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Home Studio Recording Tips – Sound Better!

Hello peeps! I hope all of you music enthusiasts and budding audio engineers alike, have already started on your very own home studio recording (seriously, you haven’t started yet?). If you have read my previous post on home recording, you should have a good overview as to what you basically need to start off.

However in this article, I would like to share with you people, a few home studio recording tips that will definitely make your music production journey a much more stress-free one. As with all of my articles, I intended this to be “easy to grasp” for beginners. So do not hesitate any longer, read on!

Recording Rooms – The problem

Performance Hall

Photo by nesnad / CC BY-SA 3.0

Unless you are a homeless person, living secretly in the basement of an abandoned theatre (which I am hoping you’re not), you are not going to find areas within your home, that is going to be as big as performance spaces that are used for professional recording.

It would not be out of the ordinary, if you find yourself setting up your studio in your very own garage. Truth be told, most home recording takes place in garages, basements, bedrooms and living rooms. Because of this, home studios have a variety of issues, particularly with things such as acoustics, comb filtering and low-frequency resonance. One core issue that will definitely bug you when you are starting out, is isolation.

Preventing excessive sound and noise from outside (yes, including your neighbours late night TV shows) from leaking into the room will be a challenge to most people.

But don’t fret, all hope is not lost. Due to the surge in home recording, there is now an increased availability of devices for acoustic treatment targeted to the home recordist. These include sound insulation devices, portable recording rooms (vocal booths), baffles, bass traps and acoustic panels.

Home Recording – The solutions

Okay, so now we know the problems plaguing the home recording society. Let us then move forward and discuss three things (that I think are important) that you can apply into your home recording plans to make life easier. The three things are:

  • Portable Recording Rooms (Vocal Booths)
  • Amplifier Enclosures
  • Acoustic Treatment

Portable Recording Rooms (Vocal Booths)

Vocal Booth DIY

Photo by Michael Garate / CC BY 3.0

As the demand of home recording among musicians and enthusiasts increases, more consumers today are looking towards the implementation of portable recording rooms, which are manufactured by vocal booth companies.

If you have started recording in your studio for a while, you would come to realize that one of the major limitations to producing quality recordings, is controlling the noise pollution and the room reverb at the microphone. By being able to do that, the reflections from the walls can be reduced.

Companies such as SnapRecorder.com, Whisper Room, Seulx Acoustics and VocalBooth.com, are among the suppliers of portable rooms designed specifically towards professional home recording. If you think you are quite the handyman (or woman), you might want to consider a DIY solution that can save you some money and it might also be more suitable for your own home studio.

You could look around (or rather, surf around) for websites where you can learn how to make a vocal booth. Having a vocal booth will benefit you in the long run, as it can also be used also to record guitars, bass, percussion, or when some overdubs are needed. Just for your information, they are often used to make voice-overs.

Amplifier Enclosures

Amp Isolation

Photo by guitarDouchebaggery / CC BY 3.0

Yes, yes, I know that awesome guitar solo of yours deserves a nomination for the grammy awards, but spare a little thought for your old neighbours will ya? If you plan to do a whole a lot of recording for guitars (especially electric) or for other amplified instruments, then you almost certainly need an amplifier enclosure.

Amplifier enclosures will help with problems pertaining to the recording of amplified instruments at the home studio, due to poor insulation. It will allow the microphones to capture the natural sounding distortion and overdrive by eliminating the ear high levels that are often produced by the speaker of a loud guitar amp.

Another benefit is that it can help reduce the interference and the possibility of an unexpected background noise (such as vehicles travelling outside, or kids playing), which will definitely affect the recording of guitar tracks or other instruments.

Lastly, if you are one of those musicians who go for long practice sessions at night, then you will also find that using an amplifier enclosure would be a benefit (at least your parents would!). They also come in many different sizes to suit your various needs.

Acoustic Treatment

Honeycomb

Photo by George William Herbert / CC BY-SA 2.5

The subject of acoustics is a rather lengthy one, and I do not intend on bombarding you with information that may just confuse you further. I will be brief and just touch on the various tools that you can implement to make your room more ideal for a recording session.

To make things simple, we are actually talking about “Soundproofing” here. This is a means of reducing the sound pressure with respect to a specified sound source and receptor. Some of the fundamental ways to reduce sound includes, increasing the distance between source and receiver, using noise barriers to reflect or absorb the energy of the sound waves, using damping structures such as sound baffles, or using active “anti-noise” sound generators.

However, for the sake of this article, we will focus on soundproofing for residential areas (this includes your bedroom) which aims to decrease or eliminate the impact of exterior noises. More often than not, residential soundproofing is always aimed at structures such as windows. So let us look at the following:

  • Curtains
  • Honeycombs
  • Double-pane Windows

Curtains

You can start by using curtains to dampen sound. But remember to make sure that it is made of heavy materials or you will not find it to be effective at all. The primary soundproofing limit of curtains is the lack of a seal at the edge of the curtain, although you can quite easily fix this with the use of sealing features, such as hook and loop fastener, adhesive, magnets, or other materials.

Honeycombs

Another option is through the use of air chambers known as “honeycombs”. You are able to choose from single-, double- and triple-honeycomb designs, each with a different degree of sound damping. The basic understanding is that the more layers of honeycombs, the better it is. I personally would not recommend that you choose this option if you are just starting out. It may turn out to be quite costly, and if you are not planning to do some serious business with your home studio, it is just not worth it.

Double-pane Windows

Soundproof Windows

Photo by dumbonyc / CC BY-SA 2.0

Finally, you can also consider installing double-pane windows. This achieves, somewhat greater sound damping than single-pane windows. Significant noise reduction can be possible with a second interior window installed. In this case the exterior window remains in place while a slider or hung window is installed within the same wall openings.

This may be a better alternative to “honeycombs” as it is cheaper (depending on how many windows you have) and saves more space. Do take note that there are many different techniques used in implementing double-pane windows, and this affects its quality to dampen sound. I recommend checking in with your service provider for more details.

That’s it. I hope you have a much better idea now, on how to go about improving your own home recording studio and also to get much better sounding recordings. Thanks for reading, and be sure to leave a comment below!

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Farhan

When I'm not rocking out to great music, I'd prefer to be sleeping on a field on a windy day =)

6 Comments

  1. Farhan,
    Thank you for this wonderful breakdown and these home studio recording tips.
    It is so true that most homes are not the greatest acoustically but with your tips on Vocal Booths and amplifier enclosures I can see how much can be overcome.

    Thanks also for the explenation regarding the acoustic treatment of sound, I did some learning there.
    You offer a wealth of information for anyone that is serious about proper recording from home, thanks again all my best,
    Gary

    • I am humbled by your kind compliments Gary. Thank you and do come back for updates!

  2. Dear Farhan

    You have a very good looking website. First impressions last and I got the impression that you are a professional in your field and absolutely know what you are talking about.

    You also come across as genuine which keeps the reader on your pages for longer and builds trust.

    I honestly believe that you will do well with this website and wish you the utmost best for the future.

    Regards
    Richard

    • Hello Richard

      I am deeply humbled by your comments. I can only try my best to bring quality information with regards to audio engineering based on my own experiences and extensive research.

      I am glad that you like the site, do come back for updates any time!

      Thank you =)

  3. Thank you so much for this important information. My main issue has always been the low background frequency noise. I have always been able to use my audio editing software to take it out, but never completely without affecting the over all sound quality of the recording.

    I will definitely be incorporating some of what you speak of as soon as I am able. I have bookmarked this and will come back to it as a reference. Thanks again for your work and I look forward to reading more here on your site.
    JChrisA

    • Hey there Chris!

      Yes, it is always important to ensure the best possible environment (that you can afford) for recordings, before you start any production work at all, regardless of how small it is.

      I would suggest that you first try to find the source of the background noise and eliminate it. Because sometimes, noise can come from anywhere (often times you do not realise it) such as internal PC fans, or even your air conditioning compressor. Most of the time, if you are able to identify the problem, then no further drastic measures are needed at that point.

      Afterwards, you can then look into improving the acoustics of your room and make modifications or add new soundproofing materials where necessary.

      Hope that helps, and thanks for dropping by. Do come back for more!

      Cheers =)

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