It’s crazy to think I’ve already been doing this home studio thing for 4 years. I have learned so many things along the way! But when I look back, I didn’t start my home studio with confidence. On the contrary, I remember being overwhelmed by all the options right there. I never knew what was necessary to get or not. It was simply too much.
It’s normal to be confused
Not so long ago, a recording studio was a place that only competent audio engineers with experience could handle. It takes a lot of practice and knowledge of all the gear to be able to operate a nice session and get a professional recording sound.
Nowadays, we hear a lot of people saying that it is so easy to build your own home studio and get a nice semi-professional recording quality. The truth is, while the idea of it is marketed as something easy, it might still be complicated to some of us.
Yes it is now accessible, but the truth is that managing a studio session and getting a good professional recording sound is a complicated task. It simply is. You can buy whatever gear you want, but you cannot buy experience.
Don’t learn everything at once
Like everything in life, it’s a bad idea to want to start with everything at once. Getting external preamps, channel strips, MIDI controllers, monitoring controllers, 9 different microphones and 3 softwares (one for editing & recording, one for mixing, one for mastering), might be a very bad option!
I’ve been there too. I watched what other artists had and wanted to get exactly the same things. All at once. The problem is that getting too many things you don’t know how to use at the same time will lead you to nothing but frustration.
After 4 years, I have almost never changed my recording setup. I just learned how to use it better, one step at a time. And it takes a lot of time.
The only pieces of gear you really need to start your home studio
If I could give one advice to my old 4-years-ago-self worrying about how to start his home studio it would have to be this: the only pieces of gear you need are an audio interface and a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation, a.k.a the software).
Of course, having studio monitors will help to mix your music better. Of course, having different kinds of microphones will give you more recording options. Of course, having external preamps, channel strips with EQ, compression and such can improve the quality of your sound. But you simply cannot start by using all of this at once (at least, if you are like me… if you’re more the kind of tech-savvy individual who understands all pieces of gear after a few seconds, you probably didn’t read that far!).
Start your home studio by making demos
When you have the software and the interface that is made to record good quality audio, all you have to do is to plug your guitar in it, take a pair of headphones that is available to you and start experimenting with the functions. Start seeing what sounds bad, and what sounds less bad. Get familiar with the basic functions.
I think the good mentality to have is that your first recordings are going to be demos. Demos that are meant to sound non-professional, just to test.
The biggest disappointment is to expect a big, professional sound at the first try and not having it. Not getting it even if you have all the good gear, even if you apply all the right tips. Because it will not happen on your first recordings. It will happen with years of experience. Don’t drop out because of that!
I remember recording my band when I first got my home studio setup and being super pumped and excited. It ended up sounding… hum… let’s say, ‘’sub-par’’. But, you know what, it was normal! And I didn’t get discouraged by that. I could have easily just stopped recording and I wouldn’t have my Youtube channel as it is now and all those albums that I’m really proud of.
The only way to improve your recording sound is to practice
Like I said, I have almost never changed my studio setup since 4 years and I do believe my sound improved a lot. The secret is that I recorded very often. 1 Youtube video every week and 1 album every year. Multiply that by 4 years and you get a lot of valuable experience. At each recording session for my albums I like to try new things. But I would never want to master everything at once.
Truth is: your first recordings will suck. I know, that’s not what gear companies want you to believe.
‘’Get instant quality.’’
‘’Professional sound at the tip of your finger.’’
‘’The best quality for the price. Period.’’
Improvement just comes while doing it. And that’s what I did for the last 4 years. A lot of hard work is required, but when it gets fun and creative, no one can stop you from improving.
Do you have/had struggles when starting your home studio? Share them with us in the comment section below!