Home Recording

At Sound Heaven Studios, we are heavily involved with all kinds of folk who do their own recordings, from the hip-hop act that have assembled their beats and samples, to the avant-guarde composer who has recorded her music all over the world, and many styles in between.  People find it works well to record some things at home, but use Sound Heaven Studios to develop their home recorded music into tracks that sound professional and are ready for radio.

Home Recording Keyboards

Using Home Recording Equipment in the Right Way

We understand that home recording equipment has a real role to play in helping musicians get their music out there. Recording at home means there's less pressure to get it right first time, and of course, home recording can work out a fair bit cheaper, depending on how often you're recording and how much you choose to spend on equipment. What lots of musicians do is work in tandem with us, recording some stuff at home, and some stuff in the studio. People also sometimes do some mixing at home, and then come to us for additional mixing work and mastering. What works best for you depends on the kind of music you're recording, how professional you need the final sound to be, how much time you have available and what gear you have in your home recording studio.

What's Best to Record at Home, and What's Best to Recording at a Studio?

There's no hard-and-fast rules about what's best to record at home, and what works best at our recording studio, but here are some of the things we've found over the years:

  • Recording Drums: People have  great difficulty getting a good drum sound  in a home recording space, because generally, you need at least four mics and a pretty controlled audio environment. Many bands come to us to lay down their drum tracks, then return to their home recording studio to finish recording.
  • Recording Guitars: Getting a good sound on a guitar can be tricky, and needs the right combination of microphones and amps. Sometimes people record their guitars with us, taking advantage of our range of mics and amps, other times people record guitar tracks at home, then bring their home recording to us for re-amping (we send the track out of the desk, plug it into an amp, mic the amp, then re-record it). You're welcome to come and record some guitar tracks with us, and talk to us about recording techniques. You can then go home and compare what you recorded in the studio with what you're recording at home, and decide what's going to work best for you.
  • Recording Vocals: Vocals are often the defining element of a track, and in order to get the best out of your vocals, you need a top-quality microphone. Most people with a home recording studios can only afford a single microphone, but sometimes, we find that vocalists need to experiment with a few different mics in order to find the one that delivers that magical quality that  all vocalists seek. (For more about microphones, and what to choose in different situations, click microphone choice and microphone techniques.) Again, come and talk to us about your vocals and feel free to experiment with different mics to see what sounds suit your voice best.
  • Recording Large Bands: If you're a group of musicians that plays as a collective unit, you need to record your basic tracks together so as to take advantage of the vibe or atmosphere that's created when people play together. You can't really do this at home, when usually at least one if not more band members are distracted, worrying over the sound. Most bands find they achieve far more in a relatively short time in a professional recording studio than they do in months of mucking around and overdubbing in a home  studio.

What About Mixing and Mastering Home-Recorded Tracks?

  • Mixing tracks that are recorded at home: Mixing is a very different process from recording, and the quality of equipment, plus experience in how to mix a track, play a vital role. Although some people do come to us to record instruments, and then mix tracks at their home studio, we find that ultimately, most home recording musicians prefer to create final mixes using our space and our gear. The quality of our outputs, monitoring, effects units,  high-end audio applications and plug-ins, as well as a fantastic sounding 64-channel desk mean that we can get results that can't be achieved in a home studio. (Home studio mixing is also very time consuming.) The successful Aussie hip-hop act  The Herd is a great example here. The Herd is essentially a group of producers and each producer brings in his or her tracks that they've already recorded in various home studios. We then mix the tracks at Sound Heaven.
  • Mastering home-recorded tracks: In the end, folk recording using their home recording studio are usually working in environments that aren't ideal. Traffic outside, a busy household, low-end speakers, poor monitors, uncertain acoustics or badly controlled electronics can all affect the quality of the final mix. Bringing your mixes to somewhere like Sound Heaven Studios can help unify and  clarify your mixes, resulting in professional quality sound. For more about mastering techniques, visit our mastering page.

What's the Best Way to Organise Home-Recorded Tracks so That They're Easy to Mix in a Different Studio?

If you're recording at home, the key is to be organised. Up until the development of  electronic sound, music came from a defined core of instruments. These instruments varied from culture to culture, but the same idea applies: Every instrument  has its own line. If you look at the wave display in any modern hard disk recording program (Pro Tools, Cake Walk, Logic Audio, Digital Performer, and so on) you can see that it looks like a musical score, with the wave forms replacing the notes. 

Remember this when you're recording at home, and group your recordings into areas. Organise percussion and beats on separate tracks from vocals. Always keep backing vocals separate (that is, on a different track) from lead vocals. Record guitars or bass on separate tracks, and so on. This simple act of organising different instruments onto separate tracks can save you days of studio time, because in order to do a good mixing job, we need to be able to separate the sounds. If sounds aren't separate, it can take days just getting tracks ready for mixing.


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Do You Have Any Tips for Recording at Home?

Yes, visit our home recording tips page for lots of ways to help get the best possible sound from your home-recording studio.

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