How Recording Studios Work

Building a Recording Studio

separate room
Most professional studios such as this one feature a separate room where musicians perform.
© Dave Hogan/Getty Images

If you're building a recording studio, you have plenty to consider, starting with the digital equipment you'll need for recording, editing, cutting and mixing music. To learn about some of the equipment you'll need for a functioning studio, read How Recording Sessions Work. Beyond that, you'll have soundproofing and acoustical concerns. And, depending on how much you're doing, you may want to consider construction or remodeling of the actual space.

A professional recording studio usually has a room where the musicians perform, sometimes itself called a studio; a control room containing the equipment for recording, editing and mixing music; and possibly a machine room and smaller rooms, or isolation booths, where high-volume instruments like drums are played to separate their sounds from those the microphones in the main room are picking up.


These rooms are carefully constructed to promote sound quality. That's been a concern for decades in the recording industry. Chess Studios in Chicago, for example, was one of the first in the 1950s to design a music studio with none of its four walls parallel (and several clipped in place) to allow desired vibrations.

You'll want to consider how you'll subdivide and soundproof your space. At the very least, you want to provide performers with a soundproofed space separate from the control room. And you'll want to check local zoning ordinances to make sure you comply with any anti-noise provisions.

You don't need a lot of equipment for a home recording studio. Here are two suggestions for putting together an economical digital system, one for under $1,000 and the other for $4,000:

$950 Basic Digital Studio

  • Mac-mini computer with memory and hard-drive upgrade, $675
  • M-Audio Fast Track USB, $100, or M-Audio Mobile Pre, $150
  • Shure SM58 style or inexpensive Chinese condenser microphone, $100
  • Connecting cables and adapters, $25
  • USB MIDI Keyboard, $100

[source: The Deli Magazine].

$4,000 Digital Studio

  • Computer: 2.8-GHz Windows PC or 1.6-GHz Apple Mac, with 1 GB RAM and 100 GB hard drive space (PC: $1,500; Mac: $2,500)
  • Speaker upgrade to Behringer MS16, Harman Kardon Duet or Sony SRS-Z510 ($30 to $80)
  • Editing software: Cubase SL for PC or Mac, Sonar Studio for PC only, Logic Express for Mac only ($300)
  • Microphone: Shure SM58 or SM86, Behringer B-1 or B-2, or Blue 8-Ball ($100 to $200 for a mic; $60 for cable, stand and boom)
  • Interface to pre-amplify the audio signal, convert it to digital and transfer it to the hard drive: PreSonus Firepod, MOTU 828mkII or Yamaha O1X ($600 to $1,000). Allow recording eight voices or instruments at once.

[source: USA Today].

Along with home recording studios, what are some of the other types of recording studios? Let's look at some of them next.