Optimising Your Home Studio Acoustics for Recording
It’s now easier than ever to get professional sound quality on a pretty modest budget at home, but you still need to pay attention to your set up. If you’re gearing up to record your own music using your M-Audio M-Track, take a second to think about your room acoustics so you can get the most out of your performance and your equipment.
In an ideal world your home studio would have a nice high ceiling with plenty of unusual shapes and textures throughout the room to balance out the reverb. All too often, however, a home studio is set up in the smallest, sparsest room of the house. Luckily there are ways to optimise that space.
Clap your hands
One of the most time-tested methods of seeing how your room’s acoustics stack up is to simply clap your hands. The reverberations that you hear will tell you a lot about how sound is reflecting within that space. If you get a tinny, ringing reverberation, the space is too ‘live’ – that is, sound can reflect far too easily against hard or shiny surfaces in the space. If there’s no echo at all, the room sounds ‘dead’ or overly muffled, and may be filled to the brim with soft furnishings and thick carpet. The sweet spot is going to be somewhere in between where you get a clear, natural sounding tone that is ideal for recording.
Acoustic treatments for absorption and diffusion
Most rooms will require some level of acoustic treatment to create the ideal balance, and you’ll be choosing from products that absorb or diffuse the sound in a room. Bass traps absorb the lower end frequencies, while acoustic panels are used to absorb mid-range and high frequencies. In many cases you will still want some slight reverberation to keep the tone sounding natural, which is when you would look at diffusers which soften and redirect echoes without eliminating them completely. There are product packages available that cover all options and can be ideal for a small home studio budget.
Setting out your workspace
Your room setup will have a significant impact on the recorded sound, as sound quality can change even from the corner to the centre of a space. For a solo recording setup you’ll likely want to be situated in the middle of the room with your desk, monitor and M-Audio M-Track set up in front of you, and your instruments and microphone to each side so everything is within easy reach (just be sure to keep that mike away from your computer fan noise). If you’re recording multiple performers, you may look at a more segmented layout with dedicated stations for the sound engineer and musician. YouTube has some fantastic videos on home studio setups to get your plan started.At the end of the day your acoustics need to support the sound that you’re looking to achieve, and it’s going to be a personal choice. It’s key to keep testing and adjusting until you find a result you’re happy with.