Placement and optimisation of your audio equipment.
The most important equipment for home studios are high-quality microphones and preamplifiers. Investing in both will go a long way to improving the quality of a recording. “Get a decent mic and preamp that will have a low noise floor,” says Berry, referring to the noise that audio gear itself can make. This is especially true for USB mics, which can give a podcast a low hum that’s a dead giveaway for amateur production. You don’t want to optimise your studio and then have to put up with a buzz coming from inside your audio equipment.
Regardless of the microphones you use, you’ll need a pop filter to mitigate the sounds of breathing or the impact of plosives and sibilants. This is especially true when you record vocals. Hitting your listener in the ear with every “B” or “S” sound can take your audience out of the experience, especially if they’re wearing headphones or earbuds.
Amps and speakers, if you’re using them, should not go on top of desks or tables. “Decoupling your speaker from your desk is really important,” says Berry. “It will keep the bass frequencies from infiltrating the surface they’re on. If your speakers are on your desk and you’re playing something with a lot of low end (bass), your desk is basically going to start resonating it.” If putting amps or speakers on top of a desk is unavoidable in your space, ISO pucks can help. These small, circular objects are designed to hold audio equipment and prevent frequencies from oozing into whatever’s below them.
Be sure not to overcrowd your studio. Even though empty space is often the enemy of good audio production, you still need enough room to optimally position your mic stands. Mic positioning will vary based on what you’re recording, but nothing sounds good with a microphone too close to it.
Unless you have a particular love for old technology, stick to digital audio. Even though old recording styles have a mystique, they are not cost-effective, nor are they what clients will expect. Converting from digital to analogue can be an involved and costly process — analogue recording tape costs more in the long run than even the best digital audio workstation. “Many people who long for the days of analogue are nostalgic about something that they never had to deal with,” says producer and mixing engineer Peter Rodocker.