How to choose a recording studio
Choosing the right studio for your project can be bewildering and downright confusing. And it can be expensive if you make the wrong choice. However, if you follow a few guidelines the process can be much easier. Here are some things to look for. [Note: Click on highlighted words to go to their definition in our glossary.]
1. The Recording Engineer - This is the most important item to consider in your search for a studio. Every engineer has his or her own way of doing things. The style and experience of the engineer will have more impact on your recording than anything else. And it's not just about knowing how to operate the equipment or how to edit the musical tracks. The engineer has to be someone you like and with whom you feel comfortable working. You're going to be in the studio for quite a few hours. An engineer with 50 years of experience and a bad personality will get very tiring in short order. To find a good engineer, ask the people who have used a particular studio. Most studios have a list of clients on their webpage. Give those musicians a call, and find out how they liked working with a given engineer.
2. The Facility - The facility is not only the recording space and control room, but the environment around the studio. Is it located in the middle of a large city or out in the country where you have a chance to relax and be creative? Are there places to unwind, areas to drink and have snacks, and quiet areas to practice your music? Can you take in the beauty of the surroundings? Remember you will be in the studio for several days for hours at a time. You will need someplace to take a breather between sessions. The size of the studio is another important consideration. Is the studio large enough to hold a 30-piece orchestra or just a 5-man band? You need to find out before you book the studio. And finally the acoustics will be important to the sound you will achieve. If you can't visit the studio beforehand, listen to samples produced by the studio to see if you like the sound. Remember it is easy to add reverberation in the mixing process, but it is nearly impossible to remove it if it occurred during recording due to bad acoustics.
3. The Equipment - You will want to use a studio which has some high quality gear. Most studio websites provide a list of their gear. If you're not familiar with the equipment and microphones shown there, Google them to learn more about them. But don't get carried away. A studio with a huge list of equipment is not necessarily better than one with a smaller list. Afterall, the engineer will probably only use a few microphones on your project. If he knows what he is doing, he will choose the right ones for your situation. Most studios today have gone digital, but a few still have analog tape machines available. If that is important to you, then seek out a studio with analog capabilities. The majority of professional studios use Pro Tools for their digital audio workstation (DAW), but a few use other platforms. If you will be loading the files into your own DAW, finding a studio with the same DAW may make things easier, but is not absolute necessary. Given enough time, most studios should be able to provide you with WAV files of individual tracks, if you need them.
4. The Cost - In most endeavors the more you pay for something, the better it is. This is true up to a point. Have you ever gone to a small town to buy an automobile because the overhead was lower than in the city? Sometimes you need to consider other factors. For example, you can pay thousands of dollars for a Cadillac, but if all you need is transportation to the grocery store to get beer, maybe a bicycle will do. The same is true of recording studios. If you don't need a 10,000-square-foot studio with all the bells and whistles, maybe a 1,000-square-foot studio with a whistle will do.
5. Time - Too often musicians coming into a studio for the first time think they can show up at the studio early in the morning and walk out with a highly-polished recorded, mixed and mastered 12-track CD at the end of the day. This is completely unrealistic, and trying to accomplish this will produce only disappointing results. While no two projects take the same amount of time, talking to the engineer can help you plan and decide on how much time you will need. Having your material arranged and well-rehearsed will go a long way to keeping your studio time to a minimum. While some studios will quote you costs for a total project, this only works well if everything goes like clockwork. A musician having trouble hitting the right notes is going to take much more time than the one who is well prepared, and the engineer quickly will become irritated if he feels time is being wasted. When you are paying by the hour, everyone treats the studio time with the same consideration or pays the difference. If you have an accommodating engineer, he will help work you through the rough spots.
As you can see, the process of choosing the right studio can be boiled down to looking at few fundamental areas. If you have any questions about how Los Senderos Studio stacks up in these key areas, please contact us. We hope you choose Los Senderos Studio, but if not, we understand different people have different needs. Here are links to help you decide if Los Senderos Studio is right for you:
1. The Engineer - Client Comments
2. The Facility - Client Comments
3. The Equipment - Our Equipment
4. The Cost - Our Rates
5. Time - Frequently Asked Questions