Recording at home is cool, even recording with your band in a rehearsal studio is cool. This allows you to relax and bat around ideas, but recording in a professional studio should be treated with far more consideration if you want to get the best from your time there. Here are our top 5 tips.
- Know The Studio
A lot of studios are very flexible and can record a lot of different types of music, but if you rock up to a studio hoping to recreate the Bonham drum sound and you find that every room is as dry as a stale bread stick then you might have problems. You might all want to play at the same time, or need isolation booths - if the studio doesn’t have them then you are in trouble. Therefore take time to research studios, find out what facilities they have, find out who they have recorded and more importantly what they have recorded. You’ll find a lot of studios in this industry claiming to have recorded everybody from The Beatles to Obama, so make sure the credentials stack up - if Sting had a drink with a mate in the studio cafe that doesn’t mean they recorded The Police. Ask to hear some tracks that have been recorded there, it’s the least you should do. Check out our studio database here.
- Know Your Engineer & Producer
Once you’ve figured out where you are recording then find out who you are recording with. Two things matter in a studio, competence and character. Make sure your engineer and/or producer have some track both in terms of experience and in terms of genre. Secondly make sure they are the kind of people you can work with - recording is a stressful experience and you want to make sure the team working with you are making life easy not hard. There’s some serious talent out there, but some of them have egos the size of a house, it doesn’t matter how talented they are if they act like a twat.
- Know Your Song
Studios are not the best place to start thinking about arrangements (although there are plenty of songs that are rearranged in studios) it’s best to have the structure and the instrumental arrangements in some kind of shape before you arrive. Then if new ideas and suggestions come into play that’s a bonus, but don’t arrive with a half finished idea, that will cost you time and most of all money that could be better spent on recording the song well.
- Expect Things To Take Longer
Make sure you build in enough time and money to be able to give the songs the production they deserve. You will need to have time to try different mic arrangements, pre-amps, compressors or even instruments, especially of you are hiring in backline. All these things take time and you want to be able to consider all the options. Top engineers can work fast, but they doesn’t mean they should work fast - if you want to spoil anything then rush it! So if you think a project is going to take 2 days then book 3 days, any good studio and their engineer will be able to give you advice on this, it’s worth taking that advice.
- Expect To Spend Some Money
Top studios and talented studio staff cost money. Recording in a top studio should not be cheap because the overheads of buying and maintaining the equipment, paying top staff and keeping a facility up and running is a small fortune. If you think that the day rate of large studios is expensive then you might want to sit down and do the sums, you might then realise why so many of our cherished studios no longer exist and what a minor miracle it is that any still do. Over and above simple economics, the sheer quality of the rooms, the equipment and the teams in large studios is worth its weight in gold - comparing them to a home set-up is frankly nuts.
There is still value in recording in top studios, they should be supported, not for charitable reasons but because some of the best sounding albums on the planet are made in them. Make sure if you are planning to pay to use a studio that you plan to get the best you can from your time there.