The Simplest Home Studio…

Posted on August 11, 2011

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Not pretty but it does the job! My own home studio. I’ve broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live from here and all my programmes on Cuillin FM were recorded here.

Professional radio stations spend tens of thousands of pounds setting up their studios with the latest and greatest kit and making them sound as good as possible. All we want here is somewhere to practice and to work on a few demo tapes for as little money and hassle as possible. You can always upgrade later.

LOCATION
You want somewhere with as little noise from outside as possible and where the noise you make will have little impact on everyone else. It doesn’t need to be soundproofed but you don’t want to have to stop recording every time someone flushes the toilet or have your work spoiled by the noise of the television in the background.
A shed, attic, spare bedroom or large cupboard are all possibilities. You’ll need a multi plug extension, a large table and a chair.

HARDWARE
Although you’re operating on a budget, the studio should be as “real” as possible and sound good.

I suggest a look round Ebay and investing in the following….

A mixing desk (as simple as possible, no need for more than 4 faders, aim to spend £50-£100)

A microphone + desk stand (Worth investing a little more here. I spent £150 on mine, aim for a professional condenser microphone, something like the Behringer C1)

Decent headphones (iPod headphones are no use for this at all, they’ll make the mic howl and you’ll sound very tinny. Spend about £100 on a pair of professional studio headphones and consider names like Senheiser and Beyerdynamic.)

Laptop (I assume you’ve got this already)

The above is all you need for a basic set up allowing you to record your own voice. Ideal for news bulletins. To host your own music shows you’ll need a source of the music. That could be 2 CD players plugged into your mixer, or another laptop or PC running playout software. You could try iTunes or Winamp or if you’re setting this up at a school and have more of a budget consider a professional package such as Jockmaster or Myriad. At the very least, you and a friend could plug your mobile phones into the mixer and play the music through that.

Make sure the jack plugs on your mic and headphones are compatible with the sockets on your mixing desk. You might need adaptors.


SOFTWARE
Install audio editing software on your laptop. There are a number of free programmes; AUDACITY is one of the most popular. You’ll use this to record your programmes and edit them to create demos.

CONNECTION AND OPERATION
Plug your microphone, headphones and “Music Source” into your mixer.

Plug your mixer into the LINE IN on your laptop that’s running the audio editing software.

Start recording on the audio editor and start playing music from your “Music Source”, opening the mic and talking when you want to.

This is the simplest and cheapest way I can think of to get started with a home studio. It’ll let you record yourself mixing music and speech and work on improving your delivery and content.



It’s possible to do get started for a couple of hundred pounds – if that’s still too expensive consider working with a group of friends or asking your school or college to invest in some equipment.

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