Having your own perfectly set up recording studio is now a must for any budding musician, engineer, or music producer.
You will be creating your chart-topping hit, building your movie score, or crafting sound-designed effects that will knock the socks off that audience for hours. Your home studio should have EVERYTHING you need for optimized production.
This may seem like a significant investment, and it is, but let’s face it — it can get confusing on what you need for a home studio.
In this guide, we’ll be looking at everything you need to consider when planning your high-quality home studio ideas.
It’s always good to start at the top, and that means choosing the right space.
Let’s get started.
Home Studio Ideas: Planning Phase
It all starts here. Even with fantastic equipment, you will still be doomed to export lesser products if you have the wrong room and a poor setup.
Finding the perfect combination of all these things can be daunting (and let’s face it, it’s harder to find than the elusive unicorn), but you can start with the best intentions and work from there.
When choosing a room, you really need to pay attention to a few things.
These things are:
You will want a nice size room. That means finding the biggest one available to you. This will lessen acoustic issues and allow for more space for recording.
Squares! Am I right? Just like in high school, you want to stay away from squares. Having the perfect dimension will increase the buildup of standing waves.
Finding a room that is devoid of as many reflective or hard surfaces is recommended. These can all cause acoustic issues or absorb sound that you intend to capture. That is why a room with a wooded floor space and limited windows would be a great option for a home recording studio setup.
You need high ceilings to avoid having issues with comb filtering due to the reflection of sound waves. That’s why low ceilings are so bad when setting up your recording room.
You will want to minimize any outside noises. This includes electrical units and even traffic. The least excess noise possible will ensure a higher quality recording.
Acoustics and Setup
Once you have the right room, now it’s time to dive into the setup of the equipment and tools. The room having the right setup for your acoustics and monitors plays an important part in the end quality of your sound.
So here are a few tips when it comes to this part of the home studio set-up:
Placement of Speakers
This is perhaps the biggest thing you need to consider as you can move the rest of the equipment around, but once you set the speakers, they’re going to be there for the long haul (unless you feel like you need some extra exercise that is).
Here are some great tips to use when placing your speakers:
- Make sure they are placed AWAY from the wall. You will want access to the back of the units because many of them have ports on the back specific for certain input/output. Also, make sure to place them as close as possible to save space.
- You do NOT want to set them up centered. That means making sure they are not equal distances for front and sidewalls. This will help prevent standing wave buildup.
- Place the speakers along the long wall. If you have a larger room, doing this will help reduce the volume and decrease comb filtering among other issues. It’s also best to place them in the center of the wall to help with the stereo image (this is only good in a large room).
- You don’t want your listening spot to be across the length of the room more than halfway.
- Create a triangle with the speakers. This will help you find the perfect volume and tone easier
- You do NOT want to lay the speakers on their side unless that’s how they were designed to work
- They should be angled. This makes them point toward your ears which will give you the best sound quality and volume
The next thing you need to think about when setting up your home recording studio is acoustic treatment.
Having the right treatment will help any remaining problems due to the room’s characteristics, so be sure to build the perfect treatment for all your engineering and musical needs.
This process shouldn’t cost you too much that you have to take out a second mortgage on your home. In fact, there are many ways you can handle acoustic treatment with household or cheap materials.
You will want to stay away from any foam treatments. These really only impact high frequencies and the thing you will need to focus on more than those in the low end.
Here are a few methods you can MacGyver into acoustic treatments:
Equipment You Need
Okay, now you have your space set up, and you’re itching to get started. Hold your horses, my friend! There are some pieces of equipment you need to invest in to round out your home studio space.
Here are the main pieces of equipment you will absolutely need. You don’t want too much gear crowding around.
Audio Interface/Sound Card
This unit is the tool you will use to connect the rest of your equipment to your laptop and in turn, your digital audio workstation or DAW.
A lot of home studio setups go with a USB audio interface nowadays. Most things are done through a computer, and this option makes this way more practical. Though there are options that don’t use this port style that you can invest in.
With those, you will need an adapter piece, though, and that means more money spent.
READ MORE: Best Budget Audio Interface: USB, Low-Budget, Cheap
In a home music studio, the best option for mics is the cardioid models. Cardioid mics pick up very little noise from the rear, making them suitable for small spaces that are not 100% perfect.
If you want the perfect mic, you will want a condenser with a large diaphragm. This will offer you the most versatility in use (if you want more options, you may also want to include a dynamic mic as well).
This may not seem glamorous, but cables have a lot more to do with your sound than you think. You will want a good amount of balanced XLR cables. You want to find ones that match your budget but offer the most durability.
You will want a good quality stand that offers the most durability. Remember you will need one for every mic you have in your studio.
This is especially important if you are going to be recording vocals. This screen (A.K.A pop filter) fits over your mics and prevents plosives that could affect the end quality of your vocals.
These are important for when you’re both recording and mixing. There are two types to choose from, and each works better for a different purpose.
- Closed-back: these are great for recording
- Open-back: these are perfect for mixing
Make sure you get a good pair, and if you need to just have one pair for both functions then we highly suggest going with a closed-back option.
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Choosing the right studio monitors (and studio monitor stands) is important to your end sound. You’ll want to look for studio monitors, NOT HiFi speakers, as they tend to alter the sound.
In the end, finding ones you can afford and simply learning their sound is probably the best option.
READ MORE: Best Studio Monitors | Ultimate Buyers Guide
This really depends on what you plan to record music and craft in your home studio setup and how large your projects will be. If you’re working with large files and big projects, sticking to the tried and true desktop may be a better choice.
Laptops are good for smaller projects as they don’t have as much power as a desktop (though there is a way that you can improve your laptop so that it can run like a desktop).
In the end, this decision is really up to your preference and space.
This software can be used to record, edit, mix, and master, and having the right one is crucial. There are a lot of great DAWs out there. Ranging from industry-standard options like Pro Tools, Garageband, and Audition, to free alternatives like Audacity and Ocenaudio.
Some controllers automatically come with DAWs like the OP-Z Controller.
All of them have their advantages and disadvantages. You will have to weigh what you want versus what you are willing to spend and then choose.
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Building your home studio can be a fun and exhausting project, but if you’re ready for some long days of hard work, it is well worth it.
The suggestions, tips, and equipment we discussed above are the basics that you need to craft a music studio that can help you create some fantastic music and sounds.
Hopefully, you feel already to tackle this project. Now, all that’s left is to figure out which room this project is going to find a home in.
READ MORE: Studio Gear Guide: The Essential Gear To Become A Producer
April 26, 2022 – minor content edits