How To Build Your Very Own Recording Studio
These days, more and more musicians are turning to home recording in order to get the sound they want.
The days of the old-school recording and production complexes may not quite be over, but nowadays, it’s easy to achieve the kind of big-budget sounds professional producers can get without turning to these kinds of establishments. All you need is a decently powerful PC, a good recording setup, and the talent to make it all work, and you’d be amazed just what you can achieve all by yourself. Here’s how you can build your very own recording studio at home, and what you’ll need in order to realise your dream of doing so.
First, make sure your house is ready
Wherever you live, you need to make sure that if you’re building a home studio, your home is ready to accommodate all the gear and extra stuff you’re going to need. This doesn’t just involve readying the room in which your studio is going to be situated; you also need to make sure the rest of the house is fit for musical royalty. Do you have a comfortable bed to rest after a day of working? Are you looking at that custom kitchen so you can get the nutrition you need to keep your energy levels up? Before you think about constructing your studio, get the rest of the house in tip-top shape. Believe us, you’ll thank yourself for doing so!
Make sure you have decent soundproofing
The most important factor in any great recording studio is the soundproofing. This isn’t just because you want to make sure your neighbours don’t get annoyed (although that’s certainly part of it). Soundproofing is also important for making sure you’ve got as much of a “dead” environment for recording as possible; you want the signal from whatever you’re recording to be dry so that you can add whatever you like to it later. Great soundproofing doesn’t have to be expensive, so it’s a good idea to try and find a soundproofing solution that won’t break the bank. However you choose to do it, make sure your soundproofing is intact.
Buy a decent PC
If you don’t have a powerful, fast PC on which to make, store, and master your recordings, you’re going to struggle to build a studio that’s fit for purpose. A great recording studio computer has a large amount of RAM so it can handle all the tasks you’re throwing at it, but it also needs to have a high-quality sound card. Of course, if you’re not feeling an onboard card, you can buy a USB interface; there are lots of options available, and the price range is pretty good, so no matter what your budget is, you’re likely to find something satisfactory. Lastly, make sure to set up dual monitors and buy a good graphics card, too, because many DAW programs run better with hardware acceleration.
Get good speakers and headphones
It might sound obvious, but if you’re going to listen back to the recordings you’ve made, you’re going to need high-quality speakers and headphones. When we say “speakers”, we don’t just mean the ones you can get for your PC; we’re talking about reference monitors, which are usually pretty large and bulky but will give you the best possible sound when you’re listening back. Headphones are also important; if you’re running a studio, you may wish to opt for closed-back headphones, which aren’t good for travelling or commuting but will give you the best range of sound. Once again, there are budget and high-end options for both of these pieces of audio tech.
Tidy your cables
If you go for a full studio setup – mixing desk, microphones, et cetera – then you’re quickly going to find you’ve got lots of cables lying around. There’s no real way to completely tidy away all of these cables; after all, you’re going to have lots of devices that you’ll need to access at a moment’s notice. However, if you invest in a decent cable management solution, you can minimise the aesthetic damage to your studio from lots of cables trailing everywhere. The last thing you want is to be walking through your studio and to suddenly trip on an errant cable, and a tidy workspace increases productivity, so don’t neglect cable management!
Pick the right DAW
Unless you’re going completely analogue – which we definitely wouldn’t recommend for a studio beginner – you’re going to need a good DAW (digital audio workstation) on which to record all of your instruments and parts. There are some fantastic free options to get started with, but if you want to match the professionals in terms of quality, you’re going to need to fork out for a decent DAW. Popular options include Cubase, Logic, Ableton, and Pro Tools, although there are plenty of others you can find if you do a little research. A lot of these software packages come complete with demo versions you can try out before you buy, so give them a shot and see which one works for you.
Don’t offer your services until you’re an expert
At some point, you’re going to want to loan out your studio to musicians and bands who need to record their projects. We’d strongly recommend not doing this until you’re absolutely confident that your abilities are up to a professional standard. If a musician or band buys studio time with you and it turns out you’re not the expert engineer they need to record their demo, then you’re going to develop a bad reputation. Spend some time getting to know your studio and its idiosyncrasies before you even think about opening the doors to customers. If you’re as much of a music nerd as we are, you’ll probably want to experiment with your setup anyway!