How to Set Up Your Room for Studio-Quality Sound Without Breaking Your Budget

How to Set Up Your Room for Studio-Quality Sound Without Breaking Your Budget

Thanks to amazing technological advances in home recording studio equipment, it’s possible to set up any room in your house for studio-quality sound without spending a tremendous amount of money or ending up with egg boxes all over the walls. So you might be wondering how can you create a room with a good sound for recording.

Or if you are already recording at home, then perhaps you are looking to create higher quality sounds by improving the room acoustics. Here are some great tips and ways you can produce studio-quality recordings without spending thousands of dollars but still ensure that you get the pro level results you’re after.

What Can I Do to My Room to Improve the Sound Quality?

There are so many things you can do to the recording studio room in your home to create a higher quality studio sound. Some of these options can get rather expensive and since our budgets are all different, I’m going over a few different options.

The first thing you’ll want to consider is how to make your home studio soundproof. This is going to allow for a higher quality of sound because it means you get to use better equipment. I say this because the better (and more expensive) microphones you may want to use, are simply too good for an unprepared home studio. Most of the time, they’re going to ruin recordings because they’ll pick up sound coming from all over the house. There are other considerations here but in general, this is true, especially if you are looking at super high-end condenser mics.

But don’t worry, you can solve the soundproofing problem inexpensively, by using materials that you can pick up just about anywhere. Things like egg crate foam (commonly used as mattress toppers), curtains that are made of a thick material, and area rugs if you some type of hard surface flooring. All of these materials will help to lower the amount of reverb bouncing all over the room as you try to record.

And don’t forget the windows. You will definitely need to put in a little extra work to soundproof any windows that you have in your recording space.  You could cover them with bubble wrap or cut out some foam rectangular shapes that just barely hold themselves in place while you are recording but can be removed later. If your house is anything like my house, permanently attaching bubble wrap to a window is definitely a “no-go”. I’ve been happily married for 13 years…I’d like to keep it that way.  Honestly, for most situations that I’ve seen, a heavy drape or curtain will do just fine.

Another way to improve the room where your home studio is located. You can put some furniture, bookshelves and even plants in the room to help absorb some of the sounds. These, along with curtains and rugs, will reduce and even eliminate the number of sound waves bouncing around the room while you’re recording, thus making it sound much better.

Should I Invest in a Better Microphone?

In order to really get the most out of an expensive microphone, like I mentioned above, you have to be sure that your studio is as soundproof as possible. If you’ve accomplished that, then it might be time to invest in a slightly more expensive microphone.

So, is there a sound quality difference between a cheap microphone and an expensive microphone? According to blogs.articulate.com, “…when you compare the acceptable low-quality audio with similar narration recorded with a better microphone, there is a noticeable difference.”

The article goes on to say that it’s best to go with a unidirectional microphone—which records sound from one direction, over an omnidirectional microphone—which records sound from all directions because it will get rid of the ambient noise you may notice while using the latter.

The author of the article suggests a rather inexpensive unidirectional microphone called the Samson Go Mic which can be purchased for around $30.

Do I Need Better Mastering Software?

In order for your home recording studio to produce studio-quality sound, not only do you need to invest in soundproofing the room and purchasing better microphones, you’ll also want to invest in some professional mastering software.

Thankfully, according to an article at diymusician.cdbaby.com, “Mastering software is inexpensive, user-friendly, and very effective.”

The article recommends a product called Ozone by Izotope for home-studios mastering work, and although it may seem expensive for some at around $200, it will undoubtedly allow your music to have a more studio-quality sound. You’ll be able to use the components of this software on your finished recorded tracks, as well as for individual segments of a particular recording.

Should I Upgrade My Audio Interface?

The audio interface is what connects your microphones and instruments to your computer. It’s an important piece of equipment, and many people start out their home recording studio by purchasing the cheapest interface they need in order to just get started recording. And that’s fine for starting out, but upgrading the audio interface can make a monumental difference in the sound quality of your recording studio.

Adam Dachis from lifehacker.com says that, “A bad interface can hurt your incoming sound, so you don’t want to go with something on the really low end. In fact, you’re better off picking up a nice interface like the Apogee Duet on the used market.”

The Apogee Duet isn’t cheap, though you can find them used for a rather reasonable price; they will cost somewhere between $250 and $600. Adam also recommends a less expensive option in the Focusrite Saffire 6 that costs around $200.

What Else Can I Do?

Something else you can do to get studio-quality sound from your home recording studio is to purchase a preamplifier. According to diymusician.cdbaby.com, “Plugging a guitar or microphone directly into your recording interface can often produce a very transparent sound that lacks the warmth and volume that a great track requires.” In order to solve this issue, they suggest using a preamp.

Thankfully, you can find a decent preamp for around $50, and it will allow you to add a bit of volume and balance to your recordings. The diymusician.cdbaby.com site recommends the ART Tube MP preamp that you can purchase for only $55.

And on top of that, you can purchase at least one large diaphragm condenser microphone. These microphones are the most commonly used in professional recording studios and according to Joe Shambro from thoughtco.com, they are better than your typical microphone because they offer, “…a much greater frequency response and transient response, which is the ability to reproduce the “speed” of an instrument or voice.”

These types of microphones can end up being a bit expensive with some of the more popular models selling for $350. But don’t hesitate to look for used options to save some money.

How Much Am I Going to End Up Spending?

In order to get studio-quality sound from your home recording studio, you’ll obviously need to spend a little bit of money. Assuming that you have the basic equipment necessary, it’ll cost you $50 to $100 to soundproof your room, another $30 to $300 on microphones, $200 for mastering software, $200 for a better audio interface, and $50 for a preamp. The least amount you can estimate spending is around $500 with the maximum being around $800.

The cost of producing studio-quality sound certainly isn’t cheap, but that’s not to say it’s impossible even on a smaller budget. Take some time to research how your studio sounds with its current arrangement and see if there are some no-cost alternatives to getting a better sound.

You may just need to do a better job at soundproofing or simply add some furniture to your recording studio to ensure your room gets that acoustic treatment. A little trial and error will be required but it will definitely be worth the effort.

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