How to Build a Recording Studio – Part 6: Separate Rooms: Control Room and Live Room
Almost all studios have many isolated rooms for recording, mixing, as well as production. The principal agenda when building multiple rooms for a studio is soundproofing. To realize this, the foremost objective is making the rooms airtight. If you can prevent air from leaking in or leaving a room, sound also has less chances of entering or exiting.
Usually all pro studios use double doors fitted with sound lock to prevent leakage of noise. They are also built with thick dual walls having air gaps in between them to help trap undesired sound. The studio floors are also floated meaning that they are raised above the ground level to further prevent more leakage and vibrations.
The first area of focus is the Control Room which houses the mixing console and outboard gear. Control of all the recording and mixing is done here. The acoustics of this room is so designed that we can hear the exact sound being recorded or mixed. The sound in the room should be such that it represents the sound as natural and accurate as possible.
The foremost condition for a room that is acoustically treated properly is that there are no parallel walls. Suppose you are inside the room having solid parallel walls, now clap your hands and you will hear the sound reflecting to and fro. This is flutter echo. This is undesirable for recording as well as for mixing. For the sound to be great, you have to trap the undesired bass in the room also. It is estimated that twenty five percent space in a room should be set aside for bass traps for proper mixing room.
The next location commanding equal importance is the Live Room. The music is recorded here where the vocalists and musicians perform using the microphones. Since they are required to adapt to varying recording situations live rooms have to be more versatile. Wood floors are examples of great reflectors of sound, creating a brighter tone. If you need a warmer tone, you could just lay a rug on the floor. A number of live rooms are fitted with a considerable amount of glass to enable sighting between rooms for better communication besides being very reflective. Several studios also use curtains to regulate the quantity of reflections off hard walls or glass. Non-parallel walls are essential to remove flutter echoes.
A few studios also have a vocal booth inside the live room. This a smaller room meant for vocals. They are also usable for guitar amps and some instruments. No specific rules are laid down for its utility; its main objective is additional isolation when the recording process is on. Glass windows and doors are used so that the artists and people operating the control room can see each other.
Many high end studios may have more than one control room and production set. Lounges and good bathroom facilities are also critical in maintaining creativity. It can also have a kitchen and dining area if budgets permit. People work for several hours in the studio on projects. It is imperative to provide them all the domestic comforts so that everyone is happy.
You also need comfortable offices with private internet access for the client to handle his business without any interruptions. Every studio has a different design limited only by your imagination. There are only guidelines, no rules.