Tips on setting up your own home recording studio
So you have a bit of gear and you've been writing a few songs lately hey? Well maybe it's time to set up your recording studio properly so you can lift your music to the next level. With a very basic setup there is only so much you can do, both on the recording side but also when you go to mix the songs. You see when you go to record a sound like an instrument or a vocal, if you don't have an acoustically treated room and a clean signal path, it's never going to sound good. Once you have recorded a good sound source, you get inspired my the sound and end up making a much better song.
So how much gear do I need?
You don't need spend a fortune on recording gear these days as the lower end gear is so much better than it used to be. If you are smart about the gear you buy, I think you can get a basic but good setup for under $3000.
- 2nd hand Apple imac $800
- Logic Pro X recording software $320
- Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 recording interface $600
- Rode NT1A condenser mic recording kit $300
- Cheap drum kit mic set $300
- KRK Rokit 5 studio monitors $500
- 2 x closed back headphones $200
Setting up the room
Probably the most important part is getting the room sounding good so that when you record vocals or and instrument, it sounds nice without the reflections of the room coming back into the microphone. To do this is not as hard as it may seem. There is heaps of information on the internet to help you design a layout and use DIY materials to stop the reflections that can ruin a recording.
For vocal recordings you need some sort of vocal booth. This is a dead corner of your room that you can fit a singer in and a mic that has minimal reflections so that the vocals don't sound coloured atall by the voice reflecting back off the walls into the back or side of the mic. There is however a very easy way to get a great sounding vocal in any room. The SE Reflection Filter is a vocal boot in a box. simply put a mic into it and place it anywhere in the room on a mic stand and you have a great neutral sound vocal recording.
If you are planning to record instruments then you just need enough room to set the instrument and the mic up. If this is drums, I would recommend a second room if possible as you need to monitor the sound of the mic on the drums and this can be very hard with headphones. Having said that if you have a good pair of closed back headphones, it can be done.
The next thing to think about is the mixing position. The basic rule is that if your studio room walls were all covered in a mirror, where ever you can see your speakers from the listening position, needs to be covered with a sound panel to stop reflection. If you don't have a neutral sounding mixing position, then your mixes won't translate well outside your studio. In other words, you will mix you song thinking it sounds perfect but then when you listen to it in other speaker systems like your car, it will sound horrible!
Setting it all up!
Here at Beat Tank Studio, we started as a bedroom studio in Melbourne and ended up as a professional studio with lots of gear. The best way to learn about patching and creating a studio is to do lot's of research online and patch and wire everything up yourself. It's the best way to learn how everything gets routed around the studio and can really help when you need to problem solve in the middle of a recording session. I would highly recommend buying a soldering iron and some solder so you can make you own leads and also fix broken gear. Trust me, it could end up being the best bit of gear you ever buy!
If you have any questions about the studio building process, we are always happy to have a chat and answer any questions you might have. You can contact us anytime.