Step 0: Understand the Basic Components
- The Performance – Is the song played well? How does the instrument sound?
- The Environment – How does the room sound? Is is noisy? Boxy?
- The Equipment – How does the recording equipment sound?
- KNOWLEDGE! – If you don’t know that the other three components fit together, you will have a really hard time getting a recording that you’ll be happy with.
Think of this as a chain. You recording will only be as good as the weakest link. Yes, you can use some software to try to correct a bad performance, or a bad sounding/noisy environment, but the result will not be as good.
Step 1: Prepare Your Room
When you hear people talk about turning their room into a studio, you will start to hear a slew of phrases like: room treatments, live rooms, dead rooms, etc. In the beginning, these cryptic sounding terms all have to do with one principal: getting a good sounding room. This is a crucial, yet often overlooked step in making a project studio. How does it sound when you sing in your closet? Now, how does it sound when you sing in your shower? Most people prefer the latter, as the shower sounds “lively”.
Your voice suddenly becomes larger than life! Inspired. You feel exhuberent, you run out to the family room to share your song with your friend…only to falter and stop after the first few notes. It doesn’t sound the same.
This is an example of how rooms “sound”, and the basic principal of “treating” a room is to outfit it to handle sound in a pleasing fashion. We will do this by exploring several different concepts and devices (many that you can make if you DIY) that will turn our room into a great sounding studio space. Some further reading for your path to greatness:
- A Quick Way To Choose A Room
- The Secret of “The Listening Position”
- What the heck are Absorbers, Bass Traps, and Diffusers???
- What is “flutter echo” and how do I get rid of it?
- What Are “Dead Rooms” and “Live Rooms”
- Do I need all this just for electronic music???
Step 3: Get Your Gear!
This is by far the most emphasized (and perhaps the most fun) part of making a studio. Once we have our room treated, we can now decide on the gear we need to make recordings. This is highly depending on our needs and our budget. The most common device for people just getting started in music recording is a computer. The bare essentials for a computer setup include: