Sound Engineer and Production Manager - Skinnyfish Music
The average room/shed wasn't designed with recording in mind, but can be transformed into a space worthy of world-class recordings.
The walls, floor and roof are generally hard parallel surfaces that will bounce the sound back and forth making the sound thin, distant or boxy. Mattresses, sleeping bags, blankets, mats, curtains, carpet, swags, sheets and other soft sound-absorbing materials are your friends (see picture). Cover the floor and walls (even the roof if you can) with these as much as possible!
For vocal recording make a little booth/tent big enough to comfortably fit a microphone on a stand and the singer. Use whatever you have available to make a sturdy frame: the wall, microphone stands, bed frames, gate/fence frames, cupboards, tables etc. Then cover this in blankets, sleeping bags and sound-absorbing materials.
Of course every now and then you may find a room that has a unique sound that will add character to the recording: your ears need to be the judge of whether this is the case!
Don't forget to turn off the aircon, fans and even the fridge; anything that will make a noticeable sound in the quietest bit of the recording. Often the trade-off of recording outside of a soundproof environment is finding the quietest part of the day to record vocals and other quiet acoustic instruments.
Bands need to be realistic about what their goal is with making a recording.
Many have little recording experience but high expectations. For bands making their first recording, a demo will generally bring the most benefit to the band. It is much lower cost and stress and it is a chance for the band to learn the process of recording and to hear their songs and performance objectively. A demo is also a great tool to show promoters, venues and labels what a band realistically has to offer music- and performance-wise.
During a band’s first recording experience the learning curve is steep and by the end of it I find bands are either ready to do it all again (but better)... or give up and get "real jobs".
If the band is happy with the recording then it becomes a great EP to sell at gigs and give to your family on their birthdays!
But don't worry if you're unhappy with early attempts at recording - getting it right takes time and experience. Just because your favourite band's first album release sounds great doesn't mean they didn't do numerous demo recordings or hundreds of shows to hone their songwriting and musicianship before releasing their debut LP.