Everyone has to start somewhere so we’ve put together this guide to help point you in the right direction when setting up your home recording studio. As well as a computer, microphone, mixing desk and other accessories, a room that allows you to work in comfort is essential.
Setting up a home recording studio comes starts with understanding your needs. What do you plan to record? Who is your intended audience? We’ve broken it down to the essential items that most home recording studios need to get up and running.
A Place To Set Up Your Studio
Whether it is a spare room, a garage, the loft or the cupboard under the stairs, choosing the right place to set up your recording studio is the first and probably most important step. Here are some things to consider.
Is it a big enough space?
It’s amazing how much gear you can gather to get your studio up and running. From your laptop to a usb keyboard, speakers, cables and control surfaces, space is a premium. The cupboard under the stairs probably the best option.
Is there sufficient power supply?
A good clean power supply will reduce the chance of power spikes or interference. It might be tempting to add extension leads everywhere, but they only carry a limited load and can overheat or cause fire. Installing additional electrical sockets with surge and spike protection will safeguard you and your equipment.
Is the room ventilated?
All that gear is going to generate a lot of heat. A desktop top fan is not an option due to the noise it makes. Professional recording studios have air conditioning systems fitted that are virtually silent. If you live somewhere remote, an open window might be the solution – as long as there is no background noise.
There are a some very quiet portable air conditioning systems available. We will provide links to these in our resource section.
Solid Desk or Work Surface
If you are recording at home, chances are you will be setting up your studio in a spare bedroom or study. You will need a good quality solid desk to put all your gear onto. Vibration and unwanted sounds can cause all sorts of problems when recording so we recommend choosing a desk made of a solid wood like oak. Push and pull the desk about to see if any of the joints squeak and sit on it. If it cannot take your weight, would you trust it with your gear?
A desk riser or shelf will give you more space under your monitor(s).
Desk legs can pick up vibrations and carry them to your microphone and mixing desk, so make sure they are all carrying weight to the floor and the desk is balanced. We always leave a gap between the desk and the wall for cables and to reduce the chance of it rubbing against the wall.
Some desks come with built in desk tidies. Although these can be useful, they are often made from aluminium or folded mild steel and can rattle. Give the while desk a shake and listen for any noises.
Door With A Lock
My home studio is like a fortress with door locks and signs saying ‘Beware all ye who enter!’ Nothing ruins a great recording or live session than someone popping their head into the room for a listen. Try to let everyone know you are in session and must not be disturbed. On that note, unless it’s absolutely essential, switch off your mobile phone when you are in session. Ringtones can ruin mixes and mobiles can interfere with recording equipment and monitors.
This might sound silly, but it can really easy to completely forget the time when you are in your studio. Pulling off all-nighters before a day shift at work will not end well. We have a big digital clock up on the wall.
Fire Extinguisher and Smoke Alarm
With so much recording gear in one space generating heat, the opportunity for a fire to start is a real danger. Over-loaded multi sockets and dust collecting in air vents and fans can lead to fire. The sound of a smoke alarm going off might ruin your recording, but better that than your life. We use smoke alarms that have flashing lights as well as sound – so we get the warning during loud playbacks.
We will be covering sound proofing in another post (link will appear here when it is published), but here are some quick tips to get you started.
- If you have a wood or laminate floor, you will need to place a rug or carpet over it to help stop sound waves bouncing off it
- Thick curtains also help absorb sound waves
- Place monitors on top of foam pads to eliminate vibration
- Wear headphones 🎧
Computer, Keyboard and Mouse
There is so much more to buying a computer than just a fancy processor. Device noise is a major factor and one that most people forget about until they start to record – If you haven’t read our post about choosing a PC or laptop, read it here now – we discuss the benefits of buying soft click keyboards that are backlit. Mouse clicks can be recorded too, so look for soft click options there too.
Neighbours / Neighbors
This is where it pays to use some common sense. If you are planning to set up a recording studio in an apartment with people living above and below you, chances are you will not be very popular. Soundproofing will go a long way to reducing the amount of noise they will hear, but sound has always finds a way of creeping through walls and floorboards.
Having a recording schedule that allows you to record during normal wakening hours is good – as is keeping the volume at sensible levels. You don’t have to use your monitors at full volume. Bass tones travel for long distances. Good quality headphones will let you listen to your creations too.
I will be adding more to this page over time, but hope I have given you some helpful advice in the meantime.