Studios. Part 1 - Basic Knowledge

author: Vendetta V date: 04/03/2009 category: gear maintenance
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Thinking of making a home studio?! Tired of paying all the money you could spend on a new gear to the recording studios for your band's new song?! Anyways, you're welcome to the Studio Production Classes. I'm V and I'm going to write about home studios and what you'll need for making one I consider you are not ready to spend thousands of dollars for your first studio (I also recommend no to because of dozens of reasons (for example after some time you will gain experience and will have your own tastes in gear, you'll decide what pre-amps sounds better for you, which mics and so) Though home studios can't afford the gear from those pro studios you can still expect your sound to rival the pro ones. Ok Now sit down and relax

The Room

The real studios have separate rooms for each instrument (a vocal booth, Drums room and so) but as we're making a home studio you can't just take your younger sister's room as a vocal booth. Hm first you will need to remove your room's acoustics (the reverb). You can cover the walls with those egg cartons glued to the wall or just cover the walls with soft stuff like pillows in the corner will help to eliminate the problems with bass. If gluing cartons or other stuff like that you don't need to glue all the walls leave the opposite side clean (like you can glue the cartons to the right and front side walls and the ceiling and leave the left and rear sides untouched as well as the floor (it doesn't always work though: I had some anomalies once). You don't need a room reverb for recordings! You can add it later to the recording by hardware and software plugins Recording a track with reverb at once loses the ability to remove or change the reverb Also try covering up the windows with jalousie and have some lighters to light up your working place (it helps your eyes to relax and your hearing to concentrate more) Also make sure you plug all the gear to the same mains (using different circuit's of mains can also bring hum) avoid the electrical and audio cables crossing each other or make the crossings perpendicular to each other (never leave them running parallel to each other (yup! Again you'll get hum).

The Desktop

You can buy a decent table for a PC (unless you have one already). Try getting one with loads of space, and levels. Buying a flat monitor will help you to preserve more place for the other gear (having the new MACs would be the best deal if you can afford it). Now also you'll want a stand near the desktop for your keyboard (later I'll say why you may need one). Later when we'll be unpacking our new gear remember to leave a free space on the table for writing: notes and songs (you may also put there your hot chocolate tea or new ordered pizza). Just like I mentioned before, use lamps (only no luminescent ones, cause condenser mics pick up some hum from them). Always have empty papers to write down the settings of a compressor or lyrics for your new song, you'll need em. Put them in one of empty boxes of your table. Get an office chair, as soft as it can be. Later when the gear will be unpacked sit down on the chaire, stretch your hand and turn around (try to free up space in that radius to be able to turn around your gear and not to kick em off). Have hangers for cables (in fact you'll need bunch of different cables, jacks and adapters).

The Gear

Buying the right gear is a real challenge: somes say to go mixerless others are against it, somes say you can go fine with a midi controller keyboard only others prefer full ability workstations Now I'm from the ones who say you better buy a mixer (Yes I do! You can use your mixer later on live shows and your band's practices). Ok now we'll go a bit deeper on what to buy during your first purchase:
1.A decent PC (not necessary for those rocket machines faster than Yngwie 
Malmsteen you'll just need a lot of place on HDD, enough RAM and CPU power,
 put a DVD or CD recorder on it)
2.Mixer
3.Audio Interface (to put on the PC) Note: make sure it has got a midi port
 which is really important
4.Studio Monitors
5.Mic (at least one)
6.Patch Bay (to prevent the cable jungles)
7.Control surface (not necessary if your on a budget)
8.Soft sampler
9.Some stands for mics
10.Bunch of cables, jacks and adapters
11.A good Keyboard (Workstation will do the best) thought almost all the 
keyboards have got midi connectivity, always check if they do before buying
12.Headphones
There are dozens of other gear but these are the ones you need most of all. I also recommend buying a rack tuner with a metronome it'll help you when recording other people for money (in fact when they'll need to tune their instrument or a metronome you'll always have one ready and they'll like the way you work (like everything under your hand, without loosing the expensive time we all have). Another good addition would be a reverb unit (vocalists need reverb, when they're being recorded, sent to their headphones (not being recorded as you may wish to change or remove the reverb (you'll be able to add reverb after recording remember?!) this is some kind of a trick but it really helps them to be more sure about what they do Also you can buy an effect unit for a guitar (when recording an electric guitar not everyone will be able to bring an amp so you'll always be able to plug the guitar straight 9throught the FX unit) to the mixer Now a bit of info about the gears (I will write separate articles about each gear later) PC PCs are really awesome things in studios You can loop trim and do loads of other stuff after recording. You don't need those expensive FX unit's as you can have awesome plug-ins in your PC. The PC is the most powerful musical instrument human beings ever invented. Now when buying a PC it is not necessary to have those rocket machines faster than Yngwie Malmsteen:p you'll just need a lot of place on HDD, enough RAM and CPU power, put a DVD or CD recorder on it). In addition you'll need a good Audio Interface. Make sure it has got enough INs and OUTs (mainly INs to be able to record separate tracks at ones) the onboard ones that come with your mother board are often stereo and with a right cable you can record two tracks at ones I'd suggest buying one with at least 4 inputs. Mixers What mixers do is a long story to explain, but there's an article by me about Mixers. I consider buying a 4 bus mixer for recording: the one like Behringer Xenyx 1832FX or Xenyx 1222FX. I'll go deeper about it in Mixers. Part 2 Studio Monitors These are the desire number 1. You want a speaker system to hear what you've/are already recorded/ing which won't color your sound and will bring it to you as it is. You must be careful with choosing them as it is a real challenge. Somes will sound different so you'll be like why does my track sound awesome in my studio, and loos the bass track in the other's?! Mics No need to explain these, right?? Patchbay Ooh these are cool things but are hard to figure out. What it does is helping you to get rid of cable jungles and be fast in hooking up gear together. These are boxes with jacks Dozens of jacks Control Surfaces Are for helping you out with software samplers, pretty useful and save time. They got knobs, fader buttons, but carry no audio signal Connect them through the USB Port. What they do is controlling parameters in Software sampler. You can have a 4 fader CS (Control Surface) but you'll be able to control all the tracks you've got in Software. Though these are a bit expensive but working with Keyboard and Mouse only can get your arms fallen off which in our case is a fail. Soft Samplers It's the program you use for recording/editing. They cost much, but there are the ones you can get for free like the reaper (which I am currently on). Add some awesome plug-ins to them and you'll have a pro-co tool. Keyboard You need one, it helps a lot you don't need to be an awesome player o get a good sounding track of a keyboard You can use the midi connectivity and record the midi track than edit it with your mouse (or CS if you've got one) and than play the track through the keyboard or even use the Soft Synth like FL Studios (if you aren't happy with your keyboard's sounds). Well that's it Like I said this is only a basic info of what you shall know for making a home studio. Like I said I will write separate articles about each gear later: what to buy, why and how to use it. Feel free to ask anything you want and make any correction you think is being miswritten or dismissed. Also feel free to contact me whether by UG or by my e-mail. Also check out this group to talk and discuss everything about studios.
More Vendetta V columns:
+ Traveling Airplane - Guitar The Guide To 06/16/2009
+ Mixers. Part 1 Gear Maintenance 03/20/2009
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