If I asked you “Have you maximized your home studio?” what would you say?
Would you get overwhelmed with thoughts of acoustic treatment, expensive monitors, or a new microphone? No need to worry. Even though chances are very good that you aren’t getting the most out of your current space, the great news is, you won’t need any of those things to do it! Today I want to give you three very simple action steps to help get the most you can out of your studio, which of course means better recordings and mixes. Let’s begin, shall we?
Locate Your Recording Sweet Spot
You may not have a perfect room (neither do I) but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to find the absolute best part of your room for recording.
Did you ever stop to think about the fact that some spots in your room are better for recording than others? I know I sure didn’t in my early years. I figured recording was simply about throwing up a microphone in front of your source and hitting “record” in my DAW. Well it turns out since microphones don’t have brains – we have to be strategic about where we place them: not just in relation to the source, but to where that source is in the room. For example, recording close to a bare wall will create a lot of reflections. Now, reflections aren’t always a bad thing (contrary to popular belief), but microphones hear more of what they are close to, so the closer you are to a bare wall, the more reflections your mic will pick up. Corners are notorious for accentuating low frequencies – so logic follows that recording near the corners of your room will yield more low end in your track. Again, this can be a good or a bad thing.
What I suggest you do is take 15 minutes to find your recording sweet spot.
Grab your favorite mic, and set it up to record your voice. Start in one part of your room, recording a few seconds into your DAW, and then move to another part and record again. Label each audio clip according to where in the room you were recording. Try corners, against walls, away from walls, near the front, near the back, facing the door, having the door behind you, and so on and so on. Then sit down, listen back to all the audio clips and take note of how different your voice sounds in each spot.
It won’t take long to find the one or two spots that seemed to give you the cleanest, and most tonally accurate recording.
This my friend is likely you’re room’s recording sweet spot!
Create Your Own Mixing Sweet Spot
By simply tracking in your recording sweet spot from now on you will get better raw tracks at the source, thus making mixing easier. But let’s take this a step further. If you want to get the most out of your mixes you need to create your own mixing sweet spot.
I’ve written about creating a mixing sweet spot before, but here is my Readers Digest version:
- Move your desk (and consequently your speakers) to the center of your wall. This will ensure your speakers are the same distance from the side walls, giving you even reflections and a better stereo image.
- Back everything off of the wall in front of you by at least 1 to 2 feet. This will reduce bass build up and reflections.
- Create an equilateral triangle with your head and speakers. Basically your speakers should be the same distance from each other as they are from your ears. A tape measure will help you figure this out in jiffy.
If all you did was those three things, your mixing position would already be enhanced tremendously from what the average home studio owner does (up against a wall, in a corner, etc).
You’ll have better stereo imaging, less bass build up, and a more accurate read on what’s coming out of your speakers.
Once you’ve created your own recording and mixing sweet spots, you have one more counter intuitive step to help you get the most out of your studio.
Clean The Clutter And Toss Out Stuff
I am constantly amazed at how messy some people leave their studios. I know that we’re working at home, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a dump!
You know what a messy room does to me? It makes me tense. Feeling tense and stressed is that absolute last thing I want to be seconds before I hit the “record” button.
I’ve made a conscious effort to keep not only my gear to a minimum, but the clutter in my studio in general. That means removing unnecessary furniture, books, computer stuff, papers, etc. The less stuff I see, the more at peace I am. Think of those amazing magazine ads for the latest and greatest recording gear. They always stage a hip looking “home studio” with hardly anything in it. Maybe you see a desk, an interface, some speakers, and a microphone. It’s beautiful.
There is nothing to distract you from the gear you’re using to make the music you’re dreaming.
Why not do the same in YOUR studio? This weekend purge what you don’t need. Throw it out, give it away, or put it in storage. Just get it out of your room.
Strip the room down the absolute bare essentials so there’s not much left between you and your core gear.
With less physical stuff taking up space, you’ll have more mental space to make better music. I know it’s less tangible and “productive” sounding than creating a custom mixing sweet spot, but trust me it is just as fruitful.
Your Studio – Only Better!
Seriously folks, if you took a couple of hours this evening or this weekend to sit down and do these three things we just talked about, you would have one thing and one thing only: a better version of your studio. You will have set yourself up for better recordings, mixes, and more creativity and fun in the studio. All without spending a single penny.
Have you implemented these steps already? Sound off below and let us know how they are making a difference in your workflow!