Step 2: Preparing Your Home Recording Studio
Nearly any room can be transformed into a home music recording studio. If you’re struggling for space to put your home music studio, you can always split up a section of your bedroom or living room and use that as your home recording space.
As long as your room doesn’t have any comb filtering or echoing effects, then you should be fine. If your room is suffering from echoing then you can always install sound acoustics treatment to treat your room and to prevent any recording interferences. this will make your recording sound much better
When choosing a location for your home music studio, ideally you should choose a room with enough space to include all your equipment and your future equipment.
Although you don’t have to acoustically prepare your room with sound treatment it is recommended to, as delays in the audio signal can cause negative disruptions in your recordings.
In the section, we will go over how to choose your space for your home music studio and how to acoustically prepare your room.
How To Choose The Right Location For Your Home Recording Studio
Choosing a location for your home recording studio can be tricky as sometimes we are limited on space. The perfect space for a home music studio would be somewhere that is relatively spacious. Somewhere you can hold all your recording equipment and a room that is big enough to fit all your future equipment.
Making sure it’s large enough to fit your future equipment is quite important as if you’re going to take this seriously you will be spending a large amount of time acoustically preparing your room and making sure you’re able to get the best sounding recording quality.
If you don’t have any places to put your home music studio, don’t worry you can always section off part of another room such as your living room, dining room, or bedroom. Please do remember if you sectioning off a room there could be other noises that could potentially disrupt your recording quality.
You need to make sure the space that you are sectioning off is properly sound treated or doesn’t have any conflicting sounds that could disrupt the recordings. You need to also watch out for echoing or comb filtering as that can impact the quality of the recordings. What you’re looking for is a direct sound wave straight from your voice or instrument to your microphone. This will get you the best quality possible. Any delays or echoes is what causes microphone interference and can affect your recordings.
When recording it is best not to position your microphone near any walls that aren’t sound treated as this can cause disruption to the recording. If you can’t afford to sound treat your room, don’t worry there are always relatively inexpensive microphone booths that attach onto your boom stand. This can be used as another alternative to sound treatment and help you get the quality you’re looking for. Although this would help with making your microphone recordings sound great, it won’t help when coming to listen back to your recordings via your stereo studio monitors.
Eliminate all Background Noise
I’ve talked about this previously in this article but it is very important.
Background noises can disrupt a recording. You should make sure all background noises are turned off. These include ac units, computer fans, cars, neighbors, animals, rain and maybe even the wind because all those noises can be heard by your microphone and are magnified significantly.
It’s best to have hard tiles or hardwood flooring in your home music studio because carpets absorb high frequencies which can affect the acoustics and inflict how the recording sounds.
Do You Need To Acoustically Treat Your Home Recording Studio?
Most likely. Sound acoustics is used to stop reflects or to diffuse the sine/sound waves. The reason we need to acoustically treat your studio is to decrease and stop comb filtering or sound waves from being out-of-phase.
This is when there are two or more signals and one of them has been delayed. One of the most common reasons is that there could be an object blocking one of the signals which can cause a delay. These delays or reflections can be heard by the microphone or by your ears when you are listening back or mixing your track. Therefore it is important to acoustically treat your recording studio.
How To Acoustically Preparing Your Room
The aim of the game is to get a direct sound wave, straight from the instrument to the microphone without anything colliding with it in between. If it collides with or gets blocked by something in front of it can cause a delay in the signal which can interrupt and decreased the quality of your recordings, as the microphone may pick up the delayed signal.
Polyethylene foam panels can be placed on walls to absorb the sound waves reflections, without proper sound treatment those reflections will get recorded by the microphone or picked up by the ears.
When using sound absorbers the majority of the reflected sine waves will be absorbed, leaving you with just the remaining direct sound.
Which is what you want when recording or listening to your music, although you can over do it with sound absorbers. It’s best to cover 30 – 50% of the walls in areas your studio monitors will reflect sound.
Soundproofing is different from acoustical treatment
New musicians often get soundproofing and acoustic treatment mixed up, however, in reality, they are both completely different things.
Soundproofing is when you block the sound from entering or escaping a room. You do this by making sure airways are blocked up by the door or the windows. The reason someone would soundproof a room is so that they can play or record music as loud as they want without disturbing anybody, whether that is the people you live with or your neighbors.
Acoustically treating your room is when you add materials that will absorb the sound waves so that they cannot be reflected and cause interruptions when you are recording or when you are listening back to your music.
The Materials You Need To Acoustically Treat Your Home Recording Studio
You can acoustically treat your room by using polyethylene foam panels that stick onto the walls. These do an excellent job and are relatively affordable.
When you acoustically treat your room you want a combination of diffusion and absorption panels. The reason for this is so that your studio doesn’t sound unnatural.
When you are adding acoustic foam panels to your room, you need to be careful not to add too many as sometimes it can absorb too much sound and make the room sound too quiet and unnatural.yo
Diffusion of sound will stop certain reflections and scatter the sound so the sine waves don’t collide with each other. This makes sure the studio sounds natural.
Absorption panels are made up of polyethylene foam or fiberglass and will come as a title foam panel that can stick onto your wall, or they will come as a material wrapped in fabric.
They are usually a couple cms to a couple inches thick as the density of the panels is important due to helping the absorption.
These panels should be placed at around ear level in locations that your studio monitors will reflect sound at. You can find the hot spots by diagonally drawing an imaginary line from your studio monitors to the wall.
Bass traps are big foam blocks that are placed in the bottom corners of your room.
The reason they are placed in the bottom corners is because the lower end frequencies tend to form at these points. Bass traps are used to stop lower end frequencies from reflecting.
Diffusers are uneven surfaces that allow the sound waves to bounce around and break out without colliding into another wave and causing an interference. Sometimes it is best to use diffusers because overusing absorption panels tend to make your room sound unnatural.
You usually see these in high-end music studios as they can be pricey.
Use a Microphone Acoustic Isolation Shield
Microphone acoustic shields are great for absorbing excess sound near your microphone.
They will mount on to your microphone boom stand and they do an awesome job of improving the microphones recording quality. You can also get microphone acoustic desk stands that mount onto your desk.
The great part about microphone acoustic isolation shields is that they are priced fairly reasonable. You can buy one for as little as $40. This is a great investment and will make this recording quality much better.
How To Acoustically Treat Your Studio On a Budget
There a couple of creative ways that you can acoustically treat your recording studio when you’re on a budget.
If you are on a budget you can use egg cartons to acoustically treat your studio.
The idea is that the egg cartons will act as a sound absorber and absorb the sounds so they cannot reflect.
You do this by collecting egg cartons and gluing them to a strong piece of cardboard. Then you can mount them on the walls that are nearest to your microphone.
Please remember that egg cartons are often too thin and don’t provide an excellent purpose as an absorption panel. So I do not recommend using them, but they are better than nothing!
Cushions and Blankets:
Another way to acoustically treat your home recording studio if you’re on a budget is to use your cushions and blankets from your couch.
This absorbs the sounds so the sounds cannot be reflected.
Again, I wouldn’t recommend this method either unless you are on a budget and don’t have any alternatives.
Below is a video you can watch that demonstrates how to use egg cartons, cushions and blankets to acoustically treat your home recording studio. I wouldn’t recommend these methods unless you are on a budget or you’re strapped for cash.
Do I Need a Vocal Booth?
They do help, but they aren’t needed. If you have the budget to afford one then they can be worth it depending on how you’ve treated the acoustics in your studio.
For more information on vocal booths and whether you need one, check out our article on whether you should use a vocal booth for your home recording studio.
Placement of Your Equipment
You should refer to the next part of this article as you’re handy rulebook for placing your equipment in the right place. It’s important to correctly place your equipment in the right positions so that you can get the best possible sound quality.
The two most important equipment that needs to be correctly positioned is your microphone and your studio monitors. The reason for this is because if either one is positioned in the wrong place it can severely influence how you record and hear your recordings.
It’s important to make sure the sine waves from your voice or from the studio monitors can reach their destination without having to bounce off another object. This can cause a delay in one of the stereo signals which could be heard by your microphone or by your ears. This is commonly known as a comb filtering effect.
The Position of your microphone:
Don’t place your microphone next to any walls or objects that the sound can bounce off. If you do place it next to a wall or object it is important to make sure the surface is sound treated with sound insulation.
The position of your studio monitors:
The positioning of your studio monitors is also very important. You should make sure that your studio stereo speakers are positioned above your computer monitor and are positioned in the correct left and right positioning. The reason you want to position your speakers high up is so that the sound waves can directly be picked up by your ears. It’s important that the sine waves (sound waves) travel directly to your ears rather than bounce of anything in the process.
Positioning your room for multiple group recording:
If you looking to position your room for multi-group recordings, or when there is more than one person in the room at a certain time. Then you should create a certain room layout. This is to ensure everything in your studio can be reached and used by each individual without any hassle, it is also to keep your room organized and clean.