Maybe you are looking for a studio to make a recording of new songs you’ve written. Maybe you need help getting your vocals recorded. Or perhaps it is time for a big album release. You look up studios around your area and try to figure out a price for you to record what you have. You look for the cheapest one and try to book some time. This is the standard way to do things, right? Aren’t all studios basically the same thing, just varying on size and price?
I think this is the wrong way to go about getting your recording needs met. I suggest starting backwards. Start with the product you are looking for, and work your way backwards from that product to find out who/what/how it was accomplished.
Recording: Working Backwards
I would actually go on YouTube and find recordings of people who are a little bit ahead of you and find what you like. Don’t bother with the mega-stars; regular people like us will never have the resources to hire an entourage of people to record us. I’m talking about independent artists and creators you want to emulate. Or at least get inspiration from.
Then, search their websites. Scour the internet for any FAQ’s on how they record and create their content. Many times you will be surprised at how little “equipment” it took to get the product you like.
Anyone can build a studio. You can be tone-deaf and still put all the hardware and software in the right places. But just because you can build it, does that mean you can expertly run it?
A good builder can create a nice kitchen. But shouldn’t you care just as much, if not more, about the person running the kitchen?
If I could alter one thing about the way most people think about recording, this is it:
It isn’t about the studio. It’s about the engineer.
Look for someone who creates a product that you like, and don’t worry as much about the fanciness of the equipment they use to create it.
I’ve known people who create audio content using a laptop and a microphone, then go to a pro studio to record video so it meets expectations of people watching.
I’m not saying that a fancy studio with lots of gear is something to avoid. In the hands of a true professional, professional equipment is going to make a difference. But just because someone had a lot of money to sink into a project doesn’t mean they know how to run it. Some of the best-sounding vocal recordings I’m hearing today are created by people with very basic tools, comparatively.
Find an engineer you like, and trust him to make the decisions about the best way to make your dreams become reality.