Want to write music and mix audio but don’t have access to a professional music studio? With music technology and audio editing software costing less each day, you can design your own professional home music studio for a fraction of the cost of mixing at a professional music studio. Starting out you will need a few essentials.
Every professional musician needs a computer.
As a professional composer and music technology professor, I love working with a computer that allows me to run about ten music, audio, graphic design, and video programs simultaneously without a hiccup. Add to that easy-to-use music software that yields professional results, and you can’t beat a Mac. If you can’t get a Mac for your music studio, then I suggest building your own PC or checking out Alienware. You want to have an amazing sound card and a fast computer, otherwise you might have some problems during music mixing.
Even crappy music software works magic in the right hands.
If you end up blowing all of your money on your studio computer and don’t have any cash left over for music software like Pro-Tools, Cubase, Digital Performer, or Logic Studio, do not fear. The internet has hundreds of free, shareware, and inexpensive music software programs available. Some simple programs include the free audio editing program Audacity, Apple’s Garageband, Fruity Loops, and Acid.
While having better audio software will give you better music, in the end it is your musical talent that will make great music. I spent the two years after my undergrad composing in my makeshift home studio using only a free MIDI program, Quicktime, and the original archaic version of Garageband. In that time, I had a couple of film soundtracks make it to the top ten of Miramax’s Project Greenlight, the Cinema for Peace, and the New York Independent International Film Festival.
You need top-notch headphones and/or studio monitors.
Depending on what you can spend, you can opt for professional studio headphones or studio monitors. Headphones will cost a fraction of the speaker cost, but you don’t want to spend all day jamming with headphones on. You might damage your ears. If you can’t afford studio monitors, then just make sure you take a break every hour while mixing.
Your music studio needs instruments.
Depending on the type of music you write, you might decide to go with a live recording setup, a MIDI setup, or a hybrid. Do you record your vocals live and play the acoustic guitar? Then invest in a good mixer, microphones, and sound insulation. Do you work in post production and MIDI? You might only need a controller.
Location. Location. Location.
Ideally, your home music studio has a separate room or building that is well-insulated from any outside noise. Realistically, your music studio might be in your living room or in the garage. Make the most of your situation. Try to record during quieter times of the day or night, kick roommates and family out when you need to record live, insulate the room as much as possible, and turn off any unnecessary devices like the air conditioner.
Once you have set up the basic home music studio, you can start adding audio software and hardware to your setup. Remember that you, and not your equipment, determines how awesome your music sounds. Happy mixing!