Setting up a home studio: how to set up a recording studio at home

“We live in a time where anyone can post their own music online,” says Jon Foster, a Toronto-based composer, producer and drummer who, alongside writing partner Steve Poloni, has recorded and released independently the soundtrack of the short film, “Camista”, in October last year. While sites like Soundcloud and YouTube allow users Download their songs completed, access to affordable recording equipment has allowed people to to create their own tunes as well, further democratizing the DIY movement that has made stars of everyone from Juice WRLD to Justin Bieber. Once accessible only to those who had the money to burn in an expensive studio or had access to a large space, recording and mixing a decent track is now as simple as acquiring a few key pieces of equipment and finding a few extra inches of music. table space.

“Pro-grade studio gear is now so compact it can fit on your desk or kitchen table,” says Foster. “As long as you have room for a desk and chair, you’re pretty much ready to lay the foundation for your home studio.”

For Bryce Avary, lead singer of The Rocket Summer, having a home studio is all about flexibility and having the freedom to create on your own schedule. “I write and make music constantly and love to see where the music takes me as it happens, follow it, and then capture it at the right time,” he says, quoting his latest album. , “Zoetic”, which he recorded in a small room in a house at the bottom of Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles.

For Avary, who recently converted a friend’s back room into a recording space for his next album, “Having my own studio allows for spontaneity and a lot more experimentation, rather than pitching ideas to the advance and then put them in a large professional studio, while listening to the cherished ticking of the clock.

Foster agrees, saying setting up home recording space is significantly more affordable than booking a studio, which can often cost up to thousands of dollars an hour. “It’s more profitable for artists working on a low budget,” he says. “Not everyone can afford to have a studio set aside for months at a time to accommodate their spontaneous creativity.”

Whether you’re new to music or looking for a cheaper alternative to booking studio time, here are eight things you need to set up a fully functioning professional recording studio in the comfort of your own home.

“Most of the best songs we’ve ever heard were written in bedrooms or hotel rooms,” says Avary. “Modern technology makes it easier than ever to capture those brutally honest moments the very moment they are born.”

1. Computer
Start by getting a reliable computer, which will serve as the backbone of your home studio. Look for something fast, with decent storage, and able to easily process the audio you record. While some musicians have a full desktop setup, many like to use a laptop, which allows them to record and track on the go. Buy: Apple MacBook, $1069+ at Amazon.com.

2. Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
“You’ll need a way to record your ideas,” says Avary. “Most often people record with a computer and a DAW such as Pro Tools, Logic, Ableton or Cubase.” Avary tracks and mixes in Pro Tools, though he says Logic is a solid option for those who like to work quickly or try out new sounds, as its selection of “virtual instruments” allows for more options and experimentation.

Foster says he likes Logic Pro X because of its “user-friendly interface”, and its over 2,800 instrument and effect patches and 7,000 Apple Loops, which are a great way to get started on a track. Purchase: Logic Pro X, $199.99 at iTunes.com.

3.Audio interface
Unless 100% of your music is composed only “in the box” (i.e. created using virtual sounds), you will need an audio interface to record your voice as well as all the “live” instruments you want on the track. Foster and Avary both recommend UAD’s “Universal Audio Arrow,” which does a great job of emulating classic mic preamps in expensive recording studios. “You plug right in and it feels like you’re plugging into a channel on the Neve in Sound City or an API console in Sunset Sound,” says Avary. Purchase: Universal Audio Arrow 2×4 Audio Interface, $499.00 at BHPhotoVideo.com.

For a cheaper alternative, the singer says other great one- and two-channel mic interfaces with preamps include the Focusrite Scarlet Solo interface ($109.00) and the popular PreSonus AudioBox interface ($129.00).

Courtesy of Amazon

Amazon

4. MIDI keyboard
Basically a mini electronic keyboard, “a MIDI keyboard is an essential home studio tool,” says Foster, and best of all, “you don’t need an advanced knowledge of piano technique to use it. “. Think of it as a way to experiment with different sounds and add virtual instruments to your production. Foster recommends the Korg microKEY25, which is sleek and compact (just over 15 inches long) and “perfect if you’re short on space”. It’s also super lightweight and easily slips into your backpack or bag for easy transport. Purchase: Korg microKEY-25 MIDI Keyboard, $81.09 at Amazon.com.

Avary says that using a Midi keyboard “opens up a galaxy of sonic possibilities”, essentially allowing you to soundtrack an entire song using VST (Virtual Studio Technology). Yet, as someone who plays all of his own instruments on his songs, Avary encourages musicians to tread lightly on the MIDI train. “I’m a pretty firm believer in the importance of quality musicianship, so I think it’s imperative to try to become excellent at one or more real instruments rather than swimming in a sea of ​​options that require more computing prowess. than musical,” he says. Purchase: Online Guitar Lessons, $9.99+ at Udemy.com.

5. Studio Monitors
You’ll need a good pair of speakers to hear what you’re recording or mixing, and most models these days are not only affordable, but also small enough to fit on your table or out of the way on the ground. Although Avary says the Yamaha NS10 has been a long-time staple in the industry, these days you can only find them used – and they’re expensive. He recommends KRK, which makes a line of solid monitors at a lower price. Foster likes the KRK Rokit 5, calling them “the most affordable high-performance speakers with good low end and clarity in the mid and high frequency ranges.” Purchase: KRK Rokit 5 Studio Monitor (Pair), $299.00 at Amazon.com.

Once you’ve gotten the monitors you want, be sure to pick up a pair of balanced 1/4″ TRS cables to connect your speakers to your audio interface.

6. Headphones
Not all headphones are created equal, and just like you’re looking for sweat-resistant headphones for a run or workout, you’ll need a pair of closed-back headphones while recording, to minimize any bleeding from the ear. audio you are following. . Foster recommends the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, which offers solid frequency response and more accurate sound reproduction, while providing the isolation you need to eliminate outside noise and adapt to what you’re working on. Purchase: Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Closed-back Headphones, $119.00 at Amazon.com.

7. Microphone
While there are a ton of microphone options on the market, ranging from vintage-inspired (Neumann) to sleek and modern (Telefunken), Foster says the Rode NT1 captures decent clarity in vocals and provides a more natural sound that is true to the original when recording. live instrumentation. Flat-top condenser microphones are also more sensitive and are known to have better frequency response than dynamic microphones (those with a round top that you typically see performers hold at gigs). Purchase: Rode NTI-KIT Condenser Microphone Pack, $269.00 at Amazon.com.

Avary recommends the Shure SM7B as a safe bet for people wanting to make great recordings on a budget, thanks to its easy setup and ability to be used on amps, acoustics, and a host of other audio sources. Purchase: Shure SM7B Vocal Microphone, $399.00 at BHPhotoVideo.com.

Note: You will also need an XLR male-to-female cable to connect your microphone, as well as a sturdy, adjustable stand for the microphone.

8. Creativity and conviction
“It can be addicting and sometimes artistically overwhelming when you’re trying to get wrapped up in material,” says Avary, “and it can also be daunting when you can’t afford to get the ‘right stuff’. But the reality is that nothing is more important than what comes out of your soul, your fingers and your vocal cords.

The thing you really need the most: “The willingness to forget all the rules and just create,” says Avary. “The human aspect of someone cutting a vocal or an acoustic guitar in their bathroom or closet will often outlive something done in a visually more sophisticated location that is perhaps edited to within an inch of its life” , he continues. “At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the performance, and whether what you say or perform is authentic, believable and honest.”

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