A common misconception among today’s musicians is that good recordings can only be made in big studios. The truth is that over the past three decades, the music industry has changed a lot. Recordings, which needed expensive consoles and microphones can now be easily done in 500$ equipment or less. People do realize the potential of home recording equipment but still do not get the optimum results. This article will help you turn your studio into a professional one without being too heavy on the pocket. Here are the most important things you need to know to set up your studio:
1. Getting rid of Standing Waves
Depending upon the dimension of the room, certain low frequencies build up due to standing waves. This frequency build up makes you listen to the song with a specific frequency enhanced, thus hindering the mixing process.
In order to get rid of standing waves, one can play sine waves at different frequencies and pick out the build-up frequency. Then putting bass traps and diffusers at the right place can stop such build-ups. Also, the software’s like Room EQ wizard, and SpectraFoo can make your life easier by analyzing the frequency build up for the whole room.
2. Diffuse the First Reflections
If the first reflections are not taken care of, then it is tough to mix. The song might sound good in your studio, but anywhere else you will see anomalies that you would not notice otherwise.
To get rid of these, one can put a mirror at different places on the wall. Wherever you can see the tweeter of the speaker in the mirror just put a diffuser. This will solve the problem and make your life easier.
3. Boundary Effect
If the monitors are placed too close to the wall, then it can either cause destructive interference (lack of low end) or Constructive Interference (more low end). None of the above is useful because we are aiming for a flat response. Corners and windows are often evil because of the same reason.
So the placement of the monitors should be such that there is the least amount of cut or boost. One can also measure the cut or boost and then equalize the monitors accordingly to get a flat response.
4. Monitor Placement
Following points should be kept in mind while placing the monitors:
- Tweeter should be at ear height. It can go up to + or – 15 degrees up/down.
- The two monitors and your head should form an equilateral triangle. The two ends of the triangle should meet about 18” behind your head.
- The front face of the monitors should be angled towards you.
5. Room Shape
The more uneven and oddly shaped room, the better it is. Symmetrical rooms, like Cube, rectangle, etc. are the worst for recording or mixing. The key is to avoid parallel surfaces. Standing waves are most likely to build up with parallel walls, which can make the space sound bad.
6. Check phase of cables
The polarity of the cables used for recording makes a huge difference. The phase of the cables can result in bad sounding recordings even if you use the world’s best microphones.
Make sure that all the cables are in the same phase.
7. Always confirm left and right
Check that the right out the output from the interface is going to the right speaker and vice versa. A simple mistake like this can cause serious panning issues in your mixes.
8. Listening position
The listening position should never be in the middle of the studio. Thirds is probably a good option. The aim is to avoid any form of symmetry.
9. Dialing up the Sub
The subwoofer is used to extend the lower range of frequencies. It should never pump up the low end to provide a colored sound.
So dial your sub accordingly.
10. Acoustic treatment
As far as acoustic treatment is concerned, I would advise not to run for the most expensive treatment. There are many DIY techniques, which are very useful. A lot of times these are better than buying the most expensive treatment for your studio.