The Basics Of Building A Home Recording Studio
John Lennon’s home studio was considered integral to his success in recording Imagine, an album which reached Number 1 worldwide. The freedom to work in your own space, avoiding studio rental costs and restrictive timetables is appealing to most artists, from singer-songwriters to DJs. Used by well-known artists like Kanye West to lesser-known names like R. Stevie Moore, home studios are standard in the music industry. Whether modifying a simple space to lay down some presentable demos or building a semi-professional production space, there are several established designs and methods for constructing a comfortable and practical home recording space, even without John Lennon’s budget.
Standard Gear Setup
Before digital recording, building a home studio meant cramming a room full of cumbersome gear and equipment. Fortunately, modern recording techniques concentrate most production work onto a computer. The minimum amount of gear needed to start recording would consist of just four essential tools. A computer, a digital audio workspace (DAW), an audio interface, and a pair of decent studio headphones. For the best studio equipment at a fair price, check out how to build a home recording studio with under 600 dollars.
Most popular production software is capable of basic recording, along with other audio manipulation effects such as compression and equalization. While it is possible to record audio through the mic-in port of a computer, investing in an audio interface gives more control over the sound levels and overall quality of your recordings.
Extra tools to add in your home recording studio
Looking into getting a good pair of workroom speaker monitors and headphones is indispensable to achieving an accurate interpretation of the audio being recorded and evaluating what frequencies need to be modified. This is especially the case with speakers. Most commercial-grade speakers are designed by manufacturers to equalize and brighten any audio that’s sent out. This colorization hinders a producer from doing their job correctly since they’re unable to hear the true character and blemishes of the audio they’re working on. Effective workroom monitors are flat and relay audio accurately.
Yamaha HS5 Powered Studio Monitors are revered for their bass output and clear sound signals, making them a useful addition to a home studio. When considering headphones to purchase, always go for an over the ear design. Ear-buds typically are ill-fit for proper noise cancellation, leading users to play their audio at higher volumes; this leads to ear-fatigue and can pose a greater threat to one’s hearing. Responsive budget monitors, in conjunction with a decent pair of headphones, which offer a 180-degree scope of your recording’s sonic image, can make for competent and professional recording experience.
What To Know About DAWs
There are a plethora of DAWs currently available in the audio production field. Making the task of deciding which is the best fit for your recording purposes a bit of a challenge. At the very least, a DAW is able to record, edit, and export audio; even free software like Audacity is useful for completing simple mixing and editing tasks. Considering which DAW is best, it depends on what you plan to record and what genres you want to work with.
Home producers going for a more conventional recording arrangement (i.e., physical guitars, bass, and drums) may want to consider DAWs with a conventional display, like Pro Tools. Not only is it considered an industry standard, making whatever project you work on compatible with setups available in commercial studios, but it’s graphic display and mixing features are easy to comprehend and are incredibly efficient. Logic is another popular conventional DAW that’s tailored specifically for Apple products. Touting over 51GB of content along with touch bar compatibility for Macbooks, Logic is a valid program perfect for home producers. It is working in a streamlined Apple-centric work environment; it’s even able to import and modify Garageband, Apple’s free audio manipulation software, projects.
To get a full image of DAW’s, take a look at the best music production softwares in the market.
If producing electronic music is your main focus, then unconventional DAWs such as FL studio is probably a preferred fit. Exclusive to PC, this electronic centric software is renowned for its intuitive interface and an eclectic bank of instruments. Alternatively, Ableton Live offers a dynamic and unconventional work environment tailored for improvisational composers and songwriters. While its session view resembles and functions as a traditional timetable mixing/recording environment, Ableton’s unique arrangement view condenses recordings into a loopable cell-like measure called clips. The DAW’s versatile formats allow for creative freedom and flexibility. So, a track can easily be taken from the drafting stage at home to it’s staged ready iteration; this makes Ableton Live great for DJ sets and sample focused producers.
Powerful and reliable Desktop or Laptop
It is also essential to own a computer that will run your DAW, plugin instruments, effects, and other music relative softwares smoothly. Make sure your DAW is compatible with the operating system you are using, and you are good to go. There are no right and wrong choices when it comes to picking between MAC or WIN and Laptop or Desktop. It all comes down to your personal needs and requires. If you are working on WIN OS for years, there is no point to change to MAC OS. There are many choices for all every taste, and here you will find the best computer for music production.
Effective Room Setups
Considering what room is perfect for home recording is essential. Not just to the acoustic quality of your recordings, but also for your own comfort as an engineer. Large spaces such as a garage or home study are great since they allow sound to carry out as well as offer enough room for equipment storage. The orientation of how gear is setup is also important. While it may seem convenient to encircle your workstation with equipment and instruments, this poses a problem once more than one person is in the room, and it can make free movement difficult. By designating one portion of the room to record and the other to production/mixing, space becomes more accessible to navigate and is conducive to greater productivity.
Choosing the right room to establish as your recording space is about as important as the equipment it’s outfitted with. Some key characteristics to have in mind when deciding what room to designate as a workspace are how high the ceilings are, whether the walls are asymmetrical, and how quiet the area is. High ceilings allow for sound to carry out, which is essential when recording instruments such as live drums. Too small of a space will cause the sound of the drums to reflect off close surfaces, leading the recording’s quality to diminish from unwanted sonic feedback.
Asymmetrical walls can also compromise the stereo image to your recording, so it’s crucial to place your monitors so that the projected playback of your audio runs along the length of the room, and is as symmetrical as possible. Achieving near-absolute silence with a room is vital for ensuring quality recording sessions; if say traffic or running water is audible, then any attempts at recording would become a fruitless nightmare. Understanding how sound functions in an enclosed space, and understanding what can be done to treat it, can make a world of difference for how your recordings.
Treating A Room’s Acoustics
While the points already covered will guarantee a practical beginner’s studio setup for home recording; more advanced home studios would benefit from appropriate acoustic treatment to the recording space. Most rooms within a house have poor acoustics, to begin with. Something that may not seem apparent, like what material the room’s walls are made of. It can have a tremendous impact on the way audio is treated in your studio.
Sound is typically either reflected, absorbed, or diffused when it comes in contact with a surface. This can be detrimental to the control you have over the quality of your recordings. Especially in the advent of standing waves. Standing waves occur when sound reverberates off of two parallel surfaces. Most rooms within a household offer solid walls that lead to this phenomenon to occur. By implementing a blend of soundproof panels and diffusers, your home studio will be able to retain the desired sound of your recorded audio, despite the house’s structural limits. Together, the panels and diffusers, absorb any unwanted frequency while supporting the natural tone of whatever you record.
In essence, the theory behind soundproofing is meant to reduce the likelihood of sound resonating off objects within a recording environment. Typical modern homes enforce at least 35 dB of sound isolation. The advent of unwanted audio interference can be further subdued by patching any cracks and holes that allow air to pass through within the room. The most common area for air permeance is through crevices of the door. Installing rubber, and metal gaskets is a useful additive measure for canceling the flow of unwanted noise. Every angle and crack of a room should be inspected and controlled if acoustic purity is to be achieved.
Attention to detail is very important to achieve great sound acoustics.
Gone are the days when an aspiring musician had to break the bank to get their songs on the record. Now the necessary equipment and helpful resources are available to aid with assessing and modifying any given room in your home. The choice is really up to the artist; in terms of what type of gear and software they feel is necessary to make their home studio a comfortable and respectable hub for musical genius. However, a basic understanding of the technique behind proper acoustic treatment and sound control can better guarantee a home recording artist’s sound doesn’t come across as unprofessional or amateur. By making a small investment into adequate gear and smart room design, it becomes possible to bring the environment of a professional studio to life within the comfort of your own home.
Building a home recording studio from scratch is not an easy task. The variety and quantity of studio hardware and software available in the market can be challenging for beginners. We hope our guide we cover all the basics and get you started producing music.
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