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In the world of studio recording, when we think back to 15 years ago, there are some things we thought we could never do. In today’s age, getting professional quality recordings from your home studio may seem like a daunting task. But with the equipment available to us, you can achieve professional studio tones right from your home.
Back in 2005, I set up a small overdub rig in my home so I didn’t have to take some of my heavier instruments and items to my studio. I looked into what was available and found that Universal Audio built a unit that had a preamp and a 1176 compressor, all in a two-rack space (6176). I found this unit to be spectacular and the first step in my remote home studio setup.
Next came microphones, a Rode K2 to record acoustic guitars and a Digi 002 interface which worked great, but nowadays you can buy an Apollo, and a 57 to mic up amps. After that, I got a good Mac computer to drive it all and a set of KRK Rokits as affordable monitors. As people all over the world are file sharing parts and making hit records in their homes, this kind of set-up is more prevalent today than it was back then. Many major session players that I know were forced to purchase home rigs during the COVID shutdown. One of my session buddies said that as soon as all the studios were shut down, he jumped on the phone to Sweetwater and bought a rig for the house. Within a few weeks, it had paid for itself.▼ Article continues below ▼
Pro-Tools is a wide, diverse platform and can often feel like another instrument in and of itself. The plug-ins we have available to us now are amazing, with no need to get into the never-ending ordeal of excessive plug-in buying. But knowing this, some of the DSP stuff is so amazing that it is very difficult to hear the difference between using them to the original units. I really like using the Universal Audio stuff, as I feel that everything they do is quality and user-friendly. For what I do, I find UA very easy to operate. I am not a tech head, but rather a producer/songwriter that plays stringed instruments.
I moved from my MusicRow Nashville studio to the basement of my house about three years back. I was concerned about how people would react to recording at a house, as opposed to a full-fledged studio. The basement ended up working out well; the control room had offset walls which worked as a good diffuser. Plus, I treated the room with bass traps. My main room sounded good already for guitar amps, vocals, and instrument tracking. I recorded all my acoustic guitars there on a carpet square recording into an old Neumann with an M7 capsule.
For records I would record with a high-end drummer or hire a room, but during occasional demo sessions I utilized a great loop library. All vocals sounded great there. I use a Rode Classic or Neumann pending on the voice, and then for the electric guitars I would mic my amps in the main room using a 57 through a Vintech 273, and also use it for bass guitar as well. As for pre’s I prefer the Universal Audio 6176 for its versatility. It has a tube in it which gives the sound warmth and if you want to drive it hard, you can get some nice tube saturation as well. I always use it on acoustics and vocals.
Some days I love the producing and tracking aspect of my job, but not so much the mixing. I like to send my projects to different sets of ears to lend me a different perspective on the song. Given budget changes in recent years, some artists will prefer a producer to lead a project from inception to its final mastering, which leads us to buy mastering tools. My favorite is iZotope Ozone 9, which also has great presets to get you started and make your project sound professional.
Well there it is! The most recent project recorded with us that I’m proud to share with you is Jeremy Parsons’ Things to Come. He is an up-and-coming artist based in San Antonio, Texas and his new album stands as an example of the sound we’ve been cultivating at home in recent months. Several singles are available to stream now.
Mike Flanders is an Australian/American award-winning producer/writer, who has worked with Heidi NewField, Doug Seegers, Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale, Ky-Mani Marley, & Trick Pony. Learn more at www.themichaelflanders.com