You are here

Dissertation question - The role of studios

For everything after the recording stage: hardware/software and how you use it.

Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby allysiu » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:52 pm

I am writing my dissertation on the role of recording studios and am researching into whether a studio’s role has changed in recent years due to the necessary equipment becoming cheaper and sometimes more convenient to be used at home.

Recording studios have been the home of recording audio for years, however with professional musicians now recording at home the main role of studios potentially has changed to a less quantifiable role. Possible roles could be…

• All artists must record in a studio as a rite of passage.
• A networking area
• A sign of success
• A source of inspiration

In your mind what is the role of today’s studios aside from a dedicated recording space.

Thanks for your input.
allysiu
Poster
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:00 pm

Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby Jack Ruston » Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:12 pm

Well the main role of a professional studio is still to record audio. Because however cheap digital recording systems have become, the vast majority of people still can't record a band in their house, let alone an orchestra. The main stumbling block is that it's too noisy (not isolated enough in either direction), and that's closely followed by the realisation that they don't have enough space. Following the thread to its logical conclusion you begin to realise that actually there are various practical issues involving enough headphones, cables, stands, mics etc etc. Once you then look at the quality of those items if you decide to buy them in, the option of going to a studio where they have all that stuff, plus spares, expensive microphones, a high quality console and/or outboard, isolation booths for amps etc makes more sense.

For me, the main factor is the sonics of the room. I have a huge investment (for an individual) in equipment. But I need different spaces depending on what I'm doing, who my client is etc. I choose studios pretty much entirely on the basis of the sound of their live room. For that reason despite owning most of the gear I need, I will still do most of my tracking in commercial studios (but only certain ones).

Jack
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3483
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:17 pm

Apart from the space/gear, professional knowledge, experience, advice, skill, work flow built from years working in an environment where any and all types of problems arise. In the world of DIY everything, this is often forgotten and ignorantly devalued.

SafeandSound Mastering
online mastering
User avatar
SafeandSound Mastering
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1035
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 12:00 am
Location: London UK

Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby allysiu » Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:22 pm

Thanks for the input guys, I guess I should have prefaced my question with a situation.

I suppose in the ideal situation for my research would be...

Why would an experienced engineer choose to use a recording studio when he has reasonable equipment/space in his own home?

I used to be taught by a drummer tutor who also held interests in recording and had a small sound booth in his house where he taught his drum students and recorded.


Thanks and keep the input going!
allysiu
Poster
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:00 pm

Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:07 pm

allysiu wrote:Why would an experienced engineer choose to use a recording studio when he has reasonable equipment/space in his own home?

Equipment really isn't an issue any more. Even budget equipment these days is capable of perfectly acceptable results if used skillfully -- and better results thatn was the norm in the professional environment of the 1970s and 1980s.

It really is all about the space and the acoustics of that space -- whether you are talking about a recording environment, or a montoring environment for mixing or mastering.

Some engineers have addressed the acoustics of their home studios to a very good level and they will be able to work at home and deliver high quality, reliable and consistent results. But most have not and can not... and they may well require the use of a professionally designed and equipped control room to complete their mixes, or to track instrumental and vocal performances to a sufficiently high standard. This is particularly the case when it comes to acoustic ensembles of all sizes and physically large instruments.

There was a time when you had to go to a studio to record anything and everything. That is no longer the case, since a lot of audio sources are 'virtual' and electric instruments and voices can often be captured reasonably well in a home studio. But professional studios still provide a vital service when it comes to recording orchestras or other large instrumental sections, or entire bands who want to perform in the same place at the same time.

And the points made previously about the available experience, workflow, equipment, backup and so on are all equally important.

hugh
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 17082
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK

Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby Jack Ruston » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:21 pm

Well this is just the point...I'm a professional engineer with excellent equipment. If I lived in a remote location and had a huge converted barn or something, I might well find that for most of my work I did not need a commercial studio TECHNICALLY as I would obviously have addressed acoustic issues and installed the equipment to a high standard. But I might then need one due to location issues. Anyone who has tried to run a studio in a rural area knows that it's hard to get enough clients in if they don't live within a distance that they can travel at the beginning and end of each day. Lets assume that I don't live 100m from the next nearest neighbour and/or have a family whom I cannot disturb, I would need to build an isolated room within my home. That's extremely expensive. Some people get away with basic room within a room structures to gain enough isolation that they can function. If you want to record drums and 300w bass amps etc you need a lot of carefully designed building work. If you need those recordings to have a nice ambience you need a big structure with a high ceiling. If you want people to stay conscious while they're working you need to duct air in and out, and possibly cool the air within too. The vast majority of domestic buildings simply dont have a single space big enough to do that, and may also suffer from structural issues that would make the weight of the room impossible to bear.

As you will start to see, this is a sliding scale. You can make an electronic record with a laptop, on headphones in a box room, monitoring issues aside. You can record an acoustic guitar in your living room provided you dont live on too busy a road. You can record a guitar amp in your garage if you dont have nearby neighbours or if you build a simple room within a room. But what you can't usually do is, at any remotely reasonable cost, make recordings of things acoustic drums, bass amps, guitar amps, orchestras (anything very loud or very big), everyday and/or night, within a great sounding space, without disturbing other people. There are always people who have, by virtue of their living space, the ability to do these things. But it's not the norm. The norm is that you generally still need a studio for at least some of the process.

Even commercial studios have restrictions resulting from these quite difficult to solve problems. Abbey Rd for example has noise issues with their neighbour at the back because the isolation is poor.

To give you some idea...A realistic budget to build a studio with ducted air, proper isolation, a large live room (say 4-500ft2) similar control room with good acoustics (excluding equipment) might be about 70-80k minimum. You'd then need a space big enough, say 1000ft2 with 20ft clearance and a solid concrete foundation. You're not likely to find that in your house.

So it's all about what you want to record, when, where you live, who else lives there and nearby. Certainly the equipment is the least of your worries financially speaking. You can buy a DAW and some decent mics and pres (not the best but very good) for a few grand. But actually creating the environment that you need to make a record with a band properly, or record a film score a choir is expensive, and fraught with practical difficulties.

J
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3483
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby johnny h » Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:40 pm

allysiu wrote:I am writing my dissertation on the role of recording studios and am researching into whether a studio’s role has changed in recent years due to the necessary equipment becoming cheaper and sometimes more convenient to be used at home.

Recording studios have been the home of recording audio for years, however with professional musicians now recording at home the main role of studios potentially has changed to a less quantifiable role. Possible roles could be…

• All artists must record in a studio as a rite of passage.
• A networking area
• A sign of success
• A source of inspiration

In your mind what is the role of today’s studios aside from a dedicated recording space.

Thanks for your input.

The main role of music studios today is to supply a large amount of jobs to recent graduates of music technology courses.
johnny h
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3181
Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 11:00 pm

Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby dmills » Mon Feb 06, 2012 8:26 pm

johnny h wrote:
The main role of music studios today is to supply a large amount of jobs to recent graduates of music technology courses.
I think the major role of Music technology courses today is to supply a large number of teaching jobs to recent graduates of music technology courses!

As far as studios role, the room is everything particularly if you are an experienced engineer to start with, but there is also something else....
If you are basically a musician, as opposed to an engineer it can make much more sense to hire the engineering done so as to allow you to concentrate on the performance rather then the DAW or tracking down a dicky mic lead or whatever.

The head space you need to be in to give a stunning performance is quite different to that required to be paying close attention to all the technical details, levels, disk space, is that a little hum in the background, why is there a little flutter echo on the vocal, that snare is buzzing... And even people who have good rooms with good gear will sometimes benefit from having someone else run the gear while they perform.

Even if you can do both, there is much to be said for separating the engineering, production and performance tasks, simply to allow for increased concentration on each.

In this the role can be as much about the people and the environment as it is about the gear or even the room.

Got to admit to having my doubts that there is enough meat to the question to make a subject for dissertation paper, A level essay maybe, possibly, but where is the academic rigour in asking random folks on a internet forum such a question?

Regards, Dan.
dmills
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1544
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 11:00 pm
Location: High Wycombe, UK

Audiophiles use phono leads because they are unbalanced people!


Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby allysiu » Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:26 pm

Thanks Dan for your comments.

This forum will not be the sole source of research in my dissertation also I am approaching this from the angle of an engineer not a engineer/musicians. I fully accept there are many people in this industry who are both, I myself am one of them.

Your views on the role of studio have been very insightful, thank you.
allysiu
Poster
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:00 pm

Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby grab » Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:23 pm

A random thought. Many people here are from the UK, and most of them are from England. In England it's safe to assume that anywhere within travelling distance either already has lots of people there, or has restrictive planning laws, or would cost a fortune for land, or any combination thereof. Scotland and Wales have more empty space going spare, but finding somewhere empty that doesn't involve long and arduous treks down single-track roads dodging suicidal sheep is tricky; and if you limit yourself to being close enough to major population centres then all the same problems apply.

How is this different somewhere like the US or most of mainland Europe, where out-of-town land is nearly free (at least in comparison to costs of building and equipment), and travelling a couple of hours is not thought to be a big deal? Granted you still need to build your space, but if there's only wildlife to hear you then it probably doesn't need to be so absolutely soundproofed, which saves some more money. (Sure you don't want to hear the wildlife on the recording, but stopping a nightingale's song getting in is easier than stopping a kW of bass amp getting out.) Has this led to more smaller studios being set up in the US and mainland Europe, since it's more feasible for a moderately-financed band or well-heeled/determined individual to go down this route?
grab
Frequent Poster
Posts: 2372
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2007 11:00 pm
Location: Cambridge, UK

 


Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby * User requested deletion 2 * » Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:16 am

grab wrote:

........or most of mainland Europe, where out-of-town land is nearly free (at least in comparison to costs of building and equipment), and travelling a couple of hours is not thought to be a big deal.......

You've never been to Europe, have you, grab? Have you ever met any Europeans?
* User requested deletion 2 *
Frequent Poster
Posts: 656
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 12:00 am

Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby johnny h » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:15 am

ex-reid wrote:
grab wrote:

........or most of mainland Europe, where out-of-town land is nearly free (at least in comparison to costs of building and equipment), and travelling a couple of hours is not thought to be a big deal.......

You've never been to Europe, have you, grab? Have you ever met any Europeans?

Land is nearly free in Europe? Wow, why did nobody tell me before?! Lets go....
johnny h
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3181
Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 11:00 pm

Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby grab » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:43 am

Met a fair few. Of course, whether they like travelling or not depends on the person... Travelled a bit in France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Greece. Also skiing in Switzerland and Austria, but that doesn't really count here bcos by definition if you're skiing then you're out in the mountains.

But land *is* cheap over there when you get away from cities. In Britain we buy up old ruins in the hills and fix them up. Why? Bcos the rules on what you can build new are phenomenally strict, and that's bcos the country as a whole have decided we'd like some green spaces left. In France you generally leave the ruin to rot and build a new place further down the road, bcos there's so much empty space out in the hills and forests that the odd house here and there isn't a big deal. And that's before you look at Spain, Greece or Portugal, where out of a city centre you can't drive a mile in any direction without going past half a dozen derelict buildings on abandoned patches of land. (Sure, in all those countries you need to know who to pay off to get through the various legal hoops, but such is life.) In the UK, having a holiday home is seen as such an amazing luxury that we'll make do with static caravans. In Mediterranean countries, having a holiday home is so common as to be unremarkable, because they are *CHEAP*. Ditto in the US.

Oh, and re "nearly free". In England, a plot of land for a single house (with planning permission) just about anywhere will set you back over £100k. Rule of thumb is that buying the land will cost around a third of the total costs to build. This simply is not the case in mainland Europe, or in the US. In the US, having an acre of land around your house is entirely normal, and with this you can easily build a decent studio in your "back garden". Try that in the UK!

(The problem with France though is that it's full of French people. More specificially, you'll find it harder to get work in a country where you're not 100% fluent in the language and culture and you're competing for jobs with equally-skilled people who are. Especially at the moment, since unemployment is pretty serious in much of Europe. If you're retired, do what you like, of course!)

So back to my original point. Has this affected the building of studios for bands or individuals to have their own recording space?
grab
Frequent Poster
Posts: 2372
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2007 11:00 pm
Location: Cambridge, UK

 


Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby The Red Bladder » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:24 am

grab wrote:But land *is* cheap over there when you get away from cities. In Britain we buy up old ruins in the hills and fix them up. Why? Bcos the rules on what you can build new are phenomenally strict, and that's bcos the country as a whole have decided we'd like some green spaces left.


You could not be more wrong, if you claimed that the moon is made of cheese!

Have you ever applied for planning permission in France or Germany?

Trust me, in nearly all mainland countries, building work is only allowed in closed and serviced (water, sewage, electric and telephones) communities. Period. No ifs and buts, no 'But I am rich!' and no 'We are going to create places of work and provide jobs for the community!' nonsense. If the local council has not designated that area to be a dwelling or industrial area suitable for development, no building work of any kind can take place whatsoever.

And in the UK, it takes six weeks to get a reply from the planning office - try a year, often far longer in Germany! I own a plot of land in Dresden. It is just an ugly piece of waste land right in the heart of the city and we have been trying to get some sort of plan from the city council about what is or is not going to happen to the city. I have owned that plot of land now for over 20 years!!! That's 20 years of taxes, insurance, legal costs and hassle. What, you may ask is the hold-up. Easy, the council has not decided what is going to happen to that part of the city, so until they do, no planning applications will even be accepted!

In the mean time, our studio here in the UK (three floors and 200sq m footprint) went through 'on the nod' and a second studio and workshop was done with plans I drew up on my laptop and accompanied with a simple structural engineer's report. A month later, I got a letter saying 'Go for it, Lad!'

Now tell me it's so much easier over there!

I can't speak for the Ukraine (Europe's largest country BTW) but not only is it far, far, far more difficult to get planning permission in nearly all mainland countries, but the availability of land is very low. Here, people buy and sell houses as if they were cars. There, houses stay in the family for generations. You may have noticed that you just do not see For Sale signs on every street, as you do in the UK.

Yes, the US is somewhat different, but there, you have ZONING LAWS! So once again, in most states you can't just shove up a studio in your back garden! You can put up a studio in the garden in Montana, but musicians and therefore work are either in NY or LA or in regional areas of activity like Chicago or Nashville - and you are right back to zoning laws again!
The Red Bladder
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1880
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:00 pm
Location: . . .

 


Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby allysiu » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:40 am

Hi guys

This is all very interesting but if you could also please leave your comment on the role of a studio in addition to your comments on building costs I would be very much obliged.

Thanks guys!
allysiu
Poster
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:00 pm

Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby Spangler » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:25 pm

The role of a modern recording studio today is to provide 'Studio Experience' activity days for hen, stag and children's birthday parties.
Spangler
Regular
Posts: 157
Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2005 12:00 am
Location: Newcastle

clicky


Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby grab » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:21 pm

You could not be more wrong, if you claimed that the moon is made of cheese!


Ey up Gromit!

Have you ever applied for planning permission in France or Germany?


No, and I'm sure planning permission/zoning is a bitch everywhere. I'd be stupid to disagree with someone with first-hand experience of it in a particular country. Assumptions on whether you'll get planning permission are always going to be a risk though, whatever country you're in.

For sure, Germany is much more like our situation. Perhaps more so, bcos Germans are much happier living in apartments than Brits typically are; so although they're a much bigger country, towns/cities can be more densely populated. Renting is generally more common than in Britain too, and like you say, house sales aren't done in the same way as over here. Still though, how much of the cost of building the average house in the rest of Europe is the cost of the land?

Rewinding slightly, I agree that land will always be expensive in popular places. But if Joe Guitar out in Montana (or Jean Guitare in the Lot) wants to do some recording with his band, can't he build his personal recording space more easily and for less money than it'll take Jack Guitar to do the same thing in, say, the Lancashire valleys? If this isn't the case and I'm way off base, then fair enough - I'll shut up. But *if* it is cheaper for Joe Guitar/Jean Guitare, have they taken advantage of it?
grab
Frequent Poster
Posts: 2372
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2007 11:00 pm
Location: Cambridge, UK

 


Re: Dissertation question - The role of studios

Postby OneWorld » Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:44 pm

allysiu wrote:I am writing my dissertation on the role of recording studios and am researching into whether a studio’s role has changed in recent years due to the necessary equipment becoming cheaper and sometimes more convenient to be used at home.

Recording studios have been the home of recording audio for years, however with professional musicians now recording at home the main role of studios potentially has changed to a less quantifiable role. Possible roles could be…

• All artists must record in a studio as a rite of passage.
• A networking area
• A sign of success
• A source of inspiration

In your mind what is the role of today’s studios aside from a dedicated recording space.

Thanks for your input.

What exactly do you mean by this "now recording at home the main role of studios potentially has changed to a less quantifiable role?"

Wasn't it ever thus? how would you have 'quantified' a studio in days of yore? how would you define a studio? is it worthy of being called a studio simply because it is a business venture with the sole purpose of making audio recordings for a charge, even though the equipment could indeed be inferior to some home setups?

I think when you are setting out on doing an essay/dissertation, unless you can do robust research backed up by quantifiable facts, then it is only an observation/opinion anyway and I would tend to lay out your take on things without being prescriptive.

It is such a wide open question - it is like saying what is the role of a shop? apart from their obvious function, they are all things to all men/women/whatever and I don't think that has changed over the years, just that there are fewer of them and maybe the ones that stayed open are those that specialize, somehow got a niche market maybe. Or are so well equipped that the top singers/writers/record companies use them by default as it is that studio's name that is associated with quality, and how do you quantify quality?


BTW - completely off-topic - I am writing this after trying a lived cd Linux Distro called Chakra and it is brill, booting from a cd, it even identified by dual head graphics card, one monitor a 19" 1280 x 1280 res (or thereabouts, and the main monitor a wide screen 24" witjh a res of 2080, network working, internet, soundcard, libre office installed, the lot, for free!

I have tested iPlayer, tvCatchup, all the regular sites I use, nay problem

Steinberg, please port Cubase to Linux, same goes for Reason, Kontakt and that's me kissing goodbye to Windows!
OneWorld
Frequent Poster
Posts: 2009
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:00 pm


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests