How to Build a Home Studio
As a professional in the field of audio engineering, I often receive inquiries about building a home recording studio. Although a home recording studio may not compare to a state-of-the-art facility like Bay Eight Recording Studios Miami, it is still possible to create high-quality music from the comfort of your own home. In this article, we will guide how to build a home studio with a budget of $5,000. Including some of the best equipment available on the market. Additionally, we will explore a more expensive studio setup with multiple microphones suitable for live recording sessions. With over 20 years of experience, we are well-equipped to offer extensive knowledge on where to invest in a home-built recording studio. We’ll be looking into, Microphones, Monitors, Interfaces, and Acoustic treatments to get you started.
Home Studio Microphones:
Dynamic Microphones for Home Studio
The microphone is arguably one of the most critical components of a recording studio. Choosing the appropriate microphone for your intended purpose is crucial. One highly recommended bedroom microphone is the Shure SM7B. This dynamic microphone is not as sensitive as a condenser microphone, making it ideal for capturing the richness and tone of your voice. Because the microphone is not as sensitive as a Condenser mic, it will not pick up a lot of background, so if your dog Sparky is barking, the mic will not pick it up if it’s far away. Priced at $400, the SM7B is a great investment. Originally introduced in 1973 and based on the SM5 broadcasting microphone, Shure designed a more compact SM7B to create one of the most popular microphones to date.
Condenser Microphones for Home Studio
Another highly recommended microphone is the AKG 414 Condenser Mic. This microphone is highly sensitive to sound, so caution is advised when using it. However, it is one of the best microphones available on the market today. The AKG focuses on warmth, brightness, and maximum detail. Furthermore, this microphone has several versions with different capabilities. It is highly versatile and suitable for recording not only vocals but, also guitars. Furthermore, legends like Freddie Mercury and Kurt Cobain used the AKG 414 to record their vocals as well as, guitars. This microphone is available for use at Bay Eight Recording Studios Miami, so be sure to request it if it interests you.
The Neumann TLM 102 Condenser Microphone is another recommendation. It captures the classic Neumann sound, which is warm, and dependable. While the Neumann U87 is often the first microphone that comes to mind when people think of Neumann, it is a costly $3,000 microphone. The TLM 102, on the other hand, is an affordable option for those with a home recording studio. Debuted in 2009, this microphone is a great deal for the price and value it offers. See the characteristics of each microphone below.
Shure SM7B: $400
- A great microphone for home setups, a detailed mic despite being a dynamic microphone.
AKG C414: $1300
- A bright-sounding condenser mic used by legends like Kurt Cobain and Freddie Mercury
TLM 102: $850
- A classic Neumann tone that adds versatility for most voices.
For setting up a home recording studio equipped for live recording, you will need multiple microphones to successfully record for a live setting. We’ll explain a microphone setup for a 4 piece band, the members being a drummer, guitar player, vocalist, and bassist.
For the guitars, it is best to use a combination of a Dynamic microphone like the Shure SM57, along with a Ribbon Microphone such as the Royer 121. Using both of these will offer a classic and smooth guitar tone. Secondly, for the bass guitars, use an SM57 as well, being a dynamic mic, it will get the most out of your bass player’s amplifier. You also can go directly into an interface when recording bass and blend the two sounds.
The vocals need to be recorded in a separate room from the rest of the band. The singer should use one of the microphones in the previous section.
How to Build a Home Studio: Drums
Finally, the drums. Mic selection is crucial for drums, as the microphones need to absorb as much sound as the drums produce. The best way to record drums is to use a mix of a condenser and dynamic microphones. For the snare toms, kick, and floor toms, dynamic microphones are best, as they will respond well to louder and lower frequencies. For the symbols, use condenser microphones to pick up the complete detail of each symbol. Room microphones can be used to further enhance the sound. We suggest using an Audex DP7, because of the quality and price it comes at. It is an 8-piece drumkit microphone set that comes with an array of condenser and dynamic microphones.
Mic Set: Audex DP7
Home Studio Interfaces:
Interfaces are a critical component of any recording studio. An interface is a recording device that converts audio signals into readable tracks for your DAW. The computer recognizes the interface and stores the audio files in your session. In this article, we will showcase several interfaces available at various price points for home recordings.
The first interface we highly recommend is Solid State Logic 2 (SSL). This high-quality interface is produced by a legendary company known for its analog mixing consoles, this interface is offered at an affordable price. The SSL preamp provides a warm tone, ensuring clear recordings for home use. Equipped with two inputs and outputs, this interface is capable of recording guitars and other instruments that require 1/4in inputs. The SSL 2 is an excellent choice for beginners and professionals building a studio at home.
The second interface we recommend is the Universal Audio (UAD) Volt 2. Universal Audio is a leading manufacturer of plugins and audio hardware. This newer interface offers incredible value and clarity. The Volt 2 comes with a unique feature that allows vintage voicing on the preamp, resulting in subtle yet significant improvements to overall recordings. With 2 inputs and two outputs, it is perfect for a simple home studio.
The final interface we recommend is the Audient iD4, known for its simplicity. This straightforward 2i2 interface with master controls still offers good-quality recordings with a simple layout, providing basic features like other interfaces.
Review of Home Studio Interfaces:
SSL 2: $180
- SSL Clarity
- Known for analog sound
UAD Volt: $190
- Different Voicing of Preamps
- Leading manufacturer of plugins, some come with the interface
Audient iD4: $200
- The very simple control layout
- No special features however very simple
Without a set of monitors, there is no way to hear the music you produce accurately. While you can play music over your computer, the quality of sound will not be as detailed as with proper monitors. In this section, we will recommend some of the best home studio monitors for your use.
The best monitors, especially for the mixing stage of your music, offer the flattest response. One of the speakers that offer this is the Yamaha HS series, which has been a studio favorite since the 1970s for engineers across the recording studio industry. With extremely detailed sound at an affordable price, they come in different sizes for different rooms. The smaller HS5s are suitable for smaller rooms and the larger HS8s are better for medium-sized rooms. Also, to complement the HS5s, you can buy a Yamaha HS8 subwoofer, a small 8-inch sub to help control the lower end of your mixing process.
The second set of speakers we recommend is the JBL 305P MKII, which are also flat but have a slight low-end tendency. However, they have control of the lower and higher end with trim knobs behind the speakers, making them a great option for home producers.
The final set of speakers we recommend is the KRK ROKIT 5 G4. Although slightly cheaper, they do not offer the same clarity of sound as the Yamaha or JBL monitors mentioned above. However, they come in an array of sizes and can still be a good option for those on a tight budget.
Overview of Monitors:
*Prices are based on the cost of sets*
Yamaha HS5: $400
- Great flat monitors
- Variety of sizes
- Have been trusted since the 1970s
- Slight Lowend tendency
- Does have adjustable bass and treble trim knobs
- Slightly Cheaper option
- Not the highest quality
- Come in different sizes as well
When building a home studio, basic acoustic treatment is essential. A place to start is with diffusers, which help divide the sound in the room, ensuring that it is properly dispersed. Without diffusers, standard rooms can develop sound pockets that do not allow the sound to divide and distribute correctly. The next type of acoustic treatment to consider is sound panels.
Sound panels absorb sound, helping filter out the extra sound that is not needed in the room. There are different types of sound panels, including broadband absorbers, which can absorb sound across a wide range of frequencies, and resonant absorbers, which target specific frequencies. By combining diffusers and sound panels, you can create an optimal acoustic setting. However, it is critical to see an acoustician to properly have the room treated. If your room is too dead your room will not be accurate for mixing. You can see in the image above, how we use wooden diffusers to help the sound get out of pockets and focus toward the center of the room. In light of talking about sound panels, we have attached some simple ones for home use below.
Auralex MAX-Wall 4 Pack: $600
Home Studio Recording Software
Lastly, the most crucial element, and without this, recording music would be impossible. You need a Digital Audio Workstation or DAW. There are plenty of different DAWs available, however, it is important to find one that works for you. They come in an array of prices with different tiers, today we are going to cover the full versions, no student or any other versions except for the complete ones.
First, starting with the industry standard, Pro Tools is the best DAW for recording audio. Pro Tools has been the industry standard for decades, and with the flexibility, the daw offers to adapt to any situation. Furthermore, artists do not just use Pro Tools for recording audio, but also, for engineering due to the layout and format the daw offers. It’s clear, concise, and one of the easier DAWs to use. As well, the speed Pro Tools offers are not comparable with some DAWs.
The second DAW is Logic X Pro by Apple. Logic is good for recording audio as well but has a focus on production. Logic is only available on Mac. As a matter of fact, most users of Logic claim it to be an upgraded version of GarageBand. All things considered, this DAW is claimed to be an upgrade of something free, Logic still offers great flexibility. As a matter of fact, artists like Billie Eilish and Finneas have been known to use this DAW.
The Last DAW is Ableton Live. Abelton is primarily used by beatmakers and music producers. However, it is also a good DAW for recording. It is not as straightforward forward and the quality of recordings is not as clear as Pro Tools, yet, it still can hold its own.
Review of DAWs:
Pro Tools Ultimate: $600
- Industry Standard Recording Software
- Engineers use the DAW for mixing
- Easy use
Logic Pro X: $200
- Great for production
- Clear audio recordings
- Only for Mac
- Used Primarily for beat-making
- Can get decent recordings
In conclusion, building a home recording studio can be a daunting task, but with the right equipment and knowledge. It is possible to create high-quality music from the comfort of your own home. All things considered, the microphones, interface, monitors, and acoustic treatment are the critical components that contribute to the success of a home studio. However, this can get costly, with the interfaces, sound treatments, and microphones. Finally, I hope this guide was helpful in you building your home recording studio.