Top 5 Tips for Choosing a Recording Studio

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Please note, this is a guest post written by Select Recording Studios:

Where you record your music and who you entrust with your work isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. When your music is your labour of love, and you’ve poured your heart and soul, (and blood, sweat and tears) into writing new material, it stands to reason that the decision should be given great importance. Whether you’re a solo artist or a band, you want the recording experience to capture your ideas, sound and characteristics in the best possible way. After all, music is a fine art and the final product should accurately reflect your artistic vision.

Studio time is expensive and the time and money you, your band and the producer put into the project are valuable. Professionalism is key – as is experience, skills and the equipment used. It pays to think of a professional commercial recording studio like a fine-dining restaurant that ticks all the boxes. Writing good lyrics with quality vocals is one thing, but how the final product is derived – the type of audio equipment and expertise that’s used to produce it can make all the difference.

Professional Recording Studio

What is their Speciality?

Just like the best fine restaurants, recording studios have their specialties. Some recording studios excel in polishing songs to give them an ultramodern feel, others are geniuses when it comes to replicating a fuzzy, lo-fi early 1970’s folk or proto metal sound.

The very first and perhaps best tip that can be offered when it comes to looking into potential choices of studios is to do some research. Read through the customer experiences and peer reviews, look at the list of artists who have recorded in the studio and ask around. You will soon get an idea as to whether the studio and its engineers are right for you. Determine how their specialty ties into the audience you’re creating the music for, the sound you wish to achieve and the ideas you want to incorporate. Are they experienced with your style of music? All the finer details should tie together to help create your masterpiece.

What is their Equipment like?

Any recording studio worth its salt should have the quality, standard industry equipment as well as a range of more unusual pieces that may be new to you. There should be options within each piece to achieve a variety of sounds from high-grain through to clean, crisp sounding. You should even be able to call upon some vintage equipment – something in the vein of the Gates Sta-Level Tube Compressor, which can introduce, warmth, character, soul and originality to a recording session. There should also be the flexibility to add your own equipment to the mix should you desire.

The producers and engineers you’re working with should be knowledgeable in working the equipment to make the most out of your sound. Thus, it goes without saying always get to know the owner and the staff beforehand to make sure it’s a good fit for your music needs. They should work with you to implement your vision, whilst adding their own expertise to the mix and understanding your perspective fully. Make sure there’s an experience engineer on site for every recording session.

Pro Recording Studio

The Environment

One of the most important considerations is the atmosphere of the recording studio. Bon Iver’s incredible For Emma, Forever Ago was recorded in a cabin in rural Wisconsin with his acoustic guitar, and I doubt it could have been bettered were it to have been given the highest end studio treatment. On the flip-side, just listen to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and tell me that the job that Abbey Road did on the recording didn’t magnify the album’s impact tenfold. Your songs may be tied to visions that require a natural, outdoorsy setting, or perhaps they are innately urban or industrial in their feel and would benefit from you being in the heart of a big city. Whatever the case, you also want your recording studio to be clean, well lit, warm and well-fitted with modern conveniences. Recording, especially if you’re in a band can be a trying, tiring and stressful time given the wrong ambiance.

The Cost

There is no getting away from the fact that expenses and budgeting come into the equation when deciding on a studio. It is certainly worth remembering that even the very best renowned recording studios started off small, and so never write off low-key, local studios until you’ve met with the people and had a proper look around. Spend time grabbing multiple quotes and doing your homework before committing to anything. You want to trust you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

Recording Studio

Their Reputation

The best, most well-known recording studios across the world have a signature sound and history to them that’s incomparable. Unfortunately though, budget doesn’t always stretch that far! There are, however, plenty of local and new-age music studio that hold a strong reputation based on their specific sounds, location and experience.

Making magic – aka music – comes from inspiration. If you feel comfortable and inspired in the setting you’re recording in, the final product will benefit greatly from it. And best of all, your audience will hear it. Place and price must come together to make the recording project a successful one. But the final determiner has to be the vibe of the place, the expertise of the engineer and producer, and the quality of the equipment.

Thanks to Select Recording Studio for their tips on choosing the right recording studio. SRS are based in London and have a range of services including recording for bands and solo artists, music production, voice overs and mixing and mastering. For more information on what they offer, check them out here

Follow Jayde Walker (Ferguson):

Music Journalist + Senior Content Writer

4 Responses

  1. Harper Campbell

    It’s interesting to know that when it comes to someone wanting to rent a recording studio that there are somethings that they need to consider. I like how you pointed out that probably one of the main factors is the cost of how it will be to do this. One would thing that this will be an obvious choice, but they need to do their homework to make sure that they are getting the most bang for their buck.

  2. Jayde Ferguson

    Thanks for the feedback Harper 🙂

    Yes, you are very right! Research is paramount to any investment – and quality music is an investment!

  3. Ashley Maxwell

    Thanks for your comment about how you should work with recording studios that have the right equipment to make you sound good. I like how you said that older equipment can make your sound vintage which many people like right now. My sister is considering signing in a recording studio, and we are looking into ones that will make her voice sound the best it ever has!

  4. James Lee Tucker

    I agree that it is best to have an experienced engineer on site for every recording session. My friend who has an indy band is thinking of recording their original songs. As this is their first time to record songs, I’ll remind him to make sure that there is an experienced engineer at their chosen studio.

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