Professional and amateur musicians always want to be able to record their own music. However, with the cost of studio time going up and the access to said studio going down, it can be a difficult thing to accomplish.
Did you know that you can develop your own recording studio at home? It is going to take some time and some initial investment, but eventually, the idea of a home recording studio can be made a reality. Soon you can be producing tunes for your own and everyone else’s enjoyment.
With digital music sales booming in recent years, it is time to take the leap into home recording. These digital sales are projected to continue on an upward trend as reported by Statista.
How do you go about setting up a home recording studio? It isn’t as complicated as you may think. Have a look.
Define your Needs
The first thing you need to determine is what your needs are. Are you a professional wanting to record and sell or stream your music for a profit? Is this a job for you. Or are you an amateur who loves to sing and wants to share your passion with the world?
Either way, you look at it, you want to make sure that you are setting up the studio for what your needs are.
There are going to be basic things your studio is going to need regardless of whether you are an amateur or a professional.
What type of computer you get is up to you. It is most recommended that you get a laptop for portability. However, a desktop is also useful when it comes to editing. You don’t need the latest or the best for a home recording studio. The computer is going to be the center of your operations, and it is essential. There are many laptops that are good for music and the same can be said for desktops.
Things you want to consider before choosing a studio computer are the specs. There are many great laptop specs that are good for music production. The specs listed below apply to both laptops and desktops.
- Processor – You want a minimum of a 3.0 processor that is, at the very least, a dual-core. Faster is always better.
- RAM – Aim for a minimum of 8GB
- Memory – You want to make sure that you have at least 500GB of memory. 1TB is better.
- Screen Size – Bigger is better when doing the intricate work of editing. Go for something that is 12” or bigger.
- CPU – The graphics you have are inconsequential unless you are editing videos.
The price range you are going to want to look at is in the $500 to $1500 range. You can find all the specs you need in that range and then some that are nice to have. If you are a student or just getting started in music production, you may want to stick to the lower range for now.
Some Laptop Options
Some Desktop Options
Microphones are an essential part of the recording industry as it is needed to record vocals. You don’t want to skimp out on this part of the recording studio. How the vocals sound is made or broken by the type of microphone you have. Luckily, some stellar vocals can be recorded using cheaper microphones for audio.
Microphones usually come in three different types:
This is a sound chart that shows the various polar patterns of the different microphones.
Speakers And Headphones
Being able to hear back what has been recorded is an essential part of the details. You don’t have to break your bank account to find some excellent speakers (monitors) or headphones.
Monitors have one key advantage, and that is being flat. Though you get a good sound out of your home entertainment system, you do not want to record or mix on that system because it will cause some faulty mixing mistakes that are unrecoverable.
Therefore, when it comes to the monitor, you want to make sure to pick one that is going to deliver the sound you desire. Some great options start around the $400 range and go up from there.
If you plan on recording instruments and vocals using a microphone, then headphones are an absolute must. Using the monitors in the same room as the recording will cause feedback and a variety of unwanted noises on the recording, and that is why microphones are a must.
There are some great microphones you can get. As an amateur, you can find a good set of headphones for tracking that begin at the $20 price point.
One of the best headphones for either an amateur or professional and works for mixing is the Beyerdynamic DT700’s. They are flat, accurate, and incredible for mixing.
Keep in mind that when you begin mixing that you use reference tracks. This way, you know what good recording sounds like. You won’t be able to copy someone else’s mix but have a better idea of where you think things should go for your own combinations.
The deal with the audio interface is that unless you are solely using virtual instruments for your recordings, you need to have an audio interface. This interface will allow you to record audio via the microphone and provide high-quality output for your speakers. You will be able to do your instrument recording via an instrument cable and get great sound through your monitors.
You could use the headphone output on your computers, but it really isn’t that good of an audio interface, and that method would be more likened to an amateur who is merely having fun. However, if the quality sound is what you are after, then an interface is what you want.
Most interfaces for home studios don’t need a ridiculous number of inputs. Thus, you can get a cheaper audio interface. The main feature you need in the audio interface is the number of outputs.
There is a difference between the higher-end interfaces and the lower-end interfaces, but it isn’t drastic.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
Of all the equipment you need for a home recording studio, the DAW is an absolute must-have. This “app” will allow you to record and use virtual instruments, and it is vital for mixing. Some industry standards include Avid’s Pro Tools that would enable for complex mixing and manipulation as well as routing. These are the best for the main task of producing high-quality music.
It used to be super expensive to get the Pro tools; however, now you can use what the pros do for around $100/year.
There are many different DAWs on the market, and they all have similar features that allow for mixing, recording, manipulating, and routing of music. The idea here is the choose the one that you feel the most comfortable working within your home studio.
As you start to assemble your recording studio with all the equipment listed above, you are probably going to run into a few things you forgot. Namely cables and miscellaneous equipment.
Here is a list of things you want to make sure you have on your home studio checklist:
This list may seem like common sense items, but a lot of home studio enthusiasts tend to forget one or more of these items and have to put off the recording.
Build The Studio Of Your Dreams
There is a lot to do once you have the equipment bought. You need to prepare the room. The biggest thing you want to develop your recording room for is dampening of outside sounds and keeping vocals/instruments sounds in. If you go all out, you can get a sound-canceling insulation that you can put in the walls.
However, the insulation is expensive and genuinely a professional choice. There are other ways to prevent an echo from your recording studio. Bookcases filled with books on the walls is a great way to dampen sounds. You can also use old blankets and hang them on the walls. The thicker, the better.
You want to create separation between your instruments, speakers, and equipment to avoid high-pierced sounds from interfering with the recording session. Therefore, make sure you have a large enough space that allows for dampening and separation.
The best spot in a home to do the recording? You’re basement if you have one. The sound will naturally be dampened, and there is less likely to be echoing. However, if you don’t have one, then focus on the main floor is a room that has lower ceilings to avoid that echoing sound.
It is time now to build your own home studio. With physical and streaming revenues in the music industry continually growing, you want to have a piece of that. As Fortune commented about Spotify and other streaming services, the rate of growth continues. From Spotify to Apple, streaming is the new form of music accumulation and it is where the profit is at.
Make sure you choose the right equipment to help you get the sound you want. Figure out what genre of music you prefer to record and get started. There is much to learn about home recording, but once you do, you can have a piece of the pie that is the music industry and its immense growth.
When you have made your home-recorded demo, you simply have to turn that master track by getting it ready to compete for airtime on all the major radio stations. The easiest way to get your sound heard is by hiring professionals.