How to Set Up a Simple Recording Studio at Home
This is a simple guide on how to set up a home recording studio. If you plan to set up a home based studio, this article will tell you what to consider when planning or making your choice. You also need to consider the fact that the room must not only make recording easy for you, it must also be good enough to impress your clients as well.
A well set up recording studio can save a lot of precious time in a shooting schedule, so in order to set up an efficient recording space, either for a client or for your personal pleasure, there are four basic things to consider.
- Size of the room you intend to use
- Features required for the room
- Electricity supply that's adequate for a recording studio
- Sound production quality
Size of Room
The size of the studio space is the first thing to consider when building a recording studio in your home. One that is too small is as good as not having a studio at all.
The recommended minimum space to consider is 20ft by 15ft (610cm X 457cm) of floor space, and a ceiling with a minimum height of 10ft (305cm). The shape of the room is also important. It is much better to have a rectangular shape room than a square room.
A room set up with these minimum sizes will reduce light spills from the walls and ceilings, and ensure that your talent has the 'freedom to move'.
The next thing to consider is the interior features of the room.
Does the room have a suspended ceiling or mounting points for lighting trusses? Is the existing colour of the ceiling and walls conducive enough for a recording studio set up? Are there adequate lighting points? etc...
If the only room you can use to build your studio has a suspended ceiling, for instance, you have two options.
- Dismantle the suspended ceiling panels. This will to allow for extra height that you need to install your lighting gear and trusses.
- Make use of butterfly clips in the ceiling to hang lightweight fixtures from its beams and tees.
The only disadvantage of this option? The butterfly clips tend to bend the beams, which may put the fixture close to the ceiling tiles. This will cause unpleasant discolourations of the ceiling over time.
Though the height of suspended ceilings may pose a problem, they do have their advantages.
- A suspended ceiling makes it easy to hide or install electrical cabling
- It is perfect for hanging lightweight cloth or backdrops.
- It can be used for installing recording studio style LED lighting panels.
- To instal a lighting grid, once you locate the position of the ceiling studs, you will find them useful to hang light trusses for your studio's lighting fixtures.
Colour of the Walls and Ceilings
The next important thing is the room's colour, especially if it's a smaller space than is usual. Paint the walls or ceiling in any dark colour like a deep purple, brown shades, dark blue, or even black if that's what you prefer.
Alternatively, you can hang up a dark material along the walls - floor to ceiling, as this ensures you control your studio lighting more effectively.
The electrical wiring layout in the room must be perfect; otherwise, it can make or break your studio. A recording studio set up without adequate power to tap from will limit the kind of lights you can use.
So how do you ensure you get what's adequate?
- First check the electrical panel to see how many circuits your room has, as well as the amps available on each circuit.
- If you'll be using incandescent lights or quartz halogen light bulbs, you will more than likely require a minimum of 30 to 40 amps of power. You don’t want to overload your electrical system.
- Find out which outlets and switches are connected, and to which circuit. This way you can label each outlet to ascertain the amount of power you can draw from each outlet before it overloads.
- If you plan to use hanging lights from the ceiling, you may need to consider hiring a professional electrician to help you install power outlets on the ceiling, or at the top edge of the walls. This way, you won’t have unsightly cables running/hanging down to the floor.
- Ensure you have a 10 amp circuit for every couple of lights you'll be plugging into so that you don’t have to walk back to the circuit breaker every ten minutes during a shoot.
One of the most important things to consider before setting up a recording studio at home is sound that filters into the room, both external noise and internal clatter.
If you can, don't have your studio room directly across from a train station, bus station, railway line, expressway, or airport. However, if you don't have a choice and the only room you can use is close to such noise, you will need to build a soundproof inner wall in your studio. That's the only way to keep unwanted external noise out.
The biggest and most common culprit for noise in any studio almost always comes from the interior of the house. Noise emanates from heating ventilation, air-conditioning systems, and/or the HVAC.
These units tend to add a low hum to your audio, and it's always a real challenge to remove while editing.
What you can do in such instances is to:
- Turn off your HVAC units during any shoot
- Alternatively, you can hire a professional to soundproof the HVAC.
Hiring a professional may set you off a bit of money, but you will be assured of a clean, clear, and professional audio sound output.
Basic Essentials Needed for a Home Recording Studio
Getting started isn't as hard as many may think neither is it necessarily an exorbitantly expensive venture either.
It is preferable, if this is your first attempt, to start off with a simple studio. You don't want to get overwhelmed or discouraged half-way through.
It is best to have a minimum budget of nothing less than $500 and even with that, there are only low limits to what you can accomplish with that figure. It can be a start, but if you are truly serious about recording your own music, you will need more than that amount.
What you need to start off are just a few basic essentials which can also serve as a good foundation to build upon later.
They are as follows:
- Computer (you probably have one you can use)
- Closed back headphones
- Two microphones
- Mic stand (an affordable one for now)
- Digital Audio Workstation (DAW software records, edits, and mixes music on your computer)
- Audio Interface (hardware to connect all your gear to your computer)
- Studio monitors
- Pop filter (to filter out 'popping')
- XLR Cables (Long one for the microphone and two short ones for monitors)
A Great Investment
Creating a place for your studio in your home is one of the best investments you can ever make and this simple guide on how to set up a studio can help you set one up in little or no time.
Building a simple recording studio for yourself or for a business venture will ensure that all your recorded scenes are well produced, without you having to spend so much money and precious hours of your time doing them elsewhere.
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