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
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.
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!
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
of a slight change. Think of them as a bit of 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. Still,
a well-placed sofa, glassless picture frames or stocked bookshelf can
add diffusion and possible absorption of higher frequencies. Experiment
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 little step gets you closer. Just keep plugging away!