If you’re a serious musician, you’ve probably considered building your own space at home for playing and recording music. A home studio used to involve a lot of work and a huge expense, but in recent years recording technology has become more user friendly and less expensive, making it possible for anyone to create a recording space that operates on their schedule.
As anyone who has tried will tell you, building a home studio requires some trial and error. Every room has a different feel and every musician has different requirements. For example, a singer/songwriter might need to focus on the quality of the sound in the room in order to capture a pure vocal track, while a budding EDM producer’s money might be better spent on a high-end mixer. No matter what genre of music you work in, there are a few pitfalls that can keep any musician from achieving a professional sound. Here are three common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid when constructing your own home recording studio.
At this point, even inexpensive, entry-level recording equipment is still sophisticated enough to pick up low frequency ambient noise. That means that if you overspend on mics and mixers but skimp on sound-proofing material, you’re basically building a studio that is only good for recording the sound of your air conditioner or a passing police siren. Start by choosing a space that is as isolated as possible, even if it isn’t the most acoustically ideal choice. You can always create a layout to improve the acoustics in a room, but you won’t necessarily be able to control ambient noise. When you’re hanging soundproofing material like neoprene pucks, make sure to use high-quality tools and accessories. For example, using the right drill bit will help prevent scarring or cracking, so these materials will last longer and hold sound better.
Even if you’re setting up your recording studio in a closet, you can still orient your equipment, instruments and sound proofing in a way that allows for maximum sound quality. The key to any home studio is finding the right balance of absorption and diffusion. Typically hard surfaces will reflect sound back into your space, while softer materials, like carpet and foam, will diffuse sound. Typically, the smaller the room, the more absorption you want, since the proximity of the walls can cause sound to scatter uncontrollably. Typically, in a small space, you want to angle your instruments at a corner, so that reflective sound scatters toward the perimeter of the room and away from recording mics. In general, you also want to avoid carpet, which will absorb “good” sound.
When building your first home studio, it’s best to start with a limited amount of equipment and upgrade or expand as needed. When you’re trying to troubleshoot an issue, having too much gear can make it hard to determine the source of the problem. Start with your instruments, a good mic setup and a mixer. Then make adjustments to your studio layout until you achieve a sound that you like. Start adding on from there, making sure that every new piece of equipment is helping you achieve the ideal sound. Remember, a home studio isn’t just a collection of expensive devices. It’s a space for you to explore your creativity and capture it as honestly as possible.