How To Build A Home Music Studio
Commuting to a music studio and renting time is expensive and time consuming. If you're a musician, designing your own home studio allows you to invest your time and money in the music itself.
The Different Types Of Music Studios
Home music studios are used for a number of different purposes:
- Solo practice/composing studio: Perhaps you're basically a solo performer or composer in need of an appropriate workspace. You'll need only enough quiet, comfortable space for you and your instrument along with good lighting, minimal furniture and storage space for sheet music and supplies. Perfect silence and pristine acoustics aren't really a major concern.
- Group practice or jam studio: If you're part of a band or ensemble, you'll need a good, large space for your practice studio. You'll probably also need to consider some sort of sound buffer between your work area and the rest of your house. Again, if you're not recording, sound proofing and perfect acoustics are nice but not required.
- Teaching studio: A teaching studio creates a nice privacy boundary between your personal and professional life. This type of studio is much like a solo practice studio, and can be very small and simple. You'll need enough space to accommodate you and your student, instruments, sheet music storage, music stands and perhaps a mirror to help students improve posture and technique.
- Recording studio: Home recording studios are becoming a popular option for musicians. To create one, you'll need a space large enough for all the musicians and instruments involved in recording projects, as well as your recording equipment. Additionally, you'll need to address soundproofing issues to block outside sound and enhance the sound quality of the room itself.
- Combination studio: Most home music studios are used for more than one function, such as a practice and recording area or a teaching and composing studio. These studios need to have the features, equipment and space required for the individual studio types involved.
Choosing Your Space
Your first decision when designing a home music studio is choosing your best possible space. Your studio should be a place where you can distance yourself from the goings on in the rest of your home and just concentrate on music. Here are some features that lend themselves toward good studio space:
- A room with four walls and a door that closes, such as a spare bedroom or office
- A quiet room, isolated from the sounds of traffic and outdoor activity
- A separate structure on your property, such as a barn or garage, equipped with electricity.
Sometimes a basement is also a good choice for a music studio, since it's naturally shielded from a good deal of outside sound. Because instruments and recording equipment are often sensitive to moisture and humidity levels, only build a basement music studio if you're positive your basement is waterproof. You may also have to take steps to adjust the humidity in your basement.
Preparing Your Studio
To get the most out of your music studio, plan out a space that doesn't get in the way of your creativity. These tips will help you design a studio that's comfortable and convenient:
- Make sure you have ample storage space for supplies such as cables, microphones, sheet music, paper or percussion instruments. Each type of accessory or supply needs its own designated place so you won't have to dig through lots of other items to find it. Wall hooks, neatly arranged storage bins, rolling carts, file cabinets, shelves and drawers help you avoid wasting time searching for or tripping over accessories.
- Even if you, your band mates or your students play your instruments standing up, you'll still need seating for everyone involved. This will keep everyone comfortable during down time, planning and discussions.
- Some larger instruments, such as a piano or a drum set will likely be permanent fixtures in your studio. Plan ample room not only for the instruments themselves but also for the musicians to comfortably play them.
- Provide good lighting and ventilation as well as microphone stands, pop filters and music stands.
How To Optimize Your Home Recording Studio Sound
All music studios benefit from improved sound quality, and if you plan to record, this step is essential. Here are a few ways to optimize your studio sound:
- Balance the tone: For a sound that isn't too flat or too booming, use absorptive materials such as fabric or carpeting along with reflective ones such as wood or metal.
- Quiet your room: A good deal of noise that can ruin your recordings comes from inside the room itself. You may need to turn off heat, air conditioning, fans or refrigerators during recording. If electric hum and equipment fans are still a problem, a two-chamber studio with separate areas for musicians and equipment may be necessary. Try a pre-made sound isolation enclosure or build your own dividing wall. Wires and cables run through the dividing wall in this set-up.
- Soundproof: To keep out the sounds of street and household noise, you may want to cover walls and ceilings with soundproofing material.
Building a Recording Studio
If you're building a traditional recording studio from the ground up, you'll need a number of basic components that may include:
- Computer/recording software
- Preamps and amplifiers
- Mixing board
- External processor
If this all sounds daunting, and you're an acoustic solo or small ensemble artist, don't dismiss the option of all-in-one recording equipment. These digital desktop units have improved dramatically in recent years and used properly, produce very professional results.
The investment in a home music studio really pays off when you're able to take care of composing, practice, jamming and/or recording, all from the comfort of home. The best part is that you can create whenever the inspiration comes, day or night, without having to wait for available studio hours.