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It’s 2015, do I need to rent a ‘real’ studio or can I just have a DIY recording studio at home?

Yes, it is 2015, laptops and desktops are more powerful than recording technology was 25 years ago, and you have more options and tools at your disposal than studios did at that time as well, but to have a DIY recording studio here are some things to think about when you approach recording a new track:

  1. Do you know how to use your DAW software efficiently? Are you spending a lot of your recording time mousing around in menus looking for commands?
  2. Have you mastered your plugins and know when, why and where to use them?
  3. Are you aware of acoustic principles such as standing waves, reflection and refraction?
  4. What’s a Flectcher-Munson curve?
  5. Is the recording space you are using ‘tuned’?
  6. Do you have enough baffles or segregated recording spaces so that the instruments don’t bleed together, e.g. hearing the drums on the bass track?
  7. Do you have a dedicated vocal booth, to ensure the lead vocal is clean, so that you can add FX later?
  8. Do you have a killer vocal mic and vocal chain, including a compressor or limiter?
  9. Etc…

Home recording offers an intimacy and immediacy that is undeniable. Great for sketch work and can potentially be used to create some fantastic releasable tracks. If you know your gear, and you know your room, and you can successfully wear multiple hats as artist, engineer, producer, arranger, assistant engineer (runners, cable connectors, etc), you can create great art. But what if you don’t have all the space or mics or channels on your soundcard to record an entire band? That’s where a proper studio comes in…

Bigger studios like Number Nine come with an experienced engineer who knows the gear and the room; they have dedicated rooms and iso booths; and can reduce stress by allowing you to:

  1. Be the artist. Focus on delivering your vision and capturing the vibe you intended with a great performance without worrying about excessive technical details.
  2. Not have to wear all the hats – having another experienced team member present who can advise about mic choices, plugins, takes, arrangements, etc.
  3. Not worry about setting up cables, mics, levels, multiple takes or comps, mixing, line noise, family member noise, flushing toilets, cats, phones, roommate warming up tacos in the microwave…etc. 😉
  4. Waste precious recording time setting everything up and tearing it down if you don’t have a dedicated space for recording, every time you want to get something down.
  5. Worry about how much your recording space is affecting what you get down on ‘tape’ – is there too much high end reflection from the untreated wall surfaces; is there way too much low end affecting what you hear, especially from different listening points in the room; or sticking your lead vocalist in the shower stall for slapback echo, which can also be a shocking situation if they are standing in a puddle and touch the mic…
  6. Allow you to work with a string section, or brass section without having them crammed into your second bedroom 😉

So, home recording is a great way to get ideas down quickly, and can serve as a great resource for sharing your ideas with a pro studio as to what you are trying to capture. Hey, if the tracks are good enough there’s a possibility they could provide the basis of your tune, and could be exported and imported into the big studio’s rig as a starting point. Even legendary Abbey Road engineer and producer Alan Parsons works with artists that have home studios, but that doesn’t mean that every track recorded makes it into the final mix. He’s selective, and uses proper studios when needed, and ensures everything sounds as good as possible before release.

Alan has developed a home study course on DVD for experienced and novice engineers to learn more about the Art and Science of Sound, and that’s cool because that’s the title of the DVD courseware!  You can learn a ton of great information from the series, which walks you through all aspects of recording, which will also come in handy when you work in a ‘big’ studio to better communicate with the engineer and producer.  Check the DVDs out at Parsons in studio

Give us a call, drop us a line to arrange a tour of our facilities, and you’ll see that we have every tool in the toolbox as well as someone that knows how to use them, but we’re not as expensive as you think, which means the time working here is spent efficiently, and that means time well spent.

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