Almost anyone who deals with any sort of music at some point in his or her life will want to record something on their own and more importantly – from the comfort of their home. Studios offer a great variety of instruments and sound variations but, at the same time, can be far too expensive. This is why more and more musicians turn their homes into small-scaled studios. This can’t work as good as a real studio, you might say, but in fact, in a good amount of cases, the output quality can rival the one from the studio recordings. We will show you how to be able to master the art of hobby-recording with some great home recording tips. You will also learn some of the mistakes people usually make when embarking on this endeavor. Let’s get started!
Tips, Advices, And a Little More
We didn’t necessarily list these advices in order of their importance. Everything we will offer here is equally as important if you want your sound to be as close as possible to the studio one.
Placing Your Mics. If you are a singer, you probably already know that the mic has to be at the proper distance from your mouth to be able to capture the full tonal range. As a general rule, we’d recommend starting with 9 inches. Closer than that might catch some breaths and pops, while too far and your voice will sound weak.
Pro Tip: Use a pop screen to filter out the explosive “b” and “p”s, as they are kind of hard to fix later on.
Eliminate Any Source Of Noise. Before recording anything, make sure you’ve switched off any sources of noise, such as fans, air conditioners, etc. Also, close the doors of your home-studio and make sure your neighbors aren’t having a fight upstairs. Your PC’s fan can also be noisy, so place the mic as far as possible from it.
Pro Tip: Use a mic stand to eliminate noises resulting from any hand movements.
Your Gear. Good cables, microphones, amps, external sound cards, and all the other parts of your recording studio are vital to the whole operation. Cheap tech lowers the overall quality of the recording and can create interference and noise. Furthermore, you need a good recording software, such as plug-ins and DAWs.
You can find out which are the best DAWs for your computer here.
Choose Your Recording Format. Don’t start recording at 8 bits (8000 kHz) expecting miracles. For the best quality, you can get, use 44,100 kHz and a 16-bit setting. Have in mind that this is the minimum which we recommend. You can go higher than that for even better results, if your gear allows it.
Pro Tip: If you want to record in mp3 (even though we do not advice it) don’t go below 320kbps. Apart from that, we’d suggest using “wav” or “aiff”.
- Levels! Something many people often look overlook are the recording levels. They need to stay in green and this is truly important. If your audio goes into the red zone you will get a nasty distortion of your sound, which is unfixable on the following recording stages. Keeping the levels too low isn’t advisable as well, as it will result in more noise in your signal. Anything between -6db and -4db is considered healthy.
- Don’t Leave Mistakes. Do not leave any mistakes thinking you will fix them later on. You will most certainly forget about some of them and remember only once you hear the finished product and will have to start over. The final stages of the post-production have polishing capabilities but the overall result still depends on the quality of the initial “raw” recording.
- Keep Effects To A Minimum. When recording, try doing it with as little effects as possible. This will give you the much-needed flexibility in the post-production stages. If you use an effect during the actual recording, this effect will become a permanent feature of the audio.
- Your Ears Are Your Best Friend. It seems an odd thing to say, but the way you hear things is far better than the programs will tell you it is. That being said, always trust your ears and the way you hear everything being put into place. After all, if you do not like how something sounds or how it fits somewhere, you should always correct it, even if it seems musically fit.
- Intonation. This is our last advice for you but we somehow feel that it is the most crucial one. As with the recording levels, this is far too much overlooked as well. If you are using string instruments for your song, make sure you use new strings and they are in tune. Take your time to properly tune each of the string set both to an external/internal tuner and between each other. That way, the result will be clean, accurate and warm.
Guitar Tip: Another way to ensure proper intonation (if using a guitar) is to make sure your guitar’s neck is straightened out well. A bowed neck can result in inaccurate tuning and poor recording quality.
If you are wondering which will be the best setup for you, or even which products can you combine between each other to make the best home studio possible, here is an article where you can find the answer to all this.
Getting your thoughts and feelings into an actual sound can be the best feeling in the world, but hearing them back from a recording you did perhaps surpasses it. This is why we hope that our home recording tips have helped everyone even if some of these were already obvious and/or known by some of you. Now that you are familiar with the ABC of home recording, all that’s left for you is to get your hands on some nice gear and start recording!