Inpetto are a brotherly duo from Germany with a long history in the world of dance music production and DJing. Making up two thirds of the act Fragma they scored big hits like ‘Toca’s Miracle’ back in the 90’s. Their album, ‘Toca’, proved they were no one-hit wonders yielding further hits including the top five singles ‘Everytime You Need Me’ and ‘You Are Alive’ with more than 2 million records sold worldwide.
The boys have a level of consistency that have made them a clear favorite amongst their peers, with support from Axwell, Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten, Above & Beyond, Paul van Dyk and more elevating them to critical acclaim as producers, remixers and DJs. Since producing their own tunes has always been their strongest asset, unlike so many other producers these days, we decided to ask them how they built their home studio, which they recently finished construction on.
So guys, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. I will get started immediately.
If (young) producers decide on building a home studio, what are three essential things they should think about before building it?
Working in your studio should first of all be comfortable. Think about creating the right working atmosphere. You have to feel good, so you can concentrate on making the music. If you plan to use hardware equipment, think of good accessibility. A good work-flow situation is essential so that you can focus on the music at all times.
Secondly, it should be comfortable for your neighbors. A studio in your private home is nearly always creating a lot of noise outside of it. If you don’t have neighbors or build your studio in an industrial zone, you don’t have to care about soundproofing. But if you have neighbors, or a relationship that you don’t plan to fuck up, you should have a separate room, that has enough space to convert it into a soundproof room, or at least install some sound-damping components. And speaking of sound proofing I don’t talk about acoustic boards, absorbers, and bass-traps etc. as they just enhance your in-room acoustics. Soundproofing components are for example insulating and uncoupled walls and a heavy, sealed door. In the best case: a room within a room – as we did in our home studio.
There are several companies that specialize in soundproofing your studio or provide modular wall-systems for building a room within a room. You should at least inform yourself about these wall-systems. To get it done by a company can have its downsides. If your room has unusual measurements (like a basement with a low ceiling) the customizations can be very expensive, or modular wall-systems don’t fit. Then you should consider to build it yourself.
Thirdly, you should have a good sound experience. It’s important to be able to judge the sound of your tracks. So you should think of treating your room with sound shaping elements, if needed. A plain naked room with tile-flooring isn’t a good idea for this job.
What is the perfect room measurement to build a home studio?
There is a “golden ratio“ for good room acoustics: (h/w/l) 1 / 1,14 / 1,39. For example: 3 meters tall, 3,42 meters wide, 4,18 meters long. The thing is, here in Germany the walls of modern homes are just 2,50 meters in height. So if you want to stick with this ratio, your studio gets pretty small. Especially when you build a room-in-room studio. It’s an advantage to live in an old building, where the walls are higher. That gives you also some room to work with keeping ceiling absorber panels or a sloping ceiling in mind. At least the shape of your floor shouldn’t be a square. A rectangle-shape is much better for room acoustics.
What acoustics have you used in your studio?
The first impression of our studio rooms acoustic is not too bad even without treating it. The studios shape isn’t mirror symmetrical anyhow – speaking of left and right. This isn’t desirable, but we have to deal with it in our situation. We have some unwanted angled walls. But they reduce at least some of the flutter echoes, which is positive. A hard floor like parquet flooring or tiling looks good and your chair rolls like a boss. But we have carpet on the floor, which absorbs a lot unwanted reflections, too. We are planning just to add some absorber panels for the walls and maybe for the ceiling at the reflection points.
What material would you recommend you should definitely buy even when you are on a budget?
It depends on your situation. Acoustic panels are a good thing to invest in. Especially bass traps if your room acoustics have a bad sound in low frequencies. They can definitely improve the sound within your studio. There are different types of panels like absorbers, diffusors etc. If you understand how they work, you can build them on your own. There are also several tutorials on YouTube explaining which effect each of them has, showing how to build them yourself, and where to place them.
Are there any special materials you have used for building your studio, for example, bass traps?
An Ikea shelf in our back filled with folders does the job of a diffusor.
Are you a fan of producer’s desks and if you can’t build one yourself, what brand would you recommend?
We built our own desk for now, but we already had a look on the all-black “Beat Desk“ of StudioDesk. It looks pretty damn good, and seems very functional.
Would you chose hardware over software and if so/not so, why?
We got into music business when hardware was absolutely essential, and we had hardware. We didn’t have many of the analogue synths, that still have their relish and right to exist, but hardware samplers, some digital synths and processing units, etc. Even a huge analogue mixing desk. And it was fun to work with it. As our computer was able to handle software synths, and the sound of them got better and better, we stopped using our hardware more and more. Not because it sounds better. To load up all the sounds in your external hardware for one project took always a lot of time. And if you worked on many different projects at the same time, it got all messed up! What turns up uncomfortable when being lazy!
Have you used any, or are you planning to use any special gadgets in the studio?
Our room-in-room studio is almost air-sealed. To be able to work in it, you have to install a ventilation system, to avoid death. The downside is: Sound can get out of the studio. So we built silencers for the pipes to reduce sound getting out on the street.
What are the number three items any producer needs in his studio?
Do you think a well designed studio contributes to the creativity of a producer and if so why?
Yes. As mentioned above you should feel well in your studio. It absolutely contributes to the creativity. Making music always mirrors a little bit of your emotional state.
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