Recording studio

10 things to know before entering a professional recording studio

REGISTRATION WEEK 2022: Working in a commercial studio is quite different from working from home. Some of the techniques (or should we call them bad habits?) you’ve picked up over the years just won’t apply when you’re recording somewhere where you pay by the day.

Efficient and focused work is king in the professional recording studio – you need to make sure you’re properly prepared. Here are ten things to do before you arrive.

1. Set a goal for your session

How many tracks do you record? What are they for? How will this session advance your career?

2. Finish your writing before you get there

There’s nothing worse than showing up to a studio session with a half-written song. Writing in the studio is an expensive way to accomplish very little, so finish everything before you arrive.

rehearse in a recording studio

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3. Check the operation of your equipment

Hiring a replacement amp is very expensive – you could avoid the problem by having your equipment serviced, or at least checked, before you arrive.

4. Have a working backup of your files

In fact, you should have three backups of your work: one with you on DVD, in case your computer crashes; one at home, in case you get mugged on the way to the studio; and one stored on the internet, in the event of a claim. It might sound a little paranoid, but how long will it take to recreate the job than to save it?

mixing in recording studio

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5. Rebound

“Writing in the studio is an expensive way to accomplish very little, so finish everything before you arrive.”

Don’t assume the studio will have the plugins you use at home. Bounce to audio from any tracks that rely on software instruments or effects. This will ensure compatibility between your working configuration and your destination configuration.

6. Take food with you

You need fuel when you’re working hard. Assume there will be nowhere to eat near the studio and be pleasantly surprised when there is.

7. Repeat

You wrote your songs, but did you rehearse them? More importantly, have you rehearsed your songs to the point where everyone is playing to the best of their abilities?

8. Research the studio

Know how to get there. Find out which DAW you will use and who will be the engineer. Is it a popular studio? How much will it cost? Will you need to rent additional equipment?

mixing desk in a recording studio

(Image credit: Jime Eversole/EyeEm/Getty)

9. Mix another day

Don’t arrange to mix on the day of recording. Your ears will be too tired to get a clear view of what you’ve recorded. Set aside a separate day to mix if you can afford it.

10. Aim for excellence

These tracks are the ones you want to spread worldwide, so you owe it to yourself to make them as good as possible. The bottom line: prepare well and work hard!