As a music producer it's the dream to have the most vibey home studio ever that not only inspires you to make music, but also functions well technically. As soon as you start making this dream come true, you may notice that building a home studio isn't as easy as you might think. It's a lot more than some monitors, a pc, and a DAW. It gets more complicated with advanced gear, cables, and proper room treatment. The following tips will help you set up your dream studio!
Table of Contents:
1 - Room treatment
You probably do everything in your home studio: producing, mixing, recording and mastering. To do all of these well, room treatment goes a long way. When you're mixing audio on monitors, the shape of your room and the materials may affect the sound you hear due to the reflections.
For you as a producer, it's important to hear the real sound that is coming from your monitors. If you get the wrong audio signal, you may do some unwanted EQ adjustments, that just sound good in your specific room. However, for recording you want some "acoustic support" from the room.
The question is how to both mix and record in one room. The answer is the "live end dead end" method. In short, you have a dead end: the side of your room where you have your setup, treated with sound absorbing materials. And you have the live end, with reflective surfaces. When you want some acoustic support on a guitar for example, record near the live end, and when you want a dry vocal, move the mic to the dead end. For a more in depth guide on this method go here.
The most important areas of your room to isolate are the so called "initial reflection points". Two of these are above your head, one is on the left wall and one is on the right wall. To find them, see your walls and ceiling as mirrors. The points are where you would see your monitors in the mirror. These points are te sources that produce the reflections of the sound, that interfere with your direct monitor sound. Some frequencies are in phase and will boost the sound, some are out of phase and will cancel out. This has a huge impact on your sound.
Next up are bass traps. Bass traps are created to absorb lower range frequencies. Usually these are put in the corners of your room, and behind your monitors as there's a lot of low end energy being reflected by the walls there.
2 - Mic placement
Maybe you've noticed that recording vocals or instruments in different positions of your room makes a difference. It's important to test out some different positions before making a decision of where to put your mic. Move through your room and record several takes.
Choose the best sounding one and you may have found the sweet spot for recording in your room! The distance and the angle between the mic and the singer are also important. The closer you get to the mic, the more low end the mic will pick up. When you're singing above the mic, it won't pick up the air you breathe out and the sharp sounds.
3 - Cables
A more advanced home studio will have a lot of gear. And with each new device, you will have a lot of new cables. A bad, old, or just damaged cable will add distortion to your recordings. Sometimes you get recommendations for cables you should use on the product website. If you use a custom setup, you can ask experts online or in a local music store.
For a clean setup that inspires you can do some cable managing. There's different ways to do it, try and see which tools work best for your setup to get those cables out of the way and out of your sight.
4 - Monitor placement
Monitor placement has a great impact on your sound. It impacts how you perceive the frequencies, stereo image and more.
First, make sure your monitors and your head form an equilateral triangle. Meaning that all sides of the triangle have exactly the same length.
Then, turn your monitors so that they are pointing towards your head. Make sure the tweeters are around your ear level.
For low end reflections, it is important that your monitors are placed against the longest wall, and not too close to the wall.
Finally, to avoid low end vibrations transferring to your desk, it is vital to get some monitor isolation pads.
5 - Studio furniture and decoration
We have talked about good room treatment which is essential. But have you ever thought that your furniture and decoration could work like room treatment too? A well-placed couch could work great as a bass trap. Pillows, or even huge carpets on walls also work great for isolation! If you just started planning to build your dream home studio, put some nice furniture and decoration on your list!
Besides the room treatment functionality, it will obviously also add the vibes! LED strips, posters, a list of your goals, whatever gets you hyped about working towards your dreams is a great asset to have in your home studio. Check out our gear here for some inspiration on how to spice up the vibes in your studio!
Our favorite recommended studio gear
Our favorite studio desk: Output Platform desk
Our favorite studio cabinet: Output Sidecar
Our favorite studio speakers: Frontier Studio Monitors
Our favorite speaker stands: Output Speaker Stands
Our favorite studio desk accessories:
Our favorite studio posters/wall art:
Time to test
Now that you have everything in place, it should sound good, in theory. Of course, we have to test if this is actually the case. Luckily for us, this can be done easily. Play the video below. If you hear any significant changes in volume from one note to the next, then there's still problems with your current setup. In this case, you will have to start over and see how you can improve. If the volume stays consistent, you have a great sounding setup!
TIP: download the audio from the video & load it up in your DAW. Using a visual EQ or a plugin like SPAN will help you see which frequencies are playing when you notice problems. You could then go even further and calculate the wavelength of the frequency, measure that length around your speaker and see what is getting in the way.
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