The 7 home recording studio changes you find below can all improve your sound to various degrees. Some are more expensive than others, so cherry-pick the ones you can do at the moment.
Every step you take to get closer to a great room is a step in the right direction because it's vital as a producer to have as accurate a response in your room as possible.
1. Build, or move into, a better room.
The best option is obviously to build a room from scratch designed for the acoustic response you desire. OK. So we're not all so lucky or well-off to afford our own build-out. We need to make do with what we have!
if you can even just move from a small square room with bad dimensions
to a slightly larger rectangular room with better dimensions you can
likely improve your sound.
Compare both rooms with an online room
mode calculator and see which has the sexier curve. Set up in either
room and listen to the same tracks in both. Use your ears and judgement
to choose the best room.
You could get scientific about it with
measurement devices and fancy analyzers, and that's all fine by me.
Common sense and a small bit of acoustics knowledge will however carry
you a long way. So, don't get bogged down with theory and just do what
you can at first!
2. Fine tune your monitor placement.Way too many aspiring
producers and musicians fumble here. It's like they think high
frequencies are best perceived by their stomach! Why else point the
tweeters right at their belly? ;-)
They will open a whole new
world of sound when they raise the tweeters to point in the direction of
the ear. It'll be like removing a duvet from their head. Sweet
Now, I know you're not one of them. Still, you may be able to improve
your own stereo image and ability to mix well with a few monitor
The topic of monitor positioning can make for an article in itself. Check the 3 great home recording studio resources at the bottom of this page should you want to dig deeper into this area.
3. Treat the room you're in well.
Once you have the best room and well placed monitors, you can usually improve your response with acoustic treatment. Treatment in smaller studios usually includes the use of foam kits with absorbers, diffusers and bass traps.
Learn about how to discover flutter echo, phase cancellation issues, room modes and comb filtering. Next, figure out whether you have any of these issues and fix them when you find them.
Try to avoid the damned overkill and add only enough treatment to compensate for your own room's issues without banning all reflections in the room. Think padded living room more than Apple's anechoic chambers!
Take note however that foam kits will only get you so far. You cannot expect anything near the results you'd get with a custom build. Any attempt to compensate for sonic flaws in your your room is however better than none at all.
4. Get good monitor stands.
You want to avoid resonance which can introduce unwanted sound into what you play back before it hits your ear. Some monitor stands are hollow which allows you to fill them with sand for extra dampening of vibrations that could cause resonance issues.
The stands I just mentioned above can be expensive so consider cheaper stands if the manager of the trust fund is concerned with your spending habits.
5. Add absorber pads under your monitors to decouple.
Add these with or without stands. Massive difference? I'd say more slight change. Think of them more as a bit more peace of mind insurance.
I can't see how these could hurt your sound though so I say get a pair if you can! They also allow you to angle your monitors which could improve your sound in few instances.
6. Bring in strategic studio furniture.
OK, so this is a form of acoustic treatment. I cheat when I make it a point in it's own right. I just like 7 more than six in this case.
Still, a well-placed sofa, glassless picture frames or stocked bookshelf can add diffusion and possible absorption of higher frequencies. Experiment with it!
7. Upgrade any of your core home recording studio equipment.
These include your monitors, AD/DA convertors, pre-amps and microphones. Get the best you can afford in each of these areas, whenever you can spare some savings or win big at the tables.
Every improvement in your signal chain means you get closer being able to get the sound you want in your home recording studio.
Each upgrade however comes with it's own learning curve during which you'll have to find your feet. So, while it may take a while before you get to the response you want from your room. Each step gets you closer. Just keep plugging away!
Each of the above books will give you a different perspective on your home recording studio sound and how to improve it. Get them all if you can afford to.