Recording studios can very quickly become an expensive bit of kit, but, if you want to be a successful musician, having access to one is extremely important. However, whilst the price tag can potentially run into the tens of thousands, when you are just starting out, it is surprising what you can achieve on a budget.
Technology today is constantly developing, meaning that recording from the comfort of your own home is a lot more accessible than what it used to be, especially if you already have your own computer.
There are a few simple steps to follow in order to create an affordable, yet perfectly useable and accessible recording studio right in your home. Whether a studio costs £50k or £1k, they will both need the basic equipment that is required to record.
Quite obviously the most important part of a recording studio is a device on which to record. Everything in your studio revolves around the microphone and if you are going to spend a little bit of money on one piece of equipment, spend it on your microphone; it should be an investment as opposed to something that is disposable.
If money is an issue and you are an artist that will be recording both voice and instrument, go for a dynamic microphone which will record both perfectly well.
A condenser microphone will record softer sounds and many artists go for a pop filter over their microphone when recording vocals. A very simple piece of equipment, a pop filter will prevent recordings from coming out harsh; it will soften sounds and prevent finished recordings from sounding harsh.
Your computer probably already comes with jacks for you to plug in your microphone, however, the quality of sound that will be recorded isn’t very high and a lot of pressure will be placed on to your computer’s inbuilt sound card.
An audio interface will work in place of your computer’s sound card and enable you to connect your any instruments and microphones to the machine via a mixer, taking the strain off your computer’s card. The basics for an audio interface are 4 jacks – two input jacks and two output jacks.
Usually connected to the computer via USB, an audio interface is perfect for laptop devices that just don’t have the capability to handle home recording. You can easily control the recording level of each microphone and the audio interface is a great way of jiggling what you are feeding through to your computer to be recorded.
If you have a good computer, you will be able to easily install recording software for a reasonable price, possibly even for free.
It is important that the recording software is easy for you to understand, as it will be the sole piece of equipment that you will use to manage all of your recordings; as a rule of thumb, as with most things in life, the more you spend, the better it will be.
However, there are many resources available that are completely free to use and are licensed. Explore your options, especially if you can play around with free software that won’t cause any financial loss to you if it doesn’t quite match what you are looking for.
A mixer can be a relatively inexpensive piece of kit for a recording studio and it doesn’t need to be anything special to work well. A mixer will allow you to manage all of your inputs that you are recording, meaning that you can easily adjust settings.
An audio mixer may be easily recognised by those who have watched DJ’s, as this is usually one of the main parts of a DJ kit, however, all types of recording artists will also require an audio recorder.
When recording music, you will need to have speakers that are different to speakers you will listen to music on via a stereo. Monitor speakers emit raw audio exactly as it is recorded, delivering the sound without any adjustment and allowing you to hear how your music sounded when you recorded it, as well as how people would hear it when you are playing live.
Headphones allow you to listen to the sound with absolutely no interference, as well as keep noise pollution down, which is especially important for those who are recording at home with neighbours who could find recording sessions a nuisance.
A lot of recordings are made in pieces, with artists firstly recording the keyboard, then the guitar, then the bass etc. in order, rather than doing it all at once. Using headphones means that when another recording is being made, the artist can listen to the other elements, without affecting the sound that is being recorded.
Instruments are expensive pieces of equipment that not everybody can afford; a synthesizer is a great way to play an array of sounds without having to purchase each instrument that relates to the sound.
They are optional and not an essential part of creating a recording studio, especially if you are in a band that is able to create all music sounds yourself, but as they are so affordable, they are a worthy investment and can push you to become more experimental and dynamic.
If you are creating a recording studio at home, it is highly recommended that you have a room completely dedicated to the studio itself.
Artists who are in a band will need the space for their instruments and there are many ways that you can enhance the space to ensure that the recordings you make are clear and don’t pick up other noises that can occur in the room.
The typical egg box look walls don’t necessarily serve much purpose, but acoustic foam is a great way of reducing echoes that will naturally occur and creep into the recordings. Heavy curtains are a great way of confining sounds and by simply placing them all around the room, you are softening the sounds that are recorded in the vicinity.
The aim of the game is to make the room as soundproofed as possible, as well as isolate your microphone so that the only sounds picked up are the ones that are supposed to be recorded; you don’t always have to shell out on professional equipment and household materials such as foam can help to stop unwanted sounds from being recorded.