When setting up your home recording studio, you usually take any spare room at your house or one corner of it, then give it the acoustic treatment it needs and bring your equipment in. Unlike commercial recording studios, where you will need to get a bigger space to fit more equipment and more furniture for more people, home studios only need to accommodate you and your basic audio devices. So are there specific floor area requirements for a recording studio?
A home recording studio should have a minimum floor area of 20 sq ft (1.86 sq m), which is big enough for a desk, a computer, a mic, and an audio interface. But to get a good sound, you need a larger space because you’d also be able to move around more comfortably and accommodate more equipment.
In this article, we will talk about studio space requirements and the ideal studio size. We will also give you studio design considerations as well as tips on how to set up your recording studio in order to optimize space and generate the best sound.
How Much Space You Need for a Recording Studio
There’s no hard-set rule when it comes to how large your recording studio should be. In fact, even professionals usually start with a makeshift studio in the corner of their room and with the most basic of equipment. So as long as the space could accommodate a desk for your computer, an audio interface, and a microphone, you’re good to go and you can start recording.
The minimum floor area for a bare-bones studio would be 20 square feet (1.9 square meters). But there won’t be much room to move around and it won’t be able to accommodate more equipment. You may not even be able to fit a chair and you would be quite uncomfortable. With this little space, it would be like converting your broom closet or your pantry into a studio.
If you want a space that is large enough to accommodate a decent number of equipment and is sufficiently comfortable, a floor area of at least 10 by 10 feet (3 by 3 meters) would be good. It would also be nice to have some space left for certain equipment upgrades, as well as room to put in an extra chair or a couch for other people.
Breaking Down the Dimensions
If you are wondering how a 20-square-foot space could be enough for a stripped down home studio, let us break down the essential components and see how much space they occupy and how they could fit in there.
Work desks vary in dimensions, but standard ones measure 48 to 72 inches (122 to 183 centimeters) in width, 24 to 36 inches (61 to 91 centimeters) in depth. They are also 29 to 30 inches (74 to 76 centimeters) in height, but height doesn’t really matter when we’re talking about floor area.
Computers vary in size, too. Laptops are significantly more space-saving and you have all its components built into one portable device. Desktop computers, on the other hand, occupy more space because they are composed of a monitor, a CPU tower, a keyboard, and a mouse.
Tower cases also come in different sizes, with the full-sized ones measuring 8 inches (20 centimeters) wide, 18 inches (46 centimeters) deep, and 24 inches (61 centimeters) high.
You can place a full tower case under your desk. There are also tower cases that are small and compact and are designed to be placed on your desk. Of course, your monitor, keyboard, and mouse will be on top of your desk, too.
Check out whether you can produce music on a Chromebook.
Audio Interface and Microphone
You should also leave enough space on your desk for your audio interface. This piece of equipment is typically as small as your tissue box. As such, you can place your interface right beside your keyboard.
Of course, another core component is the microphone, and you would need a mic stand for it. As such, you need to leave some space on your desk for your mic.
A preamp typically measures 15 inches (38 centimeters) wide and 10 inches (25 centimeters) deep. A bare-bones studio setup would leave out preamps as it would take up a significant amount of space. After all, a studio interface already has a built-in preamp function.
However, if you really can’t do without one, you can just place your computer monitor or laptop on top of it. Or, if you have a bigger studio, you can add another desk or table for your preamp.
Studio monitors can measure around 13 inches (33 centimeters) high, 8 inches (20 centimeters) wide, and 11 inches (28 centimeters) deep. Any legit recording studio would need studio monitors, but if you are making do with only the most basic equipment and the smallest studio space, you’ll be fine with just a nice pair of headphones.
If you have the space for an equipment upgrade, you can place your studio monitors on a separate desk, along with your preamps.
For more information, check out if a vocal booth is necessary for home recording studios.
The Ideal Recording Studio Setup: The Bigger, the Better
How you set up and design your recording studio will spell the difference between good and bad sound quality. And when it comes to the dos and don’ts of studio setups, one of the things you need to avoid is a small space.
Sure, a large space is great for your growing collection of instruments and audio devices and it would also have more space for more musicians or artists who will record with you. But, more importantly, the larger the room, the better the sound.
And we’re not just talking about a large room in terms of floor area. An ideal recording studio should also have a high ceiling and asymmetrical walls. A lot of irregular surfaces would also be great for acoustics.
Moreover, according to Sound Control Room, the room’s length, width, and height will influence its acoustics, and equal dimensions are not a good thing. A repeating dimension, such as 16 feet (4.9 meters) by 10 feet (3 meters) by 10 feet (3 meters) is also not great.
You can also achieve amazing sound if the surrounding walls have acoustic treatments or acoustic panels.
Disadvantages of a Small Studio Space
The best setup is to separate your studio into two areas: a recording station and a mixing station. But this is only good for professional studios, where there are usually two or more people involved. There would be a musician in the recording booth and a sound engineer who would be doing the mixing on the opposite side.
However, if we are talking about a solo recording studio setup, wherein you are doing both the functions of a musician and sound engineer, then you cannot separate the room into two areas. You will need all your equipment within reach from your chair.
The downside to having all your gears around you in a circle is that they would create added reflections. This could end up hurting your acoustics. For example, your computer will be very close to your microphones, so the noise of its internal fan could make it into the recording.
To solve this, you can make use of remote controls and wireless devices. These would allow you to record yourself on your mic while still being able to control your other equipment via remote so you don’t have to place them so near each other.
Additionally, small spaces usually have low ceilings and parallel walls. These characteristics usually affect acoustics negatively.
There is no specific floor area required for a recording studio. You can set one up in a small space as long as all your basic equipment fits. Having a limited space should not stop you from doing what you love. However, you also can’t expect to get the best sound quality out of it. Tiny spaces mean pour acoustics, stripped-down gear, and bad positioning.
As such, if you have a choice, go for a larger recording studio. Larger spaces mean better sound, more comfort, better placement of equipment, and room for upgrades.