Outfitting a home recording studio is as much an art form as it is a science. You want great quality and sound from your projects, but your home still has to be a home. For most people, turning entire sections of their home into recording studios is not feasible.
So, how can you make a home recording studio that gets the job done and doesn’t take over your living space? Start with a minimalist approach and build from there. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Choose the Right Room
First, before you go out and buy anything, you need to know which room you will be using for your home studio. There are several factors to keep in mind, and the size of the room you choose could dictate what kind of materials you need and how much you need to purchase.
In most cases, you want to choose a small room that doesn’t see a lot of traffic. Your living room might seem like the most convenient location, but the background noise of people walking by could make the recording process very frustrating. Another reason to choose a small room is that sound waves have less distance to travel. On a recorded track you can hear if it was recorded in a large room because the ambiance will almost have an echo-like feel to it.
As you consider rooms for your home recording studio, you will also want to consider if any adjacent rooms have heavy traffic. Will there be any noise or distractions nearby that could affect the recording quality?
Also, are there any windows in the room? If possible, a room with no windows is best. However, that might not be a realistic choice depending on the design of your home. If there are no rooms without windows, then try to choose a room with small windows.
Based on all of the above factors, if you want a minimalist home recording studio, a basement spare bedroom or similar room is often the ideal choice. These rooms usually don’t have large windows and don’t see a lot of traffic. Now that you have picked the right room, you can choose the minimalist soundproofing equipment to finish the job.
Choosing the Essentials
You have chosen a room–now it’s time to choose your equipment. There are a variety of directions you can go from here depending on how minimalist you choose to be and how big your budget is. However, there are some essential features that you need to incorporate into your home recording studio.
First, consider parts of the room where sound can leak. This is most likely going to be doors and windows in most room. Completely soundproofing these features will be difficult but there are some steps to take.
With windows, you will want to put an acoustic sheet over the glass. This will still allow some natural light while maintaining sound quality. If you don’t care about letting in natural light, then you can cover the window with a studio-quality soundproofing panel for the best results.
Next, when looking at your door, there are a few options, and your choice will depend largely on your budget. One of the best options would be to replace your door with a heavy, solid door that allows little space for sound to leak. Of course, that may be an expense you are not willing to take on at this point. In that case, you should purchase some sealing strips from a hardware store and install those to provide some additional soundproofing.
If the door is light and thin, then a soundproofing panel on the door might be a great option as well.
By taking care of the most important areas, you have already done some very important soundproofing that will improve the quality of your audio immensely. If you are on a slim budget, then you can always take care of these essential steps and then add more in the future. If your budget allows a little more breathing room then there are some more steps you can take to further improve audio quality.
Taking Things to the Next Level
So you have done some essential soundproofing but you want to take things to the next level? Every additional step you take to soundproof your home recording studio will pay off with better quality audio. None of these steps are essential in getting started, but as you become more serious about recording, it is highly recommended you take your setup more seriously as well.
A lot of studios will talk about creating walls within the walls. In some studio setups, people will literally create a smaller walled space within the studio. Of course, that’s not very minimalist. A good way to accomplish a similar feeling in a minimalist setup is to use soundproofing panels to help simulate a sort of walled space. They should be angled rather than flat against the existing walls.
If you are going to have speakers or percussion instruments on the floor, then you may want to consider creating what’s called a floating floor. Essentially, a floating floor provides layers of material between the concrete base and the open room. There are a variety of materials and methods you can use, but they all operate under the same philosophy; soundproof the floor to avoid losing sound quality.
Adding mass to the room is also very important. This can be achieved by adding another layer of drywall with Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound. Other methods of adding mass include installing soundproofing vinyl over existing walls. Different methods will offer varying levels of soundproofing and affect your budget in different ways.
Finally, one of the best ways to get great sound from your studio is to add sound improving features like bass traps, diffusers, and acoustic panels. These additions take the room’s acoustics to the next level and will offer the best sounding final product. However, these features do not really improve soundproofing, and they should not be used in lieu of proper soundproofing.
Start Small and Expand
Doing all of the above improvements at once may prove to be too costly for some amateur home recording artists. Start with some of the most basic soundproofing methods and then add features that fit your minimalist style as you see fit. Every addition will make your final audio sound better and better.