Recording with a home studio setup can be an effective way to make music and save money. Even if you have good recording studios in your area, you should know how to get a high quality recording at home. I've compiled a list of home studio recording tips to help you make the most out of what you have.
1. Keep It Quiet!
Limit unnecessary background noise when recording at home. You'd be surprised at how big of a difference your environment can make on your recording. Turn your headphones down to prevent that audio from bleeding into your microphone. Turn off any fans or air conditioners. Recording late at night can be helpful because not as many people are up making noise.
Create a big studio atmosphere in your home studio by controlling extra sounds in the environment.
2. Upgrade Your Microphone
The quality of your microphone directly affects the quality of your recording and ultimately your mix. USB Microphones are nice because they are inexpensive, but USB microphones do not sound as professional as microphones that require phantom power. Upgrading your microphone is basically like upgrading your mixes. Even if you are a skilled engineer, you cannot overcome the shortcomings of USB mics.
Think of the types of microphones like you think about the types of cameras. USB mics are like cell phone cameras. The camera included with a cell phone is convenient, but the picture quality is horrible compared to a dSLR or mirrorless camera. Professional photographers choose higher quality cameras to get higher quality pictures.
Grab yourself a strong dynamic or condenser microphone and an interface to capture higher quality recordings.
3. Timing Is Critical
When recording In & Outs, Ad Libs, and Doubles, you need to focus on your timing. If you're off by even a little bit, your mix is going to sound sloppy.
Practice BEFORE you start recording. You should practice so much that you have your lyrics memorized before you hit the recording stage. A lot of amateur (trying to be professional) rappers don't take rehearsal seriously enough! Don't be one of those guys!
Figure out the BPM of the instrumental you're using to record. The BPM is crucial for tempo synched effects like delays or timestreching. Setting the correct BPM with your DAW will align the grid with the structure of the song. This is useful for staying organized and figuring out where you are in the timeline.
4. Eliminate Distractions
Get anyone who isn't essential to the recording process out of the studio. Guests in the studio (especially guests who don't do music) draw attention away from your recording. Guests have a tendency to make noise while you're recording too. You need to be able to get as creative as possible without worrying about embarrassing yourself. It's harder to experiment when a crowd of people are watching.
Remove your pets from the recording area. Pets love to chew on wires and collapse microphone stands. You don't want your dog's barking to ruin a perfectly good take. Reduce your distractions to zero and watch your recording efficiency and quality improve immediately.
5. Use A Reflector Shield On Your Microphone
You don't have to soundproof a room to get a high quality recording. Sound shields (aka Mic Shields or Reflectors) are clutch for turning a regular room into solid place to record. What makes big time studios so great are their treated walls. Studios typically have insolation in the walls and padding on the walls to isolate the sound they actually want to record. Unless you have thousands of dollars and the time to build a custom studio, you'll probably want to go with the sound shield alternative.
Mic shields reduce room ambience so less unwanted sounds are picked up when recording.
6. Record With An Engineer
Engineers increase your recording workflow. It can be extremely tedious to record yourself. The recording process involves countless starting, stopping, adjusting, and do overs.
You may know how to do some effects yourself, but it's unlikely you know more about effects than a skilled engineer. Engineers are particularly helpful with setting up complex effects like autotune.
Engineers are an additional set of ears that can be used to fine tune your track. An engineer may hear an error during one of your takes and ask you to re-record it. Establish a relationship with an engineer who can help take your music to the next level.
7. Monitor Your Levels
When recording at your home studio, you're responsible for getting your levels right. You want to record vocals at a high volume and avoid clipping. Any clipping during recording is bad because it means some audio was not captured. Clipping is not easy on the ears either.
To avoid clipping, adjust the gain on your microphone pre-amp to prevent the audio signal from hitting 0.0 DB or going over. Most DAWs make the meter turn RED when the audio is distorted from clipping.
In conclusion, nothing can replace the sound quality of a professional studio. However, you can get a great sound from your home studio if you apply these tips to your recording process!
If you have any comments or questions about recording at home, please leave them in the comments section below! You guys are always welcome to record with me at MStudioATL in Atlanta, Georgia. Call/text (317) 345-0384 to book your session today!
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