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How to Set Up a Home Recoding Studio
1. Determine what kind of recording you'll be doing. This will allow you to decide what kind of inputs and outputs you need, and where best to allot the budget. Do you anticipate multi-track recording? Best get an audio interface with at least six analog inputs. Sampling and sequencing by yourself? Spend your money on more memory and a second display for your computer.
2. Select your hardware. Size and configuration of home studios vary as much as musicians themselves. The basics are a computer, an audio interface (inputs and outputs), human interface devices (MIDI controllers, instruments, mics, etc.), and, of course, a means of monitoring your work (studio monitors or, on a budget, headphones). Don't forget a comfortable chair.
3. Select your software. Again, what you want to make will play a big hand in this. Most people will gravitate towards the majors (Pro Tools, Logic, Ableton Live). What's important, though, is that after the initial learning curve, whatever software you're using feels comfortable and intuitive. If it doesn't, switch. A wise old producer once told me, "The best software is whatever software you use best."
4. Put it all together. You're probably going to do this ten times in ten different ways. That's ok, especially when you're just starting out. You're going to arrange everything and realize that you're always reaching over yourself to get at a certain thing, or that the way you have your rig patched together is cumbersome for your work flow. You're going to be spending a lot of time here. Make sure you're comfortable.
5. Sound reduction. It may behoove you to try to at least minimally insulate your room to avoid conflicts with neighbors. While professional studios can spend countless thousands on soundproofing, at home you can get away with $9 sheets of 2.5 inch acoustic foam staple-gunned to your walls. Pays for itself in diplomacy.
Nathan Hinkel has designed, programmed, and operated sound and lighting systems for 17 years. He's worked on several award-winning nightclubs and concert venues, including Jet and Haze in Las Vegas, as well as the now-defunct Avalon. www.nathanleesystems.com