So you have a band going, you are playing a few gigs here and there, and you feel as though it is time to get your music out there in a material format!
The next logical step is recording a sweet record that will make you millions, or maybe you just want to lay down some tracks for you to listen back on 10 years from now and enjoy.
Either way, you are going to need a recording studio, whether someone else’s, or your own. If you choose to go to someone else, be prepared to spend at least $5,000 on a halfway decent record of about 5-7 tracks.
What’s that, you say? The price is outrageous, and you might as well do it yourself? My thoughts exactly! Here is how you can set up your own recording studio in the comfort of your own home at a fraction of the cost, and you may get good enough to record your buddies or hire out your studio for some extra cash!
Before we continue, I am going to make a few general assumptions about you, kind of like those For Dummies books. I will assume that:
- You are already familiar with some aspects of music, such as recognizing several different instruments.
- You understand how music works in some way, including basic rhythm.
- You play an instrument, such as the guitar.
- You have a genuine interest in music, not just the money.
- You have some money saved up and ready to be used, at the very least several hundred dollars. If you need a new computer, take that cost into account as well.
- You plan on recording each instrument individually and putting them all together at the end.
- You will not be recording drums at first, but you plan on it later. The reason for this is that it can get very expensive just to purchase all of the necessary equipment for a small drum kit, let alone the extreme detail that must go into placing the microphones correctly. We will talk about this in an upcoming article.
Great! Now that we have out of the way, let's get to the good stuff!
There are actually a lot of things involved with setting up a home recording studio that works.
First, there is the fact that you have to buy a bunch of things. Secondly, you have to put a good amount of work into the home studio.
At first, there will be many frustrating nights where you will not be able to accurately troubleshoot a problem, especially something as simple as figuring out why the microphone was not being recorded. Also, on top of learning how to set up and work your recording equipment, you must also eventually learn at least the basics of audio mixing. There will be a rough patch full of trial and error, but after a while you begin to get comfortable with all of the equipment and settings, and become more efficient.
Once you reach this level of comfort with the studio, you can spend less energy on learning the basics and start developing your own recording style.
The Basic Parts
- Studio Space - Where will you set the studio up? It should be a room with very little echo. If you do plan on recording drums later down the road, the room should be at least 12x12. If not, a 10x10 room would be sufficient.
- Microphone(s) - Depending on which instruments you want to record, you may need only one microphone or as many as 5. They will be used to record vocals, guitar amplifiers, bass amps or keyboard amps.
- Amplifiers - If you don't already have an amplifier, or if you don't have any friends that can loan you one, this is something you will probably have to buy. Note: There are ways to record guitar and bass without ever touching an amplifier, and we will go over that in an upcoming article.
- Recording Interface - Hugely important in determining how your entire studio's outcome will be, the recording interface is what is going to connect your instruments to your computer, through both hardware and software. This brings us to our next point.
- Computer - You will need a pretty modern computer to run everything required for a recording session. You will need a computer (Windows or Mac, it doesn't matter) with at least 4GB RAM, an Intel i5 or equivalent processor, 250GB Hard Drive, and a monitor 19 inches or larger.
- Computer Speakers - It is important to invest in high quality speakers, so you know what your recording sessions sound like as you go.
- Headphones - A decent pair is required. If you can't afford to have both a high quality speakers and headphones, get the higher end headphones instead and settle for lesser speakers. The headphones are absolutely essential to a successful audio recording.