By now we all know you can record songs in your bedroom that sound like they were recorded in a professional studio. Technology has come a very long way.
Billie Eilish and Finneas are the ones who helped make this obvious to the general public. And there are tons of independent artists who have been and continue to record amazing songs from home.
Now it’s your turn. So here’s how to set up a home recording studio in a bedroom…
Why do you need a home recording studio
I am not at all against fancy, non-domestic recording studios. Honestly, they often offer a more ideal space, much nicer gear, and a producer or engineer to help you record. And if you can afford one of these studios, go for it.
But you still need a home recording studio. Let’s look at a few different reasons why…
If you’re a songwriter looking to get your songs cut by artists, you need to be able to record high-quality demos at home. If you don’t have the budget for a professional studio, you can still record pro-level music from your bedroom. If you want to be hired to produce and/or mix music for other artists, you need your own easily accessible studio.
Really, it’s about being able to easily express your creativity. At a minimum, a home studio allows you to quickly record your ideas. But you can also record music that sounds just as good as music from Spotify playlists or from the radio.
Essential recording equipment and software
When it comes to recording equipment and software, you have nearly endless options. But if you’re just beginning your home recording journey, here are the basics you need:
- Laptop or desktop
- Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
- audio interface
- MIDI controller
- Mic/XLR cable
- Microphone stand
- Pop filter
- Large desk and comfortable chair
For more on choosing the right hardware and software, check out this article.
How to set up your recording studio
Once you have your gear, there are three main things to consider with your home recording studio: space, acoustic treatment, and your recording station layout.
Spaces to avoid
You may not have many choices when it comes to recording space. But there are some things to consider when deciding where to set up your recording studio.
I recorded and mixed music in a dressing room that ended up on TV. I recorded music in my living room and bedroom that people added to Spotify playlists. So you can definitely work with the space you have.
That being said, whenever possible, try to avoid these types of spaces:
- Small closed rooms
- Rooms with a lot of outside noise
- Carpeted rooms (ideally you want a hardwood floor with a rug – the rug mainly absorbs high frequencies and not so much low frequencies, which is not good for sound)
- Square rooms (multiple frequencies with the same wavelength will reverberate through the room in the same way, causing phasing issues)
Again, home recording limits your space options. This is why it is so important to properly arrange your space and use acoustic treatment.
Organize your recording station
You must now choose the positioning of your monitors. The rest of your setup revolves around this.
Here are the main points you need to focus on:
- Keep monitors away from the wall to allow for more even bass response (see monitors user manual for specs)
- Move the monitors so that their distance from the wall behind them and their distance from the walls on either side are not the same
- For large rooms, place monitors along the longest wall
- For small rooms, place monitors on the shorter wall
- Make sure your listening position is no more than halfway across the room
- Create an equilateral triangle between your ears and the monitors with the monitors pointed towards your ears
- Do not lay your monitors on their side (unless the user manual says so)
Most of the things on this list may not be possible with the space and equipment you have, but do your best. My recording studio doesn’t meet all of these requirements, and many other home studios don’t either.
Just do what you can with what you have.
There are three main types of acoustic treatment elements to use: absorbers, diffusers and bass traps.
With absorbers, sound waves pass through them, changing the intensity of the sound. They help reduce the intensity of echoes and low frequencies.
Diffusers help reduce the muddy look of a room by changing the angle at which sound waves reverberate around the room while preserving the room’s natural reverberation.
Bass traps absorb low frequencies, around 250 Hz.
If you don’t have an ideal recording space, it’s best to make sure you don’t have too much sound in the room. In fact, if you don’t have an ideal room, it may be best to get the sound as dead as possible ‒ you can always add emulated room reverb, but you can’t remove natural room reverb once that it is in your recording.
Just be aware that having a dead room sound can work for vocals and acoustic guitar, but probably won’t sound good with live piano or drums (luckily there are some really great piano and drum plugins out there).
When placing your acoustic treatment, here is where to place them (in order of importance):
- Absorbers on the walls on each side of your ears
- Bass traps in the corners of the room, starting at the top corners
- Absorbers on the wall behind the monitors
If you can’t afford professional acoustic treatment, you can use thick blankets, pillows and a mattress. And honestly, your bedroom probably has several natural absorbers, diffusers, and bass traps, like your bed, dresser, and other furniture.
Ready to start recording?
Check out our complete guide to getting started as a bedroom producer, whether for your music or for other artists.