by Jessica Brandon
You may not need a huge budget to get sound great. Sometimes the key to great recordings from your musical instruments, such as bass, acoustic guitar, drum and vocal takes place right in your very own home.
- Hallway Room Mics
If you are recording in a small room in your house, but you want to get huge “John Bonham” style drums. How are you going to do that without a reverb plugin?
We would suggest putting the room mic in another room. Experiment with this, but generally the further away, the bigger the room sound. You’re effectively increasing the pre-delay in your “room” sound the further you go.
Things like stairwells are great, kitchens, hallways and more. So, get creative. Just because your room isn’t that big, doesn’t mean you can’t have a big room sound.
- Invest in a Solid Mic Chain
The same assumption here: your audio needs to sound as radio-ready as possible. You can work all your magic at the mixing stage, but if you’re a producer looking to create great sounds efficiently, it helps to have a solid recording chain to bring life to your audio on the way in.
It may take a while to save up for good recording gear, but even one channel is worth the expense. And, luckily for you, many interfaces in the sub-$1000 range sound great.
- Closet Vocals
Set up a mic in your closet and get tracking. These work great as there is very little reflection (assuming you have clothes hung up in there) and it’s a tight, controlled sound.
- Egg Cartons
Egg cartons are a great way to provide diffusion to your room. Their naturally corrugated form cause the dispersion of sound waves in every direction, which is great for getting rid of standing waves in your room.
So collect as many as you can, try to grab some from a grocery store recycling bin, and staple them to your walls! It will do wonders. Now having said all that, if you can afford real sound absorption and diffusion materials, do that.
- Hang Carpets and Blankets
Get a few old carpets and/or blankets and hang them from the wall. This can really help with any reflections in the room that are causing a build up of frequencies. However, don’t over do this either. Sometimes too much dampening can completely kill the sound of your room.
Use your ears. It may be better to do some dampening with blankets and some diffusion with either egg cartons or real diffusers. I also hear a lot of people say that you should treat either your ceiling or your floor, but not both. So if you got carpet on the floor, you may wish to leave the ceiling alone.
- Use Specific Rooms for Specific Sounds
The rock group “Foo Fighters” recorded the drums for their record “Wasting Light” in Dave Grohl’s garage, because he said it sounded aggressive and huge.
I’m sure you’ve also heard of people singing in the bathroom or shower, and that’s because the bathroom typically has a lot of reflections and therefore a natural reverb.
Now, you have to be careful, as you may not want too much of this.
- Use room correction Software/Hardware
In addition to acoustic treatment, it can also be a good idea to incorporate a room correction system in your home studio. While acoustic treatment addresses audio problems after sound has left the monitors, room correction software and hardware will affect sound before it leaves the monitors to compensate for room acoustics.
While there can be differences between different room correction systems, all generally work through three steps.
First, the frequency response of the room (the level of certain frequencies at different locations in the room) is measured. This is done by playing test tones into the room, which are recorded with a microphone.
The room correction software or hardware will then analyze these measurements to find frequency issues in the listening environment.
- Hire a Professional
Lastly, if all else fails, and if you have the budget, it can be beneficial to seek professional advice. Bringing in an acoustician or recording engineer to analyze and diagnose your room is a sure-fire way to have the correct acoustic setup for your space. They will be able to take exact room measurements and design the ideal combination of absorption and diffusion to create a balanced room.
To enter the 16th Annual IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: https://www.inacoustic.com