#1: Room Noise
The first priority on my list is to reduce the noise floor in my studio. I don’t expect to ever find a way to completely eliminate the noise in my next studio either, but I definitely need to address the noisiest components of my system – the fans in my video switcher and my PC. I find myself needing to use a lot of room noise reduction because of this, especially when I use compression.
As I compress the signal of my voice, for example, it helps to reduce the difference between the loud and quiet parts and allows me to turn up the overall level of my voice. But doing that also increases the level of the noise floor.
So, to fix that problem, I use iZotope RX 10 Voice De-noise. It does an amazing job, but I wish I didn’t need to use -10 dB of noise reduction to manage the noise in my recordings. I always imagine how great my recordings could sound if I didn’t have to use as much or any noise reduction…
My plan is to create more distance between me and this equipment. The further you are from the noise source, the quieter the noise will be. But considering that I’ll probably be working in a small bedroom, I likely won’t have a lot of space to work with in this regard. In my next studio, I’d like to place the noisy equipment in a closet as long as it’s large enough and stays cool enough for my equipment.
It’s also going to be important that I choose a room that is nice and quiet. A basement could be a good option because the exterior walls and ground isolate you from the noise outside. However, some basements have noisy appliances, air handlers, and furnaces that present problems of their own. If my next basement is noisy, it may be best to choose a bedroom for my studio that has less interior noise, even if the exterior noise isolation isn’t as good as it could be in the basement.
#2: Cable Management
In addition to the room noise that I’m experiencing in my current studio, I will also occasionally have an issue with electrical noise. I think a big part of the problem is the fact that I’ve exercised very poor cable management over the past few months.
I’m always setting up new demos and configurations for my videos and when I get in a hurry, it’s easy to ignore the tidiness of the cable paths. This means there are power cables and various other cables running in close proximity to one another.
That can be a big problem in audio because the signal from one cable can superimpose itself on another cable if they run parallel over a long distance. This particular bird’s nest of cables behind my equipment rack is just asking for noise to jump into my audio signal chain:
In the next studio, I plan to get much more organized and use snakes between the various devices in my studio. That way, I can keep the cables organized and maintain better isolation from noise.
#3: Acoustic Treatment
I’d also like to step up the acoustic treatment in my room. Although I have a few DIY acoustic panels made with 4 inches of rockwool, there are still some huge problems that need to be addressed if I want a truly great-sounding room.
First, there is no acoustic treatment on the ceiling of my current room at all. Because there is no absorption on the ceiling, I experience a room mode in the low mids at my listening position that makes everything sound very boomy.
There is also a lot of room for improvement when it comes to the acoustics for recording instruments and vocals in my current room. I would love to have some more absorption throughout the room and some diffusion to make my recordings sound better.
The treatment I’m talking about here won’t do much (if anything) for soundproofing, or isolating the sound outside the room. What I’m talking about here will be an improvement on the quality and accuracy of sound within the room – better sound from my speakers, better recordings for my microphones.
#4: Ambience & Aesthetic
Once I start to have more acoustic treatment on the walls, I think the general feel of the studio will start to become more inspiring. That’s another thing I want to improve – the ambience and aesthetic within the room.
My current space is clearly a bedroom turned into a studio. The next studio will be too, of course. But I’d like to put more thought into the effect that the lighting and aesthetic of the room has on creativity.
When I think of what I love about a recording studio, it’s that chill vibe that grounds you. That’s what I’m going for in my next studio. Of course, some of that “groundedness” that you experience in a great studio is a result of the low noise level and well-balanced acoustics, but I think color and lighting plays a larger role than we may realize.
My goal in the next studio space will be to introduce some warm colors and dimmer lighting. I want to create a vibe in my studio that reminds me of the glow of a guitar amplifier’s vacuum tubes.
I’ve been experimenting with these Govee lights in preparation for the next space. These lights come in a few forms, including LED tape that sticks to a surface or various light fixtures. You can control the color and brightness from a mobile app to create a look that sets the mood to create music.
#5: Cable & Microphone Storage
Another thing I need in my next studio is a better storage solution for microphones, mic stands, and cables. I need to get a cabinet or drawers that will hold all of my microphones safely in one place. I also need a case or a shelf that will hold all of my mic stands. And most importantly, I need a good solution to mount my cables in a way that is clean, but easily accessible.
Having a place for everything will mean that the studio stays organized. In my experience, the more organized the studio, the more organized the projects within that studio will be. When things are unorganized, it creates delays and distractions. So, if you’re playing the role of musician and audio engineer, it’s important the “engineer” within you creates a smooth experience for “musician” in you to create freely.