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How to Set Up a Home Recording Studio in an Apartment in [2022]

Set Up a Home Recording Studio in an Apartment

The luxury of having a home recording studio is something every musician or recording engineer would love to have. Even if you live in an apartment, it’s possible to set up a home recording studio.

An apartment recording studio will allow you to record your own music, friend’s music, or even your client’s music. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the issues of building a studio in an apartment, and what you can do to make sure it goes smoothly.

We’re going to look at where you should set it up, how to avoid noise, acoustics, essential gear, and tips all revolving around the subject.

Best Area to Set Up in a Home Recording Studio in an Apartment

First things first, you’re probably wondering where you should consider building the studio in your apartment. If you’re fortunate enough to have a spare room, then that would obviously be the place to build your dream studio.

However, if you’re not lucky enough to have a spare room, we’re going to look at a few other options on where you can set-up.

Below are a few bullet-points that dive a little bit deeper into the specifics of where you should set-up:

Spare Room

Just like one might imagine, the ideal spot for an apartment recording studio is a spare room. There are a few points to keep in mind with regard to a spare room.

First and foremost, you need to figure out the exact size of the room. This will help you map out the exact dimensions of everything you want and need. If you don’t know the exact size of the room, you might buy some equipment that is too large for the space. Which will cause you to waste money and time.

You also need to plan out the acoustics of the room. If you live in a cramped apartment in a crowded building, chances are, it’s loud and noisy. The more noise you give, the more annoyed the people around you will be.

The advantage of having a designated recording room is you can dedicate all of your acoustic treatment and soundproofing to that specific room. Make sure you soundproof windows, doors, walls, and the ceiling of the room.

Although soundproofing might take away from the overall acoustic sound of the room, eliminating the noise you’re creating should be your number one priority with this.

If you create a ton of noise, you more than likely will draw a complaint and may have to deal with authorities. Both of which aren’t good.

Take your time mapping out the proper sound treatment of the room, and you should be fine. Also, be aware of your surroundings. If you live in a crowded apartment building and don’t have any soundproofing of your room, maybe you shouldn’t record a drum kit or a loud amp.

Unused Corner

Since most of us don’t have the luxury of having a spare room, you can set-up a specific corner or section of the apartment for recording.

Maybe your living room is big enough to have a little recording section in the corner. Or maybe your own bedroom is big enough to have a designated area for recording. Think of areas of your apartment that aren’t heavily utilized.

It’s entirely up to you, but the same notion for soundproofing a room should be brought to this as well. If you plan on recording live instruments, you need to make sure you don’t annoy your neighbors.

Creating a vocal booth or an isolated area for amps is very easy to do. They’re a great method to use for a recording studio that is in a noisy area.

Besides the sound requirements, you need to think about size. The size of your recording studio all depends on what you want to accomplish.

Luckily, we live in an age where equipment is extremely compact and there are digital replacements for live instrumentation.

You’d be surprised at the amount of recording material you can accomplish with just a microphone, computer, and a couple of instruments.

Eliminate Noise from Neighbors

How to Set Up a Home Recording Studio in an Apartment

Source: Pixabay.com

As noted, the main issue with apartment recording studios is noise. Besides the noise you may cause, the noise from other neighbors can be a burden to figure out. We all understand how important the avoidance of wanted noise is.

Just like you’d sound treat a normal studio, you should apply the same tactics toward your apartment recording studio. Below is a general list of what you can do to eliminate noise from neighbors:

Acoustic Panels

Acoustic panels are sound-absorbing products. They’re often confused as sound-proofing products. As you might suspect, this is the main tool you should use to eliminate unwanted sound.

You can either build them yourself or buy them online. You can find a ton of resources online with regard to building them or buying them. Hang a bunch of these up, and you’ll be golden.

Insulating Sealant

This is more of a DIY (do it yourself) set-up but it’s extremely useful. Buy some insulating sealant foam and throw it on the crevices of your door and windows.

It’ll surprisingly work like a charm. You can buy the product at your local hardware store.

Door Sweep

Although a door sweep is thought of as something people use to eliminate drafts from coming, they’re great for soundproofing too.

You can also buy a door sweep that is designated for sound absorption. All of this can be found online. They’re definitely something every studio should utilize; no matter the size.

Soundproof Curtain

Just like you would buy a curtain for your window, you can buy a curtain that is meant for sound absorption.

Just like everything else, you can find a plethora of soundproof curtains online.

A Rug

Although this might seem useless, having a big rug in the center of your room is a great way to absorb unwanted noise.

A fluffy rug deadens the sound through the floor. Meaning they’re useful for noise that comes below you.

Make sure you find a decent rug. You don’t want to cheap out and have a useless rug at the center of your studio. Buy one that’s fluffy enough to absorb the unwanted sound.

Avoid Causing Noise

How to Set Up a Home Recording Studio in an Apartment

Source: Pxfuel.com

As noted, the biggest issue with an apartment recording is the noise you may end up causing, However, there are ways around this.

The easiest being to rely on digital instrumentation and less live recording. However, if you need to record live instrumentation, there are ways around it.

Below are a few tactics you can do to properly soundproof your apartment recording studio:

Wall Padding

The number one way to soundproof your room is by using absorbent panels. Just like you expect, they absorb the sound that comes from your room.

The most popular size of an absorbent panel is 12”x12”. These are great for absorbing high and low frequencies.

You can either build them yourself or buy them online. Make sure you do the proper research on the size of your recording area and how many you’ll need to properly soundproof your room.

Isolation Pads

Wherever you have the bulk of your “live instrumentation”, you should consider putting an isolation pad under them.

This can be as simple as a fluffy rug or an isolation foam pad.

If you’re feeling ambitious and want to record live drums, then you’ll definitely need isolation pads to completely eliminate the vibrations for the drum kit.

Door Sweep

Just like they’re great for eliminating outside noise, a door sweep is great for eliminating your own noise.

As noted, you buy a door sweep that is designated for soundproofing. All of this can be found online. They’re definitely something you need if you want to eliminate the noise from your studio.

Insulating Sealant

Besides eliminating outside noise, insulating sealant is great for eliminating your own noise.

As noted, you can buy some insulating sealant foam at your local hardware store. You put it on the crevices of your door and windows.

It should work very well and is a great cheap and effective method.

Acoustics

Acoustimac DMD Stagger Acoustic Design Pack: 6 Pcs 6)3'x1'x2" 3-gray & 3-charcoal Just like a regular studio, the acoustics of an apartment studio are important. You want to make sure you have a proper area for recording. Meaning it’s a hardwood floor, high ceilings, and a big enough space to record in. All of the rest can be easily manipulated.

Since we already went over what you need to properly soundproof your room, this section will be focused on sound treating your room.

Without going into too much detail, below is a general list of what you’ll need to properly acoustic treat your studio:

Acoustic Panels

Acoustic panels are used to absorb mid/high frequencies. You can either build them yourself or buy them online.

Bass Traps

Bass traps are used to absorb low frequencies. You can either build them yourself or buy them online.

Diffusers

Diffusers are used to scatter all remaining frequencies. You can either build them yourself or buy them online.

The number of bass traps, acoustic panels, and diffusers varies depending on the size and kind of room you’re using. Make sure you do the proper research on your room to ensure the right amount of these items for you to buy or make.

For more information on Acoustic Panels, Bass Traps, and Diffusers. Read our reviews for Best Acoustic Panels Review & Buyer’s Guide, Best Bass Traps Review & Buyer’s Guide and Best Acoustic Diffusers Review & Buyer’s Guide.

Essential Gear for an Apartment

PreSonus AudioBox Studio with Headphones, Microphone, Mic Cable, USB Cable, and StudioOne Artist Software (Download) Since this article isn’t meant for gear, I’m not going to dive too much into the kind of gear you’ll need. However, I’ll note a few things that I think are essential for an apartment studio. Below are a few bullet-points that represent this:

Computer

Every studio needs a great computer. Since you’re trying to build a home studio in your apartment, you’re going to need a great computer.

You’ll more than likely run into issues recording live instrumentation. Meaning you’ll have to rely on the DAW software of your computer to replicate this.

If you have a bad computer, you’re not going to be able to record properly or accomplish what you want to accomplish.

For more information on Computers for Music Production. Read our reviews for the Best PC’s for Music Production and Best Laptops for Music Production.

Microphone/Audio Interface

It’s obvious you’re going to need the tools necessary to record. No matter what type of music you’re going to record, you’ll need an audio interface and microphone.

You more than likely will need multiple microphones, but for now, focus on getting one really good microphone for vocals. The rest can come after.

Since an apartment is such a small space to record in, you’re going to need the essentials first. Once you figure out the soundproofing and sound treating, then you’ll be able to add more gear into the mix.

For more information on All Purpose Mics. Read our reviews for Best All Purpose Microphone for Recording Review & Buyer’s Guide and Best Budget Audio Interface Review & Buyer’s Guide.

Tips to Set Up a Home Recording Studio in an Apartment

There are ton of things people recommend for a home studio. Since this might be an overwhelming article, down below are a few tips I recommend:

Utilize Multitaskers

Since you’re dealing with little space, it’s best to get tools that are multitaskers. Meaning you should get gear that can do more than one thing.

By doing this, you’ll eliminate the amount of storage you’ll need. Since it’s 2019, you can a ton of gear options that do multiple things.

Embrace the Virtual World (Virtual instruments, plugins etc.)

Let’s be honest, recording from an amplifier or drum kit in an apartment is very difficult. Instead of going through the difficulty of doing this, embrace your DAW software.

If you have a good enough DAW software, you should have a number of tools to use. Ranging from virtual amplification to MIDI drums.

You’ll be surprised at the number of things your DAW software can do.

However, if you find it necessary to record live instrumentation, don’t freak out. If you have a difficult time setting it up in your apartment, you could always go to your practice space or a friend’s space to record the live instrumentation.

Bring your laptop, record, and bring the recording back home.

Compact Gear

Storage is important with any studio; especially ones with little space. The more compact gear you use, the easier the storage will be.

If you bring a bunch 8 by 10 amps in your apartment, it’s going to be nearly impossible to store away. Consider one or two smaller amplifiers for bass and guitar if need be.

Just be smart at the amount of space you have. If you want an apartment recording studio then you’re going to have to make sacrifices. Meaning you can’t buy a bunch of gear and expect to fit it all.

Q and A

Source: Pxhere.com

Since this is such a popular subject amongst musicians and recording engineers, below are a few common questions about this subject:

“How much does it cost to build a home studio?”

Since recording is such a vast topic, the question to this answer has such a wide range. This all depends on what you want to accomplish.

If you’re looking to build a professional-level studio, then you more than likely will have to spend thousands of dollars on your studio.

With regard to an apartment recording studio, you’re going to have to spend even more on soundproofing and sound treatment. This is mainly because of how small of a space and noisy an apartment is.

Now if you’re to build a studio for demos or for fun, then you can spend as little as a few hundred dollars. You can technically own a computer with a DAW software and a microphone and call it a studio.

“How can I record professional vocals at home?”

There are a few things to consider when recording vocals at home. Below are a few bullet-points that touch on this:

Make Sure Whoever is Recording is Prepared

This is kind of self-explanatory, but you want to make sure whoever is recording the vocals is in the zone. Meaning they have their part down and can sing it properly.

Some singers think they can just wing it and edit it to perfection. The truth is that this strays from the best quality it can be.

Basically, don’t be lazy and expect to magically record vocals because you have some software that’ll “edit” it.

Dry Room

Recording vocals should be done in a neutral dry room. Meaning you should avoid huge reverberated rooms.

To accomplish this, you can build your own vocal booth. There are a ton of ways people can build their own vocal booth. Some of which are extremely cheap.

Position the Microphone and Pop Filter Correctly

This sounds self-explanatory, but double-check that your microphone and pop filter is on correctly. Sometimes people use them incorrectly without realizing it. Always double-check what you’re doing and you should be fine.

Use the Right Microphone Level

After the microphone warms-up, check on your DAW software what the level is it. Make sure it’s not peaking and far away from the “red zone” of the measurement.

“How much does a studio session cost?”

Studio sessions vary from studio to studio. They tend to vary on the expertise of the person who is recording. So, if you’re a beginner, maybe you shouldn’t book anyone to record yet. Once you feel confident enough, start by charging 15 USD an hour.

Once you gain more experience and abilities, you can start to charge more. Some recording engineers are able to charge over 100 USD an hour because of their reputation alone. Try to achieve that goal!

“How do I soundproof cheaply?”

Although cutting corners soundproofing isn’t recommended, there are a few ways to soundproof cheaply:

Curtains

Curtains are natural soundproofing tools. Use them!

Rugs

As noted earlier in the article, rugs are great to use to eliminate vibration.

Furniture

The more furniture you have, the more sound will be absorbed because it’ll have less room to travel.

You really shouldn’t soundproof as cheap as possible when it comes to a studio. Especially if you’re looking to build a professional recording studio. It may be expensive to soundproof a studio, but it’s something you’re going to need to do. Especially for an apartment recording studio.

“What can help block sound?”

There are a ton of tools that help block sound. This is useful to know since the burden of noise is an important bridge to get over when it comes to an apartment recording studio. Below is a general list of items that block sound:

  • Acoustic Foam
  • Sound Insulation
  • Acoustic Panels
  • Acoustic Fabrics
  • Acoustic Coatings
  • Moving Blankets
  • Mass Loaded Vinyl
  • Soundproof Fiberglass
  • Floor Underlayment
  • Sound Deading Spray
  • Sound Deading Paint

Final Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Let’s go over everything we discussed in this article.

We went over the want for an apartment home recording studio and the issues facing it. Such as picking the right area for it, and eliminating noise for it. Going over acoustic panels, insulating sealants, door sweeps, soundproof curtains, wall padding, isolation pads, bass traps, and diffusers. All of which are an important key to a successful recording studio in an apartment.

Then we went over the essential gear for an apartment recording studio. Discussing computers, microphones, and audio interfaces.

I talked about some tips such as utilizing multitaskers, the virtual world, and compact gear. Why all of these are important and how they can help you.

Lastly, we went over some common questions about this subject. Such as the cost, recording vocals, studio session cost, and how to soundproof cheaply.

We hope this article allowed you to understand more about setting up a recording studio in an apartment. At the very least it taught you some information you didn’t know about before.

Last, but not least, if you plan on creating your own recording studio in your apartment, start planning. Come up with a budget, blueprint, and a list of goals.

Doing this will allow you to come up with a timeline for your studio and before you know it, you’ll have your entire dream right in front of you.

Michael B is a Music Producer, Musician, and Formally Trained (and was Certified by the Recording Institute of Detroit in 1986) Recording Engineer. As of 2022, He's built 3 home recording studios go back to 1987, where he wrote, played all the instruments, and recorded his music. Michael B is also a Writer, Chief Editor and SEO of TrackinSolo.com