If you are a musician looking to record when you want or looking to start a podcast, then you may need to set up a studio in your home. This article will share some information on how to set up a studio in your home. This will include deciding on the right recording studio design, computer and other control room equipment.
Why You Need a Home Studio
If you are not sure why you need a studio in your home, below are a few reasons:
- You can improve your craft and hone your skills.
- They are a good investment. A home recording studio can be rented. This allows you to make a little money on the side.
- A home recording studio lets you control your hours and work schedule.
- You can turn your studio into a home based business.
What Studio Equipment Do I Need?
Home studios need different pieces of equipment. All the gear should be industry standard for music or podcasts. Below is a list of the recording equipment and other things you need.
This is one are you don’t want to cut any corners. The studio software uses a lot of resources. So, when it comes to technology for storage devices, choose SSD’s over classic hard drives. They perform better. Also, it doesn’t matter in the end whether you choose a computer that uses MacOS or Windows. Most of the software like DAWS is compatible with either. However, the size of the storage device matters. The minimum for good sound quality on a constant basis is one terabyte. But you can get away with 512 GB of space to start and gradually increase this based on need.
Below are the features you need to consider for studio monitors for your home studio.
- Bigger rooms need 8 inch monitors minimum.
- Get a fan. A small room can get by with 3 to 5 inch units.
Power is another consideration. This is what drives the woofer and tweeter and generates sound quality. The monitor drivers need enough power for sharp and / or punchy sound. For smaller rooms look for power requirements of 20 Watts. Medium rooms take a 40 Watt monitor. A bigger space can go up to 80 Watts or higher.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
A digital audio workstation (DAW) is digital software that allows you to compose, edit and record audio tracks.
A good DAW has audio arrangement and recording features. So, look for the following:
- Audio Plugins. These control the virtual instruments, reverberation, equalization and delay.
- MIDI Controllers. These look after messages for audio signals like velocity and volume. You adjust the treatment.
An industry leader is Logic Pro X. This tool provides digital instruments and audio effects mimicking real musicians. You should also look out for sample libraries too.
Here’s some of the other pieces you will need.
These work with microphone levels . A good audio interface comes with a preamp built in. They boost a microphone level to a line level. You can get standalone versions or ones built into the audio interface.
A home studio should have two different headphones. Closed back headphones are used for recording. Open back headphones are used for mixing.
For closed back headphones, look for products with maximum sound insulation properties. Open back headphones provide good sound quality over isolation. Each serves different studio purposes.
You will also need good microphones. These are important for podcasts. The list below offers some best choices.
- Dynamic Microphones: These are also known as moving coil microphones. They are rugged, affordable and don’t require a power source like a battery. A disadvantage is they are less accurate than a condenser microphone.
- Condenser Mic: Condenser microphones are another option. Many experts prefer these for recording audio in a home studio. In a nutshell, they supply superior sound quality for music and words. These also have outstanding low-frequency responses.
- USB: These are a user friendly choice for home microphones. The best combine simplicity and high quality recording capabilities. Some have additional software. However, many of these microphones are just plug-and-play.
- XLR: This type of microphone comes with a preamp. The audio quality is better than other types of microphone. It is great for recording musical instruments. The XLR is the standard that gets used in many professional recording studios. It is adaptable and customizable.
Below are the microphone accessories you will need.
The starting point is knowing the difference between digital and analog cables.
- Analog cables transmit data through electricity.
- Digital cables use binary code.
The electrical signal from analog cables gets passed through instruments or other gear to speakers and monitors. Cones vibrate and push air to your ears. Digital signals are created by computers which is a machine language. A digital signal can be changed in many different ways.
These are excellent investment for your home studio. You can spend as little as $10 or more than $500. Here is a few of the mic stand options you have.
- Tripod stands are good for general use.
- Overhead stands are the most expensive.
- Tripod boom stands offer a bigger reach.
- Desktop stands work for podcasting.
Low-profile and round base stands are two of the other mic stand options.
These are important for production and just playing in your home . Here are a few boxes to check to get a good one.
- Software integration needs to be at the top of the list. You’ll need to be able to have control over your DAW or virtual instruments.
- A good driver is critical. If it crashes your computer and software, you can’t record properly. Do a little research on the manufacturer.
- One of the most important features are the keys. Look for high quality synth-action products.
Don’t forget to look for pitch and modulation controls too.
These improve the quality of the tracks your record. They eliminate plosives or speech sounds and mechanical popping noises. Metal screens are more expensive.
Audio samples are necessary for your home studio. They can include everything from sharp piano loops to a snare hit.
The audio interface can do a number of things. Like recording music and streaming podcasts. It connects your gear to the DAW through your computer. So, select your audio interface based on connections, budget and the physical design.
Podcast editing software should include features for music too. So, look for the following :
- A number of different audio effects and music that’s royalty-free for your podcast.
- A free trial is a nice software option for a live streaming production.
- The ability to remove any background noise is good.
Industry leaders like TwistedWave offer editing software for a Mac, iPhone/iPad or online. The interesting things is that you can launch it from a browser.
These are critical for your home setup. There are two different types.
- Near-Field Monitor Speakers: These use a dome shaped tweeter and a cone woofer. They are small with a wide range and work best 3 to 4 feet apart. Some can lack a deep base. But you can make up with a good sub woofer.
- Active Monitors: These have a power amplifier built in. That makes them the best choice for a home studio setup. Most of these are bi-amplified. One amp is for the tweeter and one for the woofer. That means you’ll get more sound power.
Don’t underestimate your room’s acoustics. It is important to make a distinction with the pro tools you will need. Soundproofing is designed to minimize the noise that travels in a room. It uses dense building material. Acoustic treatments do something completely different. They are designed to control the sound in a room and make it better.
For good acoustic treatments, look at three items.
- Diffusers work to scatter frequencies.
- Bass Traps absorb sound with low frequencies.
- Acoustic Panels absorb high and middle frequencies.
Primacoustic is an industry leader.
Ear Training Software
For good recordings, your ears need to develop basic skills. Sound engineers recognize bands of frequencies. Musicians can pick out chords, intervals and notes. This software will allow you to make mixing decisions that make your final product better.
A pop filter is a straightforward tool. It is the gear that goes between the microphone and singer / speaker. A pop filter contains a mesh screen that slows air to reduce plosives. These are speech sounds that get recorded otherwise.
There are generally two options
- Cheap screens and
- more expensive metal ones.
Consider looking into virtual instruments. A single software tool provides hundreds of instrument sounds. if you are just starting out, look for one with a single keyboard program and a good drum option.
Desk Work Station
When you are looking for a desk work station to bring everything together, there are a few features to check off.
- Find one with a smaller upper shelf to house monitors.
- Rollers so you can move it around.
- A tray that slides out for storing a keyboard and mouse.
As your home studio expands, you will need more rack space.
Summary Of The Basic Office Equipment Needs
Here is a checklist of the basic equipment you will need.
- The Computer. Go with at least 8 GB RAM to start.
- Studio Monitors. Remember that active speakers produce a flat frequency response. And that’s what you want.
- DAW Software. You can get free versions. But you’ll get limited functionality. Look for a company offering subscriptions.
- Audio Interface. Basically this is a analog to digital sound converter so your DAW can do its job.
- Headphones: There are two different types–closed back headphones for recording. And open back headphones for mixing.
- Microphones: The condenser mic can be used for both instruments and vocals.
- XLR Cables: If you are starting out, get three. One for your microphone and two for the monitors.
- Pop Filters: These ‘mesh’ screens filter out unwanted vocal noises.
How Much does a Home Studio Cost?
The quick answer is somewhere between $500 and $20,000 dollars. How much you will spend depends on what you are looking to accomplish. A good set of speakers and a computer can get a lot done with little money.
If you want something more professional with several mics and preamps, you could be looking at the $5000 to $50,000 range.
How To Set Up a Home Recording Studio
Setting up a recording space is a process. You can start with an idea, some money and a dedicated place. The steps below will be useful.
Choose the Perfect Room for Your Recording Space
An area your recording space is the first decision. Here is a few ideas to point you in the right direction.
- Avoid small rooms. Bigger rooms allow for an expanding collection of instruments and gear. They also sound and show better.
- Stay away from spaces with outside noise like plumbing, neighbors and cars.
- Choose concrete and tile over carpet. Carpets are bad for low frequencies.
Stay away from bedrooms because the acoustics are poor.
Make Sure the Room is Soundproofed
You need to soundproof your space. It is a DIY project you can finish in easy steps.
- Sound escapes in gaps in windows frames and doors. Add door sweeps and seal leaks with acoustical sealant. Hang thick curtains around windows. Don’t forget to line heating and cooling ducts.
- You can increase the mass in the walls and ceiling with special soundproof wall panels. Adding a second layer of drywall is another option.
If you can mount electrical switches on the wall. This takes away a sound entry point.
Have the Perfect Recording Studio Design
Having the right design makes a big difference. Take everything out of the room you have picked. That includes anything that can vibrate. Next you should add acoustic treatment. The standard set up has all the gear surrounding you in a circle. It is good for access.
The other option is a dual set up. There is a station for the engineer and another section for the musician. The hybrid set up looks most like the dual option.
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