Take your recording space to the next level
As decent quality studio gear becomes more user friendly and musicians increasingly view the recording process as something they can do themselves, more and more bands and artists are quickly developing the base skills required to get amazing sounding results.
Thanks to places like YouTube and studio forums like Gearslutz and Audiotuts, there are how-to guides for pretty much every software package or piece of hardware you could think of. Different techniques, combinations of gear, methods, myths; they’re all catered for by people at or around a similar skill level to yourself.
But one thing which is often overlooked is the actual space you’re recording or mixing in. We’ve put together a few ways in which you can quickly and simply improve your studio space and start getting better results from your recordings.
If you’re using standard external PC speakers or, worse still, in-built laptop speakers, then the single biggest impact you can have on your studio work comes from a set of proper monitor speakers. These differ from ‘normal’ because they have a flatter frequency response, meaning there’s no boosting on the bass and treble frequencies meaning you can mix safe in the knowledge that your tracks will sound consistent no matter where you listen to them.
Monitors come in all shapes and sizes, and to suit all budgets, but if you’re new to it we’d recommend looking at the Yamaha HS5 speakers, which are reasonably priced and are the natural successor to Yamaha’s famous NS10 monitors, which are found in pro studios around the world. They won’t cloud your mix in order to make it sound good, so if you can mix a track to sound amazing on these, it’ll sound just as good on any other speakers you can find.
As well as a decent set of monitors, you should consider the impact things like your desk and the proximity of the monitors to your ears. The best case scenario is to have the monitors raised off your hard desk onto a set of stands, and further than that, on a set of foam dampeners. These IsoAcoustic studio speaker stands are specifically designed to optimise the performance of your speakers by responding to any subtle fluctuations in movement that occur when playing music. Best of all, they can be angled accordingly, allowing you to get the best placement without having to relocate the speakers entirely.
Once setup, ensure the monitors are equal distances away from your ears, at around head height, and pointing nearly towards you. The improvements you’ll notice in sound now the monitors giving you their full attention will pay off massively.
If you use a software DAW like Ableton, you’ll notice that it can be a pain to continually alter track levels or panning using your mouse or laptop trackpad. A good solution to this is to employ a dedicated mixing desk, which will control the DAW remotely. This can come in the form of a standard mixing desk or, if portability is important, then you might consider this Korg nanoKontrol Studio Controller USB mixing tool. It’ll map automatically to your chosen DAW, and adds a tactile element of control to your work.
Recording vocals is notoriously tricky, particularly in a smaller space, but can be helped enormously with a simple portable vocal booth, like the SE Electronics Reflexion Filter Pro Vocal Booth. This ensures the singers voice ‘bounces’ back into the microphone instead of bouncing off walls the floors, thus reducing unwanted reverb from the take.
Stands and storage
A tidier studio is conducive to a tidier recording process, so it makes sense to have equipment dedicated to keeping the place look smart. If you dabble in multi-instrumentalism, perhaps you have an electric guitar, an acoustic and a bass. You could save space and keep everything safe using one of these Fender Multi Stands, which can hold up to five instruments and keep them from getting in your way.
So there you have it. For not a lot of money, you could make some rather shrewd investments which will have a big impact on your productivity and the final results of your work. Hopefully this guide to improving your studio has helped!
View a complete range of professional studio equipment over at the Dawsons website.