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How Recording Studios Work

Renting a Recording Studio
London's Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles recorded, represents the high-end of recording studios.
London's Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles recorded, represents the high-end of recording studios.
© Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

If you're renting a recording studio, you'll find that no one recording studio is right for every musician. Different types of recording studios specialize in different services, ranging from those for high-level professional recording artists and other musicians to those at a middle level for voice-over professionals and others who don't need such high-level sound -- and even inexpensive music studios catering to amateurs.

Remember Elvis's first $4 recording? You won't find anything that inexpensive, but you should be able to find something to fit your needs and your budget. Probably the key questions to ask are: What services do I need, and what's my budget?

High-level recording studios charge $100 per hour and more, while mid-level studios may range from $45 to $65 per hour. But an hourly price probably shouldn't be your main consideration. Here are other factors to consider in choosing a recording studio:

Sound engineers - This is the most important factor, says Brian Kozelman of Back at the Ranch Studio near Waco, Texas. An experienced engineer not only has more skill, but can also work faster. This saves time and money. Look for an engineer skilled in working with your type of product, such as a music album, song demo or commercial.

Equipment - Don't be misled by a lengthy list of equipment, Kozelman says. Look for high-end mike preamps, a choice of major name microphones and classic and high-end outboard gear.

Acoustics - Does the facility match your group's needs? You'd want a large live room for an orchestra, but a small room for a solo performer or quartet. Look into the sound quality of the control room and monitoring system to make your final product sounds like it did in the music studio. You'll also want to check whether the studio has an isolation room, if you need it for a loud instrument like drums.

Past work - Ask for a past project list, as well as references from past users with similar needs to your own. Check to see what they thought of the studio's work.

Finally, think about discussing your project with the recording studio and then settling on a project rate instead of an hourly one. Studios vary on how long they take to complete a job, and the lowest hourly rate may not actually be the best value.

For lots more information about recording studios and related topics, check out the links on the next page.