Colder weather is approaching, and the average American’s options for outdoor activities are beginning to dwindle. While winter recreation can be a blast, there’s truly no better time to hunker down and enjoy our favorite hobbies than from the comfort of your own home. What better way to do that than building your own at-home music studio? From equipment to acoustics, we’ve got you covered with tips on creating the ultimate home music studio from the experts who know best. Whether you’re in Roseville or Greensboro, read on to learn how you can create an authentic studio-like experience at home.
Create a space where you feel inspired to work
Know the kind of environment that makes you want to work, and set up your studio that way. If you like to focus with minimal distraction, your studio should have the functional sparseness of a meditation room. But you can spark creativity by filling the space with meaningful things to get your mojo working. – Nashville Guitar Guru
For both teaching music lessons and writing/producing music, the key to a successful home studio comes from an ability to focus. Things like; setting up your space in an isolated part of the house, strategically hanging sound absorption panels on the wall, bass traps in the corners, and making sure the doorway is fairly well-sealed help keep the studio quiet both inside and outside. Of course, studio monitors, an interface, a computer monitor that allows for easy workflow, and an ergonomic layout of instruments also help to keep things flowing smoothly – I use JBL 5 inch studio monitors with an Apollo Twin interface and speak/sing into a Rode NT1-A all day which helps to save my voice from fatigue. I play and teach piano, guitar, bass, drums, voice, banjo, and clarinet regularly so it’s important that I can get to these instruments quickly and be heard from multiple areas in my room. – Collingswood Sound
Don’t underestimate the importance of proper sound treatments
My first recording studio was a spare closet where I attached blankets from Value Village to the walls. When we moved to a smaller house in the city, we constructed a pop-up recording booth using only PVC pipes, moving blankets and zip ties, all from the hardware store (I have step-by-step instructions available here). Having a properly treated recording space is more important to your sound quality than having the most expensive microphone, and you can do it for not much money. My clients have always been happy with my sound. – Suzanne Amey, Genuine VO
Nine times out of ten the missing element in a home studio is acoustics. Incredible instruments, microphones, and gear will only get you so far in a less than stellar sounding room. It is so hard to trust what you hear, perform your best, and feel creative and inspired when working in a room that is a boomy echoey mess. The key to creating the Ultimate Home Music studio is to focus on the sound and feel of your space so it is inviting and inspiring. – Music City Acoustics
Isolate your power supply.
Isolating the power supply in your home studio from the rest of your house is a must, yet it’s often overlooked. If your equipment is running straight through the mains you can get interference in your audio, like hums and pops from appliances – and beware of noise from dimmer switches on lights! There are a few solutions for this: Transformer isolated power supplies offer a great solution but can often cost a pretty penny. At the very least, acquire a power conditioner that everything in your studio runs from. – Routenote
Mic placement is key.
One common mistake people make is mic placement. But that’s mostly down to pop culture. Too often we see presenters in movies and TV shows either an inch away (practically kissing the mic) or two feet away shouting. Both sound awful. Get the best sound using just your hand as a measurement. Stretching your pinky finger and thumb out, place them between your mic and mouth. That’s the perfect distance, so you won’t sound too quiet or too loud. – Radio.co
Incorporate soundproofing and acoustic treatments.
While gear and software are incredibly important, the money you invest in your recording space will pay off far more. Study acoustics and buy an SPL meter. There are so many things you can do in post, but if your room isn’t up to par, you’ll spend way too much time trying to create the desired sound through effects and plugins as opposed to efficiently creating amazing mixes.- Audio Realms Studios
Having an isolated space and proper acoustic treatment in your home music studio is crucial for clean recordings and a pristine listening experience. Absorption panels, acoustic foam, bass traps, and strategically placed floor rugs will help combat sound reflections from hard, flat surfaces, and diminish the presence of flutter echoes. Unfortunately, professional soundproofing is no small investment; you’ll either need to remodel your room or invest in a sound isolation booth. However, you can still partially lower your noise levels by sealing off air leaks, reinforcing the door, and covering the windows with soundproof curtains or drapes. – Whisper Room
Make sure to treat all parallel surfaces in your room (i.e. walls directly facing each other, or the floor and the ceiling) with acoustic panels. Place bass traps in your corners to avoid or pad 90 degree corners. Next, you can determine where you want to place acoustic panels to avoid early reflections using the ‘mirror trick’. Start by creating an ‘equilateral triangle’ between your two speakers and yourself, to make sure you’re in the acoustic ‘sweet spot’. That means you should have the same distance from you to each speaker, as well as between the two speakers. While you’re sitting in the ‘sweet spot’, have a friend move a mirror across the surface of the walls to your left and right (only the part of the wall between you and the speakers). At any spot you can see one or both of your speakers through the mirror, you’ll want to place acoustic panels to avoid early reflections. – StringKick
Know how you’re going to power your equipment
When setting up a home studio, the most important thing is the power that is going to supply your equipment. When you have good clean power, your equipment will operate with optimal performance. Power that is dirty will cause additional noise or referencing problems that translate into your recordings. In the United States, your AC power should be 120v and getting a professional power conditioner is beneficial for protecting your valuable audio and computer equipment. – David Hughes, Shine On Studios
Consider implementing room-correction software
Implementing room-correction software is one of the most effective things you can do to improve your home studio setup. These types of tools use microphones to model your room’s frequency response and automatically adjust the output your speakers provide to compensate for these problem areas in your environment. Maybe your room makes bass frequencies too loud (a common issue), but proper room correction tools can fix these types of problems. By using a room correction tool you’ll end up with a flat, accurate sounding home studio environment, all the while spending a mere fraction of the money normally needed to create such an accurate sound. – eMastered
Invest in a quality chair
Chances are you’ll be doing a lot of sitting, so make sure your chair is giving you the ergonomic support you need. And even when you have a good quality chair, you still need to get up and take a break every so often. A few minutes of rest is very good for your body, eyes, and mind. – Liberty Park Music
Keep your gear as accessible as possible
When setting up a home music studio, the biggest thing I’ve learned is to make instruments and gear have spots where they are both accessible and have a cool vibe for filming and writing. Having to take things out of cases, look for cables/pedals/gear, and then put everything back at the end of the day can take a lot of time away from creating music, so make a plan of where things can go and still look good before you create your space. My favorite things I’ve done for my music space include getting guitar hooks/standard from String Swing, looking for pieces that help hide cables, setting up a wall with good natural light for filming, and keeping my cases I don’t use often in a storage space. – Haley Powers Music
Select equipment based on the priority of its application
Unless you just won the lottery, making decisions on equipment selection for a home studio is one of the most challenging parts of the process. When I started my career in a small home studio, I took into consideration what type of sessions I would be doing most often and carefully selected the best options I could afford for that specific application. As my business grew, I began to add gear based on what would serve my projects in the most impactful way. For example, when choosing a DAW, ask yourself, which program is best suited for my workflow and the styles of music I will be working on? When choosing microphones and outboard gear; which pieces will provide versatility for the different applications they would be used for? As you begin to narrow these down, consider each piece of gear as a long term investment in the quality of your work. Remember that spending a little more now could earn you much more in the future if it will improve the quality of your work. – The Record Shop Nashville
A home studio should be a place for creation, where you feel comfortable spending time and letting ideas flow freely. Investing in high quality gear the first time is priority. Get yourself a good quality, reliable interface from the likes of PreSonus or Focusrite that won’t interrupt your sessions. Good quality cables from the likes of TourTech are reliable and won’t let you down and some acoustic treatment from Auralex is a great way to ensure you’re getting the best out of any room. Don’t let bad equipment stifle creativity. Invest in the best you can at the time and watch your ideas really come to life.- PMT House of Rock
Let your studio grow with you
The setup I use works equally well in a single-family house as it would in a condo, which is where I started; at that time, I was doing everything through headphones so I wouldn’t disturb my neighbors. By using an adjustable wood shelf (originally marketed as a TV stand) I’ve been able to get all my gear into a small space and still have easy access to all controls. As I moved into larger houses, I was able to adapt to the new environment with more equipment. – Beginner Guitar Lessons
Educate on the science of sound and electronic devices
Know and educate on the basics of the science of sound and electronic devices. In order to build student confidence and minimize anxiety, it is necessary to educate students on the basic science of sound and electronic devices used in lessons or practice. Remind students that what they hear from an electronic device is not how they sound in real life since these built-in or external microphones from our phones, computers, recording devices, etc. only capture certain wavelengths in a given sound. – Martucci Music
Like Rome, your studio won’t be built in a day
Start where you are. Don’t wait until you feel like it’s the “right time” to get started on creating your studio. We put things together piecemeal over the course of several years, buying a few things here and there, and eventually built up to what we have now. And we’re still adding, building, and changing. – Brown Mountain Lightning Bugs
Originally published on Redfin by Mike Cahill.