Nowadays the music industry is growing larger and larger and more people are willing to give their musical capabilities a try. The first step to putting your work out there is by creating your own home studio from which you can record, mix, and master your sound so that you can later on publish it on your desired online platforms or local radio stations. We will give you some of the essentials on how to set up a home studio and hope that this will give you the needed motivation to start transforming a room in your house to your own little music temple where creativity will thrive.
Firstly, we will list some of the initial equipment you need to get, and then we will move to some other aspects of the studio, such as room orientation, space management, isolation, and others.
Key Takeaway: Creating your home studio can be fun, exciting, and challenging. You don’t have to have thousands of dollars to make your dream come true. We’ve got some great tips that will teach you how to turn that unused space in your home into the home recording studio you’ve always wanted. You’ll also get an in-depth look at the go-to gear you’ll need for a pro recording session.
Read on to check out our top tips that can help you achieve your dream of having a recording studio in the comfort of your own home.
Things You Need To Get Things Started
In general, the equipment you choose to buy depends on the type of music you will record or produce. For example, a singer would need a more expensive microphone compared to a guitarist who may not even need one. A drummer would require a whole set of microphones for his cymbals and drums, more cables, etc.
The five main things you need to get the ball rolling are:
A Good Computer
This is an aspect often overlooked by musicians and the lack of one is only felt at the final stages of recording and mastering where you need to render many instrumental channels and the computer pretty much dies on you. Pick a PC with a good amount of RAM (preferably 16 or 32 Gb, or 8/16 if its Apple). A higher specced processor is good as well. Try going for a 7th or 8th gen intels. I3s are good too but an i5 or i7 will make a huge difference. For AMD go for the newest Ryzen series (3, 5, 7). A GPU isn’t really needed here unless you are planning on creating videos along with your music with software such as Final Cut or Sony Vegas.
A DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
Having a DAW is a must. We won’t go deep into the debate of which DAW is the best because that is a whole other topic of its own but there are some main ones which are quite user friendly and are fairly easy to start with:
- Logic Pro (Apple exclusive)
- FL Studio
- Pro Tools
- Steinberg Cubase
- Presonus Studio One 3
The DAW will be the heart of your operation. It will serve as the unifying factor of everything you record and try to create. With it you will be able to mix, cut, and master the sound of your vocals or instruments and even create complex melodies and songs.
An Audio Interface
Most people don’t even know what an audio interface is until they start dealing with music. It is what some people call a “sound card”. They can be external or internal (built-in in your PC). For recording you will need a good external one. Basically, the sound interface is a box which enhances your sound input and output. Most modern computers cannot handle the higher quality of the music studios produce, so you will need something to give you that boost. Furthermore, audio interfaces give you more ports for your cables (mic cables, instrument line-ins, USB mics, etc.).
The topic of which audio interfaces are good is an endless one as well, so here are some well-known quality brands with which you can hardly go wrong:
Studio Monitors Or Headphones
This part really depends on how you prefer to get your sound. Studio monitors are great since they can deliver richer tones and will replicate the way your listeners will most likely listen to your songs. Active studio speakers are powerful and can give you an insight of your sound. If you live in a sound-sensitive area, though, opt for headphones. They are just as detailed in their sound output as some monitors and can give you a more “intimate” feeling, especially when recording or listening to music at 3AM.
We’ve covered which are the five best headphones for recording and DJing on today’s market in a detailed Buyer’s Guide. There you will find tons of advice, useful information, and tips.
Last but not least is another very important aspect of a singer’s home studio:
Microphones used to be super expensive back in the day but today a decent one shouldn’t set you back more than a hundred bucks. If you record multiple instruments (acoustically) with many people, get a few mics and a bigger audio interface (with more mic line-ins). If you are a single mastermind get one for yourself. Recording drums requires multiple mics and therefore bigger audio interfaces, more cables and a better knowledge on the topic.
If you a primarily a guitarist you might want to skip this one altogether, since you will most likely be recording your sound directly from your guitar into your PC.
Other things you might need are XLR cables, mic stands and pop filters.
Soundproofing Your Studio
Soundproofing your home studio will allow you to play and record any time of the day or night. If you don’t know what type of materials to use or where to even start, you’ve come to the right place.
First, begin by surveying your recording space. Take note of any gaps in window frames and doorways. If you’ve noticed any gaps you’re going to want to start off by fixing these spaces since sound can easily escape through these spots.
When working on door gaps, buy a couple of door sweeps and install one on each side of the door in order to prevent the sound from escaping.
For windows, seal leaks using acoustical sealant, or foam weather stripping, which is more affordable than pro-grade acoustical sealant. After this step, purchase thick curtains for every window.
You’ll also need to soundproof any cooling and heating ducts.
Just like light, sound can bounce off of a number of surfaces. If your recording studio has plain walls, hardwood, tile, or vinyl floors and countertops, then the sound will continue to reverberate, hitting multiple surfaces repeatedly. In order to soundproof against reflection purchase some textiles, buy some area rugs and hang some material on the walls.
You can also use material that’s specifically designed for soundproofing, such as acoustic insultation, egg cartons, or hang up soundproof curtains.
Keep in mind, you shouldn’t eliminate sound reflection completely. Instead, leave a couple of spots open, using a few diffusers in order to not negatively effect natural frequency.
Consider low and high-end sound absorption. Most types of reflections treatments will deal mainly with high frequency reflections, so you’ll want to install two or three bass traps in order to dampen low frequency sound.
Setting Up Your Recording Setup the Right Way
If you’re putting together a home recording studio, then you’ll want to take into consideration how you set up your gear and make sure you do so in a manner that can help to minimize noise.
The microphones should be placed far away from amps in order to cancel any feedback from electrical equipment.
You should also make sure you have the right number of outlets and double check that these outlets have the right wattage to handle your equipment.
Other Aspects To Consider
As we pointed out, the size of your room and the way it is isolated play an important role in a home studio. Try going for a smaller room to avoid unnecessary echoes (if recording live vocals) and get good sound absorbing foam on your walls and corners. If you plan to play drums in your apartment, make sure you isolate the door as well, and seal the windows with more foam or acoustic curtains. Rooms without windows are great for indoor home-studios. A good carpet is never a bad choice as well.
Furthermore, try getting a comfortable desk and chair. The desk should be big enough to fit all your equipment on it and let you access everything fast enough. There are specially designed studio desks but they can be pricey. A local carpenter can make you something exactly by your taste for far less money.
Pro Tip: Never cheap out on cables. A good quality cable will most likely enhance your sound and will be by your side for a great period of time. Gold-plated jacks reduce noise in your channels.