Los Senderos Studio

Rules of Thumb | Los Senderos Studio

Rules of Thumb

Every industry has a few rules of thumb that they use as a guide or starting point for certain processes. Here are some that I have collected over the years that pertain to the recording studio.

    Microphone Selection

    Microphone Polar Patterns

  • Use omnidirectional microphones
  •   to avoid coloration such as the proximity effect or off-axis effects.
      to capture the room sound.
      to provide a natural, blended sound.
      when recording a moving source, such as a performer who moves around.
      when using stereo recording techniques such as
          the A-B or spaced omnis technique.
  • Use cardioid microphones
  •   to control bleed from nearby sounds.
      in rooms with poor acoustics, to minimize reflections.
      to isolate drums in a drum kit.
      in live performances to maintain isolation and prevent feedback.
      when using stereo recording techniques such as
          the X-Y pair, DIN, EBS, mid-side, NOS, ORTF, or RAI techniques.
  • Use figure-8 microphones
  •   to isolate off-axis sounds.
      to isolate instruments and/or vocalists in close proximity.
      to record a duet of singers facing each other.
      when using stereo recording techniques such as
          the Blumlein array, Faulkner array, Decca tree, or mid-side techniques.

    Microphone Placement

3-to-1 rule (to minimize phase problems)

  • When two microphones are used to record a source, the microphones should be separated by at least three times the microphone-to-source distance.
  • If you are recording two different sources, each microphone should be three times the distance from each other as the distance each mic is from its respective source.
  • A distant microphone should be 3 times as far away from the source as a close microphone.

10-dB rule (to minimize phase problems)

  • When using multiple microphones in close proximity, there should be at least a 10-dB signal difference between them.

    Control room acoustics

  • Place the mixing desk on a the short walls, rather than a long wall.
  • Target the listening position at 38% of the wall length from your front wall, but somewhere between 35% and 43%, avoiding nodal points (like 50% and 25%).
  • The listening position and monitors should be placed in an equilateral triangle, with the apex just behind the listener's head.
  • Monitors should be aimed at the listener at the height of the listener's ears.
  • Absorption panels should be placed on the side walls centered halfway between the monitors and the listener.
  • Place at least one bass trap in each front corner.

    Digital recording levels

  • Record at 24 bits rather than 16 bits.
  • Target on recording levels that average about -18 dBFS.
  • Avoid any peaks higher than -6 dBFS.


  • Insert effects (effects inserted directly into the track) are used with dynamic effects (such as compressors, limiters, and gates) and spectral effects (such as equalizers and enhancers).
  • Send effect (effects inserted into an effects bus or aux track) are used with time-based effects (such as delays, echoes, and reverbs).



  • The input impedance of a device should be much higher than the impedance of source output.

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