From soundproofing your studio to setting room acoustics, we break down the six most important considerations when building your first home music studio.
Written by amuse
The first major consideration when building a home studio is the location; is there room for soundproofing? Will noise escape? Is the room big enough to give you enough space between your monitors and the walls? A well-designed space can be the difference between smooth sailing and total frustration. Ideally choose a room that has high ceilings, asymmetrical walls, and irregular surfaces – a rectangular-shaped room is best.
Once you’ve chosen your studio location, it’s time to prepare the space for recording. Clear the floor space, take everything off the walls, and remove anything that vibrates. Begin with an empty room and position your gear where it sounds best (not where it looks best).
While there’s (expensive) sound equipment available to test the sound in your space, if you’re on a budget, you can test it yourself with the help of a friend. Ask your friend to hold one of your monitors while playing a track. Get them to circle around you (standing 6-9 ft away) while you stand in the center of the room. Listen for the place in the room that best supports the ‘sound-field’ (the bass is most commonly the area where you’ll hear the greatest difference depending on where you’re standing).
Once you’ve found a few potential spots for your speakers, find the position where the speaker seems to sound closest at the further distance. Look for thick, bassy sounds and position your monitors there.
If the space sounds like it has too much echo, add sound absorbers like foam panels to cover the walls.
Foam panels don’t just help you soundproof the room for an outside listener, their real purpose is to absorb sound reflections inside the studio. Without these, you risk those reflections being recorded. With acoustic absorption panels, the only sounds being recorded are the ones directly coming from the instrument or microphone. Pick them up online on Amazon or at your local music store.
Whether you're a seasoned producer or DIY artist just starting out, there are two areas that are key to every music studio.
Picking a reliable computer is crucial, it’s the backbone of your studio setup. Look for something that’s fast, with decent storage, and has the ability to process the audio you will be recording. You can either go the desktop route or like many creatives, get a laptop that checks all the boxes mentioned above so you can easily record a track on the go if needed.
Here are some examples of computers that are great for making music:
If you’re on a budget, it doesn’t need to be the latest MacBook Pro with all the fancy add-ons, but we do recommend a newer model of either (if you’re going with Apple) Macbook Pro or iMac.
To record and mix you’ll need to purchase a DAW. What’s a DAW? It’s an abbreviation of the digital audio workstation which is an electronic device or application software used for recording, editing, and producing audio files (music). Avid’s Pro Tools is the industry standard, but you can also explore Logic Pro or Ableton Live. Before you choose, ask yourself how familiar you are with production software. Different DAW’s have different target audiences depending on your level of knowledge and some are just easier to use than others. To help you find the best fit for you, here’s a breakdown of each:
Avid Pro Tools
The industry-standard pro mixing and editing tool that professionals use around the world.
This DAW suits you if: you want to work as a professional audio engineer, recording, editing, and mixing with other people.
Logic Pro is a complete collection of sophisticated creative tools for professional songwriting, beat making, editing, and mixing, built around a modern interface that’s designed to get results quickly and also deliver more power whenever it’s needed. Logic Pro includes a massive collection of instruments, effects, loops, and samples, providing a complete toolkit to create amazing-sounding music.
This DAW suits you if: you want a creative DAW that’s great for writing, recording, and mixing.
Ableton Live is designed to be an instrument for live performances as well as a tool for composing, recording, arranging, mixing, and mastering.
This DAW suits you if: you’re a live DJ, electronic music producer, or want to be able to write music non-linearly.
FL Studio features a graphical user interface with a pattern-based music sequencer. The program is available in four different editions for Microsoft Windows and macOS.
This DAW suits you if: you’re an electronic or hip-hop producer.
If you're planning to use vocals or live instruments in your production, you'll also need an Audio Interface. We recommend the Scarlett 2i2 or Universal Audio Apollo Twin.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a USB audio interface, used and loved by complete beginners and industry professionals.
Apollo is a high-resolution professional audio interface with superior sound quality and real-time UAD Processing onboard.
Next, you’ll need to set up a recording area for the musician/singer with microphones and instruments. The Rode NT1A Studio Kit is a great choice for all first-time studio builders.
Rode NT1A Studio Kit
The Complete Studio Kit comes with everything you need to create studio-quality recordings in your home studio. This includes RØDE’s AI-1 audio interface, NT1 large-diaphragm condenser microphone, SM6 shock mount, and pop filter, and all the cables you need to get connected. Every Complete Studio Kit also comes with a free version of Ableton Lite (DAW software), so you can start making music right away.
Positioning your speakers too close to the wall will make bass frequencies echo and amplify around the room. Keep the backside of your speakers at least a meter away from the wall (set them up against the longest wall in the room to minimize sound reflections) and angle them toward you on each side — your head should form an equilateral triangle with your monitors.
Test your tracks at the same volume they will be listened to:
Headphones don’t accurately reflect how your audio will sound when played through speakers. So while they might help you keep the peace with your neighbors or roommates, you need to test your sound through speakers. Listen to your track at the same volume it will be played at, before turning the volume down to check the intricacies and detail.
Congrats (🎉), you’re now on your way to a solid home studio!