Home studios have revolutionized music recording. With the ease and affordability of recording at home, anyone can put out an album nowadays. One of the biggest challenges that remain is how to sound professional in a home studio. Even boutique basement studios with some of the best recording gear don’t always produce top results. Here are some tips to get you a lot closer to that major label sound.
1) Your software doesn’t matter. The digital audio workstation (DAW) you use has little impact on quality. Most of them out there are plenty good for everyone from beginners to seasoned engineers. One of the advantages of sticking to the more better known pro offerings such as Pro Tools, Logic, Nuendo, Cubase, etc. is the ability to grow into their more powerful features as you become better at using them. Don’t be swayed by people recommending certain DAWs over others, unless you are specifically looking for an aspect one offers that you need. Use the one you feel most comfortable with, and quick tip, it’s hard to beat GarageBand for beginners.
2) Your recording chain is vital. If you have a limited budget which most of us do, spend your money on as high quality of a recording chain as you can. To sound professional in a home studio it is better to have one pro microphone, preamp, compressor and digital converter than several different cheaper ones for flavor. Using the same high-end chain for different instruments will give you better results than even better matched budget gear.
3) Sound treatment is important. Unless you are going for a specific room sound on a recording, the best thing to do is to simply isolate it. If you record your vocal in a vocal booth, when it comes time to mix you can always add any spacial treatment you want. If the room sound gets on the recording you are stuck with it, and most recording room reverberation isn’t that musical. Here is how to build your own sound baffles.
4) Use instruments that record well. Almost all high quality instruments sound good when recorded, but there are also many cheaper ones that sound great too. Take the time to try them out on a microphone before you buy. You can even take an iPad and Apogee USB MiC down to the music store and record several of them and listen back to the recordings at home while deciding which one to buy.
5) Experience is hard to replace. As with everything in life, the most experienced tend to be the best. It’s no different with music and it pays to get some pros involved with your recording if you want to sound professional in a home studio. The main reason we started Sundown Sessions was to give anybody access to some of the best session talent in the world for an affordable price. If you want to sound like the top artists, use who they use.