Pro advise, In anticipation of having a flat room with exelent monotiring?

Hi guys,

Situational sketch:
Sennheiser HD650 as a "reference’’ Its not flat at all… so I hear, so actually NO really good reference.
And no flat room for at least the next 2 years. First I need to finish the house, then get money for the mix en record room, and I’m not rich, so you get my point :slight_smile:

Action plan: Improve myself as good as I can in anticipation of having a better work environment.

No offence to any other beginner or hobbyist on here, I’m probably way behind you all in terms of knowledge about this hobby of ours, so I don’t wanna come of dicky, but as I really want to make some kind of living off this music/recording thing, I hope I can get some good advice from people on here that have been doing this professionally for quite some time now, so I can get a good idea of how to plan my next moves.

Halve year ago I checked out SEA institute in Belgium, more specifically there audio engineer bachelor. I went there, checked out the school, spoke to a teacher, and saw there live and mix rooms, and what gear they had. It seemed like the real deal! But since they are not sponsored by the state, you have to pay full charge, which was 22.000€ macbook included but who gives a shit about a stupid macbook :p. After finally finding a school I could get a good excuse for the tax bureau here to take a pause on my job and get some funding to study, this was quite the bummer. I was pissed and decided to fuck em all, and learn the craft on my own, the help of internet and the people on it. So far I’ve been very lucky as to not being set behind for making “stupid” purchases, cause I knew quite fast that the source and the place you record and mix it, are so much more important then having high-end gear and such. I want to improve myself so bad, and I regularly practice with my few plug-ins and ideas I get from reading here and reading manuals or viewing video’s, but I also have a limit on my time and energy, cause at the moment I’m building a house, do a job, make some music with the bands, and need to relax as well so I want to spend the time I practice as useful as possible. As a musician I know more then well that lets say when practising scales, you grow much faster, if you focus on just one scale first, and learn it really well, you’ll learn the others after that much quicker and easier then when you would start with all of them at a time. So I want to do the same with mixing, cause recording is left to guitar and bass, true DI and vst’s, and drum via midi. Vocals in a bad room true an SM58. But how can I do that, not forgetting I’m stuck with the cans and no other references then a car and home stereo’s that suck. How could you advise me on what to focus on the most, so I will understand how to get the sound I’m looking for, after hearing curtain tracks, later on when I have my studio. I would say maybe compressors (and then you think :scream:) but like I said I want to hear the opinion from a professional, successfully or not (doesn’t matter), but experienced, just like the music teachers I had, for short moments of time.

Momentarily I have the following digital gear:
Cubase 7
Line6 interface: pod ux2
waves plugs:
-Vocal Rider
-Bass Rider
-CLA Classic Compressors
-L1 Ultramaximizer
-C4 Multiband Compressor
-L2 Ultramaximizer
bias fx guitar sim
podfarm line 6 guitar sim
Fabfilter Q2
Fabfilter Compressor
Fabfilter Reverb
TDR nova multiband comp
and a few more stock plugs from cubase

Please, if you give advice, do it in the “if I where to start NOW” form cause its probably the most relevant :slight_smile:
I know, I’m asking FOR A LOT, sorry :smiley: If I where to be able to live off of this, I’ll try to be some one who gives back to his community as well!

Maybe a long way of just asking some planning advice, but I really wanted to make sure I’m not just gonna put the thoughts brought up here aside if I don’t like em. So any time you put in making a comment here trying to help a pour soul :innocent: is not gonna be in vein, but well considered cause I’m gonna spend quite some bucks and time on this stuff in the next 30 years or so at least. And not like my dad finds 300 bucks for a stereo a lot :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ll thank you big time in advance, so the emotional part is out of the way. Oké, space-eggs are kicking in. Time to clean the house, lol…

No really, thanks !

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This is a great time to enter this field. I feel you’ve articulated your vision, drive, and passion for this stuff. And importantly, a desire to bring a quality product to your market.

Good…never too soon to start preparing. Every decision starts with…well…the decision to start lol.

So you’re building a house? Or re-modeling? Your space is your sanctuary lol…and this is the ideal time to mold and shape it into something that you can work out of. At your stage, I’m a big fan of people running studios out of their house until their business outgrows the capacity of the house and the technology and workflow simply can not expand within the same facility.

You most certainly made the right decision. There are 2 legitimate reasons to enroll in an audio program. Making contacts (networking) and hands in with industry standard hardware. Those are the two that are very hard to get on your own. The education is hit or miss. You can not teach yourself music without the high caliber artistic environment that a university provides, and access to one on one training with instructors. Your competition will crush you without an education in the performance arts. But I am led to believe you can teach yourself audio.

This is where you REALLY need to pay attention to PRO advice. And ONLY pro advice. In the year 2017, there is a minimum standard of equipment you need to get anything meaningful accomplished. You need at least one acceptable condenser mic. Reference monitors are non-negotiable. Do NOT EVEN THINK about training on cans. Home stereo equipment, absolutely not. You need one large diaphragm condenser mic. Figure out a way to afford an AT4040, or a Blue Baby Bottle, or Rode, and a pair of KRK’s or Behringer monitors. Alesis, Tannoy, and Yamahas will work too. Basically a pair 5" powered reference monitors is absolutely necessary to get yourself going.

All that matters right now is that you find the money to buy a mic and two speakers. THEN you can start focusing on your training.

After you get your mic and two speakers, there are 3 areas to work on - technique, workflow, and experimentation tracking sources.

Learn your daw thoroughly because you’ll compete with other local studios on the basis of production speed. You need your DAW shortcuts at your fingertips so intuitively you don’t even think about them. You make a decision, and your fingers respond, without any conscious thought to your key sequences. You must be so fast with this because it is expected of a professional.

Train your ears to hear frequencies. Train them to hear tail times and different gradients of compression. Teach yourself how different compressors act on different sources. Play with imaging, distortion, saturation…you have to know this stuff. Research it. Understand metering. Understand signal flow. You have to know how to think on your feet, and to solve problems on the spot.

Understanding the audio only half of this. You’re going nowhere without great communication and sales skills. You also really need to know your business plan. You do not need a formal business plan right now, as your investment is small and your personal risk is low. But you do need to immediately put thought into building a website and portfolio. Figure out how you’re going to market yourself. Your portfolio or EPK (electronic press kit) or demo reel (whatever you wanna call it) is built on one outstanding job at a time. Show only your best work. And next year, replace that with stuff that’s even better. ONLY your best work is the key. Don’t showcase shit sucky musicians in your portfolio. That hurts you more than it helps. Who are the top local/accessible artists would you LOVE to have in your portfolio. You’ll do these for free at first. So don’t commit to engineering a whole CD. Just offer to do one track for them completely free of charge, and bust your ass to make sure they love you in the process for doing it.


This may be a dumb question, but what do you mean by “this”? What sort of role do you want to play in the music and/or recording industry, because there are tons of roles out there. Do you want to be tracking bands? Do you want to be producing bands? Do you want to be mixing songs? Do you want to be writing songs? Do you want to be a session musician? A little of everything? Are you looking to open up a “do it all” studio that takes care of all the mid budget audio needs in your area?

I would first suggest finding out what you really want to do by trying. If you want to record bands, you need to start recording bands, and do it quite a bit. That will get you a better idea of what the job really is if you are doing it full time.

What do you find yourself gravitating towards when it comes to making music? What skills do you have that are stand out? You don’t have to be the best in the world at anything, but you need something that you can hold onto that you like doing when all the other stuff comes up that you absolutely hate doing.


As far as steps to take starting now, the first thing I would do is find a GOOD local band try to get them to let you record one song. The idea here is that you need to get down in the trenches to figure out where your weak spots are. You’ll have a lot of them, and that’s ok. The idea is to flush them out, and the only way to flush them out is to get down and dirty. Just do it. You will feel completely unqualified. That means you are doing it right.

You will, unfortunately, have to give up something. This stuff takes time. Even the pros work long hours. You can’t expect to catch up very fast by working part time on a weekend every once in awhile. You may just need to suffer through being overworked for a few months, then you can take a break and reassess. Just don’t screw up the other good things you have going on during that time.


@DeRebel If you’re interested in doing that, I want to point out some tools:

  • (I bought this a little while ago, and admittedly need to get back in the habit of using it every day, but I already noticed an improvement.)
  • ( I tried this out, just the free portion. It was okay, in my opinion. But it’s definitely worth checking out.)
  • (This was kind of a nice surprise I came across while downloading manuals to some iZotope plugins I’d just bought. It’s free and quite informative and useful I think!)
  • (This is actually just a Pensado’s Place video that I thought was an interesting look at how to do ear training in your DAW.)

Anyway, great question and I look forward to hearing more replies. I’m at a sort of similar stage, though with different end goals, and have a whole OneNote notebook called “Reference” where I keep notes from all the online classes I’ve taken, and links to helpful sites and all that stuff. I’ll also mention that I use an online tool called Toggl to keep track of my work hours, and generally what I spent my time on. It could be helpful to you, especially if you have a lot of other things going on in your life, to keep track of what you spend your audio engineering time on. It’s tough to stay on track, without a school to guide you. (For me, anyway.) Good luck to you!


Well my Belgian friend, I am nowhere near 'pro", but I still have something to add to all the good advice given so far. I had gone through 2 earlier tries at recording my own music before I found out how important a reasonable sounding room is. There’s no point in having good monitors if your bass frequencies are being bounced around your little room (I’m assuming you don’t have access to a really big room.). So take some of your precious time (and a little of your precious money) to build yourself a shit load of bass traps (with enough diy advice to be found on you tube). I built 24 for my room, and its only 3,5 by 4.5 meters. It’s still not perfect, but my recordings are acceptably free from lost bass frequencies or flutter and above about 100 Hz I can trust my monitors to give an reasonable reproduction of the recording. Below 100 Hz is still a problem. I use 2 types of headphones (with good bass response) to get nearer, but I really need a good active subwoofer.
Anyway, start with an acceptable room is my advice, it really makes all the difference.
The other is one I keep telling myself without really listening to myself …:
Use reference tracks to compare your mixes. I know I should!
The rest is just a matter of a huge number of hours in just doing it :drums2:
Good luck!

Technically its renovating but realistically its building almost a new house :slight_smile: I have had a basement installed out of concrete walls of 40cm thick, and its 5m wide, 10m deep, and the ceiling is 2.65m.
So: 10x5x2.65 meters.
I know, its probably just not big enough, but still I guess I’ll be able to make something that works in there. They only thing I’m not sure of yet, is if I’m gonna make the life room and control room in one room, or separate.

Do any of you maybe know an engineer that can make a design from a distance if I give him the correct measures ? Some one who’s good, but I’m able to afford ? :smiley: Cause I can build a lot my self as a former carpenter, but I want a professionals advice cause I can’t go back on this if I build a huge wall or something. A least not without extra costs. anywho, you get my point.

I know, that’s why I really wanted to do this, but unfortunately I can’t afford a financial setback like that. If I see what gear I can buy from 22.000€ that’s 28.424$, I can buy a great set of tools to get me started on ACTUALLY recording. I’m already 31y so if I have to set me back on that yet again, my inspiration is going to die out of frustration by the time I get to recording my shit. Its not only recording that is sort of being postponed partially, but also my music making. One of the reasons I want my own studio, is to record and produce my own music. more on that a bit later. Maybe in the future, if I’m lucky, I can still do it, or do something likewise.

Right now I have a set of 300€ phonic 80W powered monitors, I bought 10y’s ago. But like I said, my room is awful, and its not technically mine so I can’t make adjustments, plus, I don’t have the money to spend on acoustics’s that are maybe going to be less ideal for my studio to keep using em. I can maybe lend a condenser mike from an uncle who never uses it. But I’m not sure what brand it is, but he doesn’t by shit, so. But that’s about it atm. Maybe in a few month’s I can buy a mic. That’s one of the main reasons I started this thread, so I can know what to focus on in the meantime.

Can I learn how compressors really work on my sett of cans, at least until some point, or is the reference so bad that its not even worth spending practising on? OR, using my monitors I have, and maybe calibrating them ? dunno how, but I read something about it on here this week so I’m curious.

I have 2 big reasons why I want to learn engineering and having my own professional sounding room.

  1. I hate working for the man, and want to work on my own, and music is my biggest Rebellion. As I’m convinced that creativity is the biggest Rebellion that can happen. But in order to deliver consistently good quality recordings, I know I need curtain skills but also quality room.
  2. While I AM realistic about it, and realising that 9 out of 10 its gonna stay a dream, I’m never gonna let go of the dream of making a living, or partially, of my own music. While I’m never gonna be able to spend huge amounts of cash for a producer and many studio hours, I can make an investment in my own studio, and meanwhile learning another craft on the go. Don’t wanna make it sound diminishing by that, but I wanna feed 2 birds with 1 hand.

So I was also thinking about looking for a few bands that deliver quality work, and ask them of I can do frebee’s to get a portfolio going, but I’m also gonna use my own projects for that. I’m working on my voice now as well the last halve year, and a wanna do some cover songs of a few known bands, with a few good local musicians. Just to get some activity on the social media part and to expand the portfolio. And if it’s giving me recording work at the end or performing work, I really don’t care actually. I’m always gonna be a musician, so that wasn’t a waste of time, and I just want to make a living. Its nice to be rich as well, and who knows :stuck_out_tongue: hahaha, but nah, I rather do things I like. So I want my options to be pretty wide! personally it are a lot of persona characteristics fulfilled which keeps my anger level at an acceptable setting :stuck_out_tongue: lol

I’m gonna respond to the other comments later on, cause I really gotta get back to the house and get some shovelling done :stuck_out_tongue: Otherwise I’m never getting that studio done.

Thanks !

I assume by this that you mean to offer your services to artists on a paid basis. That being the case, here’s my advice as a professional: People hire people first, before even considering equipment, rooms, etc. So whatever service you are going to provide, make sure you know it well. Be an expert in your chosen field, so that your customers can confirm to themselves that they ceratinly picked the right man for the job.

In addition, treat your customers with respect at all times. Don’t put them down, don’t be negative, and remember that the goal is to provide the customer with a recording that is both excellent, and one that he/she loves, so your words and your actions should be geared towards that goal. Take time to understand exactly what the customer wants - then make sure you deliver it, as opposed to delivering what you think he/she should have.

That first phone contact or meeting is crucial. They will make their minds up within the first 10 - 20 seconds. Be respectful, and try to help them with what they want to achieve.

If your sessions go well, you will find that your customers are happy to casually discuss the ‘next time’ that they come in, or discuss what they are going to do in the ‘next session’. That’s when you know you’re on the right track.

Nobody in their right mind would book my studio for its equipment or facilities, it’s me/my services they are booking. That’s the most important thing to bear in mind when you’re looking to go professional IMHO.


I was planning to do that indeed ! Though I have no recording space at the moment, so I’ll have to address these things a little bit different for now.

At the moment I’m thinking of trying to get a few guys together to do a cover song. Panic attack from “dreamtheater”. Its a hard one, but our drummer should be able to get it down. I know a bass player and a guitar player who should also be able to pull it of, but I still gotta ask them if they are up for it. I would do the vocal part, I’m pretty confident I can pull it off. Only gotta find me a better room to record it. Gonna ask my teacher if we can arrange something. His room sounds pretty good for a vocal I think. Has a nice natural reverb going on. Maybe I can capture that as well, although I’m not sure where to start for placing a mic to capture room reverb.

Only thing I would need then, is a good mix. maybe something for a mix-off ? The result could be used to update the portfolio of every one who worked on it. At least, if I can get the tracks needed. A heavy metal mix-off :slight_smile:

Hey Cristina,

Thanks for the links :slight_smile: I will check it out and see if its something I can put to use. That izoptope looks fun! I love gaming to so :stuck_out_tongue: hehehe.

Glad to hear you have your goals set as well ! That noteboke thing is actually a good idea. I’m quite chaotic in my mind from time to time. Having so many idea’s. Luckily I do manage to remember most of it so far :smiley: I’m very bad at making notes. It kinda grows in my head, haha. I am going to use the pen and paper tactic next time I do a mix though. That looks like something I really need to do to improve more consistently.

I’m gonna see if I can put something to paper this weekend, and if I do I’ll post it on here for critique. Maybe that can give other people, who are where we are right now, some ideas as well.

I know how important this advice is, but right know I really cant afford to spend any money on it. For the next halve year I am working part-time to have more time to work on the house, but that also means I make less money :slight_smile: And I don’t want to be lending money from my wife for this. It will have to wait until next year :slight_smile: . That’s life I guess.

This is something I wanna take very serious as well ! I’d like to be that guy that motivates you to get your best performance that you can. After all, I guess its most satisfying for yourself as well. Both party’s win from this! I know I want to be helped or motivated like that when I have to do a tough vocal line or guitar part. It can give you that extra bit of “in the zone” feeling that you need !

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That’s good, so something you may not necessarily be aware of, this kind of stuff soaks up huge lumps of your energy. I’m crawling out of the studio after an eight hour session of producing, engineering and editing.

I know, but luckily I have a huge energy storage :stuck_out_tongue: It would be good in finally having something to fully canalise my energy in stuff like that. Like I said before, its good for my anger level :stuck_out_tongue: hahaha. Although I embrace the dark side of the force, I’d rather try and keep some kind of balance :smiley:

Start with taking the biggest space you have and just working with it. Just get started in that ONE room then feel your needs out from there. Its impossible at your stage to really plan your layout because your needs will evolve as you progress.

I’ll give you a heads up. I’ve spoken in tremendous depth with four of the best studio designers in the world. It doesn’t work like this. They need to spend a lot of time at your location, because there’s way more factors than measurements. It can not be done from a distance. Soft costs start around $20,000 just for planning and design. The best quotes I’ve gotten were ballpark $70-$80k for a small mix room, vocal booth and machine room. They also need to be onsite at the end of the project to tune the monitoring system to the room. On site billable hours run $1400-$1800 pr day plus air fare and lodging. I’ll tell you this now so you’re not caught off guard if you start talking to others yourself. But you really don’t need this right now…its years down the road. But take your time and grow your business slow and steady. Wait until your income base is rock solid and stable before making that kind of investment. There are many decent tracks mixed in highly flawed rooms. Everyone wants a perfect room. But many get by without one.

…don’t worry about excellent monitoring for now. Just work with the best you can afford. Work with the best monitoring that makes sense for your bottom line. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

If you’re planning on being in this house for a long time, can you raise your floor and increase the ceiling height for the mix area?

If what you’re saying is that you have a $28k gear budget, the WORST thing you could do is go and buy gear right now. First, without knowing how to maximize every penny of that in accordance with your actual needs, the only thing you can do is guess, and hope you get it right. I’d take about $3000 and get started. Put the rest in a short term easily convertible investment account and try to grow the remaining $25,000. In the meantime, get yourself some Yamaha HS8’s, a good computer, a reasonable interface, a couple mics, and copy of Pro Tools. That’ll keep you busy for a couple years.

Are you renting? Buy sound treatment that can move with you to a new facility if you leave.

You can’t learn shit off headphones. BUY MONITORS!!! Yamaha HS8’s, JBL 4000 series, or anything Focal.

No, you can’t calibrate a home stereo speaker that was not designed to do what a monitor does. Its completely incapable of ever being a monitor, because they’re made of completely different materials from the inside out.

Look, you’re putting your cart infront of your horse. You may want a stellar room, but you have to get there one step at a time. You don’t need a professional room. You need the best one your current business income is going to allow you to afford. I see what you’re thinking by killing 2 birds with one stone. One bird, the studio (which you will be using to record later) and a training environment (which you can use right now). That makes sense. The problem is that the price of the room is justified by the workload you have NOW…not the work load you hope to have later.

You’re a construction guy…right? Sounds to me that you’re literally wanting to go buy steam rollers, cement trucks, and road hogs that you CAN NOT deploy on a current contract NOW, based on the grounds that you can learn how to drive them now, and practice laying down concrete and asphalt. Don’t buy those vehicles until you have a work order secured! Yes, if your business is successful later, you will indeed be using them later. But the expense is not justified here and now.

Now this is dead on the money. Your own work makes excellent portfolio material. And that is exactly how I would recommend getting your portfolio moving forward.

People don’t get rich doing things they hate. They make money…sure…but what billionaire dislikes his work? Show me a single one?

I’m not trying to discourage you from attempting this. What I’m saying is the choices you make now, and the wisdom you apply to your career make the difference of weather you’re on the fast track or you do this the hard way. I sincerely applaud your ambition here. And your willingness to seek advice. Just don’t get ahead of yourself :smiley:

Haha! +1 to that!

GOOD band. Doesn’t do you any good if that band isn’t good. All that does is make YOU look BAD.

And ONE song is the key! Remember that time is the most valuable commodity on the planet. Is doesn’t mean shit if you record a whole record, because you only need one song to showcase your recording chops and to get a credit. You may have to take up to three to get them to hand you the project. They may need you to record an EP. That’s ok, just don’t spread yourself too thin.

Ya know, she’s really talking about time and process management. And its sooooo important. I would add to this, that its really important to be intentional about how you train. There is a difference between practicing an instrument and fucking noodling around like a moron. It may be fun (I do it all the time), but don’t mistake it with practicing. Set yourself a study agenda and goals. Then stick with it. A good idea is shit without proper execution.

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I don’t want to start another war, but I think it’s important to offer an alternative view. In my opinion, you can learn most of what you need to know on headphones. Having said that, I don’t think it’s possible to do 100% of a mix on them, you need to check your work on monitors before signing a mix off, and if you don’t have reliable monitors, you at least need to check on other sources, such as your car stereo for example.

Without getting into the technicalities, sound coming from speakers is not exactly the same as sound coming from cans, and the trick is for the mix to sound geat from both sources. You can’t know whether that is the case if you don’t actually check the mix on speakers, even if you use cans ofr 95% of your operation.

Thats fair. After giving it some thought, I should definitely retract that statement.

Rather I should have said there are some limitations to headphones (as there are with any pair of monitors as well) and its good to be mindful of this. And if headphones your primary source for the time being, then accuracy of the particular set of phones becomes pretty important.

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I know, I wanted it a bit higher, but that would have been to expensive for me right now :slight_smile:[quote=“Jonathan, post:15, topic:1318”]
If you’re planning on being in this house for a long time, can you raise your floor and increase the ceiling height for the mix area?

No I cant, cause its a concrete ceiling and I would be entering my garden of living room when I did that :smiley:

I’m really gonna have to deal with it, like it is.

Isn’t this going to be difficult for tracking then ? Or do you really suggest keeping it with 1 room at the beginning ?

Haha, omg, yeah I was thinking a little less extreme lol :slight_smile:
Aren’t there some alternatives? I mean, I’ll have to do some measuring and balancing no mater what at one point, I just don’t know where to start with this.

That is certainly not my budget to start out with, but I was just saying how hard this course would set me back financially. I would have spend 28k dollars and not even had a mic to show for it.

Well it really are monitor speakers :slight_smile: but nothing special. They cost me 300€ for the pair, 10y’s ago.

Well I’m actually trying to figure out in what steps its best to build this on. What to start with, without wasting to much money on stuff I’m not gonna be using any more in the future. Since I’m not gonna do that 2year engineering course, I’m depending on people like you to point me in the right direction :smiley:

Ok nice, I at least I’m on to “something” :stuck_out_tongue: hahaha[quote=“Jonathan, post:15, topic:1318”]
but what billionaire dislikes his work?

I dunno, a billionaire poop scooper ? :stuck_out_tongue: Nah I know, but still, its not the goal I’m striving for the most. I rather do something I like and get by, then having to do shit I don’t like to make double.

I know ! I really appreciate it! This is exactly why I started this thread! No use in inventing the wheel again and again, if there are people who you can learn from and preventing at least some of the potential setbacks that might occur. I’ll try not to get to far ahead, but I get SO many ideas all the time. I could make millions as an idea guy, if I had enough minions to do my bidding, and it gets a bit frustrating sometimes that you have to forget about 99% of them cause you’re not in a position to work them out properly. The studio would serve me for 2 important things on that. If I manage to learn the craft of course. 1) giving me the tools and space to work out more of those ideas, and providing a space that works appealing for musicians I may need to call upon to realise them. 2) Provide a workspace I can get some cash in on a slightly more secure way then relying on what hit you might write at one point. And I’m willing to suck up all the commentary I get on what I’m doing wrong to realise those things :slight_smile: