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Home Recording, Yes or No?

Updated: May 28, 2023

This is Spencer Miles, the owner of Spencer Studios in Lancaster, PA and we

are your local recording studio. Today we are diving in on how to make your

home recording a success. Yes, you can absolutely record at home however,

there is a lot to consider. Recording at home is extremely common. Taylor

Swift's last three albums were recorded at home.

If you want your home recordings to be useful towards your musical success,

consider the following:

- The recording space: quiet, neutral, dead

- Use of a low noise microphone, interface at correct gain staging,

and use of a DAW

- Removal of any plugins and exporting correctly in time with

labels


Recording Studio Lancaster Pa

The Production Space


In the studio we have gone to great lengths to create a quiet environment

where the only sound being recorded is the intended sound. The two studio

spaces commonly used are a vocal booth or a live room depending on the type

of sound source. When recording at home make sure to eliminate as many

external noises as possible from traffic to children, even noises in the

kitchen. Having any of these noises in with your recording can ruin your

mix. Try to select a neutral acoustic space. That tiny closet is probably

not going to cut it as it will likely have a boost in bass due to the

physics of the room which as a result will boost the bass frequencies

recorded in your voice. The bathroom shower is also going to be a no go. The

same amount of reverb that makes your voice sound good when you sing in the

shower will make it very difficult to blend your track with the rest of the

mix. Try to find a space that is quiet, neutral, and doesn't have an

excessive amount of reverb.

If some of the above goals seem out of reach don't worry, we at the studio

have you covered. The vocal booth at Spencer Studios is an acoustically

isolated room within the room of the studio, has been acoustically treated

to be neutral with an appropriate reverb time and ran at a cost of around

$15,000. This space is the perfect environment for recording vocals and

numerous other sound sources.


The Gear


A common question I get is "what microphone should I use" and the answer is

yes? A microphone is like a paint brush as they all hear sound in a

different way, depending on factors such as transducer type, frequency

response, polar pattern, distance and axis, recorded results could be wildly

different. At the studio we have an entire microphone closet for different

scenarios but that may not be feasible at home. When teaching audio

engineering I spend between three and five lessons discussing this topic.

The answer to the above question is really "it depends." If the goal is to

record vocals at home let me give you a cheat sheet that will work in most

cases.

Use a large diaphragm condenser (make sure to turn phantom power/48v on) and

use a pop filter with the microphone. Place the microphone 6-8 inches away

from you at nose height tilted about 15 degrees to the left. This type of

microphone requires phantom power so you will need a preamp and interface

combo to get the sound from the microphone to your computer, Focusrite and

Presonus are popular reputable interface brands. Adjust the microphone gain

on the interface so at your loudest in your DAW or on the interface control

you are not passing 60% on the meter. This setting will avoid any sort of

distortion due to clipping aka the red light you might recognize.

The DAW (digital audio workstation) is where a lot of the magic happens in

the studio. It is how we as engineers interact with your music. It is

important that we are using a DAW with a sample rate of at least 44.1khz and

a bit rate of at least 16bit, 24bit and 48khz or higher is preferred. The

industry standard in the studio is Protools however, free programs like

garage band and audacity will work just fine for the purpose of home

recording. At this point it is time to export your files. Please remove any

reverb, eq or compression you have applied to the track. If you are tied to

any special effects such as autotune or delay those can be left in however,

know that most studios have 1000s of dollars' worth of software. Spencer

Studios has a reverb plugin called Altiverb that costs 700 dollars alone. It

is best to send us dry tracks and leave the processing to us and our

resources. It is not uncommon to send both dry and "wet" (plugins left on)

tracks to be referenced during the mixing stage, just make sure to label

them as such.


It is imperative that when you export each track individually, you also

export any silent space with regard to say the instrumental track or other

voices you may have been singing to or with. Failure to do this will make it

near impossible to use in the studio without you coming in and manually

lining things up. If you are not sure how to do this just ask, as there are

likely already videos online that we can send you which show how to export

properly. Lastly upon exporting please label your individual tracks for

organizational purposes.


If you want to know more consider scheduling a free session with us,


Spencer Miles Spencer Studios 313 W Liberty St, Lancaster, PA 17603

spencerm96@comcast.net

7176348955

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