The rule of thumb for building out a recording studio is this: it will cost three times as much and take three times as long as you estimate. In my experience, this is sad but true.
But for those looking avoid the pitfalls of setting up and running a functional recording and/or mixing space at home, help is on the way. Music Think Tank recently published their Top 10 Home Studio Mistakes And How To Fix Them.
The helpful list focuses on prioritizing purchases, seeking valuable feedback, staying organized, and taking action. It all starts with laying out a game plan.
"Think about what goals you have, what are you trying to achieve and figure out what will take you there," writes Emma Becker. "Make some priorities and use your budget accordingly."
To that end, be sure to stay focused on finishing the job. You will be tempted to begin working just as soon as your DAW is up and running. But don't forget about the other pieces of the studio puzzle, or you may end up with unhung acoustic panels, messy cable runs and an overall clunky workflow.
Becker also makes a great point about reference mixes. Use them!
"The fastest way to get closer to your heroes is to compare your work to theirs and get it as close as possible until you form your own taste and opinions."
Listen to those recordings you know best to gain perspective on your new environment. Want to know what the pros are using as references? Check out what GRAMMY winner Rafa Sardina (Lady Gaga, Luis Miguel, Alejandro Sanz) and 11 other top engineers name as their essential reference mixes over on SonicScoop.
Another pitfall of getting caught up in the excitement of a home studio is neglecting to stay organized. As an engineer, producer or self-recording artist, file management, as quotidian as it may sound, is of paramount importance.
"Spend a bit of time to come up with a folder structure that would work for your type of projects and force yourself to use it," says Becker, adding that creating a template project folder can save you tons of time, force you to save properly and keep your files consistent.
There is much to remember when building and running a home studio, especially considering your true intention is to focus on making music, but with these tips (and a little discipline) you can avoid some of the biggest and most common mistakes. Happy recording!