Save your pennies and improve your workflow with these inexpensive and invaluable studio additions.
It’s a given that a studio requires certain essentials; a computer, speakers, an audio interface, MIDI controllers etc., but what’s not so obvious are the inexpensive quality of life improvements that can edify your setup and transform the way you work.
At dBs, we're dedicated to making sound and music production as accessible as possible through bookable equipment and state-of-the-art studio spaces, but while we're all stuck at home and making do with what we have, these recommendations from our community are an excellent way to make big changes on a small budget.
1. Headphone Extensions
Recommended by Fisik
Though Bluetooth headphones have revolutionised the way we consume music casually - not to mention the way they've eliminated untangling struggles - they've not had the same impact on music production, owing mostly to the input lag that occurs when using MIDI controllers.
An extension cable for your headphones grants you the freedom to move around your studio with ease. Prices can start as low as a couple of pounds, but even better quality options from the likes of Roland or Sennheiser come in at less than £20.
2. Auralex MoPAD Studio Monitor Isolation Pads
Recommended by eljay_76
For anyone who has or is looking to set up their own studio setup, you've no doubt been beaten over the head by people saying 'invest in your monitors' - and for good reason! Yet not everyone has the space or the money leftover to then buy some monitor stands.
Auralex MoPADs are an inexpensive way to further improve your monitoring by increasing clarity while reducing coloration and structural resonance. There's two types to choose from; MoPAD (£26) and MoPAD XL (£59), with both able to support a range of monitor sizes.
3. Desktop Calendar
Recommended by Máté Moldován, Sound for Games & Apps student
When it comes to organisation, few of us ever feel like we're on top of things one hundred percent of the time. Whether it's juggling projects or just setting yourself creative targets, it's easy for things to get lost and forgotten.
For third year student Máté, making the switch from using post-it notes strewn around his home studio (physically or digital) to a desktop calendar has made all the difference in staying on top of projects.
4. Warm LED lighting
Photo credit: Harry Thomas
Recommended by Primitive Instinct
Mood lighting is perhaps the most common addition you'll see listed on how to improve your studio articles. It's a tried and tested formula, but lighting has a real impact not just on your mood, but also your concentration.
Hours staring at a computer screen is enough to cause anyone discomfort and can have long-lasting affects on your eyesight, but Primitive Instinct suggests placing a warm LED light behind your monitor to reduce eye fatigue and improve your concentration.
White and yellower lights help simulate daylight and are best suited to prolonged periods on a computer. We should also say, taking regular breaks is a must for a long studio session!
5. Notepad and pen
Recommended by Ivan Flack
Without fail, the notepad and pen comes up every time we ask a producer, composer, audio programmer etc. what essentials they have in their studio. While making notes using a computer is faster and cleaner than pen and paper, it's also too easy to erase.
Putting pen to paper is a more permanent way of documenting your thoughts ideas. It's a sensory act, and writing forces your brain to process information in a more detailed way, meaning it's more likely for that information to be retained. Plus, it's never a bad idea to give your eyes a break and focus on something that's not a screen.
Photo credit: Dan Wack
Recommended by Chris Barker
The benefits of keeping plants in your home is no secret, but it feels like their addition to home studios has been a more recent development. Renowned for boosting your mood, concentration and creativity, reducing stress and fatigue, absorbing toxins from the air and generally adding life to a space, there's really no excuse not to invite a few into your studio.
Philodendron, Monstera and Aloe plants are some good starters that don't require a lot of care and can survive in a range of conditions.
7. Drumming Isolation Headphones
Recommended by John Thorp
Our final entry comes from John Thorp, who's left-field use of drumming isolation headphones has really helped refine his recording technique.
"If Im at home mic'ing a guitar amp, it’ll be in the same room as my computer etc. If I want to listen to only what the mic is hearing with minimal bleed, it’s really nice to have isolating headphones. Instead of the open back reference headphones I’d use for most other things, I use a pair of Vic Firth isolation headphones, which are definitely not designed for critical listening but they’re decent and give you a good idea of what you’re doing."
Still looking for tips and how to improve your workflow? Click here to read our community's top tips on boosting creativity and focus.