How Do I Set Up a Bedroom Music Studio?

Written by richard blackmon
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Your bedroom is a perfect place to set up a home recording studio. Quality recording software includes the ability to sample and eliminate unwanted ambient sound, but it's best to start off with as quiet an environment as possible. Your bedroom is an ideal location because it is already designed for quiet. Curtains, carpeting, even your bed, all help absorb unwanted noise. Hang blankets over broad wall areas and cover large furniture to make the room even quieter.

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Basic Equipment

Your basic studio set-up should include a recording device (personal computer or stand-alone recorder), microphones, connecting cables and headphones.

Although there are many stand-alone multi-track recorders currently available, your personal computer provides a much more flexible and less expensive choice as the foundation of your studio equipment. A high-quality sound card in your computer is a must, and you'll also need recording software. Two popular choices are Cakewalk Sonor and Adobe Audition, which provide from 64 to 128 recording tracks and a multitude of effects and processing options.

Condenser/capacitor microphones work best for recording vocals, while dynamic microphones are better for instruments. Use microphones only when necessary; connect your instruments using cables directly to your audio input device if possible. The result will be a much quieter recording.

For basic, one-track-at-a-time recording plug a microphone or line input cable directly into your computer's sound card. Most sound cards are equipped with mini plug input and output jacks, so you'll need appropriate adaptors, such as RCA to mini, ¼ inch to mini, or XLR to mini. Change your sound card settings as necessary for "mike" or "line" inputs.

Use headphones rather than speakers when recording to avoid feedback. For listening to playbacks and mixing, headphones will give you better overall sound quality and allow you to pick up subtle sounds you might miss if you use speakers. Larger types that cover your ears completely are a better choice than small "ear bud" headphones, because they are more efficient at isolating external sounds. Plug your headphones into your sound card output using adaptors (RCA or ¼ inch to mini).

Optional Equipment

You can add additional hardware and software to your basic set-up that will significantly increase the flexibility and usefulness of your bedroom studio: a preamp to boost the signal from microphones and instrument outputs, a mixer or computer interface DI devices such as keyboards to your computer, a compressor/limiter to control the relative difference between loud and soft sections of your recordings (these are available as hardware and software), an equaliser to "shape" sounds by increasing or decreasing levels of specific frequency response bands (this, too, is available as hardware and software), a sound generator, essentially a synthesizer with no keyboard, used to play computer-generated MIDI files, a sequencer to control multiple MIDI tracks in much the same way as a mixer is used for audio tracks. Sound generators and sequences are available as software and hardware (see "Resources").

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