Whether you’re recording a podcast or trying to make the next great pop song in your home studio, there are many things you can do to make these recordings sound amazing. Thanks to the many great advances in sound recording technology, you can expertly set up a home recording studio to rival professionals.
Everything such as: studio monitors, condenser mics, digital audio workstations, recording software, acoustic treatments for acoustic guitars, and so much more is available to transform your room into a professional studio.
This process certainly isn’t a walk in the park and you’ll want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to make the most out of your home studio. Thankfully, this article will provide you with eleven simple tips that will make your home studio recordings sound amazing.
1. Experiment with Your Microphone Placement
In order to produce a clear and professional quality recording from your home studio, it’s absolutely imperative that you find the best placement for your vocal and instrument microphones.
According to Lou Carlozo writing for Reverb, it’s best to experiment with a few different microphone spacing options when recording. His suggestion? “Experiment with recording guitars, amps, and even vocals at some distance from the mic. If you have two mic preamps, try one mic up close and one 5 or 10 feet away.”
This will take a bit of trial and error, but after testing out a few different types of microphone placements you should be able to find a sweet spot where your music and vocals sound great.
2. Try Using an Indirect Microphone Placement
Furthermore, it’s also in your best interest to experiment by avoiding talking or singing directly into the microphone. This will prevent the rather jarring bursts of air that can be heard when pronouncing words that begin with “P” or “B.”
Setting your microphone just a bit off to the side will allow those bursts of air to not go directly into the microphone, thus making your recordings sound a lot more professional. Similar to most of the other tips in this article, this process will take a bit of trial and error.
If it’s in your budget, a pop filter for your vocal microphones will help to cancel out any unnecessary sounds sneaking into your recordings.
3. Speak and Sing with Confidence
In order to make your home studio recordings sound amazing, you must speak or sing with clarity and confidence. In an article on Izotope, the writer suggests that when speaking or singing on your home recordings, try doing so while standing up “…to help provide better air support and a strong confident read.”
Though this particular article focuses more on getting a better sound for podcasts, standing up will also allow singing or rapping vocals to sound a bit clearer than when recorded from a sitting position.
Lastly, the article also suggests using a music stand to hold your lyrics or script when recording. A piece of foam or something similar behind the script will help to avoid reflections in the sound.
4. Avoid Recording at Super High Levels
Moving on from vocals and microphones, another great tip that will make your home recordings sound amazing is to record at conservative levels.
In order to accomplish this, simply keep a keen eye on the meters your recording software uses to portray how loud or how soft your recordings are and adjust them accordingly. The target should be 50-75% of the way up the meter. We do this to avoid clipping, and to give you an optimal recording for when it comes time to mix.
5. Maintain a Consistent Recording Environment
Though this may seem like common sense, but both professional and amateur artists often tend to change things up when change isn’t really necessary. Once you’ve found the perfect set up for your equipment and microphones–stick to it.
The same goes for the settings on your audio recording and mixing software. Finding these perfect recording setups will obviously take a bit of time to perfect, but once you’ve found a great set up for the sound you want to achieve everything else will be a bit easier.
6. Eliminate any and all Background Noise
Do your best to get rid of any and all background noise that may sneak its way into your recordings. This is a lot easier said than done as the microphones these days are able to pick up even the quietest noise.
Try to set up your microphone as far from any electronics with loud fans, such as your computer. Unplug or turn off any other noise-making devices like the fan, air conditioner, and office equipment.
This tip can really go a long way. Although you may not be able to hear the sound of your computer’s fan or the air conditioner turning on and off, your microphone will most likely pick it up and ruin an otherwise amazing recording session.
7. Invest in Quality Cables
Perhaps one of the more overlooked things you can do to make your home studio recordings sound amazing is to invest in high-quality cables that connect all of your gear together.
According to an article by Jon Ostrow on the blog Songtrust, “Your recording equipment is only as good as the cables you have connecting your rig together. This goes for all aspects of your recording, from the cables you use for your instruments and microphones to those used to connect your recording equipment together and to your computer.”
If you happen to be using any cheap or damaged cables, your recordings will undoubtedly suffer from unwanted distortion. Now you don’t have to go all out and purchase the most expensive cables available, but do a bit of research in order to determine which cables will work the best for your particular needs.
You can typically accomplish this through a little trial and error, as well as consulting with your local music equipment shop’s experts. They will usually set you on the right track and won’t mind exchanging or refunding any cables that don’t fit into your setup, even after having done some experimenting with them.
8. Practice Makes Perfect
Though this tip may seem like common sense, a lot of times an artist will want to get their music recorded and out to the world as soon as humanly possible. The point here is that you want to prioritize quality over quantity, as you don’t want to get a reputation for rushing things and creating a subpar product.
It’s certainly possible to lay down the perfect track on the first go-round, but not always likely. You will probably have to make some edits. A good tip from Lou Carlozo of Reverb: “Know the part by heart before you record; if you must edit, try splicing between whole sections of various takes to preserve a live feel.”
You may feel like the energy or emotion of the song your recording kind of loses its luster after the first couple of takes, but the burden is ultimately on the artist to make up for the repetitive nature of recording the same thing over and over by providing the same intensity and emotion captured on the first take, as well as on the tenth.
9. Change Guitar and Bass Strings and Tune up Using a Tuner
Recording with old strings and an out-of-tune instrument will certainly make your home studio recordings sound cheap and amateur. Simply taking the time to install new strings and accurately tune your instruments undoubtedly goes a long way in making your music sound professional.
To guarantee a smooth sound, tune your strings, not only to a tuner, but also to each other. This advice can really make the difference between sounding like an amateur or sounding professional.
10. Borrow or Rent Better Equipment if Necessary
To make the most out of your home recording studio, don’t be afraid to spend a little money or ask your friends to borrow their equipment if you think it will sound better than what you already have.
Unusual instruments can really add character and depth to a track while borrowing a high-quality piece of equipment, especially something like a microphone or speakers can really make or break a tune.
Typically, artists want to separate their particular sound from the others you hear on the radio. Using obscure equipment will certainly allow your music to stand out amongst the rest and therefore make it something different and unique to listen to.
11. Don’t Rely Too Heavily on Effects
Lastly, do not rely too heavily on the various effects you can add to the music or lyrics you’re recording. This is a common mistake made by home-recording musicians.
The most common of these effects is the the reverb, which amateurs tend to use to add depth and make recordings sound more professional. However, it often leads to the music and lyrics sounding a bit convoluted or hard to hear when you want them to sound as clear as possible.
You want your music to appear untouched to really let the talent shine and give listeners a sense authenticity. In the grand scheme, this is what will separate you from the pack.
Hopefully, these tips will get you well on your way to making your home studio recordings sound amazing. The process will certainly take a bit of trial and error to accomplish, but the work you put in will surely show.
It’s important to follow these tips, as well as do a bit of your own research to determine what will benefit your recordings the most. Often, people with home studios are only one or two steps away from sounding utterly professional. Figuring out what you need is not easy and will take some time and effort to figure out. When something doesn’t work out as planned, simply remain calm and do your best to determine what’s not working.
Avoiding frustration is key to making sure your home studio is operating as well as possible, and patience is paramount to this process. Nothing comes easy in the music business, and hard work and determination are very necessary to maximize your studio’s potential.
You may need to spend a bit of money in order to make your home studio recordings sound amazing, but you don’t have to max out all of your credit cards. Be on the lookout for good equipment rental prices and don’t be afraid to ask your buddies to borrow equipment.