A home studio is the stepping stone in every musician’s life when they start producing music. Moreover, it’s never advisable to invest in a full-fledged studio at the very beginning. Of course money is a factor but also as amateurs, there are many things that happen in a studio that they are not accustomed to. Hence, beginning with a home studio setup is always recommended and it’s affordable as compared to a professional level studio.
There are certain things that you should keep in mind as you start to set up your own home studio. And that’s exactly what we are going to discuss today. We will walk you through some important pointers that shouldn’t be ignored if you want the best possible outcome from your home studio setup. Here we go:
1. Essential Equipments
It doesn’t cost you a fortune to set up a home studio. Honestly, it’s the skills that matter rather than spending too much money on buying the equipments.
And most importantly, never rush to buy. Do a proper and thorough research, compare different items and then go for it. That will get your hands on the best instrument at a reasonable price and you wouldn’t have to upgrade it any soon either.
There are a few key equipments that are required for setting up a successful home studio:
· Computer or Laptop
Any modern computers with 8+ RAM and a power processing unit will do the trick. If you plan on running larger projects with high number of channels, increase the RAM and the processor speed accordingly.
· Audio Interface
USB audio interfaces are the ideal choice for home studios as it allows you to connect the speakers, microphones and headphones to your computer simultaneously in a hassle-free manner.
· Microphones, Cables and Stands
Microphones with a cardioid polar pattern are the best for recording in the home studio as it rejects the sound from the back.
Go for a large diaphragm condenser microphone which would serve the purpose of recording vocals.
For recording instruments like acoustic guitars and wind instruments, a cardioid dynamic microphone would do the job.
Get one or two balanced XLR cables. Don’t spend too much money on them.
Same is the case with stands. You need two microphones stands for each microphone.
Also, try to get a pop-shield as it will prevent the occasional plosives during vocal recordings.
· Headphones and Monitor Speakers
There are two types of studio reference headphones – closed back and open back. Closed-back headphones are used for monitoring for recordings and open-back headphones are dedicated for mixing.
For a home studio, go for the closed-back headphones as you can use them for both recording and mixing; the trick is to mix at low levels and using a reference track.
As far as monitor speakers go, chose a pair that serves as a long term investment. It is quite difficult to mix a track without monitors as they have a flat frequency response and mix sounds as natural as it can get.
1· External Hard-drive
Music projects are quite heavy in terms of their file size and you’ll run out of disk space within a short time, and that’s why having a external hard drive with ample amount of size is a must recommend. It also helps the computer to run smoothly.
2. Room Selection
Buying instruments and equipments is one thing, and setting up the room is a whole different ball game. No matter how expensive your instruments are, if you don’t have the right room, your mixes will never sound good.
Selecting an ideal room becomes very essential. And there are some aspects you should know by heart.
Avoid rooms that are small or have similar lengths and breadths. They are terrible in terms of acoustics. Always go for a bigger and spacious room.
A room with too many reflective surfaces is a bad idea. A concrete basement is a big no-no. A wooden floor with a carpet base is desirably sound absorbent.
Make sure the ceiling height isn’t too low as it will cause a lot of reflection during recording and mixing as well.
3. Equipment Setup and Monitor Placement
A proper room layout comes before you start to acoustically treat the room which we will discuss up next. And the most critical thing about the room layout is the placement of the monitors.
The bass ports are on the back of the monitors, so if you place them too close to the wall, your low end will be completely compromised. Try to put them at least a foot or two away from the wall. Also, keep in mind that it should not be at an equal distance from the back and side wall.
Coming to the listening position, there is something known as a sweet spot. In layman’s terms, your head position should be at an angle of 60 degrees formed by the two monitors. To make things even easier, imagine an equilateral triangle formed by the two speakers and your sitting position. And do not forget to make them face towards you!
4. Acoustic Treatment
Acoustic treatment of a room shouldn’t have to be necessarily expensive as it widely seems. And before you can think about it, scratch off the idea of opting foam panels. They are expensive and aren’t as effective as it seems.
Stick to a minimal budget; rely on household materials like mattresses, cushions, drapes and curtains.
And to first, begin by treating the reflections that come off of the side walls to the left and right side of the speakers. Also go ahead and do the ceiling if its two low.
Next, take care of the corners on the back of the speakers and also the ones behind you by placing the absorbers in an angular state which increases its efficiency.
Now, go for the wall that you are facing, the one behind the speakers and your computer screen. It will help you to get a more consistent bass.
5. Recording and Mixing
To trick to get a good mix lies in how you record the tracks. Much of the work is done if you have a good quality and noise free audio signal.
Don’t stick to a singular microphone position. Move around the room until you get the right tone. Turn off the AC if it’s disturbing the ambience of the room. Keep the noise level as minimal as you can.
Different projects demand different tonal quality. Experiment with the space you have and never refrain to try new things. That’s the first things towards being creative. Stick to the basic microphone placement technique and the rest is an ocean of permutations and combinations.
Use more than one microphone if required to get the desired effect.
And finally, we will tell you the best way to mix a song in a home studio setup for the best possible output. We’ve made a list for your convenience:
- Always avoid mixing a track in high levels. Stick to the minimum required volume. It provides more clarity and also don’t give you ear fatigue.
- Don’t use too many plug-ins. Work with the ones that come along with your DAW. When you use too many EQs and Compressors and Effects, it hampers both the quality of the audio and also starts lagging the performance of your system.
- Select a reference track and mix the track accordingly. That will save you a lot of time. Also, it will give you a better output.
- If you are not satisfied with a particular audio file, re-record it. If you try to ignore it by covering it up with effects, it might compromise the overall quality of your audio.
With these 5 important points taken care of, you should be good to go and start setting up your home studio. Once again we would say, don’t rush in buying any equipment without the proper background and technical research. We don’t want you to end up wasting your money. Take your time, invest wisely and once you are ready, start producing music in your very own home studio!