Creating recordings on your own usually means recording in the spaces that you have available—and these spaces were likely designed for living, not recording. Despite this, the space you record in can leave much more than a subtle sonic imprint on your creation. Luckily, with a little bit of thoughtfulness, and by following these home recording tips, it’s not that hard to work with what you have.
First, let’s quickly talk about “room sound” and exactly what it is. When you record something with a microphone, the instrument or voice that you’re capturing isn’t the only thing that’s picked up. In addition to the sound that makes it directly from your source to the mic, it takes a trip around your room, bouncing around your walls and anything else in the vicinity before it’s captured. This is how the “sound” of your room makes it into your recordings—and no two rooms sound the same!
Typically, there are two trains of thought when it comes to room sound: try your best to minimize it, or embrace it and let it make its imprint on your recording. More often than not, we focus on the former. After all, our apartments or houses typically don’t sound excellent, and you can always add a synthetic room sound after the fact, but you cant remove one that’s locked into your recording. The great thing about these two trains of thought is that neither is exactly right; it’s all about what sounds good to you and what compliments your song and recording.
In the spirit of embracing your room sounds, let’s take a look at how a few rooms in your apartment or house may sound different. Remember that no two rooms sound exactly the same; yours could sound quite different!
The bedroom is probably the first and most common place to make recordings in a house. Many bedroom recordists follow home recording tips to make their songs sound as good as possible. In addition to having a space to yourself (no roomates or siblings to ruin a perfect take!), it’s also where many of us spend most of our alone time where we might conjure up new musical ideas.
Bedrooms tend to be smaller rooms, which usually results in a shorter room reverberance, and mattresses and pillows help absorb and dampen some of the sound. Additionally, small rooms tend to enhance the sound of bass (although not always for the better!).
Here’s a recording of an electric guitar amp with Spire Studio’s built in microphone positioned 20 inches away from the front of the amp. All subsequent examples were recorded exactly the same way, just in different rooms. Note the relatively dry (free of significant room reverb) sound, and robust bass sound.