A lot of people have a huge misconception about the recording process, so this blog will clarify everything and will help you to know and to understand the recording process altogether. The main reason for me to write this blog is to make people understand that recording is indeed a complicated process and it takes some level of musical knowledge and software proficiency to make it, but it doesn’t require much hardware gear (which is presumed by a lot of people in the industry). So, without any further due, let’s get started.
Firstly, I am going to bust a lot of myths today which is affiliated with the recording part of the audio. A lot of people without even knowing the true reality, base their opinions on the prejudices of other people. These are some of the myths that I’ll bust today so you have a clear understanding of how and what you’ll need to make a bedroom recording studio.
Myth 1: It requires a lot of money to invest into making a recording studio
Although this is partially true, who is going to determine how much is a lot of money? For this reason, we have an offline course at the academy that covers the nitty-gritty of the acoustic treatment done on a budget that is not exhaustive.
Myth 2: Only those people who have huge homes can construct a recording studio.
This is not true. In professional studios, yes, we do have two different rooms, one to be used for recording (which is called a recording room) and the other room, where the engineer would sit and manage the recording (which is called a control room); but still, people manage to record almost similar like quality output when they record it in the single room (bedroom studio).
Myth 3: Recording requires a lot of hardware gears/equipment
Although this is true, a lot of people overthink and they think that we need a lot of hardware electronic gears to record a vocal, which is untrue. For the most part, the majority of your investment is going to be used for treating the room and not into the electronic gears.
Apart from just having a good machine (it could either be a laptop or a PC), you’ll additionally need some more things to make your recording tighter and more professional, for this, we have listed all the things that you’ll need to construct your very own recording room. The initial part of recording is always related to dealing with the acoustic response of a particular room (in our case it is our bedroom studio). If you have all the things that are listed below, it would make up to a very good studio (comparing it with the already existing commercial recording studios).
A lot of people get very excited when buying studio monitors and they don’t understand which monitors to go for, especially knowing the utility and the quality of it. Firstly, we need to know what a studio monitor is, and why it is so important for us to have them in our studios. Studio monitors are a kind of speaker which allows us to precisely monitor the frequencies which are being played in our DAW. They are very different from the consumer audio speaker systems; they have a conglomeration of different parts of the consumer audio system into one single unit. The driver, twitter, and the LFE (Low-Frequency Effects: also called a sub-woofer) are all built-in inside studio monitors.
“There are a plethora of companies that make different studio monitors, depending upon the quality of the driver, twitter, and LFE being used, which will ultimately decide the pricing of the same. Different monitors also have different inputs. And every studio monitor would require an audio interface to communicate with the machine you’re going to be using for music production.”
Even though the interconnections are sparingly dependent on the audio interface, these are a couple of things we need to look out for while selecting the studio monitors; Frequency Response, Maximum Acoustic Input, and THD (Total Harmonic Distortion). A couple of studio monitors which support RCA connections are; Presonus Eris 3.5, Behringer 1C-BK, Kali Audio LP-6, etc.
Some of the monitors which support TRS connections are; Yamaha HS-5, Yamaha HS-8, Kali Audio LP-6, Vault C5, etc.
These monitors are entry-level monitors, if you have a very good audio interface and if budget permits, you can also go for standard professional studio monitors which are most preferred in the industry and highly known for delivering the best quality output like; Adam Audio, Genelec, Dynaudio, Focal, Auratone, etc.
So, to speak, the monitors that you’re going to buy will also have a dependency on what kind of audio interface/sound card, you are/will be using for the same. There is no way for you to interconnect the studio monitors directly to your machine unless you have UAD-DSP. So, if you’re planning to buy monitor speakers; the first thing to look out for is the audio interface; what kind of audio interface you have, and what kind of output it is supporting. There are various outputs like RCA, TRS, TS, XLR, etc. for interconnecting monitor speakers. Once, you’ve gotten an idea of what kind of output is supported by the audio interface, it becomes easy for us, to know what kind of speakers to go for. If you haven’t bought the audio interface yet, this is probably the right time to decide to go for it, according to the budget.
The audio interfaces are also of varying types, you can select the audio interface depending upon how many inputs and outputs are supported, what is the highest sample rate and bit depth supported by the audio interface, and how better is the A2D/D2A (Analogue to Digital/Digital to Analogue) conversion quality. There are more factors to look out for, but these are the basic ones. After selecting the audio interface; you can now hunt for those studio monitors which supports similar kind of inputs; which are supported outputs of the audio interface.
“Some of the entry-level, budget-friendly audio interfaces are; Presonus AudioBox USB96, Presonus AudioBox 2×2, M-Audio Air 192, Focusrite Scarlett Solo, M-Audio 2×2, etc.
If your budget permits, you can go for good quality audio interfaces that support better A2D/D2A conversion, such as; RME BabyFace, UAD, Apogee, Prism Audio, SSL, etc.”
After selecting the studio monitors and audio interface, the game really starts from here, because you just can’t use the studio around which isn’t acoustically treated. So, for treating your studio, I would highly recommend getting a consultation done by an acoustic engineer. The engineer will take a bare minimum fee for the inspection of the room, but that is worth every penny you’d be investing in it. Once, the inspection of the room is done, the acoustic engineer will hand over a couple of things that are going to be needed to treat the room and create an RFZ (Reflection Free Zone) around your sweet spot. These things are:
Acoustic Panel: To absorb the sound coming directly from the monitors so that the reflections are tamed and hence avoid comb-filtering.
Bass Traps: Used to absorb low frequencies which are bound to meet up at the corner of the room; which creates an imbalance in low-frequencies.
Suspended Ceiling: Used to create an RFZ at the sweet spot.
Diffuser: Used to diffuse the frequencies which are critical in your room. Mostly used on parallel walls; one in the back-side of the sweet spot facing opposite to the speaker; and two on the sides, left and right.
These are the basic things you’ll be needing to treat your room acoustically. So, just buying an audio interface and studio monitors isn’t going to do any good; as long as you’re going to treat the room acoustically. There are various other parameters as well, while selecting these different acoustic materials, like the panels may have different SACs (Sound Absorption Coefficient) which helps us to know how absorptive the panel is. So, in short, I wouldn’t recommend buying monitors in the very starting stage of the music production process. In the beginning, I would highly recommend going for studio headphones.
There are two types of headphones, Open Back and Closed-Back Headphones. To give you the smallest brief description for both types of headphones; open back headphones are generally used for mixing and mastering purposes and closed back headphones are used for recording purposes. There is another category of headphones out there and those are called as Semi-open back headphones which could be used for both. In spite of being closed-back headphones, some of them are still used for mixing and mastering in the music industry.
Some of the known headphones used for music production and mixing/mastering are;
- Closed Back: ATH-M50x, ATH-M70x, Presonus HD9, KRK KNS 8400, Focal Spirit Pro, Focal Listen Pro.
- Open Back: HiFiMan Sundara, Shure SRH 1440, Audeze LCD 2, Beyerdynamics T1.
- Semi-open Back: Presonus HD7, Beyerdynamics DT 880/990 Pro.
In conjunction with these, I highly recommend going for Headphone’s calibration Software, which can be used to get flat frequency response. Sonarwork Headphones calibration software is one among them. You can also go to Sonarwork’s website to check for supported headphones list, and buy those headphones if it fits in your budget.
If your machine’s output is not as loud as you wanted it to be, then a good piece of hardware, instead of going for an audio interface, would be a headphones amp. This piece of hardware is cheaper than audio interfaces and is reliable too to boost or amp up the audio levels.
I have seen a lot of people who just buy MIDI and do nothing with it; half of the time; the MIDI is stacked into a pile of boxes which are filled with items we think to use but we don’t. So, before buying a MIDI keyboard, think of its utility and if it is really going to help in a way that will enhance your music production process.
“MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), is a device that definitely helps producers to record their piece of music; chords, melodies, etc. in the digital machine which can understand these notations in the musical form.”
To make the strenuous process of writing notes via mouse or keyboard easier; MIDI helps a lot, especially one; which has control change parameters as well; so that we can assign these knobs onto any instance of a DAW and control that parameter with convenience. If you are a great performer and play piano notes as an artist, MIDI would be a great tool for you guys to exploit it to the fullest to obtain the maximum benefit out of it. But for those computer geeks, who only use Mouse and Keyboards; and have full control over the speed; it is better not to go for buying any such MIDI keyboards; unless you want to learn how to play or you’re planning on performing live at someplace.
A lot of our students make immersive tracks without having any aid from a MIDI keyboard; and in my opinion; this is how it should be. Because it lowers your dependency on an instrument, you can then also work just with your laptop solely. All you’ll need to produce music is a good machine and good headphones.
Some of the MIDI keyboards we recommend are: Nektar Impact LX 49, Novation Launchkey 49, Komplete Kontrol S49, Arturia Keylab Essentials.
Before getting a microphone; make sure you get an audio interface because the microphone would need an input; since the majority of the microphones out there have XLR connections. In recent times, there are certain microphones that are powered with USB and could be connected to any machine directly without having to go through an audio interface. Unless it is a USB-powered microphone; remember, the Condenser/Capacitor microphones do require an additional power supply of +48v DC; which is also called phantom power. For dynamic microphones, you will not need the +48v DC phantom power. Also, it is advisable to go for condenser mics; if you’ll be using them for recording instruments like a guitar; ukulele, violin, cellos, flute, and even vocals. If you’re planning on recording drums; then I would highly recommend dynamic mics; because they are sturdy and versatile in nature; and have good resistance to shock and vibrations.
Also, checking for the polar pattern is also very important; this is the directionality of a mic; from where the sound is going to get captured in a microphone. Also, the room needs bare minimum reflections and so, the room should be very well acoustically treated, if not, you’ll need a reflection shield to avoid reflections getting captured in the mic, even if it is a unidirectional mic. Would highly recommend using a dynamic microphone for live performances and not condenser mics; for the same reason that they are sturdy and could handle mechanical vibrations easily. Also, condenser mics can catch all the frequencies creating a massive feedback loop between the speakers and the mic.
“Pop-filter is another thing that is highly recommended while recording vocals, because of the proximity effect, the bass boost occurs in the mic, and the plosives are exaggerated in biblical proportions. To avoid the same, a pop-filter is used. A mic-stand and a shock mount are also advisable because they will take care of some of the mechanical vibrations.”
For a microphone to connect with an audio interface, you’ll need some cables and connectors. There are ready-made cables which you can buy online; or you can also make one of your own if you know how to solder a wire.
XLR Cable is used to interconnect the microphone with an audio interface. Make sure to turn on the +48v phantom power button if you’re connecting a condenser microphone. Also, always mute your microphone in the audio interface control panel because there is only one room; and the sound coming out from the monitors may bleed into the microphone and cause an infinite feedback loop. Also, inside DAW, make sure to turn off the input monitoring mode; or else it is going to cause a lot of problems.
Use audio restoration plugins to remove the noise from the recorded sound. If used high-grade quality hardware, like an audio interface and a microphone, it is less likely to record the noise. And finally, connect headphones for artist monitoring; so that the artist who would be performing or singing; knows exactly how they are sounding after it is getting recorded. Use sample rate as 48Khz and 24bits bit depth for high-quality recording. Make sure to turn the buffer size low only at the time of recording; and high at the time of mixing.
This is pretty much all you’ll need to record a vocal or even an instrument at your home. At times, depending upon the instrument, you may need more than one microphone to apply stereo miking techniques. You can check our All-Access Pass membership plan for more details.
I hope that helps, thank you for reading this blog, I’ll see you in another one.