You might have been putting a lot of thought into buying the best speakers, mic, and other equipment for quality sound recording.
But do you know that they’ll still fail you if used in the wrong home studio size?
Choosing the right home studio size is mission-critical for recording high-quality audio.
Whether you want to produce mixes or create podcasts, the size of the room can be a game-changer for your sound recording journey.
If you look into the architecture of music theaters, opera houses, and even professional studios for that matter, you will realize how they are carefully designed with special attention to acoustics.
It doesn’t matter how expensive and hi-tech your recording gear is, their performance is always secondary to the role of your studio’s physical structure.
One of the main reasons why many newbies are unable to produce anything of substantial value in their home studio is because the room size and physical layout don’t support quality recording.
So, if you want to make the most of your efforts, it’s essential to do thorough research and learn about the ideal room dimensions for the best acoustics.
But first, let’s take a more in-depth look at why the room size matters.
The Effect of Room Size on Sound Quality
The need for choosing the right home studio size stems from this basic fact:
The quality of sound recorded in a studio is a combination of the audio system and the physical audibility of the listener.
In other words, the sound quality is determined not only by the shape and size of the room, but also by the strategic placement of the mic and the speakers, and the interdependence between the two factors.
This is because the geometry of the room introduces modal artefacts, which, in turn, influence the balance and timbre of the sound.
To better understand this, you need to visualize sound waves traveling in the air.
When you speak, these waves spread out in all directions.
In an enclosed space such as your home studio, the sound waves will start bouncing around the room as they cannot escape.
They reflect back from the walls, floor, ceiling, and even the surface of the gear itself, and ultimately, come in contact with each other.
When that happens, they create weird sound signals that can rightfully be called noise.
The human ear is not always sensitive to these interactions, but your mic will be quick to pick up on these unwanted sound signals.
You might have noticed that the walls of professional studios are usually lined with foam.
The soft foam padding serves as a sound absorber and prevents the generation of extra frequency components that would otherwise become a part of the track being recorded.
What Is the Optimal Size for Your Home Studio?
Let’s cut to the chase – there’s no definite answer to how large or small a home studio should be.
The general rule of thumb is to go for a substantially large room.
This allows for upgrades and lets you add more instruments/ recording gear down the road without having to move over and set up a new studio in a different place.
Also, bigger rooms minimize noise and have better acoustics.
To determine how large your home studio is, you need to take into account all three dimensions – the length, width, and height of the room.
Multiply them together and you get the volume of the room in cubic units.
The widely held belief is that if a room has a volume of around 1500 cubic feet or less, it won’t be effective for recording high-quality audio.
So, if the room that you currently have in mind for setting up a home studio isn’t as spacious, it’s best that you find another room.
Ideally, your studio should be at least 20 ft x 15 ft x 10 ft. That’s equivalent to 3,000 cubic feet by volume.
Any room smaller than that virtually doesn’t count as a ‘studio.’ It will feel too crammed, create too much distortion, and you won’t be able to use it comfortably for long periods of time either.
Needless to say, you need to be mindful of housing the recording gear too.
There are some basic components that are a must-have for a room to be considered as a home ‘studio.’
Therefore, you need to make sure that all your sound recording gear can be accommodated within the room and leave sufficient space for you to sit, walk, and work efficiently without tripping over the cables and other items.
Many home studio pros say that a rectangular shaped room has better acoustics than a square-shaped room.
While that might be true, you should be more concerned about how high the ceiling is.
This is because you need to match the volume of the room with the amount of energy that will be created in it once you start recording.
For a high power speaker measuring about 5 ft tall, do you think it’s a good idea to use it in your basement or any other room that’s around 8 ft high?
No. you don’t want to use a speaker that’s about half as high as the ceiling of your studio because it will lead to bad acoustics.
Best Size for Acoustics
When recording in a home studio, audiophiles avoid acoustical issues by managing sound pressure and reflections.
And for that, you need to manage the room size.
Every speaker and musical instrument that you use radiates energy in the form of sound waves.
Each of these pieces of equipment has its own radiation pattern.
The radiation pattern indicates how far along the sound signals produced by the instrument can travel, and the distance at which it can cause reflection problems.
Again, coming back to the ideal home studio size at which these problems can be avoided, the answer is – there’s none.
There is no one-size-fits-all measurement for choosing the best room for acoustics.
However, there are certain dimensions that many professional record producers recommend.
Generally, any room measuring 23 ft x 17 ft x 10 ft is considered a good starting point.
The numbers can vary slightly as long as their product, and hence the volume of the room stays close to about 4,000 cubic feet.
If you are searching for a room on rent or modifying one in your house, try to aim for the dimensions 23 ft x 17 ft x 10 ft.
This length-width-height ratio minimizes pressure issues at low-frequencies and ensures that there are little to no sound reflections that can jeopardize your audio quality.
Best Size for Multiple Recordings (For Example, Band Recording)
Choosing the best home studio size for multiple recordings is no different than choosing the ideal room size for solo recordings.
You have to factor in the three-dimensional size, the gear you will use, and the energy that will be produced and contained within the room as a result.
However, there are a few additional things that you need to pay attention to if you will be doing multitrack recordings, especially with band members.
You must ensure that there’s an ample amount of space for both, your fellow music enthusiasts and the equipment you all will be using.
In this case, it’s a good idea to look for a room that is at least 4,500 cubic feet in space.
It offers flexibility in terms of instrumental arrangement and lessens the severity of any adverse effects that might be caused by the production of modal waves.
As for the respective dimensions, remember that the wider a sound recording room is, the lesser are the sound reflections that disturb the output from the music gear and speakers.
Also, the ratio of the length to the width of the room shouldn’t be close to one, i.e., it shouldn’t be a square-shaped studio.
When both sets of opposing walls feature the same distance in between, the room becomes more susceptible to the noise created internally.
On the other hand, a room with a rectangular geometry diffuses the sound more evenly, so you are able to hear each instrument clearly.
Expert musicians say that choosing the right home studio size is the most fundamental aspect of producing mixes that are worth listening to.
Even if you are only looking at simple voice recording projects for podcasts, audiobooks and the likes, you need to give due importance to the size of your home studio.
We hope that after reading this article, you now know how to pick the right room for your home studio such that it guarantees acoustically-rich sound recordings each and every time.