What You Really Need for Your Home Studio: Essential Knowledge and Gear

Your Home Studio - what you really need

If you’re passionate about music and want to take your creative endeavors to the next level, setting up a home studio is a fantastic idea. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to invest a fortune in high-end equipment to produce professional-quality music. In this “What You Really Need for Your Home Studio” guide, we’ll walk you through what you truly need when setting up a home studio for music production. From essential knowledge to budget-friendly gear, we’ve got you covered.

Your home studio: what you REALLY need!

The Heart of Your Studio: Your Computer

The heart of any home studio is a computer. Fortunately, you don’t need a supercharged, high-end machine to get started. A decent laptop or desktop computer with sufficient processing power and memory will do the job just fine. Ensure it can handle digital audio workstations (DAWs) and has ample storage space for your music files.

The Budget-Friendly Audio Interface

Next on the list is an audio interface. This device connects your instruments and microphones to your computer and plays a crucial role in capturing high-quality audio. While there are premium interfaces with a myriad of features, you can find budget-friendly options that perform admirably for beginners. Look for interfaces with at least two input channels, as this will allow you to record vocals and instruments simultaneously.

For example you could go with a really versatile interface like this one from Yamaha

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Selecting the Right Microphone

Your microphone choice can significantly impact the quality of your recordings. For vocals, consider a condenser microphone, as they’re known for their sensitivity and ability to capture intricate details. Brands like Audio-Technica and Rode offer excellent budget-friendly condenser microphones.

If you’re recording instruments, dynamic microphones like the Shure SM57 are versatile and won’t break the bank. Remember, you can always expand your microphone collection as your budget grows.

Monitoring Your Sound

Investing in a pair of studio monitors or high-quality headphones is essential for accurate sound monitoring. Studio monitors are ideal if you have a dedicated recording space, but if you’re in a shared environment or on a tight budget, quality headphones will suffice. Look for options known for their flat frequency response to ensure accurate mixing and mastering.

Really great Studio Monitors even for small rooms: Yamaha HS5

Acoustic Treatment

To achieve professional-sounding recordings, you’ll need to address acoustic issues in your recording space. Acoustic treatment, such as bass traps and acoustic panels, can significantly improve the sound quality by reducing unwanted reflections and resonances. If you’re on a budget, consider DIY solutions or start with the basics like bass traps in corners and diffusers on walls.

Read more about DIY acoustic treatment

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) Software

Last but not least, you’ll need digital audio workstation (DAW) software to record, edit, and produce your music. Many DAWs offer free or affordable versions that are perfect for beginners. Popular options include Reaper, Ableton Live Lite, and Cakewalk by BandLab. Experiment with different DAWs to find the one that suits your workflow and musical style.

In conclusion, setting up a home studio for music production doesn’t have to drain your wallet. By focusing on the essentials—a capable computer, a budget-friendly audio interface, quality microphones, monitoring solutions, and acoustic treatment—you can kickstart your music-making journey without breaking the bank. Remember, as your skills and budget grow, you can gradually upgrade your gear. So, get ready to unleash your creativity and make your mark in the world of music production.

Ask Audio Engineer Toby Schuetgens from Simple Life Studio to mix & master our song!

If you need your own tracks to be mixed or mastered, hit the button above and feel free to reach out.


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DIY Acoustic Treatment: Budget-Friendly Solutions for Better Home Studio Sound

Acoustic Treatment

Are you tired of unwanted echoes and a less-than-ideal sound quality in your home recording studio? You don’t need a massive budget to improve the acoustics of your space. In this article, we’ll explore DIY acoustic treatment solutions that are not only effective but also easy on your wallet. Whether you’re a musician, podcaster, or voice-over artist, creating a better acoustic environment can significantly elevate the quality of your recordings. Let’s dive into the world of affordable acoustic treatment for home studio and transform your home studio into a sound haven.

Why Acoustic Treatment Matters

Before we get into the DIY solutions, let’s understand why acoustic treatment is essential for your home studio. When sound waves bounce off walls, floors, and ceilings, they create reflections that can muddy your audio recordings. These reflections lead to problems like echo, reverb, and standing waves, all of which can negatively impact the clarity and precision of your recordings.

Proper acoustic treatment helps you:

  1. Reduce Echo: Echo can make your recordings sound unprofessional. Acoustic treatment absorbs sound waves, minimizing echo and creating a cleaner sound.
  2. Enhance Clarity: Clear audio is essential, whether you’re recording vocals, instruments, or podcasts. Acoustic treatment helps reduce unwanted background noise, ensuring your recordings are crisp and articulate.
  3. Achieve Professional Sound: With the right acoustic treatment, your home studio can rival professional recording spaces in terms of sound quality. This can be especially valuable if you’re producing music or content for clients.

Acoustic Treatment itself is a huge topic and often controversial discussed. There are good reasons for acoustic treatment and sometimes even good reasons against. At least for a recording situation acoustic treatment is very helpful to get clean recordings. The better the recordings are the easier it is to mix later on. It’s all about getting good sources. When it’s about mixing, acoustic treatment is often overrated. For sure at least some treatment at the first reflection points in your room helps but at his point it’s even more important to actually know your room. Listening to professional mastered and released music in your studio helps to learn and understand your room acoustics. You also should reference to other songs while mixing. To dive deeper: measuring software like “Sonarworks ID Reference” helps to understand your room even better what will finally lead to better mix decisions. Hit the following link that fits your location to learn more about Sonarworks:

Sonarworks US

Sonarworks EUR

Ask Audio Engineer Toby Schuetgens from Simple Life Studio to mix & master our song!

If you need your own tracks to be mixed or mastered, hit the button above and feel free to reach out.


DIY Acoustic Treatment Solutions

Now that you understand the importance of acoustic treatment, let’s explore some affordable and effective DIY solutions:

1. Acoustic Panels

Affordable acoustic panels for home studio

Acoustic panels are one of the most popular solutions for treating sound in home studios. You can create your own acoustic panels using materials like dense foam, mineral wool, or even old mattresses. These panels absorb sound waves, reducing reflections and echo in your room.

To create DIY acoustic panels:

  • Purchase the necessary materials from a local home improvement store.
  • Cut the material to the desired size and shape.
  • Wrap the material with acoustically transparent fabric, securing it tightly.
  • Mount the panels on your walls using brackets or adhesive.

2. Bass Traps

Budget-friendly bass traps for home studio

Bass traps specifically target low-frequency sound waves that can be challenging to control. To make DIY bass traps:

  • Use mineral wool or fiberglass insulation.
  • Shape it into triangular or cylindrical forms.
  • Wrap the traps with fabric and place them in corners where bass buildup is most significant.

3. Diffusers

DIY sound diffusers for home studio

Diffusers scatter sound waves, creating a more balanced acoustic environment. To create your own diffusers:

  • Build wooden frames with slats or irregular shapes.
  • Paint the frames to match your studio decor.
  • Mount them on your walls at different angles.

4. Bookshelves and Furniture

Using bookshelves for acoustic treatment

Don’t underestimate the impact of everyday objects on your studio’s acoustics. Bookshelves filled with books or other items can help break up sound reflections. Position them strategically in your room to reduce echo.


Improving the acoustics of your home recording studio doesn’t have to drain your bank account. With these affordable DIY acoustic treatment solutions, you can enhance your sound quality and create professional-grade recordings. Start by selecting the method that best suits your space and budget, and watch as your home studio transforms into a sound haven.

Remember, proper acoustic treatment is an investment in the quality of your audio productions. So, roll up your sleeves, get creative, and enjoy the improved sound in your home studio. Your listeners and clients will undoubtedly notice the difference.

By the way while talking about acoustic treatment, it can also be a part of your unique signature sound. You can also use room reflections in a creative way for example to create your own reverbs. Just place a crappy speaker in your bathroom and place a microphone in another corner of your bathroom. Then run your vocals through that speaker and pick up the room reflections with your mic. After that you can blend your own reverb to your mix in your DAW.

For more ideas for your own signature sound, hit the following link:

Free Signature Sound Cheat Sheet

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What is a “hybrid studio”?

First of all it´s about analog and digital equipment used in a studio. You can mix music entirely on a computer (aka “in the box”) these days. There is actually no need of analog gear except from a AD/DA converter (converts analog audio signals into digital audio signals and the other way around).

In the early days, when there have not been computers in a studio, it was all analog. Huge analog consoles and lots of analog audio processing electronics. So there are actually two domains: analog mixing and digital mixing.

The big benefits we have today is to combine best of both worlds. And in this case we are talking about a “hybrid studio”. In a hybrid studio setup is most commonly a computer the center of the whole production. But next to the computer there is also analog outboard gear used to take over on specific reasons.

Advantages of analog gear
Even we have lots of possibilities in recreating and emulating special sounds on a digital basis, there are always some reasons to use the original analog gear once in a time. And the main reason is “character”. Analog gear does react to the sound in another way than digital software does. Depending on how hard you hit analog gear with an incoming signal it may add distortion and / or saturation to the signal in a musical way. Especially when it comes to compressors for example. Using an analog compressor is something else than using an digital compressor. What does not mean that digital compressors aren´t good, they are just different.

Disadvantages of analog gear
The special character of analog gear has some disadvantages where working in the box is a lot easier. First of all it´s the possibility to recreate an earlier setting. Or just a recall of an earlier setting. When it comes to software driven equipment you can easily save your settings and reload it every time you need it. On analog gear you have to take notes or photos of the settings and you have to save them anywhere. To reset the settings you have to pull up these notes and you have to go through every single parameter to set it up the way it was before.

The next disadvantage is simply space. Analog gear might take a lot of space. And when you just need it once in a while it´s just a lot of dead space you could better use for something else. Next to the space, the price is also a big disadvantage. Real good analog gear just has still it´s price. It´s the purchase, the maintenance and the electricity.

Advantages of mixing in the box
Mixing in a box has definitely it´s advantages these days. Once you are familiar with it and know your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) in and out you really can make a lot of really good sounding music just on a laptop. The entrance into it isn´t that expensive as it would be on analog gear, you need less space and you can always save and open it up again.

Disadvantages of mixing in the box
But even when it´s so much easier in some cases in the box there are also some disadvantages. To get the best out of it you really need to know how to use it and how to create a good sound. Sure it is the same when it comes to analog gear but one of the problems of mixing in the box in this case is the huge amount of possibilities. Let´s take the example from above: a compressor. In an analog studio you might have a couple compressors and you have to decide about what could benefit the most from it. In the box you could easily use 10 different compressors on every single channel. But does that help? Certainly not.

When you use analog gear it adds a certain sound to a specific signal. It may do things to the audio that just sound good, even you don´t know what this thing is actually doing. An audio signal in the box is what it is. It sounds like the mic or the DI box has captured it and you need to dial a couple things in to make it sound really good. Don´t get me wrong both worlds assume some knowledge, but it feels like the analog domain is a little more natural than the digital domain what might make it a little more easier to achieve a sound that we are used to.

Combining both worlds
Luckily we are in a good situation these days. We don´t have to limit ourselves on one of both worlds. We can just hook them up together to mix in a box WITH analog outboard gear. And in my humble opinion this is the best we can do these days. When can mix a complete song in a box but when it´s necessary we can easily add analog character to it on the flight. And that is what a hybrid studio matters. A computer in the center of it all and some selected analog gear to add in to taste.

Corrective Room EQ

Corrective Room EQ

Monitor / Room Frequency Response Measurement

In some cases it absolutely makes sense to use an additional corrective room EQ even you have a well treated room from the audio perspective. A room EQ might be easier to set up than a very good acoustic treatment for your room but it also has it´s disadvantages.

How a room EQ works

A room EQ is set as the last peace in your output chain directly before the monitors. What the room EQ is than doing is to adjust the frequencies so that the result is an almost flat response. A corrective room EQ can not replace a good acoustic treatment in your room, but it should be seen as a additional supplement in some cases. To make it all possible you have to measure your room before to give the room EQ the proper information it needs to adjust the frequencies. For example it needs to know if you have any kind of standing waves in your room, the EQ can than disable by lowering the output for the specific frequency range.

So you need a measuring microphone and a software to measure the frequency response of your room. The software I use is “Sonarworks SoundID reference”. This is an all in one solution, depending on the package it also includes a measuring microphone. It also contains the measuring software as well as the final room EQ you can run as a standalone solution on your device but also as a VST Plugin within your DAW.

Sonarworks SoundID reference

If you want to check out Sonarworks SoundID reference software hit one of the following links depending on your location:

link for the USD offer

link for the EUR offer

Room Measuring

After you have installed the software you have to connect the microphone to your interface. Simply follow the instructions from the software for the proper setup for your system.

Is everything set up correctly the measurement can begin. The software will now send a click sound through your monitors which is caught by the microphone to locate the position of the microphone. Once the position is located the software runs a frequency sweep through the monitors. Now the microphone can measure the room response of the frequency sweep at a specific position. This progress will be repeated for about 30 locations in your room. This will bring enough data to the software to finally set up the room EQ.

Measuring Results

The picture above is the result of my latest room measurement. As you can see it is everything else than flat. As I have expected the is some trouble going on in the low end, as well as a build up in the top end. And even the mid range has it´s ups and downs.

This pictures shows you the calibration the EQ does with the data from the measurement to achieve an almost flat frequency resonse.

And this is the result of the measurement and the final room EQ. It´s almost completely flat from about 100 Hz up to the top. Everything below 80 Hz can´t be flat in my case because of the monitors. They can´t reproduce a solid low end and I´m not using an additional subwoofer. Something that isn´t there can´t be fixed with a room EQ.

Disadvantages from a room EQ

You have always to check back the room EQ. Because it can bring some problems in. For example phase problems. The more an EQ has to change frequencies, the more it can lead to phase cancellations.

The next thing is a small latency between the right and the left monitor for example. Sometimes there can be false information within the measurement process and when the room EQ tries to fix latency or delay problems, which hasn´t been a real problem before, can lead to problems with the stereo image and the perceived stereo center.

For example: to place a vocal directly into the middle between two speakers it´s necessary to reproduce the same signal at the same time on both speakers. When the room EQ tries to fix a delay problem, and delays a signal, even when it´s just a couple milliseconds, it will loose the perceived stereo center and it feels like the vocals appear more on the left and the right side.

Conclusion: Corrective Room EQ

All in all it really can help a lot and can make a huge difference in some circumstances. A room EQ can help to improve your monitor situation in your room and it can also identify some problems. But it also is very important to know your room and your monitors and to check back with reference tracks for example. When you have bad monitors in an untreated room, the room EQ can not hep you that much. The most important thing is the room treatment, the next important thing are the monitors itself and than afterwards you can bring the room EQ into the game.

Human Mastering vs. AI Mastering

Introducing the Artistry of Human Mastering: Elevating Music to New Heights

In an era defined by technological advancements, the power of AI has undeniably made its mark across various domains. However, when it comes to the nuanced craft of music mastering, human expertise remains unparalleled. Here’s why:

1. Aesthetic Sensibility: Mastering music is not solely about achieving technical perfection; it involves infusing emotion, creativity, and subjective interpretation. Human mastering engineers possess an inherent ability to understand the artistic intent behind a composition, allowing them to tailor the mastering process to enhance the desired emotional impact. Their trained ears and musical sensibility enable them to make delicate adjustments, applying subtle nuances that AI algorithms may struggle to capture.

2. Contextual Understanding: Music is deeply influenced by cultural, historical, and genre-specific contexts. Human mastering engineers possess an extensive knowledge of diverse musical styles, ensuring that the mastering process respects and aligns with the conventions and expectations of the intended audience. This contextual understanding enables them to make informed decisions about tonal balance, dynamic range, and overall fidelity, resulting in a polished product that resonates with the listeners.

3. Collaboration and Communication: Mastering is a collaborative effort between the artist and the engineer. By working hand-in-hand, human mastering engineers build relationships with artists, gaining insight into their vision and aspirations. This collaborative approach allows for effective communication and the ability to adapt the mastering process to meet the artist’s specific needs. The invaluable exchange of ideas and feedback fosters an environment of mutual trust, where the artist’s unique identity is preserved and enhanced.

4. Flexibility and Adaptability: Music often calls for unconventional techniques, experimental sounds, and distinct sonic signatures. Human mastering engineers possess the flexibility to adapt their approach, thinking outside the box to bring out the best in each composition. They have the ability to experiment, iterate, and explore different possibilities, tailoring the mastering process to suit the unique characteristics of the music, resulting in a final product that is truly distinctive.

5. Legacy and Expertise: Throughout history, music has been shaped and elevated by the hands of skilled mastering engineers. They carry with them a rich legacy of experience, knowledge, and techniques passed down through generations. This accumulated wisdom, combined with their adaptability to modern tools and technology, allows human mastering engineers to provide a holistic approach that respects tradition while embracing innovation.

While AI mastering undoubtedly offers convenience and efficiency, the human touch remains an irreplaceable aspect of the mastering process. It is this blend of technical mastery, artistic sensibility, and collaborative spirit that enables human mastering engineers to bring out the full potential of every musical composition, creating an immersive and transcendent listening experience.