I have included various headings which I think may be useful in helping you and I will be offer advice on how to create quality recordings in the Studio or from live performances on stage.
We would welcome any queries you may have regarding recording techniques or tips you may want to know, please use the Contact Us page to send your query.
Anyone building their own studio could benefit from the following Pages and Headings:-
Basic Studio wiring
A very important part of studio wiring is the earthing system, a central point should be used like you're mixing desk or power transformer as a central earth point for all items in the studio to connect too, as new equipment is brought into the studio it must be connected to this earth!
This is why some patch leads only have the screen (earth) connected at 1 end of the cable, as long as all the patchbays earths are connected to central earth point no Hum is introduced (stray voltages trying to find a route to earth)
Neat little trick for Poor mans Surround sound see :-
This has got to be the simplest question you need to ask yourself, is this going to be a purpose built Studio, building a complete new building from scratch, or converting an existing building, garage, basement or a simple Bedroom/attic conversion?
Studio floor layout
It is important to be able to have visual contact with the live room from the control room, and bands wanting to do live takes as a complete band will need to see the Drummer (who may be in one booth or screened off) and each other along with the singer who is probably in a separate booth all at the same time.
As the title suggests cutting down unwanted sound being captured onto your recordings can be hard to achieve, this is usually done in the practice room by curtains on the walls, egg boxes or acoustic tiles for the more cash rich musicians, even gaffa tape over the cracks in the door gaps can help. If you are converting a couple of rooms with stud walls, use acoustic Rockwool to insulate, not to be confused with cavity insulation (bats) for thermal protection as some people have used, this is not as effective in reducing unwanted noise.
Control booths with windows, usually have double, triple or quadruple glazing between the live room, other ideas include using cameras and distant rooms with more separation from the control room.
Type of Building
Many years ago buildings like old churches were sought after for their space and reverb acoustics, many factory units have also been used, multi rehearsal units available for regular band hire are probably not a good idea for recording set up, as regular band practices by others usually causes bleed over into your recordings no matter how much Rockwool someone has bunged into the stud walls, although this hasn’t stopped some rehearsal studios setting up their own Studio.
These are usually dampened down like the drum booths but not as much, many bands make the mistake of over padding vocal booths and singers can feel uneasy singing in them apart from losing natural tones and timbre’s in the singer’s voice leaving recordings sounding unnatural, dull or lifeless. (Tip: - try getting a singer to smile when they sing and hear the difference in the recorded performance!). It is important that the vocal booth is not to “dead” although you do not want any natural reverb to be high (TIP:-try a single hand clap in a room to hear the reverb),
In “layered” sessions the vocals are usually recorded last, in a small studio there may only be 1 room where everything is recorded, the main live room can be used to record the vocals but it is usually a good idea to screen around the vocalist as it’s unwanted noise from other sources you want to shield from and avoid capturing on your vocal track. (TIP: - do not add to much reverb effect if the vocalist requires it in the headphones when a singer is recording, it tends to make singers cut off the end of their notes early with to much reverb. If you can pursued them to sing without any effects in their headphone mix, you will get a better performance from them)
Vocal tracks can sometimes be the most demanding to record at the best of times and many singers are not accustomed to the naked feeling they may sometimes have while recording their vocals (as the rest of the Band sit around the control room listening to every sniff, grunt, thigh slaps and other weird noises going off between the verse’s when the vocal track is soloed). A simple idea of hanging curtains across the vocal booths window has helped many a singer overcome confidence problems (which in my experience with young bands, confidence is usually one of the biggest hang ups when laying down their parts) (TIP:- In “layered” Sessions, always be supportive and encourage the person being recorded for best results)
Usually drum booths are padded and damped down as much as possible, they also tend to be shut away or screened off from the rest of the band so that on live recordings (when the band wants to record everyone at once as a complete and final performance with no later “drop ins”) other instruments in the main live room can be recorded without drums sounds being caught on the same instrument tracks, this still enables clever tricks and effect being able to be added later to the guitar and other instrument tracks without effecting the drum sounds, and allows the drum tracks (usually spread over several tracks) to be recorded without instruments bleeding over into the drum sounds.
The other reason for dampening the drum booth, is to enable the capture of sound without any reverberation, this becomes important later in the mix down process where reverb is created and added artificially to individual drums (Snare, Kick Drum and Toms etc.) creating various effects or simulations of the drummer being recorded in any type of room/venue. In a “layered” recording session, the drummer is usually the first instrument to be recorded accurately while the other instruments are only recorded as “Ghost tracks” as the band initially play “live” as a unit to get the right feel and tempo of the tracks/song(s) being recorded
Again, a no brainer, somewhere quiet is usually good, time of day may be important if you use somewhere like a factory complex, after normal working hours noise may not be an issue, when I say noise, it works both ways. Any residents near a studio or practice room may complain if your sound proofing is not up to scratch, likewise street noise or factory noises can spoil quite recordings, if you can hear anything in the room or booth?, your mikes will also hear and pick up the noise!. Many bands start by converting their regular practice room into a simple form of a studio to enable them to listen back to rehearsals and usually criticize each other.
If you have the space, as mentioned above, a separate booth for the Drummer and singer is a good way of getting separation from the main band in your recordings. If you are building a studio from scratch, you will need to consider building all your rooms and booths on a floating floor, this in practical terms means using Neoprene or some type of rubber to lay down on your (usually concrete) floor and build off. No direct contactwith the buildings block walls should be made without using rubber mounts or fixings, picture a box within a box without touching any floor, ceiling or sides and you have the idea.
This can not always be achieved for practical construction reasons however the principle should be followed as far as possible. Any air gaps between rooms will allow noise or sound to pass through; even key holes can be very noisy in a studio environment. Do be aware that you still need a fresh air to breath! Before gaffering up all those gaps.