So, you have decided to take the plunge and set up your own recording studio, that’s great, but it is also quite a major undertaking. While recording studios can be quite a hassle to get set up, the reality is that they are essential for any sort of professional media recording.
Basically, everything these days requires the sort of quality that you can only get in a professional recording studio to gain any traction. This includes podcasts, music recording, and even making YouTube videos all require a relatively good recording studio setup.
Well, if you are like most people who are just starting out in the world of media recording, then there is a good chance that you don’t have a single clue about where or how to start. This is what we aim to help you within this article.
Here, you will find everything that you need to know in order to set up a really good home recording studio. This article will include important tips, necessary equipment, and basically everything else that one could possibly need to know about setting up their first recording studio.
Recording Studio For Beginners
This article is going to be presented as a sort of step by step guide, which should make things easier for everyone to follow.
1. Picking Out A Room
First things first, before you pick out any equipment or start considering any of the technical aspects of creating your recording studio, you first need to ask the question of whether you have a room that can actually serve as a recording studio.
Now, depending on what you actually plan to record in your recording studio, the ideal dimensions of the room will change quite a bit.
If you are aiming to do something music-related, such as an amateur brand, then you might want to opt for a larger recording room as you will need more space to accommodate instruments and equipment. If, on the other hand, you are leaning towards something like individual signing, recording videos, podcasts, or anything else that is similar, then you can afford to go for a smaller room.
2. Getting The Room Ready
The only thing to consider isn’t just the size of the room, but also potential audio issues that could pop up when recording in the room.
Remember, if you are recording audio of any type, then you are likely using a condenser mic, which is known to be extremely sensitive and extremely prone to picking up ambient audio like creaks and sounds outside the room.
So, in addition to picking out the room, you also need to work on making it soundproof. Get rid of anything that can interfere with the audio of the room or that will create ambient noise (shelves, fans, creaky furniture, etc.).
Once you have the dimensions of the room down, you will also want to look for things called “acoustic treatment.” These are essentially panels (usually made of foam, but also sometimes other material) that get put on the walls of your recording studio. The panels absorb ambient audio and prevent it from “bouncing” back off the walls and getting picked up your mic. These panels can be widely found, including on Amazon.
Finally, you are presumably going to want your recording and editing equipment in the same room as whatever it is that you are going to be doing the activity in. Only really rich or well-established personalities tend to have separate rooms for recording and editing; if you are just beginning, you are going to want to have everything in the same room.
So, you want to start the process of moving in your desk, computer, and anything else that you may already have that you will need to record and edit audio. Find a nice, central location for all of this, so that as you are recording, you can keep an eye on your monitor and look for any changes in sound profile as you speak or sing.
3. Picking Out A Microphone
Regardless of what it is that you are doing, whether it be singing, doing a podcast, making videos, etc., you will need a microphone.
Furthermore, you don’t need just any mic, you need a high-quality one that is actually meant for whatever it is that you are doing. If you are primarily going to be speaking, then you need a mic that is designed for that. If you are going to be singing, then you need a signing microphone.
While the purpose of this article is to talk about setting up a recording studio, we will give you some brief tips about picking out the right microphone.
First off, make sure that you are getting a condenser mic, as these are meant for recording in closed environments like a recording studio. Avoid dynamic mics, as those are meant for live speaking or singing, and not for recording in closed environments.
Secondly, try to stick to established brands when buying a mic (Shure mics are always reliable places to start) as this will help to avoid getting stuck with a subpar microphone.
Finally, don’t forget accessories. While buying a good microphone is essential, even the best microphone sounds a lot better if you have some accessories to go along with it, such as stands, pop filters, extension cables, and other crucial accessories. While this does add some cost to your initial purchase, it will pay off when you hear the final product for the first time.
4. Get A Digital Audio Workstation
If you are new to audio recording, then you might not know that computers generally aren’t setup to record and edit audio right away, you need to buy some components to make your PC able to function as an audio editing tool.
One such component is what is called a digital audio workstation (often referred to as DAWs for short). These are complex tools, but they are absolutely essential for even the most basic home recording studio to function properly.
We could pen an entire article on DAWs and how they work, what to look for when buying one, and more. However, that is a bit too much for this article, so let’s give you the condensed version.
DAWs are tools that allow you to record, edit, and produce audio of all different types. Part of what makes them essential is that they are useful for everything from simple speaking to full-on singing, and everything else in-between. So, much like a good microphone, a good DAW is important no matter what you plan on using your recording studio for.
Now here is what the confusing aspect of this comes into play. DAWs can refer to both software and to physical components; mainly because you need both.
The physical component of the workstation is often called an “audio interface,” this is what actually gets hooked up to your computer and what allows the computer to record the sound. The software component is what allows you to crack open that audio file, edit it, and then make it ready for uploading or distribution.
If you are trying to set up your recording studio on a budget, then there is free software out there that lets you edit audio, but it is obviously going to be very limited when compared to the many paid versions available. Still, if you are new to recording, then going free for a bit before eventually springing for a paid version isn’t a bad idea.
5. Getting A Good Pair Of Headphones
For studio recording, getting a good pair of headphones is often essential. While you do occasionally see some people record without them, the reality is that the vast majority of people will need a pair of headphones in order to properly hear audio while in their recording studio.
There isn’t too much that we can say here as there aren’t any real recommendations when it comes to buying headphones. Any good pair of headphones will suffice for recording, especially if you are doing it solo. The only thing that we will say is that headphones that block out external noise (closed-back headphones) will probably be preferred by most people as it ends up sounding a lot nicer.
6. Putting It All Together
Now that you have all your equipment and your room is ready, it is time to put it all together like a puzzle. While personal preference is going to be king when it comes to arranging your equipment, there are generally recommend setups that you can follow depending on if you are recording solo, in pairs, or in a group. Generally, they all follow the same pattern, which involves you being in the middle, and having all your equipment arranged in a circular pattern around you.
Try to keep your computer monitor visible at all times so that as you are recording you can keep an eye on your audio patterns (this lets you detect potential issues before the entire recording is ruined).
Congratulations, you have now set up your first recording studio, good luck!
Like this guide? Then you’d definitely love our other guides on the best microphone for vocals.