Setting up your own recording studio at home can be an excellent way of supporting local artists and bands, including your own. A DIY recording studio can be a hugely rewarding project to support the local community or even to let you develop an experimental album at your own pace.
But when it comes to DIY recording studio mistakes, there’s certainly a lot of them to avoid! Here are the top 8 mistakes you want to avoid to keep your sound clean and professional.
1. Not budgeting the studio as a strategic investment
Whether you want to set up your recording studio as a side hustle, a hobby, or a primary career, you need to budget your equipment with the same strategic mindset. Failing to plan and prioritise purchases will put you at risk of buying the wrong equipment, or, worse, buying in excess. Invest in gear that will create the best recording environment for your recording studio purpose.
2. Placing monitors up against a wall
Compared to professional studios, a DIY recording studio gives you less room to work with. So, it might be tempting to use space-saving arrangements, such as placing your monitor in the corner or right up against the wall. The wall is a reflective surface, which means that the sound will bounce back. Ideally, you want to place speakers at a distance from the wall that is roughly one-third of the length of the room.
3. Failing to insulate sounds
For professional-quality sound, you will need to soundproof the room before you treat it for acoustic—soundproofing blocks out external noise from disrupting your recording. You’ll need a combination of tactics: filling air gaps, dampling, decoupling and adding mass to the walls. This will really help you to produce the best content possible. Adorama goes into great detail with tips on how to soundproof your recording studio.
4. Beware of sample scandals
Do you remember when VMG Salsoul sued Moby for the alleged use of unlicensed samples? VGM demanded damages up to $150,000 for each infringement, which is no small sum. Let it be a lesson. If you’re going to use your DIY recording studio to release music publicly, do make sure that you are using authorised samples.
You can check a tool such as Tracklib to clear samples from real music.
5. Expensive equipment with cheap cables
One of the most frequent DIY recording studio mistakes is to assume that your recording equipment is all that matters. In reality, the equipment is only as good as the cables that connect everything together. Cheap cables can create distortion. Check this cable guide to improve recording setup.
6. No acoustic treatment
Soundproofing your recording studio isn’t enough, you need to treat it to control the sound. Professional studios are designed for best acoustic quality. In a DIY recording studio, you need to treat the whole room in order to get the best results: ceiling, walls, and floor.
Use the good stuff such as mineral wool, fibreglass, and rock wool. You can also add bass traps in all 8 corners, upper and lower, to prevent bass frequencies from getting trapped.
7. Working on an outdated computer
Buying the right computer is a big investment, but a necessary one. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where your computer freezes and loses hours of work or is so slow that you give up with music all together and jump ship. Ensure it has sufficient storage available, a high power processor and enough RAM to keep you going. System updates are useful too to make sure you can run all the latest Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software in order to stay professional and up to date.
Take a look at some of the best DAWs on the market here!
8. Not finding the sweet spot
Finding the ideal listening position in your recording studio where the frequency response is the most balanced requires geometric alignment. Many home recording studios appear to purchase the right equipment and follow all the rules, yet they fail to put everything in the right place. A simple mistake to make but one that reaps big rewards if adhered too.
As a rule of thumb, you want to place monitors 3 feet from each other and 3 feet from your ears. Keep a 60° angle between each speaker and a 30° angle between the speakers and you.
These common mistakes in music production can be fatal, so be sure to avoid them! If you’re now thinking ‘I’ve got the ideas, I know the danger areas, but can I actually afford to set one up?’ then check out How much does it cost to setup a recording studio? to give you some insightful information.
Click Here to pre-register with Cosound and explore your local musical community. This is a great place to find professionals and musicians offering their services and displaying what they do. You may find that hiring a recording engineer or an audio engineer may be beneficial if you feel slightly overwhelmed with any technical stuff.
Hopefully this guide can help you avoid some of the most frequent DIY recording studio mistakes and help you set up for success.