Many musicians and songwriters have their own home studios these days. However, it is a rarity to hear these home demos on the radio or on a record. This is because there are so many benefits to recording in a professional studio; from standard of equipment and professional knowledge, to acoustic treatment and post production, a professional recording session can save hours of laborious mixing, and help get your music to peoples’ ears in the way you always dreamt of.
Even those who have their own set up at home often choose to demo their material in a professional studio before making an official record. This is also a viable route for those who are seeking to further their career within the music industry without having to spend a lot of money. For those who only have the ability to present their songs on a single instrument and voice for instance, demoing songs can be an invaluable way to put flesh on the bones of a basic song idea. Many engineers are performers themselves, and if they are not, will have access to such musicians.
In the digital age, many virtual instruments mean that an engineer can provide a full orchestra behind your music, without having to hire the musicians. For line-ups beyond the singer-songwriter or solo artist, a professional studio will be equipped to handle the requirements of a full band. There will be a dedicated space for the drummer, singer, guitarist, keys player, even the string quartet or horn section in some grander cases. There is not only the space, but also the acoustics to get the right sound. Dedicated drum rooms and vocal booths give separation and clarity to recordings. Ever hear traffic noise behind a professional recording? Most studios are specifically designed to block out sound, or are located away from background noise that your home set up may not be able to avoid. This is of particular benefit to non-music based recording projects, as background noise on a spoken-word recording is far harder to mask than a full electric band.
Once an artist or band has honed its sound, then a professional studio is a very important part of the process to getting a finished product. Dependent on budget, a recording session from a few days to several months is much easier to undertake in a professional environment. Firstly, the day-to-day distractions are not there, because a good professional recording studio will have a relaxed but creatively focused atmosphere. Even if you arrive at the studio each morning, and leave each evening, you are safe in the knowledge that when you return, the microphones will still be set up, the amps will still be working, and there is at least one pair of ears in the room which are listening for any undesirable sounds and also someone dedicated to making sure that everything runs smoothly. Many studios are also able to help you with the post production considerations of your finished article, from the obvious considerations of mixing and mastering, to CD duplication, artwork layout, and in some cases, where to send the record to next!
Professional studios have spent thousands, not only on creating a great sounding space, but also getting the right studio recording equipment. You may wish to bring your own amplifier or drum kit for your own unique sound, but this is not essential as most professional studios will have good backline. It is important to choose the right studio for your music, admittedly, but industry standards such as the Neumann, AKG and Shure microphones, and outboard such as Avalon are all good indicators that the studio has invested in the right equipment.
The final and possibly most crucial element that makes using a professional studio so important is the staff who work in it. They will have a greater understanding of the studio’s capabilities, and will be able to work fast and efficiently, without compromising the quality of the recording. They can also be an ‘extra member’ of your project, lending suggestions and not inconsiderable experience. Don’t be afraid to ask their opinion, or listen to it – remember, they have done this many times already.