How to Set up Your Home Studio
March 12, 2021
2020 saw many of us moving out of the office and into the world of Work From Home. And you know what? We found out that it’s not that bad! There were some bumps and bruises early on, but we quickly got the hang of working with Zoom and Teams, and the appeal of no daily commute more than made up for any issues.
But what about those who worked in a professional studio? Could one really leave the professionally treated spaces, expensive microphones, and fancy mixers behind and get comparable audio at home?
Absolutely! If you know what you’re doing, at least.
So whether you are a seasoned vet or an absolute beginner, here is how you can set up your home studio.
Pick A Space
There are two terms that people mix up all the time when discussing their home studio: sound treatment, and soundproofing. You probably already know what soundproofing is. It’s all about not letting outside noise in. In a properly soundproofed room, you won’t hear the traffic from the highway outside your door… or the construction workers building a house in the lot behind you… or the landscapers mowing your yard.
Sound treatment, however, deals with the noise generated inside of the room, and how that sound travels. Want an example of this? Head into your bathroom and stand in the shower. Now talk. Hear how there’s an echo on your voice, a slight reverb? Sound travels in waves and bounces off of hard surfaces. That’s exactly what is happening in the shower. The sound waves are bouncing around, arriving at your ears at all different times causing your voice to sound slightly distorted. This same concept happens in every room you’ve ever been in. Only in most rooms, there are more objects to absorb and deflect the soundwaves. Head into a room with a lot of furniture, a thick carpet, and some pictures on the walls, and you’ll probably not notice any echo.
When it comes to recording, your mic could be very sensitive and pick up on the sound reverberating around the room much more than your naked ear does. A lot of people, when first starting out, choose to record in their closet. The clothes help absorb and knock down those sound waves, providing good clean audio to the mic. In fact, many people will renovate a walk-in closet into a recording booth for their home studio by putting sound-absorbing panels along the walls and bass traps in the corners.
Another popular early build for people setting up their home studio is a PVC booth. To create one, you build a frame using PVC pipes, then use either moving blankets or special sound-absorbing blankets to create an area where you can record. The benefit here is that the material is inexpensive and can be customized to whatever specs you need. For voice actors and singers who don’t need to worry about an instrument, a 2’x4’ or 4’x4’ booth might offer plenty of space, whereas a musician with an instrument might need a 4’x6’, 6’x6’, or even larger booth.
If you need more space than a booth provides, you can use a series of sound panels, base traps, and other sound treatment materials to make sure the recording space sounds good. Each room is different, so a little trial and error might be needed to get the acoustics just right. To start, make sure to consider the placement of the microphone. You’ll want to treat the space not only in front of the mic but behind it as well. Think of the sound waves bouncing off the sidewalls and even the ceiling. Eventually, you’ll have the room set up in a way that sounds good to you, and that’s all you need.
Choose A Microphone
The next big step is making sure you have the microphone (or microphones!) that are right for the job you’re doing. And when you need a mic, Shure has you covered. Hosting a podcast, or recording an audiobook? It’s hard to do better than the Shure SM7B or the new MV7 podcasting microphone. The SM7B is a legend in the industry and is found in professional studios across the world. The MV7 was inspired by the SM7B, and although it was created with podcasters in mind specifically, it is a very versatile mic that can be one of the first mics you ever buy (and possibly one of the last!). Both are exceptional at keeping unwanted noises out of the microphone and have a presence boost to complement the spoken word.
Singers might want to look at the Shure Beta 58A or the Super 55. The Beta 58A has been a favorite of singers on stage in front of massive crowds for decades. The brightened midrange and bass roll-off mean that your vocals will have a big presence in the mix, right where they belong. And the super-cardioid pattern helps to isolate your sound from other noises in the room. The Super 55 brings that classic feel to the studio. It’s ok if you want to throw on a tux before singing into this microphone. With inner-workings that mirror the Beta 58A, the Super 55 looks as cool as it sounds.
Musicians looking to mic up an instrument can look no further than the SM57 mic. This mic was designed to deal with the high-pressure sound that explodes off of instruments and amplifiers, so you can crank up the volume without getting distortion.
And if you’re looking for just a good old-fashioned all-around excellent microphone, you should really consider the SM58. Rock stars, pop idols, comedians, and more have leaned on the SM58 for decades. Having a couple of these in the studio will mean you’re ready for anything.
Adding A Mixer
If you’re using a single USB microphone, then you can likely avoid using a mixer or an interface. But if you have multiple inputs, or are using an XLR microphone, you will need a mixer/interface to get the sound into your computer where you can record it. Allen & Heath has a variety of product lines to choose from, depending on your needs.
The Allen & Heath ZEDi mixers will offer a lot of features perfect for most home studios. These mixers offer multiple XLR inputs, stereo inputs, and guitar DI inputs along with a USB audio interface out to your computer. You can record just yourself, or a full band easily with the ZEDi mixers.
If you’re looking for an even bigger option, the Qu series is there, waiting for you. This mixing console offers a flexible workflow that offers 3 styles of mixing. In-The-Box allows you to mix entirely in your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), while still controlling the DAW from the Qu. Out-of-The-Box allows you to mix entirely in the Qu, and Hybrid gives you the best of both worlds. And the free MIDI Control software means Qu can be configured to emulate the standard HUI and Mackie Control protocols for use with all popular DAWs.
And if you want to get wild and recreate a broadcast studio, the XB-14-2 has everything you need. This board incorporates many special broadcast features that typically come with a much higher price point. Incorporate telephone communication channels right on the board. Mic channel ON switch sensing, automatic muting of speaker outputs, and so much more.
Get Started Today
So whether you are a full-time professional looking to recreate a professional studio at home or someone who has always been told they have a nice voice and are just getting started, it doesn’t take much to get a home studio built and ready to meet your needs.
For more great information about these and other products, check out our YouTube channel! We offer hands-on demonstrations, including a guide on how to get started podcasting from home featuring the Shure MV7 and the Allen & Heath ZEDi-8 mixer.
This post was written by Mainline Marketing