You’ve got all your studio toys, but here are five essential bits of recording equipment you might forget in your budget…
When planning the creation of your home studio, it’s very easy to get carried away making decisions about which key items you’ll be buying. Which audio interface, which monitors, which microphones…these are all the exciting choices that are to be made.
However, in the fevered excitement caused by filling your spare room with shiny studio toys, it’s easy to overlook some essential pieces of recording equipment.
Here’s a list of five accessory items to make sure you include in your budget…
When thinking of cables, think of the phrase ‘batteries not included’ when used with kids’ toys. There are very, very few bits of recording equipment that come complete with audio cables, and the disappointment of realising this only when the gear is in your home is comparable to that of a child’s when faced with a lifeless, battery-less toy.
Always budget for some cables. What you’ll need will depend on the complexity of your studio- it may be simply a microphone cable and a pair of jack cables to connect your monitors, or it may be 8 mic leads, 3 phono-phonos, 12, jack-jacks…it all depends on your studio. Just make sure you set enough of your budget aside, or you won’t be recording anything…
Again, everyone likes buying new mics, but for every mic, you’ll need a new cable, and a new stand. One of the most common situations in which this gets overlooked is when purchasing a set of drum mics. Unless these clip onto the rims of drums, you’ll need stands for every microphone.
The type of stand you’ll need depends on the situation in which it will be used. Boom stands are often the most versatile option, as they allow the user to position the microphone in a wide range of useful ways. If you intend to record sources that are close to the floor, such as kick drums or guitar amps, a mini boom is often the best solution.
3. Pop Shield
If you’re aiming to record vocals, a pop shield isn’t a luxury- it’s absolutely essential. This simple device provides a screen to stop plosive sounds (‘P’s, ‘B’s etc) that send a jet of air out the performer’s mouth, from overloading the microphone and causing distortion.
A pop shield clips onto the mic stand, and can be positioned in front of the mic via an adjustable gooseneck. If you’re recording someone else, it can be a good way of keeping the performer at the distance from the mic that you’d like, too.
Speaker stands are another accessory that are regularly overlooked. There is little point in investing your hard-earned dough into a great set of studio monitors, if you can’t put them in a good place to listen to them. I’ve been to studios where a £600+ set of monitors have been sat on the floor…(*shudder)
Ideally, the position of your monitors should see you at the apex of an equilateral triangle, with the monitors at the other two corners.
Your ears should be somewhere between the woofer and tweeter in height. It’s important that speakers don’t move when in use, or cause the surface on which they rest to vibrate, as this will colour the perceived sound, and the accuracy as a result.
So, get a good set of speaker stands.
Regardless of what you are doing musically, whether it’s all ‘in the box’ or recording acoustic sources, a good set of headphones is pretty essential.
Even if you’re not, a high quality set of cans enable you to closely monitor your recording for small imperfections and distortions, which are harder to pick up via studio monitors.
The above are all items that, without them, your work in the studio will be greatly hampered- doing without them is rarely a viable option…
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.