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Even if you own your own a home recording studio, there are times when you need to travel a lot. That's why it's important to know how to build a portable recording studio gear setup that fits in your backpack. Although it seems hard to achieve, it's doable, and it's cheaper than a stand alone studio. Of course, you are constrain by some limitation like the battery life, no mic stand, no acoustic foam, poor quality of some items. But, you have mobility!

In order to build your own portable studio, you need the backbone, the laptop. We're talking portable, so that means you need a laptop with long lasting battery life. You'll find plenty of notebooks or netbooks that have over 5 hours battery life. It depends to you and your budget. I'm working with an Acer AO532h-2588 10.1-Inch Onyx Blue Netbook - Up to 8 Hours of Battery Life. Remember, we are not trying to mix things, so we don't need to much CPU power there, but still...

Getting back to the portable recording studio gear, you need to keep it simple and clean, you need a good audio interface (with Windows 7 driver support), a decent mic, a pop filter, headphone and some cables. There are plenty of options to choose from, but I'm just going to recommend the best item priced under $250.

This package is called the Presonus Portable Recording Studio Package and contains:
  • AudioBoxTM USB Interface with Cable
  • Studio OneTM Artist Recording and Production Software
  • HD7 Studio Monitoring Headphones
  • M7 Studio Condenser Microphone with Cable
  • "Computer Recording Made Easy" Quick Start Guide
Off course, you can buy other audio interface or alternative condenser mic for your portable recording studio, but this one has a decent price. It's all about your budget. In addition to this, watch on youtube how to create an acoustic recording space for your home studio:
If this package is to expensive, you can get another one at a cheaper price, the Behringer USB Recording Package (under $200).

This portable recording studio package includes:

  • Behringer Xenyx mixer - Features 4 preamps, 4 studio grade compressors and a built-in stereo USB/audio interface to connect to a PC or Mac.
  • 1 pair of audio monitors
  • Studio condenser microphone - For portable studio recordings
  • Energy XT2.5 Music Production Suite software
 
 
Everything is in the right place, the vocals are recorded, it's time to mix everything down. Mute the instrumental and leave the vocals by itself. Before applying any effect to the vocals, clean them a little. Remove anything before the actual vocals, remove the parts where you messed up. If you've recorded multiple vocals, synchronize that.

There is a chain of effects that are usually applied to the vocals: Compression + De-Esser + Eq + Reverb

Compression
Compression is an effect that allows the vocal to stand better in the mix. It will make the soft part of your vocals to stand up, and will tone down the loud parts. Be aware, it's an effect pretty hard to master, and sometimes can damage the quality of the voice. Don't put too much compression to the voice. A 4:1 ratio is pretty fair. Lower the threshold, and add some gain to your desired level. Almost every VST compressor out there has vocal presets. You can use those to get some ideas.

De-Esser
This plugin will remove the excess sibilant sounds in your recordings. This plugin can be used before or after the EQ. Your choice. It can be found in the Waves Bundle Pack, and has some presets for male/female voice.

Equalizer
By applying equalization to your vocal you'll be adding sound color to it. It's also used to get rid of unwanted frequencies as possible. With voice, it's really important to take out the sub bass frequencies because the human voice does not project that. So, with vocals just cut down everything under 150 hz. The picture above has a vocal Eq example.

Reverb
Any Reverb plugin has many features, and it's really hard to understand them all. You must experiment with it to make it sound the way you want. Vocal reverb is applied different from genre to genre. If you're making a rock song, you need a little more reverb. If you're recording a rap song, you need just a touch of it. Experiment is the word when it comes to reverb.

You can also add chorus or stereo delay effects to your vocals, but that depends on your taste.

Waves provides the best VST plugins on the market, used by audio engineers in large recording studios. They are around $200, a small price to pay for such high standards.
 
 
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If your setup is right, your mic is in the right place, you have treated your recording and mixing room, your instrumentals are prepared, it's time to get into the booth and spit that fire on the mic. But, before doing that, you need to have a recording software solution for all that hardware.  You need is a recording/mixing/producing software. There are many choices to choose from, some are free, some are not. If we talk about quality, I really recommend a commercial recording software, no doubt about that. I can only enumerate Pro Tools, Cubase, Nuendo, Sonar as some of the best options. But they are really expensive, and in some cases, they are over your budget. So, many of you guys will surely opt for a cheaper/free solution.

The best 5 Free Recording Software presented in this article are the best open source recording/mixing programs available for beginners, that can be downloaded for free. Get a free app, get used to it, and when you'll have enough money, you can go and buy a commercial one.

1. Audacity - This is the best free audio editor/mixing program.
2. KRISTAL-Audio-Engine - Great for mixing your songs
3. Onyx Arranger - More a producing software
4. Traverso - Amazing free audio editor
5. Wave Editor - Simple, easy to use

If you still want to go for a commercial software, you can buy older and cheaper versions. Also, many audio interfaces comes with free light versions of commercial software (eg Audio Kontrol 1 Audio Interface features free Cubase le).


 
 
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The main difference between large recording studios around the world is not the basic equipment, because most studios use standard equipment. The difference stands in the acoustic treatment of home studio. That's why this to do is pretty important and can bring real value to your recordings. A great space allows you to record and mix your song the way it should be done, without external interference and audio reflections.

The first step is to choose the right location to place your home studio. Try to choose a room that's as neutral as it can be. You want to record the best representation of what's being played/singed. It's really important to to minimize reflections of the soundwaves when you record, so try to apply some carpets to the room.

The walls or the recording area around the microphone must be treated with acoustic foam. You have two alternatives. The cheap one is to use normal egg crates. This will work, but remember, it's only a cheap alternative. The best way to treat your walls is to apply professional acoustic foam. You will find all the types, how to set them up and the right prices here. Read the reviews, the tutorials, see what fits your budget, and order a pack according to your space.

Read More:
Which Audio Interface is Suited for You
Cheap Setup for Audio Recording

 
 
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Before considering buying a cheap mic for your home recording studio, you should at least check some of the features of expensive mics. I love the Rode NT2a microphone, and in my humble opinion that is a great mic.

It's really hard to choose the best home studio mic if you are on a tight budget.

Witch of the following is the best?
MXL 990, Behringer C1, M-Audio Nova, AT2020, Shure KSM27

I really like AT2020 and M-Audio Nova. Both are under $100, and with a proper audio interface and an advanced mixing, you'll be able to record vocals comparable with mics that costs around $1000. Remember, a condenser mic requires a preamp with phantom power.

You can find all these mics on here.

 
 
In the tech world of today, everything is so accessible and so cheap, it's really easy to become a YouTube star in no time. All you need is a good home recording studio, a recording software and that's it. You're a star.

In Home Recording Studio Equipment I said you can buy either a preamp + soundcard, or an external audio interface. I really think it all depends on you and your budget. If you have a laptop or if you know you'll be moving your stuff a lot, an Audio Interface is what you need. If you are on a tight budget and have an old PC you can buy an internal soundcard + external preamp. It would be cheaper, but you will loose some sound quality there. In both cases, I would go for a good audio interface.

One of the best audio interface for a Home Studio Project is M-Audio ProFire 610 Firewire Audio Interface.

Features (via Amazon Shop)

6 x 10 simultaneous analog/digital I/O ideal for mobile and studio recording
2 preamps with award-winning Octane technology.pristine sound and exceptional headroom
premium digital converters.high-definition, 24-bit/192kHz audio throughout signal path
flexible onboard DSP mixer.create multiple unique cue mixes
user-assignable master volume knob.customize your setup
6 x 10 Simultaneous analog/digital I/O ideal for mobile and studio recording.

If you'll use this audio interface and a good microphone, you'll be able to get recordings comparable to big budget recording studios. ProFire 610 works great with Windows 7 64bits while other soundcards in this price range struggles with driver problems (like EMU).

As an alternative, you can buy a mixer that features Phantom Power, and connect that to your internal soundcard through line-in.

 
 
Before going to a local music stor and buying recording equipment, you should make your checklist with the the minimum requirements for a home studio.

1. Microphone + Pop Filter + Mic Stand

2. Preamp + Soundcard / Audio Interface

3.  Headphones + Studio Monitors

4. Recording Software

5. Acoustic foam


As an alternative to (2), you can buy a good external audio interface that has preamps and phantom power. But I'll provide more details about that here. If you want to build a portable recording studio we have the solution for that too.

 
 
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Hey, I'm Matt, and I'm a long time fan of good music. Amongst many of my favorite hobbies, I like to create and to record music in my home recording studio. Over the years I've helped many friends build their own studios, and that's why I'm going to share my knowledge with you guys.  If you like this website, please subscribe, and share this website to your friends on Facebook, twitter, YouTube... :)