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BUILDING A HOME STUDIO

by J

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As close as 10 years ago most people would not even consider building their own home studio. You had to save some money, make friends with a studio owner and work something out with them to get a decent demo on the cheap. But thanks to technological advances now most groups record their own music in their own homes or apartments, and most of them achieve studio quality! It is basically a no brainier because once you get the equipment the studio is right there at your service 24/7, it's a one time small investment.

If you want to make a recording space at home there are some things to be considered, but it is much more easier and cheaper than you might think.

So lets say you just decided to make a home studio in order to record your first demo. The first thing you need to know is what kind of music you are going to be recording. This may sound silly but it is very important because depending on the type of music that is going to be recorded it will determine your necessities (space wise & gear wise).

So lets go with the most complex scenario (and the most popular), a rock band, a 4 piece rock band. You got a singer/guitarist, a bassist, a drummer and a keyboard player.

This setup could turn complicated because you have a lot of people to record and chances are that you will not be able to record them all at once because of space limitations, insufficient mics, not enough inputs in your recording interface and so on and so forth.

A good place to record would be a basement because usually the ambient noise is lower there. Attics are great too, but most homes do not count with those so lets stick to the basics. A great place to record (and this is where I would prefer to do it) is in a room with a walk-in closet. The walk-in closet would play the roll of the recording room/booth and the room would play the roll of the control room.

Recording in a walk-in closet is great because since it is full of clothing you will no have to worry much about insulating and ambient noise. The best way to record the band is one or two at a time. If the band is not comfortable playing one at a time a good idea is to place one of the members (the one about to be recorded) inside the closet, and the rest of the band in the "control room". Place a mic in the "control room" and feed the signal to the member inside the closet via headphones. That way he will be able to listen the rest of the band while recording.

NOTE: Make sure you are monitoring with headphones because if you are using a pair of speakers you will most certainly get feedback.

If the keyboard player is going to be recording via midi then you will have some spare inputs to record someone else simultaneously. The big challenge here will be the drums. Since probably you will not be able to fit the drummer inside the closet a good idea is to switch positions and record him in the room. There is going to be slightly more ambient noise but you can deal with that later in the editing process.

It's always a good idea to explain the musicians how things are going to be done so that they can prepare themselves.

OK so what is absolutely essential to make this happen?

You will need:

At least two microphones (the more the better) (Condensers are great for vocals and acoustic guitars) (SM57= The jack of all trades)

Balanced cables

A DI Box

Closed back headphones (The more the better)

A headphone amp/splitter

Tuner Metronome

And last but not least a console or a recording software with an interface.

The following are not essential but it is always good to have them around:

Spare mics

Spare headphones

Spare cables

A Y splitter

Pop filters

Tubes for amplifiers

Tape ( that always comes in handy )

Article by J Taken from http://www.Guitar-Chat.com

All content copyrighted.

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Great advice. But most importantly you've got to know how to get the most of your recording gear. I know a guy who turned his basement into studio, and ran everything to a closet right upstairs where he had a couple racks of crazy gear. He advertised cheap recording time, got a couple bands in to lay down some tracks, and had some of the worst sounding stuff you've ever heard.

His gear was impressive, but he had a few bottlenecks when it went to tape, so while he recorded all the drums on seperate channels, he compressed them back down to one when he put it on tape. When he laid it all down on a DAT he never even checked the level, so you'd get lots of pops and crap.

The bottom line is that if you're thinking of putting a home studio together, only use stuff you're familiar and comfortable with. And don't go overboard with equipment! It's easy to get carried away and think you need that rack unit with 1000+ effects, but you'll probably end up just using a little reverb or chorus once every blue moon.

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my band (me and the guitarist were the ones that invested in the development of it) just put one together.

firepod - 500$

pro 7 CAD drum mic pack - 230$

8X25ft XLR-XLR chords - 200$

1XSM57 - 110$

bootlegged SONAR 6 PRODUCER EDITION+PLUG INS GALORE - 0$

there you have it, we've just got it running and it sounds pretty damn fine if you ask me, especially since we're doing everything live (cept maybe overdubbing vox). Hopefuly soon we can get some songs up on our myspace from this new investment... until then we do have stuff up there the we recorded a while ago with just 3 vocal mics.

http://www.myspace.com/pintopublico (disreegard "marigold's tea" as we no longer sound like that and it was recorded under different circumstances)

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

because im only 14 (sadly), i cant afford or have the space for a home studio. but i did buy a good digital 8 track recorder which i run my guitars/bass directly into, and the in-built microphone for drums and vocals. i get good results for a lot cheaper, but i think a home studio would be better

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  • 4 months later...
he asked what the disadvantage was, and id say that unless its switchable (i dont know), it would reduce dynamics, a vocalist (not singer, vocalist) might find this unattractive, as might a dynamically focused blues or jazz player

AHHH thanks, that makes sense.

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  • 1 year later...

The heart of my home studio is a Zoom R16, an amazing piece of work. I am just getting familiar with it at this time, haven't done much yet.

If you want a home studio and haven't invested in mixing and recording equipment yet, you owe it to yourself to check out the R16.

http://www.samsontech.com/products/prod ... rodID=2009

For $400 you get a mixer, a digital recorder (SD cards), 100 built-in efx, a control surface to run Cubase on your computer (and Cubase LE4 software), the ability to run on 6 AA batteries in the field and built-in stereo mics for quick & dirty recording... and, oh... it's 8 simultaneous tracks with capability to link another R16 for 16 total tracks... I guess that's where the 16, in R16, came from. It has a built-in metronome and phantom power too. Is that enough? Wow!

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he asked what the disadvantage was, and id say that unless its switchable (i dont know), it would reduce dynamics, a vocalist (not singer, vocalist) might find this unattractive, as might a dynamically focused blues or jazz player

AHHH thanks, that makes sense.

i actually know the difference know: its not a circuit, its a physical filter to keep out breathing noises, etc. it's apparently undesirable to some because w/out the filter, there's a bass boosting effect at close range - you can't get close enough with the filter to create that effect.

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  • 10 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

The heart of my home studio is a Zoom R16, an amazing piece of work. I am just getting familiar with it at this time, haven't done much yet.

If you want a home studio and haven't invested in mixing and recording equipment yet, you owe it to yourself to check out the R16.

<!-- m -->http://www.samsontech.com/products/prod ... rodID=2009<!-- m -->

For $400 you get a mixer, a digital recorder (SD cards), 100 built-in efx, a control surface to run Cubase on your computer (and Cubase LE4 software), the ability to run on 6 AA batteries in the field and built-in stereo mics for quick & dirty recording... and, oh... it's 8 simultaneous tracks with capability to link another R16 for 16 total tracks... I guess that's where the 16, in R16, came from. It has a built-in metronome and phantom power too. Is that enough? Wow!

I have the zoom c5.1 tube driven usb interface with 2 instrument 4 mics. It has phantom +48v and a solid state and tube control to blend and an expression pedal. I hate it and it sucks bad. I bought so much other stuff to try and force this one to work i basically have a studio now. I got real monitors and audio plug-ins and way more asio information than i ever needed. The techs at sweetwater were clueless and i finally got it to work, but i should have returned it. Sweetwater told me to install asio4all which most people will tell you is last resort and not to use it. It has been a nightmare for 2 years. It is so dusty on the floor right here in my shop. The latency could not be described in ms more like s. i can't play well with a delay anyways and this killed me. It was embarrassing when someone said show me how it works. I sounded like i never saw a guitar before because the latency was sooooo bad. Glad you had better luck, don't buy this one.

My friend that owns my local guitar shop is hard to understand sometimes but he said something to the effect of this is not tube driven because it _______ and can't get _________ from usb to push tubes. I said look when you plug in usb the preamp tube glows, so it must work. He mumbled something like why don't you try and jumpstart your car battery from a usb jumper. I said that won't work and he said neither will this. ????

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