Wessel Wessels

Author Archives: Wessel Wessels

Home recording studio owner, music and audio enthusiast and researcher for 30 years. Always trying to stay on top of new development and news in the industry.

Time To Take A Break – When And Why To Take A Break From Your Home Recording Studio

Taking A Break

Being dedicated and committed to your work in your recording studio are essential ingredients to making it a successful one. Hard work will always pay off. There comes a time though when taking a break from the studio is not just a good idea, but an essential one.

This will probably not seem like a very important subject, but if you look more carefully at the times when and reasons why you should take a break, its importance will become more apparent. The time and effort you will save, will more than make up for the time spend away from your home recording studio

We take a look why and when it will be a good idea to get some rest and get away from your studio.

Taking Break In General

I think we all know how quickly we can get engrossed with our work inside the studio, especially when it comes to mixing. It is easy to loose track of time and when you look again, more than three hours have flown past and you are so sore and stiff, getting up can be a painful experience.


Getting up every hour to hour and a half to take a break is very important. This literally helps to promote your health. By standing, stretching and taking a walk, you are not just working your muscles and joints that have been stagnated for more than a hour, you are also kick-starting and promoting blood flow. This stimulates and refresh your whole body and brain.

Speaking of the brain, taking a break is essential for mental function as well. You can only perform mentally optimal for so long. Battling to think clearly, solve problems and just getting that familiar "dull" feeling in your head are all indicators of mental fatigue.

You will not only feel more awake and be able to think clearly after some time and activity away from the studio. You will also find yourself more productive and even be able to solve some issues you were battling with before your break.

Signs That You Need To Take A Break

There are obvious and tell-tale signs that you are getting tired and need to take a break right away. If you your eyes are already starting to burn and you need to start squinting often to read the data on screen properly, you already surpassed the point where you needed to stop. (And we all know that "foggy" and lethargic feeling we all experience when we have overextended ourselves.)

There are more subtle signs though that you are reaching the point where you seriously need to consider stop and get out of the studio for a while:

  1. You need to listen to a track numerous times before determining what to do with it to correct a potential problem, and make the right call as to what tools to use to produce the desired result. (At the start of your session, it was easy to identify flaws in a track, and could easily determine what technique and which tools to use to make the necessary corrections.) This is normally a sign that your concentration levels have dropped too far in order for you to be productive.
  2. You start to miss obvious and hard-to-miss mistakes in your recording. This is normally an indication  that your ears are not at sharp as they were at the start of your session. Like any other part of you body's senses (eyes, nose, taste etc.), your ears can only be focused on continuously listen to any sound attentively for a certain period of time before they start to tire and not able to perform optimally anymore.  

There are numerous other indicators that you need a break, but you should have some clear indicators by now as to what to look out for.   

Taking A Break To Get "The Big Picture"

It is very easy get bog down with all the details. This not so much an issue during the recording process, especially if you did you planned properly. This is more common during the mixing process.

Obviously it is important to focus on the details and make sure you get everything sounding right, synchronized, and all flaws are removed or reduced as much as possible. It becomes a problem when you spend so much time focusing one every possible detail right, that you loose track of the project as a whole.

Stepping back every once in a while and measure and judge your work against the "big picture" of what you trying to create, will help you to keep perspective, stay on course and focus less on the elements that is not that important at all.

Taking A Break After A Big Meal

Here's a small biology fact which many of you are probably aware of. Blood normally flows and concentrate around the area that needs it most at any given time.

When you exercise and you work a specific muscle, that muscles gets that "pumped" feeling after a while. That is the blood accumulating in your muscle to help repair and muscle damage and help with recuperation.


The same happens when you had a very large meal. Your stomach and digestive track is tacking a lot of strain and needs plenty of support. Guess where your blood rush to and accumulate?

And guess where there is not a lot of blood flow present at that very moment? Around your brain where it is needed, where proper blood flow is essential optimal cognitive function. Ever wondered why you feel so sleepy and lethargic after a big meal? Now you know.

That is where there is no way you can do some effective and productive mixing after a big meal. Your blood flow needed around your brain, is now busy helping you digestive deal with all the newly arrived nutrients.

You just won't be able to concentrate properly and have a clear mind to make good decisions. Give yourself a short break until you feel awake and alert again to hit the studio.

Taking A Break After A Long Recording Session

It has been a long day in the studio. After an eight hour long recording session, you may just be more than physically tired. You are most probably completely mentally drained as well.

The worst thing you can do at this moment, is to jump in and immediately start mixing. Not only are you tired and as a result unable to properly concentrate, you have also overworked two key assets you need when working on a mix: You ears and judgement.

Your ears have already been pushed to their limits concentrating on each take during the recording session. Like any other part of your body they need proper rest to function optimally. Getting a proper 6-8 hours sleep in, where your ears are also given a break and not exposed to any sound sources that will make them work, is always a good idea.

The same applies to your judgement. After a day recording in the studio, you have been listening to each session, judging what sounded right, what needs to be adjusted and which take should be recorded again.

There is no way you can move directly to mixing after a recording session, thinking you will be able to think straight and make sound judgement calls. This is when you start making bad mistakes and actually end up wasting time, as you will probably listen your mix later on when refreshed only to realize how badly you judged and messed up your mixing attempts.

How Often And For How Long?

How often you should take a break as well as how for long, is entirely up to you. As a general rule, many experts believe that it's not possible to work productively for more than 2 hours without taking a break.

I have found however, that people differ significantly when it comes to the length of time individuals are able to concentrate and be productive. Some people may be able to concentrate for an hour while some exceptions to the rule can go three hours nonstop and still be fully productive. 

This is something you will have to determine for yourself and only over time and through trial and error, you will be able see what works best for you.

One thing to keep in mind though, is that the amount of rest you take should pretty much be equal to the amount of work you have put in. This may not be set in stone but in general, the more often you take a break, the shorter they can be and the quicker you will be able to get back to work. If you have been working for a few hours non-stop though, your breaks should be longer as well in order for you to recuperate enough to be able to put in another few hours of hard work.


By now you should get a pretty good idea of the advantages of taking some time off from your studio. (You are probably also pretty tired of the words, "taking a break" by now!) It will obviously differ from person to person on how much time and when it will be ideal to get some rest. Just do yourself a favor and get that rest when you really need it.

As always, feel free to leave me any comments or suggestions you may have, and I will respond will try and get to them as soon as I can.

Remember to join my  Mailing List  to be informed whenever a new article is released, and share new developments and helpful hints & tips.

Catch you in the next article and happy recording!


How Do I Keep My Audio Files Safe? – Storing And Protecting Your Data

Backing Up Your Data

Over time you accumulate thousands of audio files which are your most important and valuable possessions. You spend years recording, editing and mixing your audio files and even saved multiple versions of your takes for later use. Keeping them safely stored and protected is essential.

Most things in you recording studio can replaced. Broken or outdated equipment can be replaced. Furniture like desks and chairs can be replaced by better and newer ones. Even your acoustic materials can be replaced. The one thing you cannot replace also happens to be you most valuable possession, you audio files.

Audio File

You will never have the time to recreate the recordings and mixes done in your DAW Software, if something were to happen to your files. Even if you had the time, you will never be able to recreate the exact same environment and sound. Artists you used in the past may not be available or not even be performing anymore. During all those years of creating and recording, you also possibly used some rare and distinctly unique instruments you will never be able to get your hands on again.

I have gone on and sketched a pretty bleak picture. This is simply to drive home the importance of you audio files, and how important it is that you keep them safe and protected. Actually more than keeping them just safe, but making sure you create backups of your important files and storing them in secure locations. Yes thy are that important. 

We going are take a look at ways of storing your files, how and where to save them and just provide some general advice that can help to assist you. Here are a few guidelines to follow.

Remember To Save Your Files Often!

As you spend extended periods of time in your studio mixing away in front of your computer, you can easily loose track of time. Apart from taking a break, you may be forgetting to do something just as important. Saving your files...

There are few things so frustrating and giving you that helpless sinking feeling, than when your computer freezes or gets shut down due to some unforeseen incident, and you realize with a shock that you just worked for three hours straight without saving you file.

This happens to thousands of users every day, so develop the habit of saving your work often. If you have to, force yourself in the beginning by setting a timer that goes off every ten/fifteen minutes to remind yourself. It will become second nature very quickly. Just get in this habit as soon as possible.

Save All Recordings For Later Use

It is very possible, almost certain that you have plenty of takes from a certain recording session. You could be recording some unique combination or sequence, or even use a very instrument in your recording.

backup and safe

Saving these unique sequences or instrument sounds may come in very hand at a later stage when you don't have access to the original sources. As good as DAW software and their virtual tools are, it is just not always possible to completely recreate that sound. Using samples from the saved recording to create new sequences and incorporate them into your current project will save you valuable time and money.  

You will need plenty of hard drive space to save almost every recording you made. Luckily, external USB hard drives are growing in capacity while becoming more affordable at the same time. It will be much less expensive spending time on an extra hard drive than having to source and and make another recording of something you could have had readily available.

Back Up Your Audio Files On An External Hard Drive

Whether you are recording you audio in 16-bit or 24-bit depth, you will be surprised how quickly you audio files will fill up you computer's hard drive. When you are working on a desktop computer with additional open slots, you now have the option to upgrade your hard drive to a bigger capacity one, or simply add a second large capacity drive to your system.

But what if something happens to your computer? We don't think of backing up our data nearly enough. You may be sitting with months or years of work on your computer, and only realize the consequences of not backing up when an electrical power surge or computer virus destroys all the data on you hard drive. When your hard drive is destroyed, there is no way of ever getting your years of hard work back.

For this reason, I would not just recommend, but urge you to invest in a separate external hard drive where you can keep a copy of all your important data files. As your audio file collection grow, you may end up with multiple hard drives. USB connected hard drives are getting more affordable though, and can come in capacities of up to 4Tb.

Portable USB hard drives are compact, reliable and quick to use. You simply plug the hard drive into your USB port and you are ready to go.

Store Your Backups Away From Your Studio

We just covered making backups and its importance, so no need to go over it again. What is almost as important as making backups, is where you store them. If your hard drive or other storage medium fail, you are prepared. But what if your backups are stored in your studio?

And that is the worst case scenario where you may loose your whole studio and house content in case of a human action or natural disaster. You may just be unlucky and fall victim to a burglary where the whole contents of your house and studio are stolen.   

western digital elements hard drive

Electrical fires and flooding from a broken geyser or underground water pipe happens more often than you think.  As unlikely as it may seem, a natural disaster like a fire and flooding is not impossible. You get the point.

This section is not aimed to make you paranoid, I promise. I am bringing this to your attention, so that hopefully in the very unlikely event that it ever happens to you, you did prepare for it.

All these "doomsday scenarios" have just been sketched to emphasize the importance of keeping important backups stored away from your home. Obviously you cannot make a backup of every possible saved audio file, but you know which your most important and treasured ones are.

The home of a trusted friend, family member or work colleague will be the ideal place to store your backups out of harm's way. It won't be an inconvenience, as external hard drives with years worth of work can easily fit inside a shoe box. It can be safely placed in a closet out of the way, and give you that added security and piece of mind.

Name Your Files Properly

The amount of audio files on your hard drive and external media will accumulate very quickly. Soon you will be sitting with hundreds or thousands of files. If you don't name them properly to be accurately identified when searched for, you may end up spending hours looking for a certain audio track. In a worst case scenario you may not find the file at all.

A good practice when naming a file is to name it as soon as possible. Don't postpone! As soon as you start working with an audio file immediately save it. A good approach is to use the artist's name and the recording date in the file name. This will make it much easier to find.

Catalogue Your Recorded Data

This something you should be doing right from the start. As important as naming your files correctly right from the start is, so is keeping a record of all your files.

Filing Cabinet

Elsewhere in the article I mention how quickly your files accumulate. Naming hundreds or thousand of file simply is not enough. When you start looking for an specific audio track, you need a proper list with file names, as well as a short description next to each to make things quick and easy.

This way you make sure you know exactly what to look for and where to look at. (You may not just have a large number of files, they may be spread over a number of external hard drives.)

A Microsoft Excel or similar spreadsheet file will be ideal to list the names, description and location of any given audio file. I know its a hassle in the beginning, but you will quickly get used to adding a new file to your catalogue. You will thank yourself later on.


By now you will be under no illusion as to the importance of keeping backups of your data and storing them in a safe place.

I have covered a lot of detail and many of you probably feel I have gone completely overboard and not nearly all of the measures mentioned are really necessary. Unfortunately I have been present on more than one occasion where all the data on a computer has been lost, so I know what it feels like and what the consequences are.

At the very least, if I convinced you to at least make a backup of your important files, I will be happy.

As always, feel free to leave me any comments or suggestions you may have, and I will respond will try and get to them as soon as I can.

Remember to join my  Mailing List  to be informed whenever a new article is released, and share new developments and helpful hints & tips.

Catch you in the next article and happy recording!



Are Free DAW Software A Waste Of Time? Taking A Closer Look At Audacity

Audacity Review

DAW software is the heart and soul of any commercial and home recording studio. They are involved at every phase, from recording, editing and processing, to outputting the final product. Deciding on the right software to suite your needs, is turning out to be a very important one. 

Most high-end DAW software is fairly expensive though. With many experts discouraging the use of free software, how do you learn the basics to make an informed decision when it comes to choosing more advanced DAW software? We take a look at Audacity, a popular free DAW to find out.

The best thing to do before discussing the features and functions, is to first take a realistic look at what it is and what it isn't, so that you have a realistic expectation of the software.

What It Is Not

Audacity is not a fully fledged Digital Audio Workstation. Many audio technicians refuse to even call it a DAW. Yes, it is not extremely flexible, and not packed with features to make your life a lot easier.

It will also take you a lot longer to produce the same end result than on high-end DAW software. One analogy I read from an analyst, is that using Audacity is like building a house just using a hammer and saw.  From my own experience, I won't exactly go that far, but paid fully-featured DAW software do streamline the process, provide additional tools and advanced features to provide a finished and polished product in a fraction of the time it will take Audacity.

What It Is

Before pushing even the thought of getting to know Audacity out of your mind, just consider this. If you are starting your first home recording studio and know very little, if anything at all about DAW software, doesn't it make sense to learn and familiarize yourself with the basics before diving in at the deep end?

Audacity logo

And that is exactly what Audacity is. It is a fairly straightforward no-thrills software suite that still covers all the basics of recording software, and throws in some more advanced futures to make it more than just usable.

None of the knowledge you will learn using Audacity will be wasted. The basics and features used in the software, are used in more advanced full-blown DAW software. It will probably be just more powerful and expanded, and maybe situated on a different menu/screen. But more importantly, the principles are basically the same

With that said, it is time to have closer look at Audacity's features and functions to get a clear picture of how the software works and how effective it is.


Audacity comes with a user-friendly customizable interface interface with a variety of toolbars available right from the menu. The interface is clean and pretty self-explanatory, making it easy to navigate your way. It is pretty basic compared to to its high-end expensive peers, which is a good thing when coming to grip with an audio interface for the first time.

Audacity Interface

It has a simple recording panel on the interface, allowing you to record audio and voice-overs directly in the software. The recording can be saved as a project file.

Audacity also supports multiple tracks, which can each be import as separate audio files, effects and filters applied to, then exported as an audio file.

There are a number filters to apply to your audio, and I will just highlight a few noteworthy ones to illustrate their diversity.

  1. Background Noise Removal Tool is quite handy and effective, especially for an entry level audio editing application.
  2. Compressor Effect Tool does a good job of reducing the dynamic range of the audio, with quite few options to play around with to create the desired effect. 
  3. Normalize Effect is used to set the peak amplitude of the audio, which means the loudest point is at a set level.
  4. Amplify Effect is used to change the volume of specific tracks.
  5. Equalization Effect is achieved by adjusting the Bass Boost and Treble Boost.
  6. Silence Audio Tool is used to remove unwanted pieces of audio from a track.
  7. Auto Duck Tool is another handy feature to use, especially when you combine voice-over and background music audio.

These are just a few of a host of effects and filters available, so you really have a lot to experiment and get creative with.

Files can be exported in a variety of formats, the Windows WAV file being one of the standards you will probably use. Unfortunately you can not export your final audio files as MP3 files directly from Audacity. Luckily this is not an issue, as you can install and use the Lame MP3 Encoder to export your audio files. 


As Audacity is a "light" application, it does not take up a lot of your system resources, meaning any changes and effects are quickly applied. Obviously, the bigger your piece of audio and the more tracks you have, the bigger the effect on your software's performance. Still, the effect on your performance is so insignificant, it is barely noticeable. 

The user-friendly interface speeds up productivity as important functions can be accessed and executed quickly. The ability to customize and add keyboard shortcuts to often-used functions, adds to the ease of use and increase productivity even further.


There is no getting away from the fact that you are going to get very diverse reactions and opinions on Audacity, depending on who you ask. A seasoned sound engineer with years of experience with professional software like Pro Tools or Ableton Live, will have no time at all for the very "limited" capabilities of Audacity.

A new user who never worked with audio software before, will enjoy weeks of exploring and experimenting with all the functions and features available in Audacity. This software has evolved so much since its humble beginnings, that it is a much more fully-featured and streamlined product than most users realize.

If you are getting your feet wet for the first time, I would definitely recommend downloading and learning the basics of this "simple" but surprisingly powerful audio application. You really have nothing to loose and will most probably be pleasantly surprised. 

Remember to join my  Mailing List  to be informed whenever a new article is released, and share new developments and helpful hints & tips.

Catch you in the next article and happy recording!


Once The Basics Are In Place – Five Additional Tools And Accessories To Add To Your Home Recording Studio

Additional Tools And Accessories For Your Studio

You finally finished setting up your home recording studio. The basics are all in place. You now find yourself ready to start adding to your studio, but are not sure what is available and what will be the best addition to add first.

To help you invest in accessories that will add real value to your home recording studio, we chose five products that will benefit and enhance your whole recording experience. It is clearly not an extensive list, but just an indication of what is available to make your life in the studio a bit easier.

1. Back Up Your Audio Files On An External Hard Drive

western-digital elements hard drive

Whether you are recording you audio in 16-bit or 24-bit depth, you will be surprised how quickly you audio files will fill up you computer's hard drive. Luckily hard drives with bigger capacities at affordable prices are widely available to consumers. When you are working on a desktop computer with additional expansion slots, you now have the option to upgrade your hard drive to a bigger capacity one, or simply add a second hard drive to your system.

But what if something happens to your computer? We don't think of backing up our data nearly enough. You may be sitting with months or years of work on your computer, and only realize the consequences of not backing up when an electrical power surge or computer virus destroys all the data on you hard drive. When your hard drive is destroyed, there is no way of ever getting your years of hard work back.

For this reason, I would not just recommend, but plead with you to invest in a separate external hard drive where you can keep a copy of all your data files. USB connected hard drives are affordable and you can come in capacities of up to 4Tb (terabyte).

A good example is the Western Digital 4Tb Elements Portable External Hard Drive. It is pre-formatted and powered by the USB port. You simply plug the hard drive into your USB port and you are ready to go.

You can get more information and pricing on the Western Digital 4TB  Hard Drive here.

2. SPL Meter For The Right Volume Level

BAFX Products Decibel Meter

Have you stopped and considered the volume at which you are listening to and monitoring your recording? There actually is a volume level that is considered by sound engineers in the recording industry to be the sweet spot when it comes to monitoring your recording to get the most accurate feedback.

In most recording studios, 85dB (decibels) is the magic number used to listen to recordings and monitor sound. It provides you with the flattest hearing curve, meaning "the listener perceives a constant loudness when presented with pure steady sounds" (also called equal loudness contour).

This is a general standard used in commercial studios. It is not set in stone though, and may vary according to the size of the studio. Some smaller studios may use a much lower volume setting of 70dB to achieve optimal results.

In order to achieve this volume, you need a measuring device, called a SPL Meter. This a handheld device with a microphone on top. The diaphragm in the microphone measures the air pressure produced by sound waves and display the result in decibels.

The best place to measure the volume, is the position in the studio where you are seated to monitor your sound. (Obviously with the studio monitors and acoustic treatment correctly set up. You can read more about optimal speaker placement in this article.) It will also be useful to take additional measurements in other relevant spots in your studio to get a balanced indication of the overall sound volume in the room. 

A good example of a good SPL meter is the BAFX Products - Decibel Meter. It is accurate and affordable. You can get more information and pricing on the  BAFX Products  meter here.

3. Headphones Holder For An Uncluttered Desk

Headphone Holder

You probably know the frustration of finish monitoring your recording and you take your headphones off and try to find a place on your already cluttered work desk to put it down. Not to mention the irritation of constantly moving it around the desk to access other equipment it was left on.

Some people use the microphone and its boom arm to hang the headphone over, but this is not ideal and can have its own share of problems. Luckily, enough users all over the world are battling with this problem, which led manufacturers to start developing headphone holders.

A simple but extremely helpful accessory that you can hang your headphones over. It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be fixed against a wall or, my personal favorite, bolted onto the side of a desk where you can easily hang and retrieve it. Your desk remains less cluttered and your headphones hangs safely out of the way on the side of the desk.   

The K&M Stands Headphone holder with table clamp is just on of a wide variety of different headphone holders available in different forms and shapes. What I like about the K&K holder, is that it clamps directly to the side of your desk, keeping your headphones within reach and neatly secured against the side of you desk.

You can get more information and pricing on the K&M Stands Headphone holder here.

4. Isolation Pads When Speaker Stands Are Not An Option

ultimate support MS80

A good pair of studio monitor/speaker stands remain the ideal place to put you speakers on. There may be a few reasons though, that you simply are not able to place your speakers on separate stands. From budget restrictions, limited room space to just a strong personal preference to place your speakers on your desk or other surface, stands are just not working for you.

Luckily this is not a train smash, largely due to the availability of iso-pads (isolation pads). These firm but absorbent foam pads are the ideal alternatives to place your studio monitors on. They can be used on your desk, shelve, the floor or other solid horizontal surfaces.

They mainly serve to two purposes. The most important one being the ability to absorb vibrations and shocks effectively from the surface it is standing on. The foam used in iso-pads is still firm and flat enough to provide a stable surface for the speakers to safely stand on.

The second purpose and advantage is the ability of many iso-pads to to be tilted at an angle (or multiple angles) to allow the speaker to directly face your head. As a result, floor or desk standing speakers not at ear level, can easily tilted to directly face in the right direction.

Not all iso-pads provide a lot of flexibility when it comes to angling studio monitors in exactly the right direction. This is part reason why I am such a huge fan of the Ultimate Support MS-80 isolation pads. They may be a bit overkill and are not the most affordable options available to you. If a specific angle is not a priority for you, there are certainly much more affordable quality iso-pads available.

You can get more information and pricing on the Ultimate Support MS-80 isolation pads here.

5. Studio Case For Safe Equipment Storage

Casematic studio case

As your studio grows, you will start building up quite a collection of equipment, like multiple microphones and specialty cables. Many of these components and cables will not be actively used for extended periods of time, and need to be safely stored.

This is where a studio case with protective foam interior comes in very handy. Most condenser microphones and some cables are sensitive and needs to be stored in a protective environment.

A sturdy studio case are able to safely store multiple microphones and other equipment, holding them in place, and protecting them from knocks, dust and other external forces. They also come in very handy if you need to transport your equipment safely.

A good example is the Casematix Studio Case. It comes in a hard shell case with a foam interior that can be customized by removing foam blocks in order to make space for the specific piece of equipment you are planning on storing. It also come with a built-in handle and the sleek design makes it ideal for travel and storage. 

You can get more information and pricing on the Casematix Studio Case here.


I just discussed 5 accessories that will benefit your home studio. They are just five of hundreds of accessories you can add to you home studio. They are also not essential, but may just be that extra piece of equipment you need to make your life a bit easier.

Let me know in the comment section if you would like more options when it comes to adding additional extras to your studio. I will make sure to expand this current article or add a separate one with a much more comprehensive list.

Remember to join my  Mailing List  to be informed whenever a new article is released, and share new developments and helpful hints & tips.

Catch you in the next article and happy recording!


How To Keep Your Audio Equipment Clean And Sanitized

Keeping Your Equipment Clean

One of the most neglected parts of running a recording studio is keeping your audio equipment clean and sanitized. Over time dust, dirt and sometimes more unsavory materials start building up on our equipment and components. The importance of keeping them clean goes beyond aesthetics. There are a few other benefits you may not be aware of.

We take a look at some common studio equipment and how to safely and effectively clean them, and also detail some of the unique benefits of cleaning certain components. We will start with the "worst offenders" and work our way down from there.



As a home recording studio owner, this may not be so obvious to you, as only you and maybe a few other people work with your equipment, specifically your microphones. Things are very different in the commercial industry where microphones are used on a daily basis by dozens of people, in the studio and on stage.

With so many hands and mouths in close proximity to the microphone, combined with the variety of surfaces they are directly placed on, the microphones get very dirty and unhygienic over time. I don't need to go into graphic detail. You get the idea. 

Things may happen a lot more slowly over time in your home studio, but the dirt and particles build up in the same way on your home microphone, so you still need to keep it clean.

Lets look at the bare microphone itself first. Most microphone sections are protected by a metal grill, with the rest of the casing normally made from a solid metal or brushed aluminium.

As the metal grill houses the more sensitive parts of the microphone, don't use just any kind of material or moisture to clean it. If the microphone is fairly new and only some dust or a little dirt is present on it, you can use a lint-free cloth or good quality micro fiber towel to clean it.

Sometimes the dirt get stuck in between the grill. A very good solution for this and many other cleaning tasks, is to buy a good quality small soft brush. I don't recommend using a commercial paint brush. Rather visit your local art dealer and invest in soft brush about 1-2 inches wide. This can easily reach those dirty spaces in between the grill and clean it without damaging the surface of the grill itself.

Unfortunately some unsavory particles and and dirt can find its way into the microphone, potentially producing an unpleasant odor and even decrease performance. It's not always possible to remove the grill, nor is it advisable to work directly with the sensitive inner parts of a microphone.

In this case a dedicated product will be the safest and most practical way of cleaning this dirt. Using a  antimicrobial cleaning fluid like Microphome works really well. The fluid in the bottles form a foam that can be applied with a cloth or your hand and rubbed over the grill. This cleans the inside and outside of the grill and dissipates by itself within minute. It also sanitize the microphone at the same time without touching or damaging the sensitive electronics located inside the mic.

The rest of the microphone, like the handle, can also be cleaned with a lint-free cloth or micro fiber towel as well. Since no sensitive electronics are present on this surface as is the case with the grill, you can be a little more aggressive with stubborn dirt. A gentle but more thorough cleaner like Method All-Purpose Cleaner is perfect for these and any many other surfaces (This natural cleaner is ideal and safe for most surfaces, but any safe ammonia-free multi-purpose cleaner can be used.)

This takes care of the microphone, the dirtiest and trickiest piece of equipment in your audio setup to keep clean. As you will see in the following sections, basically all of the treatments that can be applied to your audio equipment were just covered in the microphone section.  

Studio Monitors/Speakers

Audioengine A5+

Studio monitors come in a variety of casings, from woods to plastics. The drivers are normally made of Kevlar or some other synthetic material. Most speakers com with a protective covering made of a thin grill mesh fabric.

The speaker drivers should be handled with extreme care. Use a very light feather duster or the same brush I described in the previous section to clean the dust or light dirt from the surface. The small openings and gaps present on the surface, can also effectively be cleaned with the brush. I will not recommend using any kind of moisture on these very sensitive parts of a speaker.

The cabinet housing itself can be cleaned with the recommended cloths already described, and the more stubborn dirt with a good multi-purpose cleaner like Method All-Purpose Cleaner (or similar product).

Very important: Do not use ANY household cleaner containing ammonia for any form of audio equipment cleaning, no matter what the surface. You can do irreversible damage to your equipment!  

The mesh fabric of the grill should also be handled with care. Apart from a feather duster, a vacuum cleaner with a light suction power can also be used to clean and remove the dirt from the surface. For this purpose, first remove the grill before gently running the pipe with proper plastic extension across the mesh surface. Do not use the hard bushes that is used on a vacuum cleaner!

Audio Interfaces

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6

Most high-quality audio interfaces (and amplifiers mixing consoles) have metal, specifically brushed aluminium surfaces. You do get more budget orientated ones with plastic housings.

For dust and loose dirt, use the recommended cloths already described. For more stubborn dirt, Original Spray Cleaner & Polish cleaner can be used on metallic surfaces. For plastic surfaces, rather use Method All-Purpose or a similar cleaner. (Again, stay away from any products containing ammonia.)

The openings and gabs in between the knobs and sliders on the front panel can very effectively be cleaned using the fine brush you already used for your microphone grill. 

One can go into further detail and describe the cleaning of the electronics inside the audio interface. I don't feel its advisable to do this on your own without any previous experience, as the circuit boards and components inside an interface are very sensitive and can easily be damaged. (If you would like me to address this issue, please leave a message in the comment section, and I will add this to the article.)

Computer Monitors

computer monitor

Cleaning of computer screens are pretty straight forward. Using the cloths and brush for the casing and all the gaps in between them can very easily be done. For more stubborn dirt, use a gentle all-purpose surface cleaner (like Method All-Purpose Cleaner). (Again, no ammonia containing products please.)

For the screen itself, use a dedicated screen cleaner, like the Endust Gel LCD & Plasma Screen Cleaner. Apply it gently with a lint-free cloth, and make sure not to apply too much pressure.

LCD and glass screens are not as sensitive as those of a decade ago but care should still be taken.


By keeping your equipment clean, you are not just able to work in an environment that looks new and neat, but also keep it sanitized, something that should not be taken lightly.

The recommended cleaning products have proven themselves to the safest and most effective ones I can recommend. They are not the only good products out there and you may even be able to find some more effective ones. Just do your research and make sure they are safe to use before applying them to your equipment.

I may expand the article in the future to include cables and connections, as well as the electronics inside devices. Let me know in the comment section, I will address this in the near future.

Remember to join my  Mailing List  to be informed whenever a new article is released, and share new developments and helpful hints & tips.

Catch you in the next article and happy recording!


Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment With Your Home Recording Studio

Experiment With Your Recording Studio

It is always wise to learn from experts, use tried-and-tested methods and follow the right procedure. But sometimes, thinking out of the box and experimenting with something new can solve a problem with your home recording studio you have been battling with for weeks. It may even open up a whole new world for you...

Over the months or years, you have become used to listening to experts and specialists in the recording industry whenever you need to solve a problem or need to take that next important upgrade in the studio. 

From reading dozens of articles on recording authority websites, to watching hours of Youtube videos on a subject, you have developed a blind loyalty to these online sources you have been relying on for so long to help you get where you currently are with your recording setup. (After all, following their advice got your studio up and running in the first place.)

Many of these websites and online experts you are following, have very strong opinions about subjects like studio setup, type of equipment, to the way you should be using your DAW software. Some advocate strongly for or against certain practices with specific "dos and don'ts". Even on some very debatable subjects.

As a result, you don't stop for a second to pay any attention to any original thought or idea you may have to solve your problem or try something new. You are so afraid of what may go wrong, you may never find out how well your idea actually might have worked. 

Off course I don't imply for a second that you must follow any idea that pops into your head and do something silly or dangerous.

working on computer

If you read and watch enough informative content about all things related to the home recording studio (or even have your own personal experience from years in the recording industry), you should have a clear understanding of the difference between clear practical guidelines and concrete facts on the one side, and what can be seen as more opinion based information on the other.

It is this latter, opinion based information we are represented with, I want you to question. (To a greater or lesser extend, we all have enough common sense to the distinguish between concrete facts and personal opinions.) No matter how much of an expert someone might be, no one is always right and there is not always just one correct way of getting a desired result.

We will get to your own ideas and opinions in a moment. I just want to emphasize the importance of doing a thorough job when doing serious research or just want some more information on a product or procedure.

Always try and find at least 3-4 different sources to read/watch about a certain topic. Never trust just once source, no matter how knowledgeable and respected they are in the recording industry and how loyal you are to them. Like I already mentioned, no one knows everything.

I know for fact that I most certainly don't, and will really urge you whenever you read any of my articles, to read at least 3 completely different ones, find the similarities and make up you own mind.

Back to the original topic of experimenting and implementing your own ideas. There are may common sense facts and proven guidelines that you can rely on and don't want to meddle with. (Dropping a condenser microphone with its sensitive diaphragm from a dizzying height for dramatic effect, or banging your fist on the desk to the rhythm of the beat while all your recording equipment are on the same desk, are just two extreme examples.) Not only is it a guaranteed way of ruining your recording, you also stand a very good chance of damaging or completely destroying your equipment.

I am going to highlight a few hypothetical scenarios which already may have set guidelines, but where experimenting and playing around with your own ideas my just solve a unique problem. The whole point is to help you to break free from "rigid rules" and allow yourself to think more freely and try different things to solve any recording or post-production problem.

Time to look at a few scenarios, but just remember, you do not need to limit yourself to these examples.

Equipment Placement

When reading up about studio monitor/speaker placement, you may have come across the guidelines advising you to place the speakers at ear level. The "equilateral triangle" position (using an invisible triangle of equal lengths and equal internal angles)  to correctly place the speakers the right distance apart from each other and from you/your microphone, also springs to mind. 

After setting up the "correct" height, you realize a previous height you were you using while setting up produced a much better result. Your recording confirms this. Your room's dimensions and ceiling height just reacts better to the position you "stumbled" across while setting up.

The point here is that many guidelines, like speaker setup, are calculated for setup in an ideal environment with everything else perfectly set up. Your equipment and room you use as a studio, are unique in almost every possible way.

Don't be afraid of experimenting and playing around with your equipment placing. You really have nothing to loose, and will most probably find a unique placement that works best for your specific setup in the process.  

Equipment Settings

equipment settings

Very much the same goes for your equipment settings. Your condenser microphone's manual recommends a certain gain setting for your audio interface preamp for producing the best results. Yet, you get a much better result from another setting you have been playing around with. The sound is just right, crisp and clear, not peaking at the right moments and the recording sounds great.

So, no need to point out the obvious again. I think the argument for experimenting and trying out your own ideas has been made very clearly.     

Obviously solid guidelines are extremely valuable and are very effective in most cases. They only time they may become a potential stumbling block, is when they limit your own decision making and ability to explore new ideas.  

Guidelines are just that. Guidelines. Especially when you are at a complete loss as to where to start with your recording studio or equipment setup, expert guidelines provide you with a solid foundation to help you get started. From there you can follow more advanced guidelines and combine them with your own ideas and experiment until you get the ideal outcome for your specific setup. 

Acoustic Treatment

From some my articles , you will already know the importance of using acoustic materials in your studio. But what if you listened to your sound after setting up your equipment, and you are very happy with the results and don't want to change anything, even if you haven't applied any acoustic treatment yet?

Well, maybe you simple just don't need any special acoustic treatment. You may be working from your bedroom or small study, filled with a bed, curtains, couches and shelves. All these objects acts as acoustic treatment, with curtains, bed and couches absorbing and stopping any reverberation. Bookshelves or loose standing closets with all kinds of objects on them, may be in such a position that it scatters sound instead of directly reflecting it, acting as a sound diffuser. 

Without knowing it, you already created a "studio" with just the right acoustics for your recording setup.

Just because something like acoustic treatment is highly recommended, does nor mean it applies in all cases. Trust your own ears and judgement and don't underestimate yourself.

If your audio sounds 90%  right in the described scenario, why not play with the curtains, reposition your shelves or objects on it slightly? Maybe throw a towel or blanket over the one pesky reflective surface in the room, and all of the sudden you have the ideal recording environment. (And you saved yourself some money and unnecessary effort in the process.)

Software Settings

digital mixer

The final scenario is basically identical to the "equipment placement" and "equipment settings" scenarios. Here I would encourage you to experiment and play around even more. There are so many different outcomes by combining and adjusting different settings in your software, you may come across a surprising result that can be really effective and packs a punch, if not for the project you are currently working on, to remember for future projects.

Just make sure the original recorded file is saved somewhere safe, so that you can always go back and start again if you got so carried away that you made a bit of a mess of the working file. (Hey, that's how we learn and gain experience!)


After all this I hope you see some common message running through all the different parts of this article: Learn the basics, use the tried-and-trusted guidelines to get started and broaden your knowledge, but don't be afraid to experiment and explore your own ideas.

As with many other fields, its easy to box ourselves in and be very cautious to venture outside the norms and "rules" of the recording industry. I trust you will see the advantages of trying out your own ideas and exploring new avenues, especially in the privacy and freedom that your home recording studio provides.

Remember to join my  Mailing List  to be informed whenever a new article is released, and share new developments and helpful hints & tips.

Catch you in the next article and happy recording!


What Are Near-Field Studio Monitors?

Near Field Studio-Monitors

Whenever you read an article about professional sound recording or recording studios you may stumble across the term, "near field studio monitors" or speakers. In this article, we examine just what these speakers are, as well as when and where they are used.

There is a big difference between studio monitors and high-quality desktop or hi-fi speakers, especially in the way they produce sound. As we are focusing on studio monitors, specifically near-field monitors in this article, I won't be discussing the differences with desktop speakers in detail again. I already discussed it in detail in another article, which you can read here

Before moving on to near-field monitors, lets let's take closer look at studio monitors in general.

Studio Monitors

In essence studio monitors are still speakers, but the sound it produce differs from speakers for a reason. An audio specialist once summed it up best; "Speakers aim to hide the flaws in you recording while studio monitors aim to expose them". And that is exactly what they do.

KRK Rokit 5

The purpose of studio monitors is to help the audio engineer or recording artist to work with the audio production in its "working" unfinished state. It is during this process that flaws in the recording will be addressed. From correcting imbalances and adjusting gain on your different audio tracks to addressing distortions in the sound - all are performed by relying on the feedback from your studio monitors (and headphones).

This is the single most important reason why studio monitors must be able to give you the most reliable and honest representation of your recorded sound. And that is also why the sound you hear from studio monitors are normally not as rich and always pleasing as that of a "normal" pair of speakers.

Instead of the rich and room filling sound (with an artificially boosted bass) that hi-fi speakers are supposed to deliver, studio monitors provide you with a more flat sounding, but very accurate and detailed sound. It will also highlight any flaw or imperfection in your recording, allowing you to immediately address it.

The big advantage of working with studio monitors is that you can rest assured that if you are satisfied with the sound from your studio monitors, it will sound great on any speaker system you choose to play your finished product on.

Now lets look more closely at near-field studio monitors and what makes them different. 

Near-Field Studio Monitors

Near-field studio monitors are still studio monitors, so all the requirements that apply to studio monitors apply to near-field monitors as well. This also means they differ from normal speakers in the same way. (Actually even more so due to its "near-field" characteristics. We will get to that shortly.)

What makes things a bit confusing is the fact that studio-monitors are often referred to as near-field monitors and vice versa, and this is not always technically correct. All near-field monitors are studio monitors but not all studio monitors are near-field monitors. The difference is minor but significant.

Near Field Studio Monitors

To really understand how near-field monitors differ from other speakers and what their advantages are, we are going to have to get a bit technical. But lets first use a simpler explanation that will make more sense. It will help to make make the technical part more understandable.

In essence, near-field monitors allow the broadest range of sound frequencies to be played back to the user/sound engineer at a fairly low volume and at a close proximity while maintaining all the sound detail to preserved and edited.

Let us look at it in more detail. As a listener, we suffer from what is called "Equal Loudness Contours". This means we are experiencing sound frequencies differently at different volumes. For example, while your mid tones (including higher-mid and lower-mid tones) are loud and clear to your ears at a certain volume, very high and very low frequencies are almost inaudible at the same volume. In order for the detail in the lower frequencies to be heard properly, the volume needs to be turned up and the sound played very loudly. This is obviously not realistic for long periods of listening as it can be damaging to your hearing, and details in the mid tones can get lost at these high volumes.

This is where the advantage of near-field monitors come in. By using smaller-than-usual drivers (woofers) for the low frequencies, these monitors manage to "compact" the whole sound frequency, making it possible to balance and equalizing the volume of all frequencies enough to be listened to at a much lower volume and at close distance.

To get into even more detail, lets look closer at sound frequencies. The whole spectrum of sound frequency audible to humans, ranges from 20Hz to 20kHz. Traditionally, most high-quality speakers and big studio monitors take care of this spectrum by dividing each frequency up to be send through each of the 3 appropriate drivers (tweeter, mid and woofer). This leaves us with a scenario ending up in "Equal Loudness Contours", as discussed in the previous section.

With the considerable reduction in size of the biggest driver (woofer) in near-field monitors, some of the lowest frequencies get cut out, limiting the lowest frequencies down to about 75Hz (compared to the lowest audible 20 Hz). 

This "compacted" sound allows the engineer to listen to all the frequencies in the sound spectrum from just a few feet away and at a much lower volume for an extended period of time. This has 2 advantages. It allows the the most audible mid tone (including mid-high and mid-low) frequencies which we are most sensitive to, to be emphasized and edited.

The second advantage, as already mentioned, is to listen and edit low frequencies at an acceptable level. Once satisfied, the end result can always be tested and evaluated on bigger studio monitors or high-quality speakers.

And the biggest advantage off-course, is that the ability to make audio quality sound as good as possible within the constraints of a near-field monitor, as well as the clear and honest sound it provides, almost guarantees that it will sound great on almost any other speaker system. 


This has been quite an in-depth look at near-field monitors and how they work. I hope the explanations helped you to better understand how these monitors work, as well as their benefits, and not make things more confusing. 

To summarize, it is just important to emphasize that desktop/hi-fi speakers are meant to work with the finished sound and make it sound great, while near-field studio monitors are meant for working with the "unfinished" product and produce the most accurate and honest feedback to enable you to make the necessary adjustments to produce the "perfect" end product.    

Remember to join my  Mailing List  to be informed whenever a new article is released, and share new developments and helpful hints & tips.

Catch you in the next article and happy recording!


5 Careers In The Recording Industry: Exploring Horizons Beyond Your Home Recording Studio Setup

Careers n The Recording Industry

Most home recording studios are owned by people with diverse backgrounds who followed different paths to end up with their own setups. From the seasoned audio engineer with decades of experience,  to the young student musician just starting out, individuals from various stages in their careers are making use of a home studio. 

But what if you need more? You may already have your home recording studio up and running for a few years, but realize you need the exposure and experience of a professional recording studio to help you grow your own studio. Alternatively, you may start your home studio, but soon realize you want to be more directly involved with the professional recording industry as a home studio will never fulfill your long term goals or ambitions.

Whatever your reason my be, it will be helpful to know what your options are when looking at a career in the recording industry.

To help you out, we will be looking at 5 traditional positions in the big commercial recording studios. Its just important to note that these positions are not so clear-cut anymore and many have merged into one. They also overlap in most cases, blurring the lines between the different positions. For example, a sound engineer are able to do the job of an audio technician or step up to fill the shoes of a mastering engineer. This happens more often than you think.

Depending on size and type, different commercial studios define these job titles differently as well (and it keeps on changing!). As an owner of a home recording studio, you probably are already performing all the functions that would have been performed by all different professionals in big studio setup.

The reason for mentioning all of the above is not to confuse you. The aim is simply to warn and prepare you to be ready for the different scenarios that await you in this sometimes very finicky and ever changing industry.

With that said, lets have a look at the 5 traditional positions in the professional recording studio. We literally will be working our way from the bottom up.

The Runner

Big companies like accounting and law firms, big movie and recording studios. Most of them have runners. If you have no experience or qualifications, this is probably the position you will be starting off with at any big studio.

From being a glorified tea or coffee boy/girl, to running all kinds of errands for the engineers and audio technicians. This is literally the lowest level in the studio.

But this is also an extremely valuable time if used correctly. Swallow your pride, and be willing to jump when your superior ask you to.

But if you keep your eyes and ears open, you are gong to learn how things work at a record pace. You will we be learning new things every single day.

By simply observing what the audio technicians, sound engineers and even studio managers do and listening to their conversations, you will be amazed at how quickly your technical knowledge and overall understanding of how things work in the studio will grow.

At some point you may be able to take the initiative to perform a few simple tasks that a audio technician would normally do. Keep at it and at some point someone may just notice your new found abilities and that can be just the break you were looking for.

If you are not looking for a long term career in the commercial industry, but just want to further your knowledge to apply in your home studio, spending time as a runner to get some access to the commercial recording environment and possibly be able to pick the brain of an audio technician or engineer, may just be the perfect thing for you.

The Audio Technician

For this position you will definitely already need a thorough technical knowledge or qualification and know your way around a recording studio. A Certificate in Audio Technology will be a recommended bare minimum to get started with. (Fortunately this 9-12 month certificate is offered by many technical institutions, community colleges and vocational schools.) 

You need to know all the nuts and bolts of what makes a studio work and everything in it. From setting up the the microphones, connecting and running all the equipment, to recording and processing the audio in a Digital Audio Workstation.  

If you love the technical side of audio recording and processing, as well as physically working with the equipment and the studio, you may find this position very rewarding.

Just keep into consideration that you will mostly be responsible for just the technical side of a studio. You will most probably answer to the sound engineer, producer or both. They are responsible for the more creative side of of audio recordings, which means most of these decisions are out of your control, and only passed on to you to implement.

There is a upside to this however. The logical next step up from technician is to sound engineer. Working closely with a sound engineer and producer allows you to get exposure to the creative side of recordings. If you have a talent for it and get the chance to show some creativity, it may not go unnoticed by the senior staff who may want to explore this talent some more. 

Getting a better qualification will always put you in a more favorite position, but more on that in the next section.  

The Sound Engineer

Like I said, the sound engineer is a logical step up an audio technician. But just gaining experience and work your way up to the position of sound engineer may not be that simple.

A better or more advanced qualification is often required to be seriously considered for this position. Two options are available:

Associate's Degree Program in Audio Production and Engineering: This a 2 year degree that includes all the skills covered by a Certificate in Audio Technology, as well as covering sound system design, audio mixing techniques, architectural acoustics and the basics of music business.

Bachelor's Degree Program in Audio Production: This a comprehensive 4-year course that covers all important aspects related to the recording industry. The basic technical skills required by an audio technician are covered, as well as many more advanced applications. Students are also taught how to record and edit sound in different environments like the studio, live and outdoor events and in digital media formats. This is obviously a long term and costly investment, so make very sure this what you really want to do before making any final decisions. 

These qualifications are obviously no guarantee  to secure a position as a sound engineer, but will go a long way to help you stand a better chance.

A sound engineer can do everything an audio technician can, but have more control. Armed with more experience and a bigger skill set, the sound engineer works closely with the producer and are very involved with the creative side of audio recording. Important decisions rest on his shoulders to make changes to the editing and mixing of the recorded tracks that can result in very different end results.

If you are very creative, have the experience and all the technical skills, as well as the necessary qualifications, this can be a very lucrative long-term goal for you.

The Mastering Engineer

This position can be considered the top and most prestigious position in any big recording company's studio. There is general consensus among many sound engineers that only decades of experience as a sound engineer can prepare you to be even considered for the position as a mastering engineer.

Only after absolutely everything is done, from recording, editing and final adjustments in the DAW software finished, and the mixing of all the different tracks are finalized - only then does it reach the mastering engineer.

In essence, the mastering engineer puts the final touches on an audio production as a whole and prepare it for output to digital media.

Here some fine-tuning and polishing of the audio is done to make it stand out and shine. Some final adjustments, equalization and balancing can still be done at this stage. It is just important to note that at this stage any changes that are done, are done to the whole audio production. No changes or effects can be applied to individual tracks anymore at this point.

A mastering engineer must possess quite a few abilities. He/she must have experience with working on final audio productions and knowledge of how they are produced. A well-tuned ear, a creative touch, and a full understanding of the recording and editing process is a must. (Many mastering engineers used to be sound engineers, and as a result many sound engineers strive to reach this sought-after position.)

As you can clearly see, this is one position you can only reach after you mastered all the other roles in the studio and have been spending many years honing and fine-tuning your skills. 

The Producer

Simply put, the producer runs the whole production, both inside and out of the studio. They are directly responsible for the studio and everyone working in it, as well as working with the recording artists, setting up schedules and time-tables.

They are already involved in the planning stage of the project, deciding what should be done when and where, and also who should be involved at what stage. They are even involved with working out the budget of a project and ensuring everything is kept within this set budget throughout the whole production process. Then they must make sure everything takes place according to schedule and moving along smoothly.

Needless to say a producer must have a very broad vision of the whole production, including having a clear view and understanding of the end product and making sure evryone and everything is working towards this end goal.

Having extensive knowledge and experience in the recording industry simply won't be enough to cut it as a producer. The ability to plan, effectively organize and work with people is absolutely essential. And like I already mentioned, having a clear vision of the end product and knowing what is necessary to obtain it, is vital.

It is a daunting task indeed. This is probably why there not an abundance of very successful producers out there, and why there is such a high demand for a good producer.


As you can clearly see, no matter what your specific interest within the scope of the recording industry may be, there is a position that will satisfy your needs. Some of it may just take a lot longer to achieve than others, and can be an expensive exercise that requires your full commitment.

As a result, I would recommend you take some time thinking things through when considering a move into this rewarding but sometimes hectic and stressful industry. Evaluate where you currently are, what your goals are, and if you see yourself venturing into this world as a full time career, or just to gain some experience for your own personal venture.

This is a decision no one but you can make. Armed with the knowledge in this article, you will have a much clearer idea of what is available out there, and help you to make an informed decision. Just remember, even if things don't work out exactly the way you planned, and your home recording studio is still a passion, you will always have something to come back to. And most probably with a lot more knowledge and wisdom.

Remember to join my  Mailing List  to be informed whenever a new article is released, and share new developments and helpful hints & tips.

Catch you in the next article and happy recording!


15 Best Products For Starting Your Home Recording Studio

15 Best Products review

This my not be your current situation or that of anyone else starting or expanding their home recording studio for that matter. Just bear with me for a minute. What we will be doing in this article is sketching a fictional scenario that will actually help you find out what exactly you need for your studio setup next.

The following scenario takes place where you have an empty room and a fixed budget. You are allowed to choose 15 objects with which to start building your own home recording studio. But, you are limited to $200. Every component, object or piece of furniture must cost less than $200.

The whole idea is to help realize how much more affordable a studio can be than you thought. Not only will you find out how much quality you can actually get from an inexpensive piece of equipment, but also how important the cheaper parts of your recording studio actually may be. (A $20 piece of material may contribute more to the sound quality of your studio than $200 component.)

The 15 Best Products

Now lets get to the 15 products. They were chosen in no particular order of importance and may play a critical of completely significant part in the success of your studio setup. Each component is also ushered in by a "tongue in cheek" heading, not to be funny, but just to try and make you think a little differently about its importance and the role it plays in your studio.

1. Your Command Post - Boss Office LeatherPlus Chair


If you are a serious home studio artist or user, chances are pretty good that you spend hundreds of hours per month in your studio, and more specifically in your chair.

Just taking the amount of time you spend sitting into consideration, the importance of a good supportive chair cannot be emphasized enough.

Not only is it supposed to be comfortable and help you keep you active and productive, it must also support you in all the correct areas to promote a healthy body and good posture.

The Boss Leatherplus provides you with a durable and comfortable seating position. At the same time it provides excellent back support, and "waterfall seat design" to eliminate leg fatigue. Don't forget to invest in a good quality chair when starting or expanding your studio.

Get more information and pricing on the Boss Office LeatherPlus Chair here.

2. Let Your Voice Be Heard - Audio-Technica AT2035 Microphone

Audio-Technica AT2035

If you have read some of the other articles on this website, you will know that I regard the microphone by far the most important piece of equipment for any recording studio.

What you may not know is that you do not need to spend a small fortune to get a really high quality microphone. The Audio-Technica really impresses with not just a very solid and high quality feel. It delivers professional studio quality sound, matching microphones more than double its prize.

(This maybe one of the reasons I use this microphone as my own personal microphone for home use.)  

Read more about the Audio-Technica AT2035 here.

3. The Brains Of Your Operation - The Desktop Computer


The heading is no metaphor. The computer is literally the brain and heart of your whole setup. It houses all your recordings, its your Digital Audio Workstation that you do most of your work on, and also acts as the interface with your various input and devices.

There are many reasons why I feel so strongly about using a desktop computer over any other computer or mobile device. So many in fact that a whole article is dedicated to it. Simply follow the link below to find out more.

Read more about the advantages of desktop computers here.

4.  Equipment Placement In Style - Z-Line Claremont Desk


It is safe to assume we all have a desk we work from and place our equipment on. I don't recommend placing your speakers/studio monitors and microphone directly on it for reasons already well documented in other articles on this website.

This leaves you with fairly compact but sturdy space requirements necessary to fit everything. Your desk needs to be stable and contain as little as possible multiple flat surfaces. (More flat surfaces equal more areas to reflect and distort sound.)

The Z-Line Claremont Desk is compact and very sturdily build, with quality material used throughout the design. Don't let the glass surface fool you. It is made of a highly durable 6mm thick tempered glass. This solid surface is able to absorb sound and vibrations far better than many wooden surfaces.

As a bonus the Claremont Desk has a very aesthetically pleasing look and design. When you go for a quality desk, why not include some style and good looks while you're at it?

Get more information and pricing on the Z-Line Claremont Desk here.

5. Make The Connection - Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface

Focusrite Audio Interface

Your audio interface provides the vital link between your microphone/instruments and your computer and Digital Audio Interface. It accepts XLR, TSR balanced and other connections, and output it normally via high speed a USB2 interface to the computer and  your DAW software.

It also provides the amplification of signals through its build-in preamps, as well as providing phantom power to condenser microphones and DI Boxes to name a few.

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 provides all these necessary features. It is also made of a high quality steel construction with a solid feel to all its knobs and switches. Sound quality is also exceptional with the well known Scarlett preamps delivering accurate, crisp and clear sound.

Read more about the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen here.

6. Stop The Shaking - TMS Mass Loaded Vinyl Acoustic Barrier


It is not just your speakers and microphones that are sensitive to vibrations and shocks. Vibrations and knocks to your desk can be disruptive and interfere with your computer and audio interface situated on your desk.

Whether you have a carpeted, tiled or wooden floor, you are still going to experience some knocks and bumps from sources inside and outside your studio. One way of making sure you isolate it as much as possible, is by using a thick sound-and-shock-absorbing material like TMS Mass Loaded Vinyl.

This 1/8 inch thick vinyl comes in roles of multiple lengths that you can cut to size and place underneath your desk and other work spaces. The thick vinyl absorbs almost any notable vibrations that may be emitted through the floor, while providing some added stability and sturdiness to your desk as well.

It is a very affordable material that can make the world of difference to your recordings. 

Get more information and pricing on TMS Mass Loaded Vinyl Acoustic Barrier here.

7. Your Digital Producer - DAW Software

digital mixer

This is the heart of your recording setup. Your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is responsible for capturing your recordings, edit and process it, and finally output the final production to digital media.

You get a variety of choices when it comes to DAW software. From premiere fully-featured packages, to limited editions and free versions, you will always be able to have access to DAW software.

I would just urge you to get started as soon as possible. It doesn't need to be the final software you end up with. The important thing is that you start gaining experience as soon as possible. The one asset you simply cannot put any price on, is experience.

The principles among most DAW software are the same, and the more time you spend working with the software, the easier it will be when it comes to actually start producing recording in your home recording studio. 

Read more about DAW software here.

8. Stretch And Adjust - RODE PSA1 Microphone Boom Arm

studio boom arm

I already touched on the subject of not placing a microphone directly on your desk or any other flat, hard work space due to surface vibrations and knocks. You would legitimately be wondering how to place and position your microphone if your desk is not an option.

This is where your microphone boom arm comes in this. This adjustable arm can be bolted to your desk or even against an object against the wall. The microphone is attached to the end of this arm and suspended in mid-air without any direct contact with the desk.

This make a boom arm, like the Rode PSA1, ideal to place the microphone in the correct position in front of your mouth or instrument. The arm absorbs most of the vibrations from the desk, and can even hold a shockmount to further eliminate any remaining shocks.     

Get more information and pricing on the RODE PSA1 Microphone Boom Arm here.

9. Take A Stand - On-Stage SMS6000 Speaker Stands

On-Stage SMS6000

You will only really appreciate the importance of studio monitor stands once you used them and realized just what a difference they can make. Freed from the reverberation and sound distortion caused by a desk or any flat hard surface, placed optimally at ear level and properly angled at the user/microphone - your speakers/studio monitors will really shine when properly placed on a pair of stands.

The On-Stage SMS6000 stands has all the attributes that is required. Providing a sturdy and solid base, the stands are also height-adjustable while the platform has a non-slip pad that prevents the speakers from moving around. All these features also at a very palatable price.

Read more about speaker placement and the On-Stage SMS6000 stands here.

10. Save The Mic - Harlan Hogan Pop Microphone Filter


Chances are pretty good the microphone you are using in your studio is a condenser microphone. With its ability to pick up the smallest detail due to its sensitive diaphragm, the microphone is especially prone to loud sounds, especially explosive ones like pops and cracks. Not only can these pops and cracks overload the mic and distort the sound quality, it can actually lead to microphone damage over the long term.

One effective and affordable way of preventing this is by using a pop filter. This mesh covered circular filter helps to protect the microphone in more than just one way. The thin mesh material filters out the loud popping sounds while letting through almost all other sound frequencies, not degrading the sound quality in any way.

A condenser microphone is not only prone to loud sounds, but also the environment, especially moisture. And as much as some of us hate to admit it, we all produce some form of saliva or moisture when speaking or singing. A pop filter shields the microphone from any saliva or other airborne objects.

The Harlan Hogan Pop filter is a good example of a pop filter doing exactly what is asked of it. Providing good insulation from harsh sounds and moisture, while not interfering with the sound it needs for a quality recording.   

Get more information and pricing on the Harlan Hogan Microphone Filter here

11. Silence The Echo - Acoustic Room Treatment

acoustic panel

I covered the importance of proper acoustic treatment in quite a few other articles already. I need to emphasize it again however. It has the ability make all the difference in the world to sound quality by eliminating reverberation from a studio and neutralize the unfavorable dimensions of small square studio.

The best part about acoustic treatment, is that its one of the most affordable parts of a studio. This allows you to add all the acoustic materials you need to sufficiently cover your studio in one go. In a small studio it doesn't even take that much acoustic material to begin with, but its nice knowing that you will run out of material before running out of money.

Knowing just what a vital role it plays and taking its affordability into account, you really don't have any excuse not to make your studio acoustically sound.

All you need is the know-how, some of which you can get from the linked article below.   

You can read an in-depth article about acoustic and its importance right here.

12. Catching Every Little Detail - Sennheiser RS120 Headphones

Sennheiser Headphones

This was a revelation for me personally. I must be honest and admit that I am not the biggest fan of headphones. As long as they provided me with enough feedback on the detail and quality of the audio, I was happy.

That was until a "spur of the moment" purchase of the Sennheiser RS120 headphones after spending some time in the music department of a store. It didn't take me long to realize what a difference a high quality pair of headphones make. After hooking it up to my setup I was literally taken into a new world of rich sound quality and clarity with a level of detail I never experienced before. 

Even though you can pick up all the detail you need on a normal set of headphones, like my generic Sony headphones I used in the past, the level of detail and the small nuances in sound that can be picked up by high-end headphones are invaluable to help you fine-tune and streamline your audio production.

As a user who almost always put more trust on the feedback of speakers/studio monitors than headphones, I now make sure my audio are completely acceptable through both monitoring devices.

Get more information and pricing on the Sennheiser RS120 Wireless Headphones here.

13. A Golden Connection - Monoprice Premier Gold Plated Cable

Gold Plated Cable

"A chain is as strong as its weakest link". We all know the saying and what it means. This is especially true in your recording studio. You spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on the best equipment to record the best possible sound. Yet, when I ask you how they are connected, the chances are pretty good you used the nearest cable available. (Or the one that came bundled with your device.)

The loss in sound quality from a poor cable connection can be more costly than the value of your equipment. That doesn't mean you need the best pair of cables money can buy, but you need a good enough cable to make sure your signal makes it all the way from one device to the other without any significant loss in quality.

The Monoprice Premier XLR cables make sure this quality transfer of signal happens by using cold plated connectors alongside other quality components. No, the use of gold is not a status symbol of any kind. It's a mere fact that gold promotes the transfer of a signal with the least amount of resistance. The use of gold is just one of many components used in a quality cable to ensure the best possible connection between devices. 

Get more information and pricing on the Monoprice Premier Gold Plated XLR Cable here.

14. Make Some Noise - Kanto YU2 Powered Desktop Speakers

Kanto YU2 Speaker

One of the most important aspects of recording and editing your audio, is the ability to monitor it at all times. Using your headphones simply isn't enough. You need a pair of high quality speakers/studio monitors to hear what it sounds like to an audience in an open space.

The sound from the speakers filling the space in a studio will give you an accurate indication of what your audience will experience. And especially in a small studio, this is exactly what the compact Kanto YU2 speakers will do.

It packs a pretty big punch, and the clarity and precision with which mid-and-high tones are reproduced really impress. It is important to note that the bass is not sub-par and more than good enough for studio use. (Only when pushed really hard may the lack in physical size become really apparent in the low frequencies, but that's not an important function for a recording studio.)

Get more information and pricing on the Kanto YU2 Powered Desktop Speakers here.

15. Untangle That Nest Of Cables - Spiral Cable Wire Wrap Tube

Spiral Tube

If you look behind your computer work desk right now, chances are pretty good you will find a nest of tangled cables that build over the years. In a recording studio you build and expanded over years, the situation might be a lot worse.

These cable are not only dangerous as it can cause electrical short-circuits and even result in an electrical fire. It also becomes a headache when it come to changing equipment and its cables. The time and effort wasted on this seemingly endless process, takes its toll on productivity. And even though it may be hidden behind a desk or another object, it doesn't make the problem disappear and will only get worse when not addressed.

Using a cable organizer like the Spiral Cable Wire Wrap Tube, is a simple but very effective way of keeping your cable together, neat and tidy without any tangling. It also also allows different cables in the "tube" to exit at any point to be directed to the appropriate device.

It is never too late to start, and once you have your cables lined up next to each other neatly in a single tube, it will be much easier to add and remove cables at any point. And simply from a aesthetic point of view, you will be forever grateful for not having to look at an unsightly nest of unorganized cables ever again.   

Get more information and pricing on Spiral Cable Wire Wrap Tube here.


And there you have it. 15 Products or components in no specific order that will make a difference in your home recording studio.

The whole idea was to kick-start your though process around the needs of your studio, and help you look at your priorities in a different and maybe more productive point of view.

At the very least, you may discover a valuable piece of equipment or material that may just make that difference you needed in your studio.

Remember to join my  Mailing List  to be informed whenever a new article is released, and share new developments and helpful hints & tips.

Catch you in the next article and happy recording!



Taking The Next Step: 2 Advanced Audio Interfaces Worth Looking At

Advanced Audio Interface Review

You finally reached the point where your needs outgrew your audio interface. It served you well for many years, but it might have gotten damaged or simply outlived its usefulness. Now you need an interface with more input sources, a faster connection or simply better audio quality and overall performance. 

We take a look at two more advanced audio interfaces that will not disappoint.

The First Choice

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (2nd Gen)

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20

You are probably already very familiar with the the 18i20's little and very well-known brother, the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2. This compact and budget friendly audio interface with its eye-catching red surface and solid build and quality sound, has literally been flying off the shelves of retailers over the past year. Even many consumers not even remotely involved in the recording industry are familiar with this little rock star. 

All this attention and popularity are not without merit. This attractive compact red box really delivers exceptional value for money with its quality build, range of features and high audio quality. But as good as it is, it has its limitations.

The 18i20 is not just bigger version of the Scarlett 2i2 with new features. It really is a worthwhile step up with much more to offer.


If you are familiar with the Scarlett series of audio interfaces, the 18i20 will have a very familiar look and feel to you. It comes in the high quality scarlett red brushed aluminium casing. It has a black front panel that also houses all of the controls.  The buttons and knobs are made of a high quality hard rubber with a very sturdy feel to them.

This unit comes with brackets to slide into a 19 inch rack, but it can just as easily be placed on your desk and will not look out of place as a stand alone unit. At almost 7 pounds it is definitely not made to be carried around and should be placed in a fixed position.


Unlike its smaller brother, the 18i20 is not powered by USB and comes with its own power supply, so make sure you have an open power socket available. 

The the digital out is via a USB2 port which should provide enough speed to prevent any significant latency. (Focusrite wisely decided to steer clear from using the faster Firewire technology that started appearing in devices in this price bracket a few years ago. This technology did not survive very long is no longer supported by most laptop and desktop computers.)

The Scarlett 18i20 has a total of 18 total inputs and 20 total outputs on the device. On the front of the interface you will find 2 combo inputs (for line, mic and instruments), making it easy to quickly add add and remove devices without having to dig behind the interface, especially when rack-mounted.

Phantom power comes standard as expected, but what makes it so unique in this case, is that you have 2 switches to activate phantom power. One for inputs 1-4, and one for inputs 5-8. This is very handy if you use a combination of devices that do not all require phantom power.

Below the gain controls of the 2 front-facing combo inputs, you will find 2 switches for each input. One for switching to instruments, as well as a pad switch (to reduce the input volume by 10 decibels).

The remaining 6 combo inputs at the back have 6 corresponding gain controls on the front panel. To the right of it you will find LED indicators representing and monitoring the levels of all eight audio inputs. 

Next to the LED you will find the master gain control switch. Below it you find a handy a Dim switch and Mute switch to respectively lower or completely cut out the audio if needed.

A standout feature of the Scarlett 18i20 is the inclusion of dual microphone outputs, each with its own gain control. This especially useful if you have more than one recording artist who need to directly monitor the recorded sound live.

Another useful features is LED lights on the front panel indicating input signals. One drawback however is that there are no LED lights indicating output signals. 

The power switch can also be found on the front panel.

On the back you will find the majority of input and output ports. This includes the 6 remaining combo inputs. You also have eight 1/4 inch TRS line outs as well as 2 monitor line outs. 

You will also find an optical input and output, as well as a S/PDIF input and output. You also have a MIDI input and output port for your virtual instruments, as well as world clock.

Finally the USB2 connection as well as the power adapter is also located on the rear panel.

As you can see, there is not much that the Scarlett 18i20 doesn't have covered in terms of input and output functionality. As a home user you will probably never need to use all the connections available, but it is reassuring that it is there if you need it.

On the software side, the 18i20 really come with a wealth of tools. Pro Tools / First Focusrite Creative Pack and Ableton Live Lite are included with the interface. It also includes Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Focusrite’s Red Plug-in Suite, and 2GB of Loopmasters samples.

With so many software tools at your disposal, you will probably never need to upgrade to the full or next version of the DAW software included with the device. Especially if your needs are limited to home use, the bundled software will most probably keep you occupied and happy for the lifespan of the Scarlett 18i20.


The world-class Scarlett preamps produce a warm and crystal clear sound. You are really going to find it hard to find anything in this price range to come close to matching the quality of these preamps.

(In fact, after some tests were done with preamps turned up to full volume to compensate for a microphone with an extremely low sensitivity, the base noise was so low when no sound was recorded that it was completely inaudible. This is something almost unheard of for an audio interface under 500 dollars.)  

One of the most important features of the 18i20 however, is the reduction in latency. Focusrite claims a latency of 2.74 milliseconds which will be welcoming news to any serious end user. (A recording artist or sound engineer knows exactly how important it is to hear the sound your audio interface captures in real-time.)  

Instructions for installation of the software comes on the back of the lid of the box. They are really simple and straight-forward to follow, and installation went smoothly and without a hitch on both PC and Mac platforms.

With software like Pro Tools/First Focusrite Creative Pack and Ableton Live Lite included with the audio interface, you are all set to go right from the start. The software add so much value to the Scarlett 18i20, that it really makes it an almost irresistible offer.

As with most proper DAW software, these tools come with a rather steep learning curve, but will prove invaluable once you've mastered the basics. (Chances are pretty good you are already familiar with most of these software if you upgraded from an existing audio interface.)


Needless to say I am extremely impressed with the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20. From the build quality, the amount of features available to the exceptional sound quality, it really is hard to fault this device. Especially coming in at under $500, this audio interface can easily compete with devices more than double its price.

The wealth of software included only adds to what is already a very attractive package.

One small piece of criticism that can be leveled against the Scarlett, is the lack of LED indicators on the front panel for output devices. But it really is a minor complaint and pales in comparison to all its strengths and features.

You can get more information and pricing on the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (2nd Gen) here.

A Worthy Alternative

PreSonus AudioBox1818 VSL

PreSonus AudioBox1818 VSL

I am not going to delve to deeply into the AudioBox1818 VSL, as it is pretty much on par with the Focurite Scarlett 18i20. I will highlight a few features and differences. In general though, if the Scarlett does not suit your style or fit in with the rest of your audio equipment, the Presonus is really worth taking a serious look at.  


With an all-steel design, the PreSonus is solidly build and has a real durable feel to it. Just like the Focusrite, it also has the same look and feel of smaller members of the Presonus family, with the same blue finish and diagonally displaced controls. 

Designed to be rack-mountable, the PreSonus can also be placed separately on a desk, but does not have the standalone appeal that the Focusrite has. If looks aren't that important to you, this shouldn't be a problem.


It also feature eight combo ports, but unlike the Focusrite, all of them are placed on the front panel. Each port has its own gain control with a clipping indicator next to each knob. 

Phantom power, like the Focusrite can be operated in two banks. You can activate/deactivate phantom power for banks 1-4 and 5-8 respectively.

A master gain control, a headphone output with its own gain control and LED level indicators, as well as a USB sync indicator rounds off the functions and features on the front panel.

Ten 1/4 inch balanced TRS outputs are situated on the back panel, of which 2 are main monitor outputs.

Three more input and output ports include MIDI, S/PDIF and optical interfaces, also located on the back panel. A world clock, USB2 port, power adapter and power switch round off the the functions located on the back panel.

Software to get you started includes PreSonus Virtual Studio Live and Studio One Artist 2.


As with other models in the PreSonus series, sound quality is excellent, thanks to the AudioBox1818's high-quality preamps and coverters.

A standout feature of the interface, is the consistency with which it delivers quality performance.  

Software also install and work seamlessly on both Windows and Apple Macintosh platforms.


Without visually standing out and "showing off", the PreSonus AudioBox1818 goes about its business quietly and efficiently. It really is a workhorse that can be used for long periods of time, delivering consistent and quality results.

You can get more information and pricing on the PreSonus AudioBox1818 VSL here.


When the time comes and you need to upgrade your device, the good news is that there are some very good audio devices offering you all the advanced features and performance you require from a more advanced audio interface. More features and better performance in the  form of the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (2nd Gen) and PreSonus AudioBox1818 VSL, can be obtained without breaking the bank. At the time writing both audio interfaces were available for less than $500.

Feel free to leave me any comments or suggestions you may have. Remember to join my  Mailing List  to be informed whenever a new article is released, and share new developments and helpful hints & tips.

Catch you in the next article and happy recording!