Prince’s first album “For You” was produced, arranged, composed, and performed all by Prince alone. He played all 27 instruments, including an awe-inspiring 46 vocal lines layered into the opening track. Thanks to leaps ahead in technology, taking on such a task today is a whole lot simpler, and so is setting up a home studio to create your first hit.
It can seem daunting, especially if you haven’t got the technical know-how. What software and hardware do I need? How it’s all set up? What cables to buy? How to ensure you have minimal latency?
Here’s some helpful tips and advice on how you can set up your first home studio. Let’s get started…
Ableton has been the go-to digital audio workstation (DAW) for musicians and producers. In the latest update, they offer intuitive and expansive tweaks that allow production to be that little bit simpler. And for the beginners, walkthrough videos are just a search on YouTube away.
If you are looking to record vocals in your home studio, we’d recommend shopping for a condenser microphone. If you’re doing live recordings, go for a dynamic microphone. We’ve got a full range in stock from brands like IK, Aston, AKG, Shure & Blue, and we’ll be happy to advise on which one is right for you.
Fast moving air caused by singing into the mic can be eliminated by using a pop shield or filter. If this is a common problem for you, then you probably need one. When setting up, remember the closer you are to the mic, the more the mic will pick up the lower frequencies so be sure to test different ranges when recording. Anything over 12” may start to sound too thin.
Your midi keyboard is the instrument that will enable you to manipulate your Virtual Studio Technology (VSTs). Pick a keyboard with 49 keys as a minimum if you have the space, or get something smaller if you want to take it on the road. 49 keys will give you a broader range of keys to play with, meaning a simpler workflow.
Software like Ableton Suite has a huge range of VSTs built in so we recommend buying something simple to start with. If you are looking to kit yourself out properly from the outset, Native Instruments just released the Komplete Kontrol S49 MK2 – with 11 built-in instruments and effects. Go bigger with the Komplete 11 Ultimate for 87 instruments and effects and over 18,000 sounds if you’re feeling adventurous.
Headphones & Monitors
Investing in good quality studio headphones and monitor speakers for production is something you will thank us for later.
Pro Tip: When listening to your creation, listen to your completed track on as many devices as possible. It may sound great in your studio headphones and to your ears, but your fans may well listen to it on their laptops, mobile phones, through older headphones, or in their cars. Your final mix shouldn’t be final until you’ve tried your track out on most of these!
Audio Latency is a short period of delay often caused by the lack of an audio interface. Sometimes this latency is just milliseconds between the time you hit a key and for this signal to travel through your software and spark the sound that will come from your VST.
Whilst a millisecond seems hardly worth getting hot and bothered about, this is just one purpose for the Audio Interface – taking heat for all the processing your computer won’t handle and ensure your creative flow is uninterrupted.
When setting up your home studio, it can be really easy to overlook the importance of room acoustics. Hanging curtains and other soft furnishings will all help you to get closer to a studio sound, and acoustic panelling will be the professional option for optimum acoustics. Your main aim with acoustic treatment is to remove as much sound reflection and reverb as possible. While your voice might sound awesome reflecting off the tiles in your shower, in a home studio, this reverb is not welcome and will make your music sound muddy.
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