Do I Need A Home Recording Studio?
If you are asking this question, the short and straight answer is, yes. Now before your throat starts closing up, you glance at your bank balance and you feel like giving up before even getting started, relax.
A home recording setup can be surprisingly affordable. It can also be built up over time and expanded to even rival professional recording studios worth tens of thousands of dollars. The possibilities and options are almost endless, depending on your budget, personal requirements and your end goal.
Just take you smart phone and hold it in your hand. Do you realize what are you are holding there has the recording power and quality that would have been the envy of many small professional recording studios 50 years ago?
Does it mean you can fulfill all your dreams as a professional musician or podcaster by using what you currently have? Off course not, but it means you have somewhere to start.
And that is the point of this whole article. To help you establish exactly your current situation is, try and pinpoint what you goals are, and how you can use this to determine what you will require to fulfill your recording needs. Only then you can start to think about starting or expanding your own recording setup. But let's not get ahead of ourselves...
Your Current Situation
Ok, first things first. I know it may sound obvious to many of you, but the first step before even getting started, is to determine what you are currently already doing and how serious you are about it.
You may have a great voice or are very talented at playing a specific instrument. You may even be a group of musicians dreaming of starting your own band. You also also may be very passionate about a a subject and are looking at starting you own podcasting channel to share you knowledge which can potentially turn into an full-time online streaming audio service.
The one thing they all have in common is audio. Whether you are going to record your voice for singing or talking, or record an instrument you play, having access to audio recording equipment is a must.
Before you even start thinking seriously about recording equipment, ask yourself a few questions:
Have you already started recording and publishing audio content online? Do you still need to get started and have no experience in recording at all? Are you passionate and enjoy what you are doing, or is it simply a pastime for you? Do you already have access basic recording equipment like a smartphone or desktop/laptop computer?
These questions may sound silly, but is important to ask yourself to establish where you are currently at, and how serious about it you are. It will also help you decide how much you are willing to spend on recording equipment, now and in the future.
Your goals, more than anything else, will determine which direction you will go in equipment wise. As I already mentioned earlier in the article, you probably already have a recording device in the form of your smartphone or laptop. Many podcasters and vloggers (video bloggers) managed to build up huge audiences by just using these devices to record and upload their content. Some even manage to make a living in this way.
Although these devices are perfectly adequate for sound that will listened to on you iPod, MP3 player or laptop, they have several limitations.
This is where your goals come in. I realize this is something that may not be clear-cut for you at the moment, but having an idea what you want to achieve as an end goal will go a far way in helping you make decisions.
You may be a full-time musician seriously planning on pursuing a career as a recording artist. On the opposite side of the scale, you may just enjoy sharing your thoughts on a subject you enjoy on your podcasting channel in your free time.
In between you have people with a large mix of experience and expectations. You may find yourself to be one of them.
You are a music student with big dreams but unsure how far you will get. You have a great voice with huge potential as a vocalist, but need to get you voice "out there" to get the exposure and attention you need.
Many of you are sitting in a full-time job, but your real passion lies with your music or using your voice, which you can only do in your spare time.
In almost all these scenarios you have neither the time or budget for this passion. These things you can change over time, but one thing you have to try and figure out for yourself, is whether you are going to commit to this endeavor full-time or keep it as part-time hobby.
Always leave all options open, as things can change quickly, but knowing where you are headed will always help you in when making choices about equipment.
What You Need
Obviously you need equipment, if you don't already have some. What exactly you need depends on a variety of factors and is a topic for another discussion, which I will address in the next article.
But before making any decisions on any equipment, you need to consider and try and have three factors in place.
This is a bit of catch-22 situation, especially if you have a full-time job. You have to spend enough time on your passion to grow it to a point where it can replace your income and you have the freedom of time to engage in this passion on your own terms.
At the same time you need the income of a full-time job, not only to make a living, but to be able to budget for the space and equipment needed for a home recording studio. This means 8 hours of your day is already spoken for.
If you are financially dependent on either parents or a spouse, time will not be such a big problem, even though you may have other obligations.
No matter what you situation, be prepared to set aside quite a few hours a day to focus on your passion/dream. Yes, it will definitely mean some sacrifice on your part. I can't tell you how much time or what to sacrifice. Just realize you have to set a fixed time aside and stick to it if you want to stand any realistic chance of reaching your goal.
Sound travels. This short fact has big implications. If you consider any kind of home recording studio, make sure you have a dedicated enclosed space (preferably a room) to set it up.
If you live in a house and have a spare room, perfect, If you live in a bachelor apartment or apartment where you share space with a roommate, you'll have to get creative.
Even with basic recording equipment, even the smallest sound can cause interference and ruin a recording. From the television, conversations in the area, dogs barking, to the moving of furniture, all will be picked up a by a quality microphone. Make sure your recording space is isolated and you have control over sounds in the immediate vicinity.
This a sensitive subject. Your budget is always an issue if you are a student or unemployed. Even if you have a job but can barely afford the basics, this will also be problem.
To be very honest though, if you are going to move into the home recording business, you are going to have to budget to have some funds set aside for equipment and accessories.
Even if you already own some basic recording equipment, you are going to need to expand a lot sooner than you might think. Don't worry, it doesn't need to be an experience that will break the bank, but having something tucked away for whenever you need that new piece of equipment always gives piece of mind.
Well done, you made it to the end. I hope this article not only served to help you answer your question, but also provide some guidance and direction as to what your next move should be.
Please don't be discouraged by the amount of information and all the "requirements" laid out in this article. It may seem a bit overwhelming and daunting, but this is just to help you prepare and remove potential stumbling blocks in order for you to focus on setting up and expanding you own setup.
In my next article we are going to look in more detail at how to set up a very basic home system that is a solid step up in quality and versatility from what you already have.
Until then, 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.