Whether you’re an aspiring musician or a budding voice actor with a growing list of clients, having a great home studio can be very helpful in getting your career off the ground. A well-designed home studio can provide sound quality that’s almost as good as a professional studio with no need to rent studio time with money you may not have on hand right now.
Of course, setting up a home studio isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers. There’s a lot of work that goes into setup and the first step is to pick the right room.
Why Your Room is Important
If you’re eager to get down to work, then you may just want to set up on your kitchen table and get to work. While the work ethic is admirable, the studio setup is not. If you want top quality audio from your home studio, then you need to put in the time and effort to find the right room.
You may have all the equipment you need, such as a digital audio workstation, microphones and mic stands, multi-track recording equipment, a mixing desk, closed-back headphones, open-backed headphones, bass traps, speakers, and so on. However, without the right room, your equipment is rendered useless.
Choosing a room poorly suited for recording can mean you get background noises on your recordings from other people in your home. In addition, you may get a hollow or dull sound when you choose the wrong room. Small flaws in a home studio are to be expected and can sometimes be fixed by using acoustic panels and other equipment. However, no amount of equipment can undo a poor room choice for your home studio.
First Things to Consider
You’re probably mentally doing a tour of your home right now and planning what room you will set up your studio. Before you go ahead and settle on a space, you should be aware of some important factors to look for in a room.
First, the better the soundproofing is now, the less work you will have to do later. You want medium-sized rooms with heavy doors and no windows. Of course, that’s not a common type of room in every home. If all rooms have windows in your home, then choose one with small windows or only a single window. Ultimately, this will save you time and money down the road.
What is around this room? Will there be people walking by or people in other rooms that you may disturb when recording? Ideally, you will choose a room that’s out of the way and easy to close off from the outside world.
Finally, will you be able to fit all of your equipment into the room? If you just need a desk and some studio monitors then you won’t need a massive space. If you want room for an entire band then you should choose your space accordingly.
The Finer Details
After reading the above information you may have changed the room that you had in mind or perhaps you have further solidified the room in your mind. Now there are some finer details to consider before locking in your selection.
When you set up your equipment in the room, will you be able to set it up correctly? Ideally, you will have room to set up a desk away from the walls with enough room to correctly align your studio monitors. Keep in mind that studio monitors also need to be set up away from the walls.
This can very quickly make it feel like your room has become a lot smaller and why it’s not advisable to choose very small rooms.
What kind of acoustic treatments do you think you will need for this room? Will you be able to afford the additional equipment you need? Budget is often a major consideration for those who are setting up a home recording studio. You may like the room with a lot of windows and natural light but the cost of putting acoustic panels over the windows may be more than you are willing to spend.
You may also want to consider if you are able to make small renovations to the room in order to soundproof it and prepare for recording. If you are renting your home, then this may not be a feasible option. However, if you own your own home, then you get to call the shots. Of course, you may have a family who you have to consult. If renovations are out of the question then you will want to find a room with a naturally good layout.
Final Considerations before Completion
You have found the right room and you’re ready to get down to business. Before you set everything up and start recording, there are some things that you should consider. Taking some extra time before jumping in with both feet could save you time and money.
First, take some time to do a rough setup and layout in the room. You don’t have to plug in the wiring or complete the setup, but this exercise is just to see if your equipment fits in the room with a layout you are happy with. Many people will think they have found the perfect room only to find they have run out of space before they even put up any audio treatments.
Also, take some time to double and triple check your budget. Typically, home studios require 25% to 75% soundproofing panel coverage to get the best results. Always budget on the high side of things, and then come down if you are happy with the quality at a lower budget.
However, budgeting on the low end of things can lead to disappointment and unexpected costs. If you have a realistic idea of what it will cost to soundproof a room then managing those costs when you finally pull the trigger will be easier.
Finally, ask yourself if the space feels right for a home studio. It may sound silly but some spaces just don’t have the right feeling for recording. Major artists will travel the world to record in new studios for inspiration.
Of course, you probably don’t have that same luxury or else you likely wouldn’t be reading this article. Can you see yourself producing great work in this room or does it feel too dull, boring or unimaginative?
Take time to find the right room for yourself, and the quality of your recordings will reflect the time and effort you have put in.