SNAP! blog

Some simple guidelines to building a recording studio

Some basic points when building a studio;

INSTALLATION

  1. Always ensure that wiring ducts and conduits are AT LEAST 2-3 TIMES larger than estimates. Remember, you will need to pull cables though and this requires a lot more space than the actualcable space. You may also have to pull cables through that have connectors already fitted.
  2. The same applies to any cable holes in walls; ALWAYS leave 2-3 times as much space as the dimensions of the planned cables.
  3. DO NOT recess cable runs into acoustically designed walls as this will damage the acoustic integrity. Build boxed cable housings out from the walls wherever possible.
  4. ALWAYS ENSURE that cable ducts are easily accessible and NEVER seal behind walls or beneath floors where the cable ducts can’t be easily accessed should you need to repair, alter, add or modify cables.
  5. NEVER use electronic lighting dimmers as ALL radiate HF interference on the audio path. Always use Variac lighting dimmers (transformers which vary the voltage). Although more expensive and larger, these are the only reliable and noise free solution.
  6. Unless fitting BALANCED MAINS transformers, ensure that audio and mains are kept well apart to minimise possible interference.
  7. PLAN CAREFULLY and remember that as well as electric and audio cabling you will require a host of other cable lines including (but not limited to) Phones Alarms Internet Record ready lights Studio playback Door entry phones Possible CCTV and security cameras Fire and safety standby lighting Fire sensors Midi lines At Snap, we ran ceiling mounted cable trays around the building meaning that we could add additional cabling and facilities at any time without dislocation. This has worked extremely well.
  8. Insofar as as possible, run modest audio tie lines to rest rooms and other nearby recreational areas, allowing (for example) an ambient microphone to be placed in corridors or (say) brass or percussion to be recorded in the kitchen or lounge is the sound is suitable.
  9. Make provision to hang a STUDIO TALKBACK microphone in the live areas, to enable the engineers to hear musicians in the studio without having to use a desk channel. A cheap PZM mic mounted in the ceiling will suffice.
  10. Lay a separate 110volt ring main throughout the recording rooms, including control room and studios. Visiting musicians andengineers will often bring US 110v equipment into sessions and having a regulated, heavy duty 110v supply available throughout will make life easier and avoid trailing cables and step-down transformers.
  11. Ensure that materials and furnishings used are a) fireproof and b) anti-static (or non-static) wherever possible.
  12. It is important that mains electricity socket, mic sockets etc are not at floor level, but raised a couple of feet from the floor for ease of access.
  13. In addition to studio lighting (coontrolled by Variac dimmers) you should have simple standby ‘cleaning’ lights in control and live rooms allowing simple lighting for cleaning, setting up etc without the need to use the studio lighting.
  14. Make sure you have professional power sockets in main areas ready to take fim/video/television lighting and equipment simply and directly without having to use trailing cables or adaptors from general power sockets. Make sure this delivers sufficient power to run TV or film lighting if required.
  15. Ensure you have storage space immediately next to the live room to keep flightcases, overflow instruments, drums etc rather than cluttering up the live area during sessions.16. Ensure you make a note of all the fuses required by different items of equipment and carry spares, perhaps with a spare fuse taped to the rear of each piece of equipment.
  16. Don’t forget that the sound of the control room will change once the equipment is installed. Racks, consoles and other equipment will affect the acoustic, so fine tuning is always required once the gear is installed.
  17. Air conditioning.
    Always use a firm with experience of studio air conditioning as many domestic suppliers are unfamiliar with recording requirements. External compressors with ducted air vents are essential. And remember – the vents
    must be positioned close to areas of heat generation, usually the console and outboard racks. All too often we see wall mounted air-con units that are totally unsuited for studios, as they freshen the air flow in all the wrong areas of the control room or studio. Remember – your air con is required to extract heat from electronic equipment, not to waft cool air over the sofa at the back of the room.
  18. The rear of any recording console will reflect sound from the main monitors. You may need a simple bass trap behind theconsole to absorb reflectionsAnd remember – no studio build is perfect upon completion. Rooms willrequire some tuning and minor alterations once the build is complete.Most of all, have fun!