In this ever-changing world, music production has probably witnessed the most monumental transformations; beginning with the Phonautograph in the 1860s, which recorded the first ever vocals on machine followed by the analogue sound which was reproduced on a Phonograph invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. Ultimately, inventions led to the digital era and Warner Bros. produced the first ever digitally recorded album, Bop Till You Drop in 1977.
Now we live in the age of the Internet and don’t need to reach out to an audio recording studio to produce, let alone new music, but entire albums by ourselves. Everyone has access to this ocean of knowledge that is professionally known as Audio Engineering. As is the threat of being “Google doctors” there is an abundance of information available to us but nobody to simplify this lavish exposure.
Adding to this ginormous field is my second blog, where you might find some clarity with how to do and what to study before setting up a project studio at home.
In 2007, my brother Ranga, my dear friend Vinayak and I began writing music. Inspired by the then most popular band ‘Decibel (India)’, we wanted to record one of our compositions. We were ecstatic at the thought of having our original composition recorded at a professional studio.
We approached one of the most famous Audio Engineers in Delhi. Obviously we were way out of budget to record even a single track. Though disheartened we weren’t giving up that easy. We began experimenting with basic softwares like Audacity, Cool Edit Pro and Nuendo by Steinberg.
All we had was a very basic Pentium 5 computer with no fancy modifications. Our experiments on these software’s lasted almost 6 months before we could figure out the actual process of getting a single sound from the real world into the digital world.
How I wish, there were more such blogs and Youtube videos as there are now, we might have aced the process sooner. After a difficult and exhausting 2 years we had finally found our way around the basic software and produced a decent audio recording of our own song.
This was the moment I had decided, I’m going to learn to do this the right way. From that moment on, a lot has changed.
Running a professional audio recording studio (Arcube Records) has given me great opportunities to be associated with prodigious musicians, Grammy winning composers, and respected audio engineers. The process took a while; but it has helped me in unimaginable ways.
Here are some of things you can keep in mind before setting up your home recording studio. These pointers are based on personal experience and years of experimentation, of course subject to change, according to your personal requirements, monetary investments and more importantly end goals.
Space: Choose the most quiet and least crowded spot in your home. Primarily, a space that can fit a sturdy desk on one full side of the wall still leaving enough room for you to be seated on a comfortable chair.
Computer: The brain of your studio is the computer. For audio recording purposes a good computer with the following specifications will do just fine.
Apple computer, for safety reasons and many other factors. Check this link out to know more: https://www.producerspot.com/mac-vs-pc-which-is-best-for-music-production
Minimum 4GB RAM / Memory (All basic computers have this much memory these days)
Minimum 500GB Hard Disk (All basic computers have this much space these days)
7200-RPM Hard Disk (Uncommon internal hard disk, you will have to get this replaced with the pre-existing hard disk of the computer) – This ensures that you do not have glitches and crazy errors like ‘Fragmenting of Disk’ etc. when you run a software like Pro Tools or Logic.
Audio Interface: The heart of a recording studio is the Audio Interface / Soundcard (in layman terms). There are many fantastic variants from different companies; you should choose the one apt for your needs. Take into consideration that you will want to explore and experiment more in the future. For example, if you purchase a 2 input – 2 output (2in 2out) audio interface, then the most you can do is plug-in two microphones at the same time and record them simultaneously. How often do you think that will happen? If your answer is, very often, then you should consider going for a 4 input – 2 output (4in 2 out) audio interface. Here are some of the interfaces you can look at, for your initial purchase:
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2:
PreSonus Studio :
M-Audio M Track :
Headphones: In my opinion, the concept of flat response monitor or noise cancellation headphones being a must, is utter nonsense. You can do with basic headphones, comfortable for the ears and can be worn for long hours, even all through the day.
The idea is simple, you need to get used to the output device to a point where you know how the smallest detail within a music piece sounds and reacts. For example, you should know how precisely your output device (earphones, headphones or monitors) interpret the Lows, Low Mids, High Mids and High frequencies.
You don’t need them fancy expensive headphones, don’t waste your time, money and mind over it. Anything starting from 2K is good and will have a decent output.
Software: The software used, to do your production is also one of the key factors in getting the best output with as much ease as possible. You can compromise on any other piece of hardware or equipment in your studio, but should never compromise on the Software. This is where all the work is done; this is where all the above-mentioned equipment is put together. My simple suggestion is, BUY THE SOFTWARE!
With various torrents and download sites, teasing and trying their best to grab your attention by letting you in on a free version, it is very hard to resist the temptation to click “download” rather than purchasing.
However, think long-term, think about flawless workflow. These things should be a priority. Now, these softwares are expensive, nevertheless, you must BUY them. There are many popular production and sequencing softwares, you can check out these popular options:
Microphone: This one is optional for those who are into voiceovers, dubbing and vocal oriented music. Again, there are many options available online and at reputed stores all over major cities. You can look at a price range starting from 7K.
Lessons: Another important aspect of this new start is to know exactly how to use the entire set-up to its maximum capability. If you have comprehensive knowledge, then great! Those who need help should reach out to a friend in the business. Learning through videos is great, but you’ll pick up faster when you can interact with someone in person or online. Once you know the basics and have a brief idea as to how you can delve into self-discovery mode, then, you are on your own.
Time & Practice: Like any art form, we audio engineers consider audio engineering as an art form too. All you need is Time and Practice. The more you give, the more you get.
No software is easy or difficult; it depends purely on how much time and energy you really wish to spend over it. All great audio engineers have spent years and countless hours before they could earn a name.
I believe people who know their craft well, always find simpler ways of doing or saying something. These suggestions come from my personal experience and my opinions might be relatable with the assumption that we have some common ground.
I listed these tips to help those who want to pursue this art and do wonders with it. If such resources were available when I started out, I could have progressed much faster. Nevertheless, I am a staunch believer of the saying “Everything happens for a reason”, so whatever happened, has made me who I am today.
It’s never too late and never too early. Not to forget that these suggestions involve a sizeable amount of money and time, however if you are on the right track that investment will be fruitful within the next 10 years without a struggle, I assure you.
In case you decided to go ahead with the plan of setting up your cozy little home recording studio after reading this blog, I will appreciate it if you reach out to me and tell me about it. Until the next blog, “see you when I see you!”
Love & Peace,