Whether you are an artist or you are simply starting your journey as a producer or sound engineer, it is incredibly important to have your own space in which to work in and be creative in. Just like it is not the clothes that make the man, and it is not your equipment that makes an incredible song; but, having an excellent set of instruments and equipment helps. Today, I want to share with you some professional advice on how to create a home studio with a relatively small budget of 1000 Euros. This will help you create your next hit to then promote it here with us on Groover!
There are many factors to consider in the process of setting up a home studio. I think it is fair to assume that most of the people who start this journey will not have a huge space to work with, but rather just a bedroom, a guest room or the living room of their apartment. The size of the room and the materials it is built with have a substantial impact on the sound that will be produced! Noise pollution must also be taken into account. Noise from the outside world can surely disturb your sessions, and the noise that you will make while creating music will inevitably cause some discussion with the neighbors! So, be aware of your surroundings.
With that in mind, here are the four main topics to consider when setting up your first home studio.
Each instrument mentioned below has been taken as a reference from the Thomann website and you will have the opportunity to find a “wish list” for your home studio at the end of the article with a detailed list of all the articles I will talk about. Although all the prices quoted here are taken from this site, I encourage you to try to further save by buying used tools. This will allow you to choose the best items while still staying true to your budget. When it comes to audio instruments, there is no need to buy new things, used ones are fine as long as the previous owners have taken good care of their instruments in their studio.
1. A trusted interface for your studio
The first choice you will have to make is that of an audio interface. This choice is fundamental for a number of reasons. The interface is the tool that allows you to record music and listen to your work at the same time.
The AD conversion (analog to digital) is extremely important because it has to do with the numerical approximation of the electrical signal recorded by the microphone. In simple terms, a good conversion is equivalent to a high definition “in the audio image” recorded.
Moreover, the sound of the pre-amplifier should not to be overlooked: this is the instrument inside the audio interface that increases the voltage of the signal coming from the microphone before it passes through the digital converters and sent to the computer.
In addition, the DA conversion (digital to analog) is also important as it will create a good signal when listening to your music (through speakers or headphones).
Depending on your needs and how many tracks you need to record at a time, here are my suggestions: (For around 200 euros)
- SSL 2+
- Audient iD14 MkII
- Scarlett 414 3rd Gen
These interfaces are perfect for anyone who needs to record a vocal or instrument track with up to 2-4 microphones.
I personally am a huge fan of Universal Audio’s products and specifically of the Apollo Solo, however, this alone costs about half of the budget. Once again, based on your needs and on what your end goal is, there is always the possibility to take a leap of faith and go through with the investment (or perhaps buying second-hand!)
If you are someone with slightly higher needs, I personally recommend the new Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen interface, which has 8 microphone pre-amps and is perfect for recording instruments such as drums!
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2. A microphone ready for battle
The choice of microphone is always quite difficult. The reality is that there is no magic microphone that is better than the rest. It really depends a lot on what you want to record. Some mics are better for certain instruments and their different tones but, in a home studio, it is essential to have a killer mic that performs best in all scenarios.
If you get the chance, I strongly recommend that you try out different microphones before purchasing any. Some artists sound wonderful in relatively cheap mics and some perform badly in mics that cost just as much as a brand new car.
A very classic choice is the famous SM7B, the microphone used in 99% of Michael Jackson’s vocal albums. If this mic was good for Michael and Quincy Jones, I’m sure it’s good for you too!
I also suggest you consider Warm Audio’s large diaphragm condenser microphone, the WA47 Jr. This is a slightly smaller version of the hugely popular Neumann U47 FET. It’s really cheap considering its quality and both mics cost less than 400 euros.
This is definitely going to be the section of this article that will create the most discussions.
Monitoring is very important because it is how you will be able to make critical decisions about your music and the way that it sounds. I decided to divide this section into some parts to talk about common obstacles and mistakes for those who are just starting out and maybe suggest solutions.
3. The Sound of the Room
Without going around it too much, the sound of the room has a huge impact on how we make decisions about our music. I will not go into too many technical details about the world of acoustics, but to summarize: the size of a room and the materials that make it up, give the room a certain sound and are responsible for problems with frequencies accumulating or canceling themselves out as well as, the duration of the reverb.
4.Headphones or Speakers?
The answer? I would say: both!
As mentioned, the room has a major impact on the decisions we make while mixing or producing. Listening through speakers means being influenced by the sound of the room and this is something to always keep in mind.
It can be a fun exercise to use a software like REW (Room Eq Wizard, it’s free!!) to measure your room. This will help you to understand where the major problems are located within your room and how to fix them. REW is quite a complicated and advanced software, but you could alternatively buy Sonarworks, another piece of software that not only analyzes the room but also creates a correction curve that is imposed on your speakers trying to counteract the room response deficits.
For this reason I always recommend that you also use a good pair of headphones that will allow you to listen without interference from the sound of the room.
This is a frequent debate between producers, musicians and engineers that will never end as both sides have very good reasons to argue in favor of one choice against the other. After having presented this debate to you in a very neutral way, you can continue to inform yourself and research these difference in order to create your own opinion; one that reflects your personal preferences and your unique way of working.
Here are my suggestions for some speakers for a pair of headphones.
As for the speakers, I strongly recommend Focal’s Alpha 50s. They are a little more expensive (around 220 per speaker) but if you are able to save up, or find some that are used, they have a sensational sound considering their the price.
Otherwise, for around 300 euros per pair, two other common choices are Adam Audio’s T5Vs, or Yamaha’s HS5s.
In terms of headphones, I recommend you try Audio Technica’s ATH-M50X, or Beyerdynamic’s DT-770 Pro or DT-990 Pro. I personally prefer the ATH!
– Written by Giorgio Schipani in its original version, translated by Betty Gonzalez Gray –