Building Your Home Studio: Everything You Should Know

BUILDING YOUR HOME STUDIO

Having your own home recording studio is an exciting prospect, whether you’re an amateur or professional musician.

If it’s on your bucket list, then maybe it’s time to cross it off and make it a reality.

What are the benefits of having a home recording studio?

One of the biggest benefits is that you can boost your creativity by allowing yourself to produce music at home whenever you want, and you’ll also save money because studio sessions can be costly.

You might be serious about making and recording music, but you might not be sure exactly how to go about building your home recording studio.

Here’s everything you need to know, but let’s first take a look at the benefits of having a recording studio in more detail.

Home Recording Studio: The Pros

Home Recording Studio

We’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the pros of having a home recording studio.

In order to help you make the decision to go ahead and build your studio, consider these reasons why it’s a good idea.

  • A home studio can help you save money. If you’re relying on studio sessions to record your music, you’re spending money on this service. It can cost you between $50 to $500 per hour, depending on where you live. That can easily add up to thousands of dollars! Although you’ll obviously need to spend money to build and set up your studio, this will save you money in the long run.
  • A home studio gives you greater control over your work. If you’re relying on a professional studio you risk not always getting exactly what you want. When you own the studio, you get to be creative and you can be there at any time, even when your creativity comes knocking at four in the morning!
  • A home studio doesn’t have to be expensive. Although you might think of luxurious home recording studios, the truth is that you can make music with a lot less money. You don’t need a lot of gear or other items to have a quality recording studio. So, if it’s always been your dream to make music, then a home recording studio doesn’t have to remain a dream. You can turn it into a reality and stay within your budget.
  • A home studio can help you do various tasks. It’s not just musicians who can benefit from having a home recording studio. Music producers and video producers can also reap the benefits. Best of all, they can easily find the software and equipment they need to get started, and it doesn’t have to cost them an arm and a leg.
  • A home studio isn’t just for professionals. Even if you’re not all that serious about going pro with your music, that doesn’t mean a recording studio from the comfort of your home can’t be a great idea. What if you’re keen on sharing your music on social media platforms like YouTube? Having a proper studio can help you to share professional, high-quality vocals and/or sounds, and who knows what opportunities could possibly arise from that?

Now that you’ve decided to proceed with building your own home recording studio, let’s look at where you should set it up.

Consider Your Location – It’s More Important Than You Think!

Recording Studio

As in the case of real estate, when it comes to building your own home recording studio, it’s all about location!

Yes, you’re building the studio at your home, but where in your home?

Finding the right spot isn’t just about where it’s most practical, but where you feel you can be creative and where you feel good about spending hours producing music.

So, you might have the perfect garage for your studio, but it might not feel good to be in there. Maybe it’s a place that depresses you.

That’s not going to do you any favors, so give it a miss in favor of somewhere else.

When choosing the right location at home for your studio, consider these points:

Think about space

You think you can squeeze your home recording studio into a tiny place and make it work?

Probably not, considering you have to take room acoustics into account as well as your comfort.

Always give yourself a bit more space than you think you’ll need, especially if you want your home recording studio to grow in the future, such as with more computer gear, instruments, and perhaps even bandmates.

Think about the external sound

While you’re focused on creating the sounds you love, don’t forget about the sounds coming from outside.

It’s really important to choose a room that’s free of noise and interference. Not only will these distract you when you’re working, but they can also find their way onto your music recordings, so they’re a no-no.

Consider where you live when choosing the right room.

You might want to turn your study or spare room into a music recording studio, but if it’s overlooking a really busy road that never stops making noise, that’s not a good idea.

Look at the structures

What’s the ceiling like? What are the walls like? Is the room perfectly square or asymmetrical?

Sound acoustics is an important factor to consider when choosing the right room to turn into a home recording studio.

Ideally, your studio should have high ceilings and be asymmetrical – that means, for instance, that one wall would be longer than the other – for greater sound distribution.

If that’s not possible, don’t worry – you can always improve the acoustics later on. However, acoustic panels are worth a mention here.

One of the most important acoustic treatments to have in your home recording studio is acoustic panels.

These help to absorb low to high frequencies, thus making your music recording sound much more professional.

In addition, acoustic panels help to control standing waves. These are sound waves that can cause problems if you have parallel walls in your studio (as many home studios do) because they cause sound reflections to be created in the same area over and over again.

Acoustic panels are usually made of foam and they’re applied to the walls in your studio.

  • Are there any hard surfaces? If your room has many hard and reflective surfaces, such as those made of metal or glass, this can cause music interferences and they’ll also give you more work because you’ll have to try to cover them up with materials, such as carpets and blankets, to prevent echoes. If you choose a room that needs as little done to it as possible to help you create good sound quality, that’s already half the work done.
  • Consider how much work is really required. The room might seem perfect, but you need to take a closer look when it comes to making sure that your room is as soundproof as possible. This includes spotting any walls or windows that have cracks in them so that you can seal them up to ensure that sounds from outside won’t come barging in. Similarly, you want to use items like sealing strips that are made of soft materials like rubber or foam on your doors. These will prevent the sound from escaping and bugging people around you.

Choose The Right Music Software

MIDI Controller Connected With Laptop

Computer software is one of the most important things you’ll need in your home recording studio. Basically, your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is crucial.

Choosing your DAW can feel overwhelming, and what makes it even more so is the fact that there are two main types of DAWs: a standalone system and a software system.

Basically, a DAW standalone system will have a mixing console and LCD screen. But these are not as popular as they used to be because people are using computers in their recording studios.

A software system makes use of that computer, and this is the one we’ll look at a bit closer.

To keep things simple, your DAW should contain the following things so that you can start making and recording music in your studio:

  • A computer – Obviously this should go without saying, but you should make sure you choose a computer that will give you high processing speeds and enough storage – 8GB is a must, but if you can, go up to 16GB.
  • DAW software – This software will enable you to do many tasks on your computer, such as playing your music recordings and editing them. This recording software comes in many different varieties, so it’s worth checking them out in greater detail.  For example, you can choose Ableton Live or FL Studio, both of which are quite popular in the industry. It’s probably your best bet to focus on DAW software that will work on both PC and Mac because you never know if your computer will change in the future. You don’t want to be stuck with music software that you can’t even use! Both Ableton Live and FL Studio are compatible with both, by the way.

Let’s take a closer look at them.

Ableton Live

This is DAW software that’s right for you if you want to produce and perform music because it’s so easy to use for different tasks.

This is why it’s become so loved in the music industry. The best thing you get from it as a creative person is that you don’t have to create a song from start to finish.

You can actually put together sound bits and then build a song out of that, which is great.

FL Studio

With FL Studio, you’ll learn how to do things very quickly and easily. It’s the perfect software if you’re just starting out.

You don’t even need a MIDI controller to work with it because you can click in the notes you want to use.

You can find out more about DAW software in this article: A Complete List of Studio Software.

  • Audio interface – If you want to build your own home recording studio, you’ll also need an audio interface. This is a piece of equipment that looks like a box and that you’ll plug your instruments and mics into so that you can transfer the music you’ve produced onto your computer. While you might think you don’t need an audio interface because you’ve got a sound card on your computer, a sound card is really limited, even if you’re a beginner or just recording one instrument in your studio. This is because it won’t offer you the connections you need – your sound card will likely only have an output for your speaker or headphones.

Get Studio Monitors

Two Speakers In Studio

These are really crucial and they’re much more important than having headphones (although if you want to be set up with good headphones, that can’t hurt either – especially for times when you want to play quietly on your laptop and you’re not in your studio).

Studio monitors are basically quality speakers that will give you greater accuracy so that you can easily spot what sounds right and what needs tweaking.

This will save you time when mixing sounds while improving the quality of your work, so try to invest in quality monitors to get the job done.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to buy the monitor stands. These might seem like optional pieces of equipment, but they are essential so that you can put your monitors at the right height. Your monitors should actually be in line with your ear, so you should position them on your main desk where your computer will be so that when you’re sitting down they’ll be in the right spot.

Buy A Microphone

This is important and you’re probably going to have more than one mic, but when you first built your studio you can get by with one.

You just have to make sure that you choose the one that you’ll get the most use out of. A good choice for a mic is to go for a cardioid mic.

The reason why is because this type of microphone doesn’t pluck sounds from behind it, so you can ensure you don’t pick up on other sounds that you don’t want getting onto your recordings.

This is an especially good mic if you’re in a room that hasn’t completely eradicated background or external noise.

However, there are many other mics to choose from. For example, a dynamic mic can be good because it can record loud music without the sound becoming distorted.

It’s worth checking them out and finding the one that will work well with your studio requirements as well as the instruments or vocals you’ll be playing in it.

For example, if you want your vocals to sound as natural as possible, a ribbon mic will be a good choice because this mic keeps things realistic.

It’s really delicate and fragile, though, so be careful with it!

You might also need extra accessories for your mics, such as a microphone stand and a pop filter if you’re going to be recording vocals in your home studio.

How Big Should Your Home Recording Studio Be?

Sonoma Recording Studio

While you might be able to run a home studio in a tiny space, it’s not recommended.

You should have a minimum space of 20 feet by 15 feet by 10 feet, as DJHQ reports. This is because any less than that means you won’t really have enough room for everything you need.

Think of all the things you’ll require to make music, like a desk with all your gear, your instruments, mic, and even people in the case of bandmates or others.

Bear in mind that a studio that’s too small will also negatively impact the sound that you produce in it. A small space can do this in various ways.

If you have a cramped workstation, with lots of gear and your computer on your desk, this can cause your sound recordings to bounce off on the different items and cause distortions.

In addition, if your computer is too close to your mic, this can result in computer noise, such as a fan, interfering in the recording.

Instruments You’ll Need In Your Home Studio

You might not need many instruments in your home studio.

Perhaps you want to play one or two and leave the rest. That said, here’s a rundown of some of the most popular instruments.

Electric Guitar

This instrument has become very popular in the home studio, and there are many reasons for this.

The electric guitar gives you lots of options when it comes to using different types of tone, thus producing creative sound.

It also opens you up to different music production because electric guitars are amplified and can have effects added to them so any music genre becomes a possibility.

The bonus is that it’s an instrument that’s really easy to record in your home studio.

You’ll need the following things to record electric guitar: 

  • An audio interface, as mentioned earlier. This will enable you to connect your computer to your electric guitar.
  • DAW software of your choice.
  • Plugins – This is software that is used in the DAW so that you can edit your guitar sound, such as by adding cool effects to it.
  • Monitors. As mentioned earlier in this article, you’ll want quality monitors as they do play a role in the sound that gets produced.

Plug your guitar into your PC and use the software to record yourself playing it. Done!

Electronic Drums

Electric Drums

The electronic drums are a great instrument to have in your studio.

Not only do they save a bit of space if you’re running short of it when compared to acoustic drums, but they also have many other benefits that make them a valuable addition to your home studio.

Many electronic drums come with features that make them feel like you’re playing acoustic drums but at a lower price.

In addition, you can do many things with electronic drums when it comes to making and recording music.

These include being able to stream music so that you can play along with your favorite songs and you can easily connect the drums to different devices.

You can record electronic drums without a fuss. In fact, it’s easier to do so than it is to record with acoustic drums.

One of the reasons for this is because you don’t need to worry about using microphones.

To record electronic drums, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Electronic drums
  • DAW
  • Amplifier (to produce drum sounds)
  • Audio interface
  • Computer

Once you connect your drums to your computer, you can open the DAW software and start recording.

Piano

What’s a home recording studio without a piano?

If you’re making music, you’ll probably want to record piano sounds in your tracks at some stage.

That said, acoustic pianos can be expensive, so you’re probably better off purchasing a digital piano or keyboard.

Another option is to use a synthesizer.

This is a piece of equipment that mimics sounds of instruments, such as the piano, while also recreating a variety of other sounds, such as ocean waves and human voices.

There are limitless options when it comes to the sounds that a synthesizer can produce!

A synthesizer has other benefits, too. It can be used as a MIDI controller, as long as it has a MIDI out port or can be connected to your computer with the use of a USB connection.

This is great because your equipment can do double-duty, thus saving you money while enhancing the quality and expression of your music.

Virtual Instruments

Komplete by Native Instruments

Thanks to technology, these days you can add the sound of instruments to your music recordings without actually having those instruments in your home studio.

It’s an exciting prospect to consider if you want to record instruments but don’t want to shell out thousands of dollars for pianos and drums.

You can find lots of different software products that contain virtual instrument sounds.

Basically, this type of software makes use of Virtual Studio Technology (VST), an interface that has a range of effects, editors, and sounds that work with your MIDI controller to produce music.

A great piece of software to purchase is Komplete by Native Instruments. This software gives you 13,000 sounds, and over 100GB of instruments as well as effects.

Some instruments you’ll get include the violin, guitar, bass, piano, and synth. As a fun feature, you’ll even get tropical tones.

With so much to offer, it’s no surprise that Komplete is considered to be the industry standard.

The choice of different Komplete editions also gives you a chance to save a bit of money if paying a few hundred dollars for this kind of software is a bit steep for you.

The prices range from $200 to $1,599, so there’s something for everyone.

MIDI Controllers

A MIDI controller is an essential instrument to have in your home recording studio.

At its most basic, it’s just the way your various devices can communicate with each other.

A MIDI controller will have lots of different buttons and sliders that you can use to send data to devices but it also gives you more control over the music software you’re using.

Basically, you can control whatever you connect to your MIDI controller. This can definitely improve your experience in the studio and help you record music in a more seamless way.

Now, you might wonder if you really need to purchase a MIDI controller.

Perhaps you don’t ever sequence pads, synths, drums, or your keyboard. If that’s the case, then you can get away without one.

That said, a MIDI controller has lots of exciting functions for music production. One of these is how it can bring virtual instruments to life.

If you have a virtual piano installed on your home studio computer, your MIDI controller can play it so that you’ll feel like you’re playing the real thing.

Should You Rent A Home Studio?

Home Studio

If you simply can’t afford to have a recording studio at home, or you don’t have space for it, then you might consider renting out a professional studio.

There are some things to consider.

  • You’ll have to think about how much you can actually afford to pay. There are lots of different recording studios available, and they can carry quite different price tags. For example, a studio that offers professional recording services will probably be more expensive than one that offers services to musicians who don’t need such professional-sounding results.
  • When you find a recording studio to rent, you should also pay attention to the experience level of the engineer. As How Stuff Works reports, the sound engineers are the most important feature of professional studios. You want an engineer who has experience and can work quickly, thus saving you money. It’s also vital to choose an engineer who has experience and skill when it comes to what you want to do specifically, such as recording a certain type of instrument.
  • Keep an eye on the equipment. You want to make sure that the place has quality microphones and preamps.
  • How convenient is it? You’ll have to bring your own gear and instruments, which can make transporting everything to the rental studio a nightmare. Try to choose one that’s close to where you live and preferably on the ground floor of a building so you don’t have to battle with elevators.

How Much Does Building Your Home Studio Cost?

Now for the million-dollar question: how much will it cost to build your own home studio?

The price will obviously vary, depending on what equipment and instruments you’re interested in purchasing.

It can start at a few hundred dollars or go well into the thousands.

So, based on that, if you’re keen on having a budget-friendly home studio, start really basic. You really don’t need all the frills in order to start making and recording music.

If you want to keep things really simple, opt for a computer, DAW software, a microphone (if you want to record voice and instruments), and an audio interface. This could cost you less than $1,000.

If you want more gear and features, focus on what you really need and see if you can cut corners, such as by purchasing software that creates the sound of virtual instruments on your computer so that you don’t have to buy the instruments.

Related Questions

Do you need to purchase plugins?

You might need and want to buy new plugins, depending on what you’re hoping to achieve. The good news is that many of these software sound tools are built into your DAW software.

You can also purchase third-party plugins at a later stage to add extra features to your music.

Do you need to buy headphones?

These are necessary because you only want to hear the vocals or instruments you’re recording in your studio, not external sounds in the room.

Headphones help you gauge if the sound you’re producing is of good quality. You can expect to pay around $150 for a good pair so they’re budget-friendly.

Conclusion

Building your home studio can seem like a daunting prospect, but it’s also exciting.

Just think of all the amazing music you’ll be able to create right in the comfort of your home.

In order to make your dream a reality, it’s essential to focus on the equipment, accessories, room acoustics, and software you’ll need.

The important thing to remember is that you won’t need many things to start recording if you’re a beginner, and there’s always the chance to upgrade as you go along and gain experience.

By reading our guide to building your own home studio, you’ll have a better idea of what’s involved so you can get started on producing the kind of music you want, in your own way.

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