If you decide to convert space in your home to function as a project studio, it’s easy
to spend a lot of money before you plug in your first microphone. While quality
recording gear is more affordable than ever, acquiring everything you need to start recording adds up,
and that doesn’t begin to address the costs of properly outfitting your space.
For many home recording enthusiasts, doing any sort of construction is simply not an
option—but that doesn’t mean your dream of a recording space in your home needs to end
before it begins. The degree to how “professional” your studio needs to be, and therefore how
expensive the endeavor, is relative to your goals for your finished product. At the same time, your budget will
ultimately determine how ambitious you can be within the scope of the project.
YOU CAN START BY ANSWERING THESE FOUR BASIC QUESTIONS:
1. What is the purpose of your home
Are you recording new ideas to demo
to your band or producer? Recording,
mixing, and mastering finished tracks to
submit to a music supervisor? Is this your
band’s DIY album for distribution and
sale? Are you planning to record other
people’s material? Deciding on the reason
you are getting into home recording is the
first step toward setting realistic goals.
As a general rule, the more musicians
and acoustic instruments you intend to
record, the more expansive your studio
will need to be in regard to space,
equipment, and gear. In addition, the
number and type of live instruments you
intend to track will dictate the requirements
of your acoustic environment.
2. What space do you have available?
You need to find the best available distraction-free
environment. Your garage
may seem like a natural location to set
up your home studio, but if it’s always
damp and it houses a boiler, washer, and
dryer–or you live on a street with busses
rumbling back and forth throughout the
day—it’s probably not your ideal space.
Very often, a spare bedroom or home office
makes for a good home studio environment—though
bear in mind that
distractions abound at home. Normal
sounds like the doorbell, phone, bathroom
fan, or heating/AC system can be
the death of a perfect take. Do your
best to isolate yourself from household
sounds wherever you decide to record.
3. Are you planning to record a full band
or one or two musicians at a time?
The spare bedroom might be perfectly isolated,
but can you house your gear, monitors,
amps, and microphones and still have
ample room to perform comfortably? What
if you’re tracking two musicians at once?
Or three? The physical dimensions of your
available space are contributing factors
to your ambitions for your project studio.
4. Are you using your space for overdubs
and mixing, or are you planning to track
everything in your studio?
This will ultimately be the biggest decision
you make before you start down the road
to researching, purchasing, and installing
your home recording set up. But the
truth is, to get a professional sound out
of something like a drum kit, you’ll need
space, you’ll need to manage the acoustics
in your room, and you’ll need lots of mics
and stands. These purchases add up and
will deplete a modest budget very quickly.