that the tripod plate fits your camera make and model.

In a pinch, you can always put your camera on a bookshelf or table, provided it’s steady and secure. While not a long-term solution, it can help you frame up your look and give you an idea of what kind of tripod you’ll need.  

For a webcam, it’s important to find a mount that won’t shake or rattle if placed on your desk, where the simple act of typing can jostle the camera around. Look for a webcam tripod like a flexible desk mount clamp or gooseneck stand that can absorb the shock of any keyboard or game controller movements.

3. Microphone

No matter how gorgeous your frame is, nothing can sabotage it like bad audio. While it’s tempting to overlook sound quality, the truth is it can make or break your YouTube channel. Luckily, a little investment can go a long way toward high-quality audio (check out some great mics under $100 here).

If you’re shooting with a smartphone, AirPods or microphones that connect to your phone can sound tinny and thin. Look for something that can plug into the USB port of your computer and record separately from your smartphone, like a mic that can sit on your desk. Some USB mics we like include: Blue Yeti, Samson Q2U, Røde NT-USB Mini.

For higher-end audio setups, an external sound mixer (like a Zoom H1N or RØDE AI-Micro) is worth the splurge, allowing you to plug in a lapel mic and control recording levels.

For a middle-of-the-road option, a shotgun mount that plugs into your camera can make post-production smoother, but won’t have the close feel of a lavalier mic that’s pinned to your shirt.

Whatever you do, don’t rely on your camera’s onboard microphone to record sound — you won’t be happy with the quality.

4. Lighting

LED lights, or light-emitting diodes, are the best bang for your buck. They’re incredibly effective, energy-saving, and don’t emit any actual heat.

Ring lights are a fantastic and low-cost option LED for creators who speak directly to the camera, and they help light your face flattering way. Another low-cost option is hanging China balls with daylight-balanced bulbs for a soft, even light.

If you have a bit more budget, a soft box is the way to go. It gives the same flattering look of a ring light but with the softness of a China ball. Just remember  to strike any overhead lighting, and if you have any small lamps in the frame, swap the bulbs to match the color temperature of your dominant light source.

Smart bulbs and smart light strips are an easy and cheap way to control the color temperature and hue of your YouTube lighting setup.

5. Quiet and small space

Perhaps the most important part of building a YouTube studio is the location. No matter how good your equipment, recording in a cramped and noisy spot can quickly tank your production value.

Look for a quiet room where you can control what’s in frame and how much sound comes in.  Ideally, it’s a room with a door you can close to prevent interruptions, or at least somewhere you can control the backdrop, where people (or pets) won’t walk through your frame.

Before you record, clean up.  Hide away any potentially distracting clutter, like loose cords, stacks of paper, and random office supplies. Then think about adding some visual interest — small touches like house plants, twinkle lights, and artwork always look inviting. You can also throw in swag, signage, or other branded items relevant to your channel.

Remember, this doesn’t have to be a dedicated room solely for filming. Even a corner of your bedroom can work. The most important thing is to have a space that’s quiet and in your control.

6. Audio and video editing software

If you’ve shot your footage on a smartphone, there are cheap and low-cost apps =that allow you to edit right on your mobile device. Just don’t forget to import any external audio you may have recorded.  

For dSLR users, programs like Premiere and Final Cut X are a bit pricier but offer more control. Another high-end program is DaVinci Resolve, a video editor that also offers more options for color correction.

However, there are plenty of low-cost web apps that can handle light editing. Canva has a web-app video editor, along with Vimeo. Even YouTube has a simple editing function in its creator studio, allowing you to trim and export your footage.

Descript is a great middle-of-the-road option for YouTubers who want something a little more robust with web-app capabilities.

Always check before purchasing or downloading software that it can export YouTube-compatible videos.

Here are some FAQs on how to build a YouTube studio

How much does it cost to set up a video studio?

The biggest factor in studio costs is your camera. If you’re shooting with a smartphone, you can build a respectable studio for under $100. Powerful dSLRs, like the popular Panasonic Lumix GH5 vlogging camera, cost at least $1,200, excluding lenses. That said, it’s easy to keep costs for other video equipment for YouTube low — many great tripod, lighting, and microphone options are available online for less than $50. It pays to be smart and pick and choose where to invest.  

What do I need for a home YouTube Studio?

The bottom line: not much. At minimum, you need a smartphone, a tripod/ring light combo,

and an external microphone. Beyond that, you just need a quiet and interesting-looking space that you can control. If you have a bigger budget, the sky’s the limit  — you’ll have hundreds of camera, lighting, tripod, and microphone options.

Which camera is best for YouTube videos?

Many YouTube creators prefer to use their smartphones, at least at first, to keep costs down. But shooting on a dSLR is going to give your channel a polished, high-quality feel. If you’re a gamer or streamer, a webcam with a solid, shock-absorbing mount is the way to go.

Written by
Written by
Olivia Abtahi

YA author and filmmaker. Her latest novel, Perfectly Parvin, won the SCBWI Honor and the latest film she edited, "This Land," Won Vimeo Staff Pick of the Year. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and daughter.

Descript is a collaborative audio/video editor that works like a doc. It includes transcription, a screen recorder, publishing, and some mind-bendingly useful AI tools.
Get started for free
Don't forget to share this article!
Olivia Abtahi

YA author and filmmaker. Her latest novel, Perfectly Parvin, won the SCBWI Honor and the latest film she edited, "This Land," Won Vimeo Staff Pick of the Year. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and daughter.

Share this article

Subscribe to our blog

You’ll get info and advice from us, insights and advice from your fellow creators.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By submitting your email you're agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.

See also

All-in-one audio & video editing, as easy as a doc.
Get started for free
@DescriptApp is PHENOMENAL. Best product experience I've had in the last 10 years. It will change the game of video & audio.
See offer
All-in-one audio & video editing, as easy as a doc.
Get started for free