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Tutorial: Tips For Choosing a Place To Record

By moosers on 03/21/2010 - (Anyone)

Introduction

Here's a tutorial for anyone who looking to record their music.  Whether it be a demo or a full length album, the process of choosing the right professional or home studio to record in can be tough, so knowing some things up front can definitely be helpful...

Step 1

The first that I would do when starting the process of choosing a place to record would be to decide whether you're going to go the professional route or if you're going to work in a smaller home studio environment.  Of course if you're a home studio owner yourself, you're either going to do all of the recording at home (in which case you probably don't need to read this), or you're going to be switching back and forth between a professional studio.  Or perhaps you're going to be working in a friend's home studio, or some combination of it all.  Figuring out up front what these options are is essential.  Once you've cleared the obvious out of the way, next focus on what your budget is going to be.  Of course many project don't have any budget at all, forcing these people to either work at home of work at another person's home.  While this is a perfectly legitimate way to go about it, as there is nothing wrong with free studio time, the rest of this tutorial will focus on those who are going to need to spend a bit of money.  In fact, in general I find that when it comes to recording, you get what you pay for...

Step 2

Next I would consider what exactly you're looking for in a studio.  Approximately what size studio do you need?  Some further questions to help you answer this greater question include if you're going to be tracking everything live, or if you're going to be overdubbing mostly.  This can make a huge difference, as some studios are catered for recording techniques one way or the other, although most are capable of both.  Do you need a full console in the studio?  Also, I'd look at studio's client list and check out the type of music in general that they are used to recording.  This also means figuring out how much time you'll need.  Most studios offer lockout rates, so if you're going to be needing a decent amount of studio, it is probably a good idea to know this up front so you can plan accordingly.

Step 3

After you've got everything down about the basics of what you need as far as studio accommodations go, I would take a good look at the engineers at these respective studios.  This can mean doing research on their past work, or even going in to meet with them to see if you vibe together.  If you're going to a great studio where the engineer doesn't know what he or she is doing, there's really no point to go to the studio, and vice versa if you go to a small studio with a great engineer, you can often get better recordings than that made in the larger studio!  The engineer can make or break a project, so knowing who you'll be working with ahead of time is crucial.

Step 4

Another thing to research about prospective studios would be to see what kinds of instruments they have.  While you may not need any extra instruments, it can certainly be a big help and can add a lot to a session.  When certain instruments are around you never know what can happen in the moment.  The same thing goes with amplifiers, and any other instrument related gear.  Having some types of instruments around might even be a necessity.  For example, I've gone to some studios simply because of the keyboard selection that they have to offer!  It really just depends on what your need is.

Step 5

A final thing to consider would be the location of the studio.  If you aren't in a major recording town like NY, LA, or Nashville, there will definitely be less choices to consider.  Having a studio close by to you isn't necessary, but keep in mind that you will be traveling back and forth, perhaps many days in row, so it is definitely nice to find something at least relatively close by.  Another major thing to think about would be to split time between a home and professional studio, even if you don't have a home studio yourself.  Paying top dollar in a professional studio to edit vocals isn't really necessary these days, so definitely do yourself a favor and spend your time and money wisely...

Conclusion

I hope this tutorial was helpful for choosing the studio that is right for you!