How to Build a Recording Studio – Part 1: Studio Considerations
There is magic in the recording studio that often mystifies even the most experienced professionals. It is not surprising that most non-technical people get overawed seeing all the knobs, buttons and switches on the different equipment and big format consoles. Several people, particularly engineers, artists, producers and composers, will start forming their personal studio for writing as well as pre-production, while some of them even deciding to go to the full extent and create a fully equipped recording complex capable of recording even major albums. In this article will discuss some points to be taken into account when creating a studio, whether it is a small home studio or one for professional recording purposes.
Is size critical? Some may think so but it is not always so. The room dimensions are no doubt important. A too big room may turn out to be over-reverberant or be filled with unwanted echoes. A too small room may sound constricted and odd. It is to be ensured that the size of the room and room sound is appropriate to the kind of music being recorded. It is not advisable to try recording BIG rock drums in a small restricted room. You can realize the effects of big room sounds by the addition of exterior reverb effects to simulate big rooms later on when necessary.
But it is advisable to locate a room that best suits the type of sound you plan to achieve at the very start of the process of recording itself. If the room is smaller the sound will be tighter; this need not be a bad situation. Such rooms are ideal for vocals, percussion and guitars if you are planning a clean tight sound. There is more air in larger rooms for sound to traverse; therefore the sound will be a bigger and more open. The time available for the sound wave to travel is more; therefore it will take longer for the reflection of sound to bounce from the walls producing a bigger more open sound. The decision about the size and sound must be taken early on before the start of the recording. One advantage of having a larger room is the possibility to scale down the room using modular baffles or ‘go-between’ (gobos) partitions, to stop sound by positioning them separating the musicians, microphones and instruments. Placing the gobos surrounding the microphone at close proximity will make a large room having high ambiance sound as if it is smaller. This will also eliminate the reflections bouncing off the walls located further away.
An expert engineer can make any room sound great with some adjustment. A room with poor sounding can be managed to sound nice, though that needs a lot of time and work. The real test is to play some instruments or vocal recordings and place them in different parts of the room until you reach the optimum quality of sound.
In the next part we discuss about getting the equipment needed starting with the Console.