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What do/would you look for in a recording studio?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
Author What do/would you look for in a recording studio?
essex sound lab
Given that a number of people here posses some rather nice recoding gear, and have experience with recording, mixing and/or mastering, I’m curious:

Under what circumstances, if any, are you inclined to use a recording facility other than your own?

What do you look for in terms of a console…Analog? Digital? Some form of hybrid? Is DAW integration/automation important to you? Would you ever want to record to tape?

Would you make use of isolation booths/rooms for vocals, drums, guitar rigs, or….? Do you prefer a classic isolated control room/live room configuration? If so, would you like to co-locate your synth rig with its own desk? Or would you prefer a larger live room with its own desk? Other configurations?

To what extent does availability of recording/mixing/mastering staff affect your desire to use a given facility?

Thanks for any perspectives you may care to share.
tuj
essex sound lab wrote:
Under what circumstances, if any, are you inclined to use a recording facility other than your own?


If I need mics and space. Something like a drum kit, or a full band that needs to track live. Studios have mic collections, which is really nice rather than building your own that will sit in drawers until you need a kick drum mic.

Quote:
What do you look for in terms of a console…Analog? Digital? Some form of hybrid? Is DAW integration/automation important to you? Would you ever want to record to tape?


I have no use for tape although I think its great stuff. I know even Autechre said once they recorded everything to 1/2" along with digital because they figured that some new higher quality digital format might come along in the future and they would want to transfer the analogue to it. That's nice thinking, but how many of *us* would be re-releasing an album at super-high-def? As for consoles, most studios tend to have a high degree of integration with Protools but for me I'll take a regular analogue desk any day. Something about a good analogue desk just sounds better than mixing in-the-box.

Quote:
Would you make use of isolation booths/rooms for vocals, drums, guitar rigs, or….? Do you prefer a classic isolated control room/live room configuration? If so, would you like to co-locate your synth rig with its own desk? Or would you prefer a larger live room with its own desk? Other configurations?


This really bifurcates into two areas: those who need to record more of a traditional 'band' setting, in which the live room/control room setup is pretty much ideal. Vocals are good to track in isolation. Personally I don't like the same with guitars; instead I like to put the amp in a room and both close and far mike it with maybe 2 even 6 mics of different types and placements and then blend the mix. You can get big guitar sounds this way.

For synth work, I want to be right at the desk and computer, so I want to be in the 'control' room if you will.

Quote:
To what extent does availability of recording/mixing/mastering staff affect your desire to use a given facility?


I assume they will know how to record, but not necessarily have the dedication or understanding of the sound *I want*. This means we may differ on how to record a drum kit, etc, so the staff doesn't matter to me as long as they can run things and not waste time.
criticalmonkey
rooms first
mics and preamps second - i like to capture using mic position to get the sound i want and process later
budget of course always becomes an issue
ignatius
if i needed to record a full band, orchestra, choir etc.. or needed high quality recordings of vocals etc..

i've recorded a bunch of vocals in my studio but nothing else (other than line level inputs). pain in the ass. w/my set up. money permitting i'd find a studio if i had to.

mostly what you want is a good assistant or good engineer who knows the room and knows how to get the sound you want or points you in the right direction if you are doing it yourself

good mics and outboard is a plus of course.. if you are paying for studio time the gear better work and better be high end.
suitandtieguy
the only time i'd record somewhere else is if the room was huge, or the musicians or instruments i needed to record happened to be there. i have the best studio in central IL and i'll prove it to anyone who thinks otherwise (yeah i'm talking to you ... over there ... the guy with the RADAR you're still paying forLOL

i can't stand isolation. or control rooms. or stress. isolation and control rooms cause stress and should be avoided. i'm definitely of the Bill Bottrell/Peter Gabriel studio school in that regard.

i'm not picky, even cheap gear can sound good nowadays .. i do all my tracking now with an HD24 and almost all my mics are AKG C1000 and C3000 ... an RME Octamic, and maybe these BSS preamps are used on occasion but i'm sure it wouldn't sound that different if i were using a Mackie for the mic preamps.

the skill of the people playing and the room are more important than the recording gear i think. IMHO the most important thing about tracking is to make sure the microphone is pointed at what you're trying to record, the cable is long enough to reach the recorder, and you get good signal level.

also time is important. i'd rather not feel stressed out in a less than ideal place than under pressure in a "top notch" facility (whatever that means.)
ignatius
suitandtieguy wrote:

the skill of the people recording and playing and the room are more important than the recording gear i think.

also time is important. i'd rather not feel stressed out in a less than ideal place than under pressure in a "top notch" facility (whatever that means.)


ditto thumbs up
Seracs
Skilled staff and pre-amps that sound good when abused.
Babaluma
a really experienced engineer who is a pleasure to work with.

that's all you need.

8_)
criticalmonkey
btw
it is my experience that many "name" studios wll give cut rates with lower quality engineers on off hours
if you know what you are doing this can be great, if you have to rely on the engineer than your wasting your time an money

i just got some tracks from a "name" studio in seattle and everything was out of phase and seemed to be tracked by someone reading a book, not listening
kinda sad that this group wasted money and has become disillusioned with recording studios
Just me
I'm building my own studio right now. It's smallish at 9X19 with no control room. I am building an ISO booth for vocals and a machine room for the noisy gear.
This is less costly to me than 'studio time' since my chops aren't that good and I need to spend a lot of time getting what I want. Once I've got something written and arrainged, I go to tape. While developing it all goes to the DAW.
Since almost everything is run direct to the board I do not have a large collection of amps or mics. Just enough to mic my Leslies and record the strange noise known as my 'singing' voice.
The funny part is what I have is better than the studios we recorded in back in the 80's and early 90's. I do miss having engineers who know what the deelio is and can do this a lot faster than I ever can.
revmutt
I would say the big obvious factors are space, proper volume for amps and drums and the ability to mix accurately.

That said, I think that changing scenery from ones practice space or home helps to change ones mindset from doing music to doing a specific project.

Because of things like the loss of the LP format to the more recent changes in presenting music, I think one has to be even more disciplined in the process of creating a specific creative statement as a stand alone document.
stk
When I record anything outside of my own studio, it's due to:

Room sound (for drums) - this goes without saying. A good sounding room makes drums SlayerBadger!

Tape (for drums). I don't have or want a tape machine, but a recent experience demonstrated to me that acoustic drums love tape.

Everything else I can, and do, in-house.
Ted
Leg room / cup holders mostly.
RUMPLEDFORESKIN
Definitely a good sounding room for my "loud" instruments (drums, electric guitar through amp, horns, etc.).
rico loverde
room sound

outboard gear / mics / desk etc..

vibe

price
JohnLRice
Things I would need to pay for (or should but don't meh The MSN Smack! ):

Room acoustics

Someone to worry about capturing what I'm doing so I can have less distractions and do a better job of doing it

Experience and ears for mixing

Experience, ears and equipment for mastering
wetterberg
acoustics and ergonomics are paramount for me.

I'd only ever need a mixing desk for doing big multi-mic recordings, like a full band, an orchestra or a really complicated drum rig.

For normal use I'll avoid a mixing desk like the plague, I think.

In terms of outboard I'd just want everything to be easily patchable, but really I'm plenty satisfied doing more or less everything ITB.
giorgio
are you in boston? what kinda record are you making?

or maybe just theoretical. in that case, it depends on what one wants to do. if you want to go in and track drums and vocals and get out, yeah good room good mics good engineer, everything everyone else says actually. or if you want to mix, dude, gear, room, and everything above is important but.

if you want to go in and make a record, you need a place you can hang out & do your thing. Is the studio a place where you can chill? or whatever it is you do? and will they be able to capture whatever that thing is? in a way consistent with your personal brand?
Ted
Please pardon my previous, less serious post.

stk wrote:
When I record anything outside of my own studio, it's due to:

Room sound (for drums) - this goes without saying. A good sounding room makes drums SlayerBadger!

Tape (for drums). I don't have or want a tape machine, but a recent experience demonstrated to me that acoustic drums love tape.

Everything else I can, and do, in-house.


Yes.

The only other thing I would add to this would be to have something mastered professionally at "a mastering house", as opposed to myself or a peer mastering in "a house". Like this place for example: http://www.peerlessmastering.com/facilitystudio.html.

Otherwise, I can't imagine paying to go to someone else's studio to write music and hang out.

Who knows, maybe I should try it. It might take less than 4 years to put a record out if you do it that way. d'oh!
bastille
If I leave my studio it's generally because either the client is in another city and doesn't want to travel, or because the client wants to throw around some stupid huge amounts of money (nothing like the client paying 10x my day rate for the room...)
What I'd be looking for when I choose a place:
-good rooms. enough space to work, at least basic attention to acoustics.
-good monitoring. preferably a couple sets. preferably some ProAcs.
-a non-stupid patchbay, with room for me to plug in a few things of my own.
-a good upright piano and a Rhodes or Wurli.
-evidence that someone is maintaining the place/gear.
-someplace where people who aren't tracking can hang and not pick fights with the rest of their band.
-basic functional mic selection allowing me to just bring a few favorites.
-if it's not going to be a straight analog session, i want a PTHD rig, and I'll cry a little if someone tries to make me use something else.
-good vibe. i want to feel like i'm hanging in my living room playing tunes with some friends, even if i'm pushing faders for some assholes i can't wait to get away from.
-fancy places it's nice to have an assistant who knows everything about the place, is incapable of wasting time, and could engineer circles around you with his/her fingers in their ears.
syzygywell
Babaluma wrote:
a really experienced engineer who is a pleasure to work with.

that's all you need.

8_)

ditto... these people can make a lot of lesser conditions work and bring out the best in what you've done.
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