This is the second part of a this mini-series, if you haven’t yet read the first post you’ll want to read Setting up a Home Studio.
The Studio Chair
This leads us into our next key piece of equipment to rig up a comfortable and efficient home/project recording studio, the studio chair.
This can be an overlooked, yet vital piece of equipment for any producer or home recordist. The chair will also effect the level and height, and sometimes, in my opinion, it always, better to be able to adjust. Get an adjustable chair. Preferably not something that squeeks alot, but invest a little time and money into getting at least a decent chair. One of the staple line of chairs for music producers are the Aeron Chairs by Herman Miller, but not everyone can afford that.
In a good chair for the studio you want to be able to sit in it for extended periods of time, (some chairs, most good ones, will give some sort of a rating in regards to this) you want it to provide good back support and promote a healthy posture, you want it to as quiet as possible, and you want it be adjustable so that you can find at least a couple great setting positions. I hesitate to say ideal, because ideal is so relative, and even when you find the ”ideal“ setting you are still going to find that adjusting the chair to be a very valuable feature.
Options, i prefer wheels and a swivel. I’ve been lifelong ADD so i kind of like to move around and fidget a bit at times, rock a little. So i prefer that flexibility.
There are schools of thought that say its better to just have a straight, plain old rugged chair. No adjustments, no wheels, no swivel. That’s fine, it may even work for some people, and it definitely reduces the noise that your chair makes… But how often are you really going to be recording from that swivel chair, and how else could it effect your recording? You can always record guitar from a stool, and vocals should be recorded while standing anyway.
I say get as comfortable of a chair that you can comfortably afford. Try a bunch, be picky.
I’ve gone through several chairs from mid back to low back, to high back, leather to suede, exercise balls with different inflation levels, and have found that i’ve more often gone back to a leather high back with arms, swivel, and adjustments.
The Computer Monitors
We are talking about the computer screen(s) here, and again, the most important thing about computer monitors is that they are placed at a comfortable level so that you reduce as much neck, eye, back, and any other strain, as possible.
I’ve found that elevating them a bit by setting them on a platform placed on the desk itself, sets them at the perfect height for me. I didn’t like the height of having them set directly atop the desks surface itself. Some of the DAW/home studio desks also have this elevated tier to place the computer screens on.
The Studio Monitors
The placement of the studio monitors is one of the most important factors for setting up and optimizing your home studio in terms of creating an ideal listening environment. For nearfield monitors the rule is to set them up at about ear level, about as far from you as they are from each other, and away from the walls and corners by at least a couple of feet.
You obviously don’t want any obstructions between you and the speakers so that you have a direct line of sound to your ears. Rectangular rooms are better than square rooms, and if you have the choice have your speakers pointing down the long side of the room. You also do not want your listening spot to be against up against any wall.
Understanding Your Space/Room(s)
You need to start by understanding the room you are working with. Are you in a 8X8 box? Is there a closet?
If you are going to recording from the same room, is there a way to rig it so the computer is tucked away from where you’d be mic’ing, or even outside the room?
Home studio space must be seen as prime real estate, starting from your immediate inner circle of accessible equipment, you must ask and continuously refine exactly what MUST be there, and figure out a way to rig it to be so. ALSO be SURE to use updated power strips to protect all your equipment as well.
One of the problems with the all-in-one control room is the problem with the noise of the computer, which depending on how loud and how close your DAW computer will be to the source you are recording can be anywhere from insignificant all the to ”figure something out.“ Usually the fans, or efficiency of the fans onboard the computer can play a role in how loud the computer gets, this is something you should consider when buying a computer for your studio. Read this section for tips on how to build and optimize your DAW computer.
Take the noise factor into consideration when configuring your studio space, and if possible find a way to isolate it from the rest of your gear that will be used in the recording process.
I am a big proponent of simplicity, in everything that can be kept simple, do what you can to do so.
Studio space is precious, there should be a reason for everything, if you don’t need it there, take it out of the studio. The key to organization is that you have a place for everything, and everything is in its place.
Be careful with the lighting, as some lighting can cause a hum sound which is definitely something we want to avoid in a home audio recording system. Use low wattage bulbs, and be sure to make create a environment that is ”easy on the eyes,“ and inspires your creativity.
Try to keep your cables under control… Until you start to get into patch-bays and stacks of racks, you should be able to do this, but try to keep everything out of the way. Be sure to keep extra cables on hand, coiled nicely and in a defined place.