Home Recording Studio Design: 5 Essential Steps to Build a Quality Studio - Careers In Music
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songwriter playing a songmusic producer at work stationrock star performing on stagetour manager making phone callmusic teacher with studentmusic therapy session

Home recording studios have been a staple to our industry for many years.

They give us the ability to create quality hit-making records remotely, which has proven essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the right equipment and set up, a remote studio can develop music competitive to what is released using commercial studios. Through personal experience, I have learned the capabilities, do’s and don’ts of a home recording studio.

There are five key steps that should be taken to build a home recording studio. Here are the steps I will discuss:

  1. Planning
  2. Selecting a laptop
  3. Building a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
  4. Finding effective monitoring equipment
  5. Selecting microphones

Five Steps to Creating Your Dream Home Studio

1. Planning

Plan, plan, plan. I cannot emphasize the importance of this step enough. Much like what Benjamin Franklin said, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” — a step I have found many people skip when building a home recording studio.

During this phase, you can reverse engineer your studio for the best overall result within the confines of the budget you have available. Start by figuring out the desired end goal. For example, if mixing music is the goal, the environment created should focus on listening. If recording is the end goal, your plan should target getting equipment that helps eliminate outside sounds like the air conditioner.

A recommended portion of the planning phase is to determine a budget that works for you. To create music competitive with major record labels that have commercial studios readily available, you should aim for quality equipment without entering into the overkill territory. On average, I would say that those looking to build an in-home studio should expect to budget around the equipment you have available already and the ultimate end goal of the studio. Reading reviews can help you find quality equipment within your budget.

2. Selecting a Laptop

With the many tech advances in the music industry, the modern-day home recording studio revolves around a laptop with an interface. The laptop allows artists to have everything they need in a box. As the hub of your future recording studio, I would recommend you buy the best one you can afford.

For example, I teach at Full Sail University, and the students in our recording arts and audio production degree programs utilize an Apple MacBook Pro fully loaded with industry-standard software and pro tools – allowing them to create quality music anywhere.

Take the time to research a laptop that will align with your end goal. Determine how many inputs your project you will need because an interface determines how many inputs you can have on your laptop. Because quality is key, it is better to have fewer inputs and a higher quality interface if that is what your budget can afford.

If you already have a laptop, research is still important. Look for people doing what you want to do and figure out how they optimize their technology to create the quality of work you hope to achieve.

3. Building a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

Once your laptop is purchased, and you understand all that it can do for you and your home recording studio, the next step is to get your DAW prepared. There are a lot of software solutions out there, and some laptops even come with them for an upcharge.

As the music industry advances, there are more subscription-based software options available to artists that provide emulation technology. Although a home recording studio does not replace the big commercial studios, the emulation technology available today makes the quality of music created at home close to that of a commercial studio.

Through the years as an educator at Full Sail University, I have been able to create numerous Billboard number-ones from our Audio Temple, which houses unrivaled commercial studio technology. During the stay-at-home mandate, implemented in the beginning stages of the pandemic, I was able to put my DAW to the test and complete the final stages of mixing award-winning Gospel Singer Koryn Hawthorne’s album. The album was released in September of 2020 and has already garnered three Billboard number-ones.

4. Finding Effective Monitoring Equipment

Ensure that the space you have selected for your home studio has minimal sound interference, and you have taken the appropriate measures to install sound baffling to absorb the natural sounds within the room.

Not having an effective monitoring system can negatively impact the quality of music, no matter how effective the other tools are that are used to build the studio.

5. Selecting Microphones

Aside from not planning, one of the biggest mistakes I see many people make when building a home recording studio is overspending on mics. If the other components of your studio (in steps two through four) are subpar or less, it will result in lackluster quality from your mic.

It is a good practice to remember that when one aspect of a recording studio lacks quality, it impacts the quality of everything else. Focus on the best quality your budget can afford and not what commercial studios have available because to build a commercial studio, millions of dollars can easily be spent.

What Everyone Building a Home Recording Studio Should Remember

  • Planning creates the foundation for a quality home recording studio.
  • Keep your end goal in mind with every plan, research element and purchase.
  • Staying within the confines of a budget is not unrealistic if the budget is realistic and the appropriate research is conducted.
  • Quality is everything. Get the best quality your budget can afford.
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