Every talented and aspiring musician can hope to advance to a level where there will need to be a professional touch added to your audio track. Becoming a sound engineer does not necessarily require a college degree!
You can set up your own studio at home with some basic and affordable equipment.
As a newbie, there isn’t too much you need to start enjoying working from your own home recording studio.
The most important of what you require is a room inside the house. This is the most important gadget you will need. Put in mind which room to use that will be inaccessible to noise and possibly sound-proofed. The ancillary noise from the laundry room, playing kids in the sitting room, the knock from the delivery man – all these are likely means that can distract you and spoil a smooth track.
Preparing the room then requires a measure of effort, before you think of bringing in other instruments and accessories like the headset, drums, speakers and microphones. Remember you will need a desk with a few seats, as music can be enjoyed as a collective process. You should also think about sound absorbing panels, furniture and some colourful lights to get the inspiration flowing.
One or two microphones are all that you need to start with for now. As your studio continues to grow bigger, you can then increase your range. There are several different types of microphones, which depend on the instruments you have and what you want to record at home.
From the many options available, you can get low-end microphones as well as higher brands like AKG and Neumann, which have specialist microphones for each and every task. Other types of microphones that are suitable include Rode NT1A for recording vocals. For any high-frequency instrument like the cymbals and acoustic guitar, the AKG P170 in particular excels.
When investing in microphones, make sure you also stock up on its accessories such as mic stands, pop shields and XLR cables. It always helps to have spares too.
Speakers and headphones come next. Good speakers produce perfect sound depending on how well they are sealed. Examples of such include the mixing studio standard Yamaha NS10 speakers that produce a realistic & true sound. Though some engineers do suggest you go for more costly choices from JBL companies.
At this stage, it’s better to avoid high-cost headphones and settle for ones like Sony MDR-XD200. A good headphone set should be large and comfortable and demonstrate a true flat sound so that you can work on your music as accurately as possible.
It’s also very important to bear in mind how you are placing your set up. For example, the guitar and the cymbal are operating in the same frequency, the cymbal crash will break-off the guitar solo.
Good engineering principles are therefore needed to ensure the sounds are separated and won’t spill into each other.
Working with your EQ settings will help aid the separation of your instrument’s frequency space in the mixing phase.
Music production software
Now, let’s focus on what digital software we need to get started. Your main program of choice will be important in dictating how you work. These are called DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation) and here, there are a few options.
The most popular are Pro Tools (made by AVID), Logic Pro (made by Apple), Ableton Live and Cubase (made by Steinberg). Of course, there are options that are available for a range of prices such as; Reason (made by Propellerhead), Fruit Loops Studio and Reaper (made by Cockos).
Your plugin library should be thought of as your box of tricks and there are many expensive tricks out there from companies such as Waves, Soundtoys and Fabfilter. Luckily each DAW comes with its own basic box of free plugins, which have been found to perform their respective mixing tasks to more than an adequate standard.