Many artists who record at home or in other non-studio environments put serious thought into the mics they use (if they have more than one option) when tracking ideas and less thought into how to best use the acoustic spaces where they set up.
Beyond the obvious considerations about higher-frequency reflections that can obscure clarity on a track, there are also room resonances to consider that an untrained ear may not readily discern but which mics (especially condensers) pick up with ease. Such resonances in the mid and bass ranges can also make recorded tracks muddy in various ways.
Some room issues can be mitigated by increasing the signal-to-noise ratio (determined by the proximity of the source to the mic) as well as mic placement in the room and a variety of acoustic treatments. EQ, if used judiciously, can also be useful in compensating for a less-than-ideal acoustic environment but it’s always better to first maximize results in tracking by other means.
Call it “old school” if you want but taking the time to experiment with small adjustments in mic positioning can yield surprising results in terms of changing the tone of any source. The best engineers and producers know this and take the time to experiment at every stage of tracking. They know that the cumulative effect of careful mic positioning on every track can mean the difference between a good record and a great record.
Sometimes the room is what it is in spite of every effort to lessen its impact on the song. Sometimes a combination of acoustically-dampened spaces and a natural room sound can give a song a sort of character that makes it unique and inimitable with plug-ins. If you take the time to read about how many records are made, you will find that even some of the biggest hits out there were tracked in acoustically imperfect environments because that is what the budgets permitted and perhaps that is where the artists were most comfortable performing.
So, you need not fight every room with blankets, sofa cushions and other homemade acoustic treatments to make your living room sound like a giant iso-booth. You may want to try finding a way to embrace it and integrate your unique room sound into your next record.
Do you need advice on making the most of your home recording environment?