1) Enhance sound with speaker stands
Having a nice set of monitors is a great benefit to producing good recordings and mixes. Many people are not getting the best out of their speakers because they have them sitting up on a bookshelf or on the top of a table. Of course, sometimes we have to make do with where we can practically set up our equipment in a home studio. One great way to enhance the sound coming from your speakers is to get them set up on properly made speaker stands. By using speaker stands you can more easily set up the stereo image sweet spot (by creating an equilateral triangle between your head and the speakers) and also stop the table top from sympathetically vibrating which reduces the accuracy of the speakers.
2) Reduce vibrations
Studio monitor isolation pads are a low cost studio tweak, they can help provide some de-coupling from the surface which your speakers rest on (including speaker stands). They come in 2 varieties, the first type are neoprene disks, one of these disks sits underneath the corner of each speaker lifting it from the surface and provide some vibration absorption. A second type is the foam pad, these can be made yourself using a good quality 10cm thick acoustic foam tile, or alternatively can be purchased ready made often with an adjustable slope. This allows you to angle the speakers slightly upwards or downwards depending on your speaker height. Reducing vibrations that are caused by the cabinet resting on a resonant surface can definitely improve the stereo image and overall accuracy of the sound.
3) Focus on absorption
Acoustic treatment can literally transform a small studio environment. There are 2 main principles, that is absorption and diffusion. Absorption means the sound waves are prevented from being reflected from a hard boundary and diffusion means that the sound is scattered in a different direction than the reflected sound wave would normally. Initially focus on absorption because diffusers can be expensive. I highly recommend 10cm thick Owens Corning or Rock Wool RW3 slabs attached to side walls to stop what is known as first reflections. 10cm thick foam tiles are also quite effective for mid range and high frequencies. This will drastically improve your stereo image.
As a secondary measure try installing bass traps, these come ready made as foam triangle that are predominantly placed in the room corners. These are less effective than making your own Rock wool or Owens Corning bass traps (Look up ‘Superchunk bass trap’ online). Bass traps are a little bulky and not everyone has the chance to install them but they work wonders for low frequency accuracy. Once bass traps have been installed in corners they should help you to make better decisions when mixing bass in your studio.
4) Keep the work flow and creative feel flowing
When working on a large project it can be difficult to keep a grip of all the tracks, I recommend devising a color scheme that allows you to more efficiently navigate your digital audio workstations mixing session. Color is one of the easiest and quickest ways to be able to identify what any given track is. Create a color scheme that naturally makes sense in your mind. As an example… Kick – red, snare- green, drum overheads – orange and so on. Each time you start work on a new mix try and keep this color code in mind and within a few mixes you will find yourself being able to much more quickly locate different instruments. This keeps the work flow and creative feel flowing much more smoothly and allows you to make more effective and faster mix decisions.
5) Have a clone ready
Backing up data is crucial, as well as doing routine backups. I stumbled upon an excellent product known as the Integral SATA copy station. In essence it allows you to entirely clone a SATA hard disk drive to another spare SATA drive. Once you have set up your digital audio workstation in the manner you want it with all your favorite tweaks and plug ins installed, clone the drive. This way when your system drive fails (and all hard drive eventually do) you have a clone ready to slot into the machine and get back to work. There is no other back up plan that works so quickly. Although do be aware that some software plugin ins authorize themselves based on the hard drive serial number so those that use this method of authorization may need to be re-authorized.