Choosing a Recording Studio for Your Music Style

5 Tips on Choosing a Recording Studio Before You Decide

Studio Recording TipsChoosing a recording studio is a big step. Whether you are a solo artist or a band, you go into a recording studio to capture your ideas in the best possible way.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a songwriter seeking to bring your song to life from the written page, or you are a band looking to track all instruments, you need to be certain that the studio you are planning to use will really work for your project.

There are a lot of studios out there, and finding the right one can be challenging. Fortunately, you can follow a few best practices to help you make sure you’re choosing the right studio for you.

Is it the right size for your project?

Need to track drums and large amps? You’ll want to find a studio with large, acoustically treated rooms that will allow you to record a drum set or amplifiers. If you are in a band that likes to perform together in a room, you’ll have to find a room large enough to allow for some degree of sound separation of the individual instruments. Conversely, solo singers need only find a studio with a good isolation booth.

Can the studio track all of your instruments?

Most modern project and professional studios can handle a wide range of projects. You will find that most have at least 16 input channels, with larger studios going up to as many as 128 simultaneous tracks. For most of us, that’s overkill. Most singer-songwriters will need only a couple of inputs for themselves and a single instrument, but if you have a band, you’ll quickly start to use up tracks.

Many bands record through the process of overdubbing, where each instrument is layered onto the recording one at a time. This can be accomplished with a few inputs. But if you prefer to play live, you’ll eat through inputs fast. These factors must be considered before showing up at a given studio expecting to record. The studio needs to meet your technical requirements.

Is an experienced engineer on-site?

A studio full of gear is great, but you need someone who knows the ins-and-outs of all that equipment to be able to get a great recording out of the session. A good engineer will know how to use every piece of gear – from microphones to mixing boards – in the studio. A seasoned engineer is able to use the gear at his/her disposal to help you realize what you have in mind for your music.

Do the studio’s rates fit your budget?

As with anything else, when it comes to recording studios, you get what you pay for. Whatever the scope of your project, you are undoubtedly aware of the budget you have in mind. As a general rule of thumb, you should go for the best studio you can afford. That being said, there are a few other monetary considerations when choosing a studio.

Hourly studios are very common, and paying by the hour is perfectly acceptable in a digital studio. In an analog studio, you’ll eat through time waiting for tapes to rewind, so although it’s really fashionable to go analog, it can be very costly. In a digital studio, you should still be certain you have an accurate estimation of the time it will take to record your song before agreeing to the hourly rate.

If, for an example, you are an experienced singer-songwriter, you can probably nail down a winning take of a song in under an hour. Bands doing overdubs will take considerably more time. You’ll also want to allow additional hourly time for post-production, editing, and mixing. Discuss these factors up front with the studio manager to be sure you’re going into the studio that is right for your budget.

Are they experienced with your style of music?

Most digital studios are technically capable of recording all kinds of music, but the engineer and the stable of gear should be relevant to your specific type of music.

An engineer who has recorded techno may be great at it, but that same engineer might not know exactly what to do with a country band. This is understandable but it presents the challenge of finding a studio that is both the right physical place, and the right stylistic choice. Established studios may have experience with all types of music, but it’s still something you should discuss before recording begins.

Final thoughts

There are many things to think of when choosing a studio. Place and price must come together to make it the right choice for your next recording project. Still, the final determiner has to be the vibe of the place.

If you feel comfortable and inspired, your recordings will benefit. So the best advice is to visit any studio before deciding to record there. With a little shopping around, there’s definitely a studio that’s perfect for your next project.