Choose A Recording Studio

How to choose a recording studio

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When it comes time to record in a professional recording studio, you want to be sure you make the right choice. These tips for choosing a studio will put you on track.

You’ve got the songs. You’ve logged the miles, played the gigs, and built your following. Now it’s time to record. But how do you choose the right recording studio? Good question! You want to choose wisely as this is for posterity, after all.

Finding and choosing the right recording studio is both a right-brain and left-brain activity. There are practical sides and there are emotional sides to the equation. Here are four things to consider when shopping for a recording studio:

The people

Get to know the people behind the studio – the owners and the staff. If you are not working with your own audio engineer, get to know the studio engineer and find out if you’re a good fit. Talk about music, experiences, and figure out how the align. If there are areas where you are incompatible, ask yourself if it will be a roadblock or helpful in bringing a different perspective to the recording process.

The facility

There are two sides to deciding if the facility is a good fit – the practical and the inspirational. Ask yourself practical questions like: is the live room big enough for the band? Do I need multiple isolation rooms? Where is it located? Are there hotels, restaurants, and entertainment nearby?

On the inspirational side, ask questions like: do I like the vibe here? Do I like the way the rooms sound? Will I be comfortable performing here? Is there space to relax? What’s unique about the facility? For example, at Hybrid Studios an artist can record a song in our recording studio, then walk next door and shoot a music video on our soundstage. As an artist, try to capitalize on the specific advantages that different facilities offer.

The equipment

You certainly want to assess studio equipment to determine whether it fits your wants and needs. Do they have high-quality professional recording equipment that will produce good results? Is there any vintage gear available? Are there multiple monitoring systems for playback? How is the mic collection?
How to choose a recording studio

The rates

Obviously, money is an important consideration. Keep in mind, the cheapest rates don’t always mean the worst quality, and the highest rates don’t guarantee the best results. The key is to know what you’re getting and make sure you are comfortable with it. Plan for contingencies by including an extra 10-15% buffer into your budget. Things come up, and you may need more time, extra equipment, have something breakdown, etc.

Take a tour

Now that you’re armed with the right questions to evaluate a recording studio, what’s next? Call the studio and take a tour. Check out their website and social media pages. Ask for references – bands, artists, producers, and engineers who have recorded in the facility and have an understanding of acoustics and gear.

Listen to music recorded in the studio. Watch videos produced in the studio. Then sit down, make a list, and rate the studio in the above categories. In the end, your research, thoughts, and gut feeling will lead to an ideal studio experience.

Hybrid Studios is fully integrated multimedia production facility in Orange County, CA. For more great advice and information, visit their blog at www.hybridstudiosca.com/blog.

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15 thoughts on “How to choose a recording studio

  1. I think that finding a recording studio is something that can be difficult to make sure that they have good equipment. I agree that another important thing to consider is how the people are that will be working in the studio with your team. If the people are professional and the equipment is good then it would be worth it to use that studio.

  2. I like what you said about getting to know the people. I think a lot of musicians, once signed, forget to get to know the people and end up not having an optimal experience where both parties grow. If I were a musician, I for sure would get to know who I am working with and understand first how they can help me grow. Thanks for all the advice!

  3. This is good advice, I hear of too many people going to a ‘cheaper’ studio with an engineer or producer that works slowly and doesn’t deliver a good outcome. Then they come to my studio lol. Cheaper hourly rates are often not cheaper, even more so if you pay to have the song(s) recorded and/or produced or mixed again.

  4. This is some really great advice for anyone looking for a recording studio. There are a lot of important factors to consider, so focusing entirely on price is rarely the smartest move. I really liked your point about getting to know the people, because like you said, it’s important to figure out where differences will be roadblocks, and where they will lead to productive differing perspectives. Thanks so much for writing!

  5. My band and I recently came out with a CD and so I definitely know how difficult it can be to pick out the right recording studio for you. We made sure to check out three different studios and take tours of them before choosing one. I have heard some musicians’ stories about ending up with a studio that they didn’t like because they didn’t tour the studio beforehand and so that is why I always make sure to do that. We take our music seriously and wanted to make sure that whichever studio that we ended up working with knew that and would treat our CD with as much professionality as possible.

  6. This article is informative but misses the most important aspect. Investigating a recording/mix engineers ability by their portfolio. A great engineer can get a good recording with some sm57s and any DAW out there. An inexperienced one will not be able to do that regardless of what equipment they throw at it. In the end it’s all about how it sounds!

    Luke
    Virgin Sonic Studio
    virginsonic.com

  7. Sorry for the duplication. I looked for a “sent” email (for some reason), didn’t see one, and sent a second. I didn’t realize, until I just scrolled down, that there was no email sent. DUHHHHHH.

  8. Hi. Thanks for a great article. Your down-to-earth recommendations to not over-spend on equipment will be encouraging to everyone. I have a home studio because I love music and the creative process of writing, getting the idea from my head to the DAW and mixing down to an mp3 for sharing. I like the results so far. Your comments regarding my equipment would be appreciated. Instruments: Benoit acoustic resophonic (Dobro) guitar; Yamaha PSR-950 arranger keyboard; Interface: Yamaha Audiogram 6; DAW Mixcraft 6,1; Headphones: Shure SRH440 (I’ve upgraded the earcups to those that are standard on the SRH940); Microphones: Shure SM57; Rode NT2-A. Thanks, in advance, for your comments.
    Bobby

  9. Greetiings. Thanks for a great article. I have a home studio because I love the process of getting the idea from my head to the DAW so it can be shared via mp3. Your advice relativer to cost is very encouraging, especially for someone considering a home studio. I’m curious as to your assessment of my equipment–I like what I’m hearing.
    Instruments: Benoit custom resophonic (Dobro) guitar; Yahama PSR-950 arranger keyboard. Interface: Yamaha Audiogram 6. Interface: Mixcraft 6.1. Microphones: Shure SM57; RodeNT2-A. Headphones: Shure SRH440, with upgraded earcups (standard on SRH940).

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