Setting up a Home Recording Studio for recording music, audio book, podcast, dialog, voice recording
This article is going to outline the bare essentials for what you need to record at home. Recording at home can mean doing the best you can with a less than ideal environment, but its important to do everything you can to reduce environmental noise. This means air conditioning, heat, fans, or other mechanical noises be eliminated. When choosing the room to record in, pick a room with few hard surfaces, and farthest away from things like traffic and outside noise. A bedroom or closet is probably best,
Headphones. Microphone Audio Interface and Computer
Unless you want really poor results, you need a microphone, headphones, audio interface and a computer. You absolutely have to have headphones if you plan on recording over top of anything like a click track for music. Even airpods or earbuds are better than nothing. Otherwise, the sound from the speakers will be in the recording. If you’re recording yourself, this might not be a game over, you’ll just have to mute playback when you are recording.
Setting up Microphone with Pop filter, XLR cable and microphone stand
#protip Use a Pop filter, or even 2 pop filters. They do not affect the sound quality, and reduce air noise from popping on a P. If you don’t use a pop filter you end up with too much wind noise from the person speaking. Even a clean rag or pany hose can be used for a pop filter in a jam. The pop filter also protects your valuable investment, with no pop filter eventually spit builds up on the microphone capsule.
Recording with a cassette, tape recorder, or tape machine
You might be able to bypass the computer if you have a tape recorder or cassette deck that can be used as a recorder. For the most part, a computer is the highest quality, easiest way to record these days.
Studio Setup: Setting up your Computer to Record
Software: DAW Installation and Configuration
You need some sort of software to record. Audacity is free, REAPER is another DAW or Digital Audio Workstation software that can be used with a free trial. Pro Tools, Logic, Garageband, Cubase, Studio One, and there may be others. You need to install the software, and make sure the right input is selected for recording in the software.
Hardware and Setup: Microphone and Interface
Phantom Power +48V for Condenser Microphones
Condenser microphones need phantom power or +48 volts DC power to power the circuits and element inside the microphone. If you are using a condenser microphone you need to have this +48V engaged to make it work. There should be a button or switch somewhere to engage this.
Audio Interface and Software Configuration
The audio interface replaces the stock sound playback and recording function of your computer. You plug the headphones or speakers for playback into the output of the audio interface and plug the microphone into the input. Select the audio interface in Audio Midi Settings for Mac or go to Playback devices settings in Windows and make sure the audio interface is selected. You may have to install drivers or additional software to get the audio interface working, or it may show up automatically without any additional software.
Audio Interface Configuration and DAW Settings for Recording
Microphones need a way to get into the computer, most people use an audio interface to convert the analog microphone signal into digital information the computer can store on a hard drive. Alternatively, a USB microphone can have a digital converter built in, so plugging a USB microphone directly in the computer is a viable option if you are going that route. Otherwise, you need to plug the microphone into the interface, and then select the interface and input channel in the DAW.
Using Audio Interface in place of Computer Sound Card Audio
Most computers have a sound card built in. An audio interface replaces that, so make sure you are using the audio interface instead of the motherboard sound card. The setting can be changed in control panel or system settings. In addition, most sound cards have multiple inputs, so whatever input the microphone is plugged into should be selsted. An example would be plug the microphone into input 1 on the interface, select the interface as the audio input in the DAW, and select Channel 1 as the channel to record from. Arm the track (usually shown as a red R button, and hit record or record and play to record that channel.
Troubleshooting Audio Interface in Studio Setup
If you’re not receiving input from the audio interface, or not hearing playback from recorded content you may need to change the settings. Is there a meter where you can see if the audio interface is getting signal? Is Phantom Power +48V on? Can you drag or import an audio file you have on your computer into the DAW and play it back to verify the DAW is using the Audio interface.
You might try restarting the computer or turning the audio interface off for a few seconds then turning it back on, or unplugging it and plugging it back in.
Home Studio DAW settings Troubleshoot
If your audio interface is getting signal, but your DAW isn’t recording, you may need to troubleshoot some of the recording settings.
- Verify the audio interface is selected as the playback and recording engine
- Verify the track has the right channel selected, and Record Arm has been enabled. (Record Arm is usually a Red Button)
- Verify record is working as intended. YOu may need to hit record and play, or R in Logic, or 3 on the number pad when AZ is enabled. You want quick punch enabled.
In Pro Tools you May need to check Setup Playback, Hardware, or I/O Settings to change to your audio interface.
In Logic you may need to change Logic> Preferences > Audio
Sometimes playback doesn’t work as intended. Software input monitoring means that the recording signal is routed back to the output. If you hear a delay, or you don’t want to hear software playback because your interface or setup is already monitoring the signal, you may want to disable this. Usually an I button.