home recording

Home Recording Studio Setup Complete Guide

Let us guide you through with Home Recording Studio Setup step by step process, The musician in you wants to compose some great stuff, and there are some significant deterrents to your dream. Every newcomer will start by buying an able PC or Mac, and then comes the series of accessories, equipment, and software to accompany them.

It’s great that you have researched online to purchase the best microphone, studio monitors, and a DAW but a good room with the best acoustics is essential to get things going.

Steps to Setting Up Your Recording Room

A professional studio will have a fantastic setup, a rack full of different microphones, multiple studio monitors, and a huge console that you could work with. Still, it’s not as accessible as you think it is. 

Why Should You Setup Your Studio and Not Rent One?

When compared to a home studio, renting a studio for recording is,

  • Quite expensive as per hour rental could start at $50 and go all the way up to $500 if you live in a metropolitan city 
  • When you pay so much, your creativity level gets hampered, and you are forced to get things done in an hour or two without waiting for the music to flow through you 
  • A beginner or intermediate composer will find it difficult to efficiently utilize the DAW or instruments available in a rental studio as they will be of pro-level with lots of customization features
  • There are specific working hours and availability. If you find it comfortable working at 1 AM in the night or early in the morning, you won’t be able to knock at the doors of any studio 
  • Not so cost-effective because building your studio has long-term benefits, and the equipment or instrument you purchase today can be used for years without spending a dime again 
  • With so many drawbacks to it, it is evident that most people want to set up their home recording studio. A significant population of the sound industry at the beginner level has the big question on how to set up your recording room, and this guide aims to answer all the major questions.

1. Choosing the Right Room

2. Managing Acoustics

3. Arranging Your Equipment

4. Different Types of Studio Setup 

5. Organizing Cables and Adding Some More Accessories

Start here: Choosing the Right Room

Yes, we all get it! No one lives in a three-story mansion like Batman, and there are always space constraints. You are supposed to avoid external noise and at the same time ensure your sounds don’t reach your neighbors to stop them from registering any complaints. 

When choosing a room, make sure.

It’s the largest – Small confined spaces have bad acoustics, and sound will keep bouncing off the crooked corners repeatedly, making it difficult even if you use acoustic panels or filters.

It’s less noisy – Avoid a room with windows and the ones directly facing the road. You may get disturbed by external noises by trying to pick a room with the least disturbance. 

Its flooring is good – Depending on the location you live in, homes may be constructed with concrete, wooden floors, or sometimes tiles. They are all good for sound recording but don’t try to fix anything by using carpets as they are bad at absorbing low frequencies. 

Customizing Your Room of Choice

Most sound engineers and budding musicians cannot expect to have the perfect, professional studio setup on day one. They may obviously have to work on lots of things before it reaches the right level. 

Where to start?

· A typical household in any part of the world will have regularly shaped ceilings and walls. After all, you are not living in a stone cave full of irregular surfaces, right? But, it is possible to create an irregularity in the room.

· While you do have to clear everything in your room first before bringing in your table and equipment for the ideal arrangement, you can consider adding furniture, sofa, drum kits, and other irregular items to break the even surfaces in the wall.

· Make sure sound doesn’t go out and seal any cracks. It could be due to a partially broken wooden door, improper windows, or fake walls between rooms. Be aware that we are not talking about acoustics yet but on basic room preparation to get rid of its issues. 

· There should be plenty of space for you, your musicians, and singers to breathe. Consider adding ventilation to your room as air conditioners shouldn’t be the only source. Let some natural airflow in and out by building boxes using MDF, medium-density fibreboard, and installing it wherever there is an opening in the room.

Do this next: Managing Acoustics.

Now, the real thing begins where you will make your room perfectly acoustic as it is in any professional sound studio. All the suggestions mentioned here don’t have to be implemented on day one but know that if you are going to do them later, it is mandatory to remove all the equipment before some of these upgrades can be done. 

Add Floor Elevation – A common practice that many sound composers rely on. You can use wooden planks to lie them over the foam to create a fake floor on top of which the entire setup can be done. However, it should be noted that the planks should be of good quality and not shaky as it is not safe for yourself or the expensive setup you have in the room.

Carpets: Using carpets is good as it has its fair share of pros and cons for a studio setup. If you plan to invite lots of singers and composers to your studio, carpets will quickly wear off. They are great at absorbing high frequencies but not with low frequencies. When buying them, go for light colors as black wires in the path will be clearly visible and will avoid tripping over. 

Remove Items that Vibrate: The room you have picked in your house should be fully cleared before you start setting it up if entirely dedicated to sound recording. If you are going to use it as a bedroom or for other purposes, remove all items that may vibrate during a recording session as it could affect the output quality. 

Install Your Acoustic Panels: With so many types of acoustic panels, wedges, and other supporting items to work with, it could be tough to pick the right ones. Based on your room’s size and how bad it is in terms of acoustics, start by installing filters and panels on the wall. Make sure to fill it up gradually and take your time to do it as this is one kind of work that, if done ideally once, will reap great benefits in the future when recording.   

Do this properly: Arranging Your Equipment.

By reading the guide on how to set up your recording room, it is assumed that you have already purchased all the necessary equipment to have a recording session going. A detailed guide on the most essential stuff to buy has already been done. It should give you a good idea of the type of microphone, speaker, headphones to buy, along with additional components and a suitable digital audio workstation DAW. 

After having done the acoustics for your room, the next step is to find the most convenient and audio-centric setup for your equipment. 

Desk Placement – Start by placing your workstation desk first, which will be the centerpiece of the entire setup and should be strategically placed for easy access. There is no need to buy expensive, large desks with multiple layers, but a simple one would do for beginners.

Check out some of these inexpensive choices that are easy to purchase in case you don’t have a suitable desk. You can always upgrade at a later point if needed.

·      OnStage WS7500 Wood Workstation 

·      Z-Line Design Cyrus Workstation 

Chair(s) – You probably need more than one chair in your room, and both of them should be comfortable so that you can record for hours without any back pain or discomfort. The additional chairs are convenient even if you plan to be a solo composer. When other singers, instrument players, or professional colleagues walk into your studio setup, they need a place to sit down.

Why don’t you check out these comfortable chairs that should last a whole day and maybe another night until you get that masterpiece composition complete?

·      Flash Furniture Mid-Black Swivel Chair 

·      Best Office Ergonomic PU Leather High Back Chair

Computer/Mac – Whether you use a Mac or Windows PC doesn’t matter! All the major DAW software work on both platforms, and it should be placed centrally on your desk with possibly the pair of studio monitors on both sides and your reference headphones.

Audio Equipment: After having set the desk and chair, the obvious move is to start arranging your console, MIDI controller, get the cables going, but there is something more to it than what you might know. If you have only one or two pieces of equipment at the most, it’s easy to place them and start recording. A studio is bound to grow, and when it does, spacing and placement should be just right. Keep reading to know more about different studio arrangements for solo, dual, and group recording sessions. 

Understand this: Different Types of Studio Setup

Irrespective of the number of audio equipment you have, there are some basic rules to follow to handle professional recording sessions. The most common types of studio setup are individual, dual, and group formations. 

While the sound engineer or the composer should be in the middle of the room with access to different instruments and interfaces, a change in position will allow other people such as singers, instrument players to come in for group jams.

Individual Circular Setup 

An easy-to-understand setup where all you have to do is place your equipment around you while the computer will be mounted on top in the middle area. If you have a really small desk, you can buy some cheap desks to place the MIDI controller and the microphone in your back. A swiveling chair would help a lot as you can wear your headphones or listen to the output when playing. While being a sound engineer and musician are two different jobs, the average beginner will probably have to perform both, and this is a great arrangement.

Pros

· Perfect for individuals with limited room space and don’t want to move from their computer to access consoles 

· Easy to access musical instruments, MIDI controllers and immediately check their output on a DAW 

Cons

· There is hardly any place for a musician or sound engineer to join in this tightly knit setup which highly limits the extents of the studio

Dual Curved Setup

Imagine a curved theater screen and place your equipment in the same way. Repeat the step by creating a parallel curved line and set up the rest of your equipment collection for a second person to join the group. The second station is a cheaper setup, and it won’t have an additional computer or console. The secondary station can have microphones, instruments, or MID controllers geared towards the musician. You need at least two people to make the most out of it and based on the space in your room. It can even accommodate three people at once.

Pros 

· Effectively utilizes the space available and makes way for a second person to join the studio

· Allows you to compose better music and a music player to control instruments or MIDI controller

Cons

· Designed primarily for two people and may not accommodate too many 

· More expensive and solo composers or engineers have to move to access equipment constantly

Professional Group Setup

Here comes the best of the lot! While things may start slow at first, once you have acquired a couple of microphones, headphones, DAW knowledge, and some MIDI controllers to work with, Try the best professional group setup which works for a single person, two, or even five of them efficiently. Obviously, in such an extensive setup, you have to spend more on additional accessories and expand your collection to make the most out of it. The setup involves creating two stations with equipment spread out and using tablets, DAW remote to control it without physically moving to your computer every time. 

Pros

· Great for group performance and solo composers can use DAW remote bundled with the software or go for an iOS/ Android remote app to use with tablets to quickly play, pause or record 

· Makes use of all the equipment you have invested in and also provides everyone in a group to participate in the recording session with easy access to consoles

Cons

· It might take time and some investment to arrive at this setup 

· Requires you to buy additional accessories like a remote, iPad to control your computer remotely 

You’re almost there: Organizing Cables and Adding More Useful Accessories

Your dream studio is almost complete, but there is always room for improvement. Consider adding a monitor like the one mentioned below. It is large, has good resolution, and can be used to duplicate the DAW running on your PC so that it is easier to monitor while working as a group.

·      LG 32MA70HY-P 32-inch Full HD IPS Monitor

What would make your setup complete and your life easier? Cables, of course! Professional studios can never go wireless as consumers do because the quality is of utmost importance in the pro arena. You can instead buy a couple of extension cables for your microphone, headphones, and other equipment. Just remember to use cable ties so that people don’t trip over them.

·      LyxPro XLR Cable 25ft for Microphones, Powered Speakers 

·      Your Cable Store XM-F 15 foot XLR 3 Microphone Cable          

It’s complete! (for now): Establishing the Right Connection

Ideally, the music produced should seamlessly flow from the musical instrument or the MIDI controller through multiple cables and other instruments to finally reach the composing DAW interface. There are so many diagrams that you could find online and helpful Youtube tutorials that focus on using the right cables, input/output guides to create a proper connection between your equipment and computer. 

The type of studio headphones used and the monitors’ position will also play an integral role in determining the kind of music you produce. Neutral sounding speakers are mandatory, and gradually, you can expand them by buying multiple studio monitors to check how your composition sounds in different products. 

Conclusion

Once you have understood how to set up your recording room, the rest is easy, and you can learn more through experience. It has covered the basics and the pro levels of bringing your studio dream to come alive. Like any pursuit towards perfection, there is no endpoint for your setup as you can constantly evolve, add more items and expand while learning new things at every point. There is always in-depth technical stuff to learn about each component, setup but at the end of the day, if you are comfortable in your studio, you are bound to make some great music. 

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