The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Small Studio Owners. What is really important?
Old 24th June 2002
  #1
Small Studio Owners. What is really important?

Lately I have been going to many new small studios to work on projects. I have noticed that small studio owners often have good taste in gear, but seem to be ignorant of the most important aspects of the studio environment. I think that they would do better to avoid buying more mics, preamps and compressors, and focus on a few details that will make their studios more workable.

I understand that this is my perspective as an ouside engineer and that project studios often don't cater to outsiders. These observations are for the consideration of those who wish to allow outside engineers in to their studios to work.

Here are some of the things that get overlooked:

- Monitoring. This is the most important part of any studio. If the people who are working in your studio can't hear accurately, they will make poor decisions. How can you even think of charging for studio time if you have failed to consider the quality of your monitoring environment?

- Acousitcs and Isolation. At least be sure that the control room is adequately isolated from the studio or booth where the drums are being recorded. You will probably need to do a fair amount of research and experimentation to get the acoustics right.

- Ventilation, Heating and Air Conditioning. Air flow is so important to humans. We need it. Artists like to be comfortable. If they are paying to be there they will expect this detail to be one of the most obvious that should not be overlooked.

- A comprehensive Patch Bay with Labels. Both analog and digital patch bays are necessary. Make sure every in and out of every piece of gear goes there and that is layed out and labled clearly. Don't forget to have more than enough patch cables on hand. Also, have space for ouside engineers to hook their gear up to the patch bay. Have every kind of adapter available as well.

- Smoking Area. Even if you don't smoke, many studio clients do and they want to have a comfotable place to take smoke breaks. Ouside is fine, but make sure it is covered and that there is a place to leave the butts.

- Clean Bathrooms. In fact, make sure the whole studio is clean.

- Vibe. Spend some time and money to make the place cool.

I am sure that some of you will have other suggestions that will make studio life easier. I thought of many other things as well. These are just some of the big ones that regularly get forgotten by small studio owners.
Old 24th June 2002
  #2
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

good thing my place is private. its solely set up for the way i work.
Old 24th June 2002
  #3
Moderator emeritus
 

Re: Small Studio Owners. What is really important?

Quote:
Originally posted by Lord Alvin
Lately I have been going to many new small studios to work on projects. I have noticed that small studio owners often have good taste in gear, but seem to be ignorant of the most important aspects of the studio environment. I think that they would do better to avoid buying more mics, preamps and compressors, and focus on a few details that will make their studios more workable.
I essentially agree with all of this, and I would add:

A decent headphone system -
I would in several places in Nashville where the headphones (and the headphone mix) is atrocious. I don't require headphone mixing stations or anything fancy - I simply have to have a way to get a decent stereo mix out into the room without distortion or 60Hz hum. Since this is easily attainable with a decent power amp and those little Furman headphone boxes, there's no reason to have headphones that can't be as loud as the drummer needs them to be without being so distorted that they're unusable.

Miscellaneous equipment: Music stands, stand lights, mic stands, and enough chairs for the musicians and their equipment. A coffee pot, decent coffee, and real milk or cream (I hate the powdered stuff). You english guys might want some tea bags... A microwave oven, to heat water for the tea. Cups and glasses.

Console tape, for labelling channels. Pencils, pens, Sharpies. And paper - track sheets, staff paper, and plain old notebook paper. I'm amazed at how often a 'commercial' studio doesn't have staff paper. Or a copier.

A telephone with a ringer that can be turned off. A front door (or at least a studio door) that can be locked.

Band aids. Nail clippers, an Emery board, hand soap and towels in the bathrooms.

Tat's all that comes to mind right now, but I'll add for AlphaJerk - Even if your room isn't available for rental, most of these things will make the session better for any other musicians or singers you may hire.
Old 24th June 2002
  #4
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

oh i have the best coffee around, including cappuchino [made by me which absolutely KILLS]... music stands, chairs [even real comfortable ones]... and i stock half and half, whole milk, 2% and fat free. i also have assorted teas.

if anything i get from the musicians that its TOO relaxing. my studio is a musicians utopia. every person who comes here absolutely loves it. it has been called a spiritual experience.

i dont use control board tape anymore. i just KNOW what is where [plus, it confuses the musicians looking at it]. my headphone system kicks ass. and i have the best monitoring system money can buy

i dont do dates that require session players [not because of any other reason excpet thats just what comes through... not that they arent welcome or anything, and i would go out of my way to make sure they are comfortable if they were needed]. i do have "cameos" from other bands joining in on projects, but they are clients from their other bands as well most of the time [or ended up becoming clients]


my statement just meant with how my studio is set up.
Old 24th June 2002
  #5
You understand what I am saying Dave. I like all of the additions to the list. Especially the headphone system.

I really wish that some studios would sell 1/2 of their gear and take care of this stuff.
Old 24th June 2002
  #6
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Lord Alvin
I really wish that some studios would sell 1/2 of their gear and take care of this stuff.
i'd rather have the gear.
Old 25th June 2002
  #7
Alphajerk. I am not talking about you or your studio. You don't cater to outsiders, and you claim to have your stuff together. That's fine.

The post is about freelance engineers trying to work in smaller studios. My hope is that some studio owners, or future studio owners, will consider the actual needs of those who work in their facilities.
Old 25th June 2002
  #8
Moderator emeritus
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Lord Alvin

I really wish that some studios would sell 1/2 of their gear and take care of this stuff.
Of course, I also have the gear...
Old 25th June 2002
  #9
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Lord Alvin
Alphajerk. I am not talking about you or your studio. You don't cater to outsiders, and you claim to have your stuff together. That's fine.

The post is about freelance engineers trying to work in smaller studios. My hope is that some studio owners, or future studio owners, will consider the actual needs of those who work in their facilities.
\

i know that... hence my first reply, my second was towards daves comment, my third is just which id rather have being a freelance engineer in a small studio. of course, i would bring my monitors with me.

but then again, it IS a SMALL studio so some of the "perks" of larger studios just aint part of being in a small studio.... and personally, if im leaving MY studio... its going to be for a BIG studio that has all you mention [like a janitor on staff, big mains, gear out the ass, killer sounding rooms, et al]

dave, do you have a website?
Old 25th June 2002
  #10
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

p.s. i DONT claim to have my stuff together far from it. my mic lines to the studio are unlabelled... yet "normalled" to the pres [actually running direct but i know which go to which] half the stuff still isnt hooked up through the patchbay... and might never be [i still slide my rack out to get to stuff on special occasions]

its cool though... why it wont ever be opened up to outside engineers. i wonder why ANY small studio would be. i cant imagine why anyone would go seeing how its probably compromised [iow, the rooms] for more than just what you and dave listed. i have taken bands as the producer to small studios before i set mine up and while im more than capable of engineering it, i didnt even bother aside from making the owner/engineer change something if i didnt think it sounded right.

kinda curious for jules to weigh in on this one as he lets in others.

i guess i also wonder what qualifies as a small studio.
Old 25th June 2002
  #11
I like to work in places with lots of great gear too. No matter how much gear, the basic needs remain the same.

The reason I go to small studios is to help keep a project on budget. I think of a small studio as one that charges about $30/hr or less. I don't need an entire Neve console for tracking shaker and keyboard parts. Low budget projects don't need anything too fancy for tracking basics. For outboard, a couple of good mic pre's with eq would be fine along with a couple of compressors of decent quality. I just use the console for the rest. If I can save the artist a few hundred dollars a day we are all much happier.

Most of the small studios around here will be loaded with Crane Song, Summit, Manley, API, you name it..., but no decent patch bay. You share the bathroom with the dog, and the parking situation is a giant mud puddle for 9 months out of the year. The great gear is not much use if you cannot get to it.

We all love gear. It would seem to me that all of this other stuff must come first so that we can use the gear to its full potential.
Old 25th June 2002
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Fibes's Avatar
 

I wish I had a lounge, the parking lot/wiffle ball field will have to do. I wish I had better AC and plan on doing it when I can afford to do it right. Catch my drift? Most (not a bunch)outside engineers that leave my joint have a great time due to the vibe, cool vintage instruments and (usually) well maintained gear.

BTW I pay 300 dollars a month for 1000 square feet including water and sewer. Why would I leave? Alpha?:eek:
Old 25th June 2002
  #13
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Fibes
BTW I pay 300 dollars a month for 1000 square feet including water and sewer. Why would I leave? Alpha?:eek:
should i really have to elaborate on that one?

how about working with someone who:
knows how to use a computer
knows how to troubleshoot
knows how to solder
knows how to engineer
knows how to hook shit up
owns ADAMs
owns more gear
has a wife who wants to open a biz with your wife
drinks really good beer
pays ZERO in rent for 1400sqft [and writes it off in taxes]
Old 25th June 2002
  #14
Moderator emeritus
 

Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
\

dave, do you have a website?
Nah - I keep thinking that I ought to have one, but I haven't gotten around to actually naming the studio yet...

Once I do that, I'm planning on some sort of a site.
Old 25th June 2002
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Fibes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk


should i really have to elaborate on that one?

how about working with someone who:
knows how to use a computer
knows how to troubleshoot
knows how to solder
knows how to engineer
knows how to hook shit up
owns ADAMs
owns more gear
has a wife who wants to open a biz with your wife
drinks really good beer
pays ZERO in rent for 1400sqft [and writes it off in taxes]

Speechless...
Old 25th June 2002
  #16
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 

Wow $30 an hour!
Here in Orange County, CA there's a local studio that's DAW
based, and using a Mackie board that charges $75 an hour.
They seem to run $60+ per hour on average BTW.
If you can find one for less that's any good it's a steal!

Since most local singers and musicians don't know much about
gear, making them feel comfortable to give their best performance
seems like the #1 thing IMHO.

Chris
Old 25th June 2002
  #17
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

yeah, for $30/hour i wouldnt expect much. if they have all that gear for that price, id just bring a screwdriver to get to the equipment and not be bitching at all.


i've got more reasons fibes... but since you are already speechless.
Old 25th June 2002
  #18
Gear Addict
 

When I left Austin in November, there was a place advertising $15 an hour for a 1" 16 track room. Check http://www.austinchronicle.com/class/html/clas0840.php to find out why you don't want to open a small studio in Austin. It's part of why I didn't.

Bear
Old 26th June 2002
  #19
Consider the cost of living in Portland vs. the cost of living in Orange County. It is no small wonder that studio time is much more there than it is elsewhere.

I get studio time from $35 to $50/hr. Small studios (home or project studios) are usually a little less. Keep in mind that clients are paying me my fee on top of the studio rate as well. I know that studio rates tend to be cheaper here. The studios are also not quite up to the level of major market studios. They don't lack gear, but they are often a little slack on maintenence or lack some perks that you find elsewhere. Now you know why I don't have a studio of my own. It is cheaper to rent.

Anyway, the basic needs of the job in the studio don't change based on rate. You still need good monitoring, air, bathrooms, patch bays, and a clean area to get the job done. Good acoustics and vibe help too. I would personally put all of these things before the gear when shopping for a studio to rent. I can bring in whatever outboard and recorder I want. I own that stuff. I prefer to rent decent workspaces.
Old 26th June 2002
  #20
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

well if you got the gear, maybe you should look into "spaces" rather than studios. good acoustics take either a LOT of money or a LOT of luck. maybe look for a church to record in, most have pretty good acoustics that i have been in... just about everytime im in one, i sit there thinking how great it would be to make one into a studio... and it fits with your name.

but what you are asking is a LOT for $35/hr, even @ $50/hour... maybe a decent patchbay but for that kinda money, i wouldnt plan on various connectors i/o of it.

if you were talking about studios at $75/hr on up... i can see your point. definately at $100/hr.
Old 26th June 2002
  #21
Lives for gear
 
davemc's Avatar
 

Well here in OZ a lot of small studios are AUD$25-$50/hour or $US12-$25. I have been doing demo deals at $US125 for 8 hours to get some extra work through quiet times. Remember we still pay US price for stuff, so around double the dollars. I still have a day job that allows me to be a gear slut, otherwise I just do not know how some of the studios do it around here.
I moved my control room into what was my lounge/kitchen area, so I loose that away space. Have to work out what else I can do.
The Playstation is in the corner of the band room. Been thinking of moving it to the drum room, but as you know the drums are the last to be packed up so the room is full of shit most days.

I have to finish the acoustics in the control room, they are not dead flat, but I know them. I have another guy doing work there, and would like to rent it out more on my dead days, Just the old you have to trust the guy if you let him do the open and lockup, A patchbay is getting to the top of my priority list.

I have the coffee percolator thing, lollies, (tried fruit it just went bad).
Shower is not piped in at the moment. Hot water blew a couple of weeks ago so I have to fix that as well. There is a carpark at the back of the studio so that’s cool.
Old 26th June 2002
  #22
LOL. There are no churches available for rent in the northwest. Besides, my name is mocking Chris Lord Alge, not The Lord. My name is Craig Alvin and friends started putting the Lord part in for fun. Eventually my first name got dropped. Anyway, most Christian types take offense at taking the Lord's name in vain.

Actually, there is a studio here in town that is owned by a church, and I do a lot of work there. You can see it in the new Mix "Class of 2002" article. It is called Crossroads Productions and it was designed by Russ Berger. They have a little Neve and just installed a Pro Tools HD system. I get that room for $40/hr. I put my 2" and 1/2" analog decks in there and they give me some free time every month in exchange. So far my deal with them is working out pretty well.

I am a recovering studio owner, and about once a week I am really tempted to fall off the wagon. Maybe soon I will do a very small home studio for overdubs and editing. If I do, it will be very limited in its abilities so that I won't be tempted to do basic tracking and mixing there. I don't like owning a studio. I always felt that my motivation for working there was paying for the gear rather than making good music. It felt like a conflict of interest to me. I enjoy not having any business debt and not having to keep up a building. It is very liberating in some ways, yet I am at a bit if a disadvantage price-wise to the studios that are owner operated.
Old 27th June 2002
  #23
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I have one music stand in the studio, I should get another one someday. I also have a drawer filled with all kinds of adapters, moongel, drum keys, foam earplugs, 9 volts, a 2 D Maglite and whatever else. I don't have a copier but I use the fax machine for that. Not perfect but it works for making copies of lyrics. Oh, and the patchbay is mostly labeled. A few things aren't but I'm always around and I know where they are.

Since I'm about to build a new place what do you like to see for acoustics and things like that? What's a good size room to you?
Old 27th June 2002
  #24
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
but what you are asking is a LOT for $35/hr, even @ $50/hour... maybe a decent patchbay but for that kinda money, i wouldnt plan on various connectors i/o of it.

if you were talking about studios at $75/hr on up... i can see your point. definately at $100/hr.
Why? It doesn't cost a lot to have various adapter cables and things around. I have 1/4" TRS bays and 10 pairs of XLR to TRS cables as well as a pair of TS to RCA snakes. Total investment was maybe $150 and it paid off with one gig, even at a reduced rate.
Old 27th June 2002
  #25
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs


Why? It doesn't cost a lot to have various adapter cables and things around. I have 1/4" TRS bays and 10 pairs of XLR to TRS cables as well as a pair of TS to RCA snakes. Total investment was maybe $150 and it paid off with one gig, even at a reduced rate.
i didnt say none... but 10 pairs is only 5 pieces of stereo outboard, and 10 F or M XLRs? or 10F 10M connectors? i have a slew of assorted cabling as well... but i wont say there arent times i have to break out the soldering iron real quick to make something up to work. shit, i got raw cable always handy and a couple raw connectors to make what i need as needed.... and sometimes, i hack up cables i made before for a new application.

it just seems to me you always need more than what you have.

and im not awake yet.
Old 27th June 2002
  #26
Kev
Gear Nut
 
Kev's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk

owns ADAMs
mmmmmmmmm:

A - D - A - M mmm s.

heh
Old 28th June 2002
  #27
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk

drinks really good beer

mmmmmmmmmm.

B - E - E - R
Old 28th June 2002
  #28
Kev
Gear Nut
 
Kev's Avatar
 

lol

heh
Old 29th June 2002
  #29
Small Studio Owners. What is really important?

Proximity to good food

Fresh air i/o

Fierce air-con

Lack of clutter

No 'glareing lights' in ANY direction (includes the dreaded overhead spots)

Nice rolling chairs (I take mine with me!)

Ability to cope with visiting gear

Old 29th June 2002
  #30
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk

i didnt say none... but 10 pairs is only 5 pieces of stereo outboard, and 10 F or M XLRs? or 10F 10M connectors?
10 pairs is 10 male XLR to TRS and 10 female XLR to TRS all ready to go at a moments notice. If I need more then that I can dig around and find another set or three or we can connect things with 3 and 6 foot XLR's. Honestly, I don't think I've ever had anyone use all 20 cables. And if I ever need more I'll buy them or make them.
πŸ“ Reply
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
πŸ–¨οΈ Show Printable Version
βœ‰οΈ Email this Page
πŸ” Search thread
♾️ Similar Threads
πŸŽ™οΈ View mentioned gear