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How to Build a Recording Studio at Home

It's not as difficult as you may think to build a recording studio in your own home

When you build a recording studio in your own home, it becomes much easier to record and produce your own music with your own production equipment.


As we know, building a professional-quality studio can be a very expensive and time-consuming project to take on, so we are going to focus on the home studio side of things, and the little improvements you can make that can help your recordings and mixes sound better.




Factors to consider


There are a few different factors we need to be aware of when thinking of music studio design and studio acoustics. These can include:


  • Space
  • Costs
  • Frequency balance
  • Acoustic separation
  • Reverberation


In our home studios we're most often concerned with the space available and the costs involved in setting up a music production space. And we'll usually find that the room has to double as both a recording room and a mixing room, which makes it doubly important to do everything we can to get the room sounding great.




Home Studio


The main goal in a home studio, especially if you only have the one room, is to make it as 'dead' as possible. We want the room to absorb sound instead of reflecting it, so the natural reverb of the room will then be minimized.

There are several cost-effective ways to help control the frequency balance and reverb times of the room, and they also work in smaller rooms where you need to make full use of the space available:


  • Use acoustic treatment in the form of acoustic traps. The biggest problems with sound absorption are usually found in the low and lower-mid frequencies, and using traps can help enormously.
  • Traps also help in lowering the natural reverb time of a room due to their absorption of sound energy, which is great for both recording and mixing as the room will sound 'drier'.
  • Traps are much more effective than simply placing duvet covers over the walls and windows, as this only affects the absorption of higher frequencies. Lower frequencies will not be absorbed by these sorts of materials.
  • Get some thick carpet on the floor and as many items of furniture as you can, like some chairs or a couch, as these will help to absorb more frequencies as well.



 


Standing Waves


If we can, we should always try to avoid rooms with parallel walls, as these can cause what are known as standing waves, where certain frequencies peak and dip in volume depending on where you're sitting or standing in the room.


The effect is most noticeable when you move around the room, where these volume changes are easily heard. We can minimise the effect of parallel walls by using damping materials or by placing traps at angles to the wall, which eliminates the parallel wall.



Luckily, these small tips are relatively cheap to put in place when the time comes to set up and build a recording studio. When I tried some of these out myself, I found I got more out of my audio recording equipment to create great sounding productions in my own small studio.


Check out more about acoustic traps from the guys at RealTraps. They've got some great information and also have their own range of traps if you're thinking of getting some.


If you're looking to build a recording studio to a more advanced level, a great book to have a look at is 'Home Recording Studio: Build It Like the Pros' by Rod Gervais. Rod goes into great detail in all aspects of studio design and it's highly recommended if you're looking to improve your own home studio.



 

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