Every bedroom producer wants to have the best studio at their disposal, short of investing hundreds of thousands of pounds into getting an actual pro-space, we have a few options to optimise what we have for a low budget. This guide covers 5 things to buy for your studio that will really make a difference to your workflow and the quality of your sound. Depending on what budget you have, grabbing all five improvements can cost from £300 to >£1000, but even just investing in a few of these can make a great difference.
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These are essential for a good studio setup. The image below is from an article by Home Studio Dawg explaining the best speaker setup. I highly recommend you save the article as it is a very handy guide to getting the best sound for producing.
Monitor stands have several important uses. They elevate the speakers so that the tweeters are ear level, they prevent the speakers from resonating on your table, and they often prevent noise from leaking to your neighbours.
When I stayed in student accommodation, I had my speakers in a shelving unit, this sounded great as it enhanced the bass in 808 kick drums, but it made for poor mixing. There is no point paying several hundred pounds in flat-frequency monitors, for your room/furniture to EQ them due to physics.
If you don't yet have monitors and are considering buying them, I recommend buying a pair with stands bundled in. You will save money and get the best out of your speakers from the start.
Yeah, you heard me, this is my latest workflow magic trick. I discovered that the mouse I was using had extra buttons on the side. After looking it up, I discovered they were great for browsing the internet quickly and so I thought, what if I can use this in my DAW?
The great thing about these buttons is that they are assignable to pretty much anything. I went through the Reaper actions and found a script that I used regularly. This script allowed me to select a cough or stutter in an item and delete it, with the next section snapping the gap shut.
I use this script all the time when editing videos and spoken word so it was insanely handy to have assigned to a button on the mouse. This simple trick saved me reaching for a keyboard shortcut and meant that I didn't have to drag the next part over.
It may seem like a small workflow enhancement, but over the course of a half hour of audio, there were enough parts that I wanted to delete that it became very worth it.
Depending on what software and mouse you use, you can either do this in DAW or with the bundled mouse software that comes with it.
Audio Processing does not require fancy graphics cards like video editing. What it requires is a fast computer and lots of RAM (Random Access Memory). The more professional your software and instruments, the more RAM you will use.
Of course, for many people, upgrading RAM can be a challenge. My main computer is a laptop and so it is even more difficult. There is another solution though. Investing in an external drive to store all your data is a great way of speeding up your computer for audio.
This works because outsourcing your project and instrument files to an external drive frees up the built-in hard drive of the computer. Another benefit of getting an external drive is that the files you build up when producing music take up a lot of storage. Saving them externally means your computer has room for day to day use.
There are two types of drive, SSD (Solid State Drive) and HDD (Hard Disc Drive). The SSDs run much faster and have no moving parts so are more durable, but they come at a much higher price. These are the ones that are best however even a HDD will give you improvements.
Make sure you are buying a USB 3 drive so the speeds aren't bottlenecked.
I currently use the Seagate Backup Plus Hub because it also operates as a USB 3 hub meaning that I can have more USB devices connected. This is really important for producers as you are likely to have multiple USB connections attached (Audio Interface, MIDI Keyboard, Mouse, Keyboard, External Drive, and any other peripherals).
I'm sorry to say that egg boxes do not soundproof rooms. Besides the risk of Salmonella in your studio, they do little to actually deal with the frequencies that cause issues. A thick padded jacket may offer some protection against a small bullet from a great distance but won't offer any help from direct fire. This is the same analogy for egg boxes.
Sound treatment is made of materials that can deal with the worst problem-frequencies, and treating your room with anything less will not make a difference where it counts.
You don't need to have much sound treatment at all in your room. Sound on Sound gives a great guide on this. What you need to look for is the main reflection and resonance points in your room. The easiest way to tell if your room needs treating is to clap loudly. It shouldn't have that dry echo sound that you might find in a large bathroom, if it does, consider buying a pack of panels.
If you are looking for sound treatment for recording vocals, you don't actually have to treat the room, special microphone isolators can be used which do a good job of taking the sound from the source.
I cover these in depth in a previous article and fully recommend you determine what workflow options you require from a hardware controller as they can be quite expensive.