February 20, 2023
Being able to record at home is crucial for many modern musicians. But when you're crammed into a closet or a tiny bedroom, it can be hard to figure out an effective layout. Fortunately, with a little creativity, you can organize your home studio in even the tightest spaces. Here are a few tips to get you started.
The first step in organizing your small studio is to assess your needs and create a plan. Write down the gear you have, the gear you want, and the gear you can do without. Whether you need room for instruments, acoustic treatment, desk(s), control surfaces, keyboards, or guest seating, get it all on paper. Prioritize essential items and determine where they will best fit into your space. A simple diagram on paper works here but if you want to go whole hog with AutoCAD or a 3D sketcher, that's up to you! The real point is to do some planning.
You can think of a small recording space like a spaceship or airplane. You could also just think of it like a tight recording space and take a cue from mobile recording trucks. In all those cases, operators sit in one spot and reach everything easily. The machine interface is organized around the workflow, including the order in which things typically get done. Thinking of your studio as one coherent machine like this can really help you fit into a small space and perhaps even make you more efficient than in a bigger room.
When you're dealing with limited space, it’s important to use every inch wisely - including vertical space. Invest in shelves or wall mounts so you can take advantage of higher spaces for storage or equipment placement (just be sure you don’t put gear you need to access often out of reach). Wall mounts are great for keeping guitars out of the way when not in use, for example. Shelving units are perfect for storing sheet music, books, extra cables and cords, microphone stands, and other small items that don’t require much room but still need easy access during sessions.
Another way to make the most out of a small space is to make use of multi-functional items like desks that double as shelves or seating areas that also act as storage containers. Look for pieces like these that can do double-duty to maximize space while also providing functional pieces for your studio setup. It may take some time and research but there are plenty of options available that won’t break the bank!
Using modular equipment is a great way to save space in your home recording studio. Modular gear can be customized to fit your specific needs and can be easily reconfigured or added to as your setup evolves. This allows you to add or remove components as needed without having to reorganize your entire studio.
High-quality cables and smart cable organization can be a lifesaver when organizing a tight recording space. In a big space, you may get away with stuffing cables behind a desk but in a small space, a rat’s nest can eat up space (and tangles are more likely to cause problems when things are close). Whether it’s expensive organizers like conduits or fancy cable runs, or whether you just use Velcro or twist ties, get those cables wrangled. For inspiration, open up a well-built PC. Notice how many components pack in a tight space when cable runs look professional.
While you’re at it, high-quality, balanced cables are a wise choice in small studios. That’s always the case, but since things are closer, interference is a bigger issue. And since everything is tight, replacing bad cables may be more of a pain.
Many creatives are also clutter bugs. No judgment there, but in a small space, that habit gets out of hand fast. In a small studio, try to eliminate clutter like extra paper, coffee cups, tchotchkes, and anything else not directly related to the work. Furthermore, keep things as sanitary and dust-free as possible with regular cleaning sessions.
Making the best of a tight situation may not always be ideal, but with a little effort, a small home studio can actually be a joy to work in. You may even find that you don’t miss the bigger spaces. Even if you do, the organizational skills you learn from recording in a small room will serve you when you move to a larger space too!
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