I know, I know. “Accessories” is a pretty anti-climactic topic to end this series on. However, we’re talking about 12 Home Studio Necessities here, and accessories can play a huge part in the functionality and workflow of your studio.
In light of that, I’ve compiled a list of accessories that I find indispensable in my home studio. This is certainly not an exhaustive list. It’s more of a starting point to get you thinking about what various items you may be missing.
- Equipment Rack – There’s nothing quite like having a rack for your equipment. However, filling up a rack can be quite addicting. (Be careful of G.A.S.) That being said, even if you just have a few pieces of gear — audio interface, power conditioner, rack-mountable hard drive — you can still benefit from a rack. There are all kinds out there. At the time I’m writing this article, I’ve got a very basic $20 rack sitting next to me. It’s just a metal frame with rack rails on it. Works just fine.
- Desk – You’ll need at least a table to hold all your fancy gear. There are lots of desks out there made specifically for recording studios. Some have built-in racks, which is nice. I currently use an L-shaped glass desk I got from a local hardware store. It has a raised platform, on which I place my computer monitor and studio monitors.
- Headphone Accessories – It’s always good to have extra headphones around in case you are recording more than one musician. Also, if your interface only has one headphone out, you’ll need to either get a headphone amp with multiple outputs or just a Y splitter cable to split the signal to two headphones. It’s also a really good idea to have a few headphone adapters in your arsenal – both 1/4″ to 1/8″ and 1/8″ to 1/4″ (see picture). You never know when you’ll need to listen to an iPod, or someone may bring in headphones with only a 1/8″ connector on them. You’ll want to be able to accommodate them. Another one of my most favorite accessories is a headphone extension cord. It’s simply a 10-foot cable that has a 1/4″ male jack on one end and 1/4″ female on the other. This lets you get away from your noisy computer and hard drives to record without having the headphone cable yank you back.
- DI Box – It’s always a good idea to have a DI box for recording guitar and bass. Sure, you may mic up a guitar or amp, but getting a copy of the signal off of a direct box can be invaluable. (It allows you to change the guitar/amp sound down the road if you need to.)
- Flash Drives – While I love using my firewire hard drives for recording and archiving, they can be a pain to lug around to a friend’s studio to swap files, etc. Keep a few USB flash drives handy. If you’ve got a large set of files you want to move around, a larger, bus-powered USB drive would be great for that. I’ve got an old 20GB USB drive that I use from time to time. It makes life pretty easy.
- Pop Filter – Just go ahead and get one. You can play all the tricks you want when recording vocals, trying to prevent the notorious plosive B’s and P’s from popping the microphone, but a pop filter will make your life easier, so the singer can focus on just singing. Use the nylon ones, or even the metal mesh ones out there. I’d stray away from using a thick foam “ball.” Foam tends to absorb high frequencies, and you you want the vocal to pass through to the microphone as accurately as possible.
- Blank CD Spindle – You know the spindle that hold a stack of blank CDRs when you buy them? Well, once you use up all your CDRs, keep the spindle. It’s a great place to store all of your installation discs for the various pieces of software you own. It gets so annoying to have to look through jewel cases or those little paper sleeves to find the disc you want.
Like I said, this is certainly not an exhaustive list. These are simply things I see around my studio as I type this.
What do you use? What accessories can you not live without?