How To Set Up a Home Recording Studio
Studios fall into three basic categories, Home studios, Project studios and Commercial studios. It’s pretty obvious what a home studio is. Many people working in the music industry, and even the TV and film industries, have their own studios at home. They put them in the spare room, the garage, the basement, an outhouse – even in a corner of a bedroom sometimes. And there is no reason why a home studio shouldn’t produce recordings that challenge top commercial facilities. Obviously in a top commercial studio helpful staff will make it easier for you to do your best work, the equipment and acoustics will be first class, and you will probably be working with top musicians too – there may even be a restaurant and bar! Of course the top studio is always going to be that little bit better – but it really is just a little bit. You can do professional work in a bedroom. Sometimes simplicity sells, and you don’t always need a twenty-four track studio to make a song demo or a soundtrack for a documentary.
There really isn’t any difference between a home studio and a so-called project studio. A home studio is a project studio that you have at home, so that’s easily dealt with. So what’s the difference between a project studio and a commercial studio? Simply, a commercial studio is available to all comers at an hourly or daily rate. Make a booking, do your stuff in the studio, pay the invoice and collect the tape. A project studio is something owned by one person, or maybe a partnership, where the owner or owners work on their own projects. The owner may be a musician working on a CD, or a composer working on a TV soundtrack. Commercial bookings are not welcome in a project studio because a) they are taking up studio time that the owner would probably rather use, and b) once you start hiring your studio out as a facility you become involved in many more health and safety regulations and your insurance premiums will probably go through the roof.
What people do in their project studios is of course literally their own business! But I have identified at least five distinct categories of project studio. Let’s take a look at what you can achieve, if you have a mind to…
If you are not a DJ, please don’t start that old ‘DJs are not musicians’ routine. That one has been around since the electric guitar was first invented, and it’s as wrong to distance yourself from new technical and musical developments as it has ever been. DJs are people who take musical material from whatever sources they need and put sounds together in ways that conventional musicians haven’t even dreamed of yet. OK, so there are plenty of people who call themselves DJs who just segue one record into another, which you might not call creative in the normal sense of the word, but you have to look at the kind of money some of them earn for even just a couple of hours work!
Many DJs obviously do their work live, but there is an increasing momentum towards having a studio where mixing can be done at leisure, and a day’s creativity can be distilled into one mix that can be taken to the club and played as an exclusive that no other DJ has. A vocalist can be brought in and a totally new song created without anyone ever playing an instrument in the conventional way. The creators of the original sampled material will, if everyone plays fair, be credited and financially rewarded.