While we truly lover our switches, lights, and knobs here at AskAudio… sometimes its important to delve into the real-life stuff that we all deal with every day as home studio owners. I’ve had a home studio for well over 25 years now, and here are my top 5 things that aren’t necessarily musical items that I have found to make my studio a safe, effective, and pleasant place to work.
It’s true - you don’t need to be in the middle of a pandemic to have good hygiene. One thing I’ve always strived for is to have clients feel safe and clean in my studio. Risk of covid or no, you have to disinfect those mics if you are going to have different folks use them! I keep a full stock of cleaning products and treat my mics differently from my guitars and keyboards. For a full breakdown, see my recent article on the matter!
Having smart plugs has made a direct and noticeable difference on my electric bill, it’s made turning things on and off easier, and it’s generally enabled me to save a ton of time when turning on various portions (or the entire room) of my studio. Whether you’ve got an Amazon Echo (with the volume turned off, right?) or simply use an app on your phone - it’s great to be able to control everything in one shot. No more leaving my audio interface turned on for convenience (thus shortening its life and generating unnecessary heat in your studio). I can turn my entire studio off with a simple, ‘Alexa, turn off the studio’. I don’t have to stand on a ladder to turn on the camera mounted to my ceiling when live streaming, a simple voice command will do. If you haven’t invested in smart plugs yet - do it. Your studio will last longer and your electric bill will drop.
Having the means to address any ground issues and having enough circuits to power your gear is key. All those guitar and bass amplifiers on the same circuit (even if they are plugged into different outlets) can add up quickly, and nothing will kill the creativity faster than dealing with frustrating tripped breakers. Be sure to have some power conditioners, direct boxes with ground lifts, and signal isolators all handy. You never know when someone is going to walk into your studio with a vintage guitar amp that just spreads buzz through your system like wildfire.
I absolutely HATE it when I see cables, guitar picks, and more lying around. If you see things cluttering up your studio, it’s likely you don’t have an organized and convenient place to put things. If you don’t have a place to store it, it winds up on top of an amp. Or on your desk. Or on the floor. Avoid this by starting out with a place to store *every* item you might use in your studio.
If you’re shooting any video, performance, tutorial or similar, being able to change the lighting is a must. Whether you need to brighten up a subject with front lighting or move a light so that it doesn’t create a ‘hot spot’ on someone’s face, movable lighting is crucial. You also never know when someone might want to see the controls on their keyboard, sheet music, notes, and more. Having a free standing light or two can make studio time much more convenient.