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What Is Essential To A Good In-Home Recording?

 


With budgets shrinking and recording equipment becoming more and more affordable, in-home recording has become a very viable solution for many musicians to make high-quality recordings. However, there are so many different ways to rig together an in-home recording studio, that many musicians may find themselves lost in the mix (no pun intended).

So, this week’s Open Mic discussion is focused on which components of an in-home recording set up are crucial for any musician.

We want to hear from you about what equipment you use, where you record, and any techniques you use to record that you feel are essential to the overall success of the recording project. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Room acoustics

The size of a room, the emptiness (or fullness) of a room, the height, width, material (carpet, hardwood, etc.) can all have an effect on the overall acoustics, and thus the overall sound quality of your recording. This is completely based on personal preference, so play around with tweaking the set up of your room, or even which room you set up in to determine which acoustics you prefer best.

2. Proper recording mics and pop filters

The correct recording microphones depends completely on the type of recording you are going to be doing. If you are recording vocals, you’ll want to invest in a large-diaphragm condenser mic, meanwhile if you are recording guitar, you’ll want to try a small-diaphragm condenser mic. And then of course there are dynamic mics which are typically used in live performances, but are often used in combination with condenser mics in order to properly record all aspects of a drum kit.

In addition to ensuring that you have proper recording mics, you also need to make sure you’ve got a pop filter placed in front of your mic used to record vocals. This is key to effectively recording vocals, as it will shield your recording from any spikes or ‘pops’ in the volume due to air directly hitting the mic when singing the letter ‘p’.

3. Mic placement

Proper microphone placement is easily one of the most critical components to any recording. Proper placement of a microphone will result in a crisp, clean and warm recording.

4. Studio monitors

Unfortunately, all speakers are build differently and each can sound different from one another, so getting set up with proper studio monitor speakers is truly the only way to ensure that your recording and mix is accurate. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re set up with two monitor speakers (for a stereo mix) and a subwoofer (for proper low end).

5. Fresh strings

Of course, this only applies when recording a string instrument such as a guitar, bass or violin, but it is incredibly important to make sure that you have a fresh set of strings on your instrument (and properly tuned!) before you begin recording, as strings that are even a week old can sound dull, giving you a lifeless recording instead of the vibrant and warm recording you were shooting for.

6. Record loud

When recording from home, a natural instinct that often interferes with the recording process is to record quietly as to not disrupt your neighbors or anyone that you are living with. However, a quiet recording will result in a poor quality recording, as it is far less likely that you will hit the right notes, let alone hitting them with the same warmth and character. The hesitation in your voice or guitar playing when recording quietly will come right through in the recording.

7. Go easy on the reverb

We can’t stress this one enough; this is one of the biggest and most common mistakes that musicians make when recording from home. Many musicians attempt to use reverb as a way to make the recording sound more full or less flat, and end up way over doing it, which will absolutely destroy the quality of the music. As a rule of thumb when experimenting with in-home recording, less reverb is more.


What makes the biggest difference for in-home recording studio?


The above are all incredibly important components of setting up an effective in home recording studio, but now we want to hear from you about what you have found to make all of the difference in your own studio.

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9 thoughts on “What Is Essential To A Good In-Home Recording?

  1. I refuse to believe that pun in the first paragraph was not intended!

    I’d say that room acoustics is a matter of preference to a degree, but that if you want an accurate room to mix in, that will demand particular speaker placement and treatment approaches.

    1. haha believe it or not Brian, I had written that intro and then when I went back to edit the post, I noticed how ridiculous the pun was and had to mention that. Great input on the accuracy of the mix! 

  2. Great read!  Since im wrapping up a 12 song album just recorded in my living room, i figure i can name a few..
    Space!  Make sure you are comfortable in each different aspect of recording whether its editing, mixing, or performance takes.  Since I did all the instrumentation on this one, i must have done over 300 tracks and the cramps and uncomfortable positions i was forced to work with slowed the productivity a bit. Make sure your comfortable!  Also, to touch up on #6, make sure you’re doing it in an area where volume isn’t a factor.  I live in an small NYC apartment and having my downstairs neighbor banging on my door at 11pm because my Roland E-Kit double bass movements were driving him crazy was not an effective (or considerate) way of having a drum session.  Next time around, i’ll invest in sound proof flooring, wall treatments or consider moving out of the city!  Good luck!
    -Chris

    1. Thats a great point Chris. Actually I think mental and physical well-being play a huge part into the overall success of an album. If you are cramped or run down, you’ll absolutely be able to hear it translate into the record.

  3. Another good thing to have is a decent set of headphones. Not just for recording vocals, but also when mixing.

    1. Agreed – thats a great point. Especially for those who can’t afford a good pair of studio monitors, a nice set of studio monitor headphones is a solid option. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Well regarding number 6, I found out that recording guitars quietly gives me much more dynamics and low end rather than doing it loud, which saturates my sound a little too much. Matter of preference, I suppose.

  5. I just finished an EP, and am in the throws of a full LP, all voices, instruments, compositions just me. If this is your situation, a key dimension not covered in the list: well written songs you believe in (also the most difficult part). But a good riff, and good lyrics make the singing, playing, polishing better. Oh yeah, save often, make backups, and test your backups. It is heartbreaking to loose your hard work with a computer failure.

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