The term home recording studio can mean anything from a full professional basement recording space with isolation booths, double walls and an isolated control room with thousands of dollars’ worth of gear to a tiny space in the corner of a living room with a computer and a desktop microphone. The only real requirement is that it fits satisfies the requirement of being at “home.”
With that said, improving the sound of your home studio – however it is defined – can vary largely depending on the space you have and your budget for improvement. Here we’ll provide a few simple and inexpensive ways to quickly improve the quality of your recording space. Note that these tips are aimed more toward those on the “space in the living room” spectrum of the recording scale than those with a basement replication of Abbey Road.
It should be quickly noted here that the purpose of any attempt to improve your recording space is to limit natural audio reflections in your room. This is aimed at providing a “dry” audio source that doesn’t add strange and unwanted frequencies or reverb effects when you are mixing.
Acoustic foam is one of those products that can be found on the walls and ceilings of studios from the most professional in the world all the way down to the smallest home setup. The great thing about these is that they are relatively inexpensive, and they come in specific shapes to control audio reflections, so you can be choosy about which type you buy that will work best for your particular room.
The key term here is that acoustic foam is “relatively inexpensive,” and you can easily spend hundreds of dollars installing the foam in your room.
Sometimes those hundreds of dollars for acoustic foam is just not in a budget, so another tip is to make sure you are recording in a room with carpet, which will go a long way in soaking up reflections. No carpet available? Lay down a rug.
If you happen to have extra carpet or rugs, you may even want to throw some on the walls to function in a similar capacity to foam. You can also install hooks to hang carpet or rugs around your recording area only when you are recording if you don’t like the look of carpet on your walls. This can also create a makeshift vocal booth around your microphone.
Instead of changing the properties of your room, you also can switch to a uni-directional, dynamic mic, which will pick up less room noise and more of the direct audio source (your voice or instrument). Condenser mics are designed to pick up a wider space of sound, which is often much desired. However, if those sounds are interfering with your recording in a negative way, it may be time to break out the dynamic microphone.
Finally, there’s something to be said for just recording in what you have. Though this goes against “standard” recording protocol, just recording in a “live” room often can yield unique results that can’t be replicated in any other studio or recording space. Be warned, however, that there’s often a fine line between “unique sound” and “bad sound.”