December 12, 2023

Creating your home studio

The Kid´s dream!

I think that 80% or more of my musician friends have always dreamed of having their own home studio. Have you? I dream about it everyday.

Imagine walking in from your backyard, into a nice, comfy room, shutting the door and setting up some microphones, turning on your amp and pressing the record button. That would be amazing!

Now, is it easy to create your own home studio? I think it is, of course, you need some space at home to set up your studio in… and do not forget about some cash to get some gear. You do not need to go for the expensive gear though, there are lots of options that will work a treat!

Every year, companies create new programs and improve old ones, creating higher quality interfaces with more features. Recording can be a difficult thing, it is a science in itself, however, everyone can do it with a little know-how and some reading. Basically, anything is possible if you have the right tools.

I think the money factor often scares people a little and stops them from investing in a home recording environment. At the very least, this has been an obstacle in the past. But things are changing and you can now get a pretty decent recording in a home studio from as little as a couple of hundred dollars. You can of course spend more, but it always pays to think big, start small.

The reasons:

Why would you like to have a home studio? For me, I want to be ready when inspiration strikes. I’ve found inspiration can hit me at any time and I would love to be able to capture those ideas in my own home studio. I can continue working on that idea later and more importantly, not forget it.

So what is your reason? Depending on your answer, you can find out how much you are looking to spend on your gear. Are you wanting to record yourself just to analyze your playing? Then you do not need to spend a lot of money, you can even do it with a good/modern cell phone or with a nice computer microphone… but perhaps you are wanting to create a band demo or yourself, or produce a CD, then you will need to spend a little more cash on gear.

Which brings us to the business side of things.

The gear:

If you are subscribed to our JamEdge Newsletter I can assume that you already have a home computer or laptop, which is the first step for creating your home recording studio. Your computer is what brings life to your sounds – your computer is what will run the software you need to record your instrument signal (guitar, bass, drums, piano, etc.) so you can then transform it all into a song or even share the music on the Internet, easy isn’t it? You will come to see it is!

Plugging your gear into your computer – An interface.

An interface is the bridge between your guitar or microphones and your computer. You can buy a nice interface for a $100 bucks, of course, you can get a more expensive one… remember, it all comes down to what you are wanting to achieve – The purpose.

Most of the basic and newest interfaces can be plugged to your computer via USB or via Firewire (recommended options). Remember, the interface is the bridge between your instrument and your computer so think about how many inputs you will need – would you like to be able to record a whole drum kit at some point? Then you will need an interface with at least 4 inputs. If you are only wanting to record yourself playing the guitar, the minimum of 2 inputs will do you just fine.

Most interfaces also come with software, so you will be killing two birds with one stone. You’ll get the hardware (interface) and software to manipulate what you record. You are now ready to start recording! One important thing to mention is that the interface has everything you need to record, it has the inputs for microphones, MIDI and of course the outputs for your monitors or speakers.

Getting the sounds out!

A pair of nice monitors is always a PLUS! You could of course use your laptop speakers (not recommended) or your stereo sound system, however, the quality is not the same.

Buying a pair of nice speakers or monitors can be a really good investment and believe me, your ears will appreciate it. You will be looking at spending around $200 bucks on a basic pair of speakers.Brands to look out for include: M-Audio, Behringer and Yamaha who all have a few low cost options with good quality. If you want to spend some more money, look out for some KRK, Genelec or ADAM.

1-2, 1-2… The Mics!

I want to avoid getting into any technical stuff, if you are really keen on the recording studio topic, you might need to do some more research, anyway here are the basics: Buying a microphone is a crucial thing, there are basically two kinds, dynamic and condenser mics. Dynamic mics are good for recording high sound level instruments such as a guitar or bass amp, wind or brass instruments, percussion and of course, a drum kit (snare drum, kick and toms).

Condenser mics are basically more sensitive and are used more for cymbals and vocals. Condenser mics are of course a bit more expensive than a dynamic microphone.

My advice is to go for what works, for the classic stuff… if you do some research you will find out that everyone recommends having at least one or two SHURE SM57s in your arsenal. This one is probably one of the most famous dynamic mic in the world. It offers superb sound quality and is often used to record amps, wind and brass instruments as well as drums.

The Software.

As I mentioned in the interface section, some interfaces come with a recording software as part of the bundle. However, you might also want to do some research in this field; the software is basically what you will use to do the recording. Some of the most popular software out there is Logic, Cakewalk, Cubase, Nuendo and Sonar, but there are hundreds of great options in the market.

The room.

The room sound is as important as all the things listed above. Lets do a recap: computer, speakers, microphones, guitar amp… mmm… not a lot of things, it definitely can fit in a small bedroom, not a problem. Now, remember that the quieter the location is, the better results you will get.

A very important aspect for any room is the acoustics. How live is your room? A simple test is to go into your room and clap. What do you hear? Can you hear any resonance? If you can, then that room will probably need some acoustic treatment. The rule is simple, the more acoustically dead your room, the better your recording will be.

Get into it!

Let’s be honest here… what I have just told you about creating your home recording studio is only a small percentage of what’s out there. There are many technical details and setup issues that have to be solved, some help from an experienced head is always beneficial. However, I didn’t want to get into any more detail, because I think that anyone can start a home studio at a very low cost, if you have an interest in it. And of course, the more you get into it, the more information and experience you will get,

Would you like to know more?

If you would like to get into home recording… do some research on the following topics:

– Microphones
– Recording software (read the manuals)
– Acoustic treatments for rooms
– Experience from recording studios

If you have already started to build your own home studio, we would love to hear about your experience building it and maybe some pictures? Share the knowledge, share the music!

All the best!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *