5 Things That People Think Matter But Do Not When Choosing A Producer/ Recording Studio

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As someone who has been producing records for over a decade I have watched many musicians make mistakes when choosing a studio. After having a terrible recording experience musicians love to tell the world about it. While sometimes it is the recording studio/producers fault that the recording went bad, ultimately it is usually the musicians fault for making a poor decision on who to work with. Follow me to the jump and we will discuss 5 mistakes that musicians often make when choosing where to record.

  1. A Huge Console Means NOTHING – If there is one thing that no longer matter to making a great sounding record it is the console. Anyone experienced in recording knows that it is the person who is operating it that makes a difference. While you may think that it must take some experience to operate such a monstrosity of technology, it is not the case. Over the years any experienced musician will hear terrible sounding records come off of big consoles. To make this matter even more complicated many studios now have huge controller consoles THAT DON’T EVEN RUN AUDIO THROUGH THEM. They simply move the faders in the computer (see the console in the picture above). The fact of the matter is everyday great sounding records are made in bedrooms just as they are also made in nice studios. A big console means nothing aside from they have a big console. It does not mean your record will sound good. With all that said a great engineer on a great sounding console can be amazing thing.
  2. Looks And Slanted Glass Windows Mean NOTHING – As we stated before it is about the operator. Just because you see slanted glass windows (which many people believe make the room actually sound worse, though they do look cool) does not mean a room is going to sound good. When recording nerds get together we love to discuss the countless studios we have entered that have spent tens of thousands of dollars on looking good but ultimately didn’t sound any better than some shithole we recorded in one time that had brick walls and a tiled floor. If you ever took a look at Cello Studios where they recorded many of the great rock records it wasn’t the bright wooden studio you see in fancy pictures of today. It was a dark, ugly room but the second I walked in there and heard a drum hit it felt like magic. Just because a room looks nice does not mean it sounds nice or that the person you are working with can make it sound good.
  3. A List Of Records Someone Did Does Not Mean They Can Make Yours Sound Good – Credit lists can be very deceiving. For one just because someone worked on a record it does not mean they had a part in shaping the sound of it. There are many times even a producer of a record didn’t do much and the band may have done much of the work. What makes a great producer/studio is not one good record it is that every band that comes their way comes out to be a great version of the band. Secondly, just because a producer made a good record with a band like yours does not mean they are right for your band. A good producer/band relationship comes from filling in each others blanks. The band you liked may have needed a lot of work on the drums and the producer was good at that but couldn’t write a harmony if his life depended on it. Your band may need helps with harmonies and therefore your relationship will not be a good one. It is important to talk to bands who have recorded where you plan on going so you can get a feel for what the producer/ studio will bring to the table.
  4. Tape Machines Do Not Make Great Records – Just because someone records on tape does not mean Merlin the Magic Tape God is going to cast a spell on your record and give it vibe, feeling and good songs. People turn to tape as a way to recapture the old awesome vibes of yesteryear. The fact is if you have great outboard gear, a great engineer who gets it and great songs being performed well tape can be an added thing to give you character, but if you are short in any of these departments it is not going to be make a difference that will give you any added edge or musiciality. Tape does not equal vibe, but it can in the right scenario.
  5. A HUGE Drum Room Doesn’t Always Make Huge Drum Sounds- Aside from the point that many records do not even demand the sound of a big drum room and are actually recorded in small dead spaces, a big drum room doesn’t translate to big drum sounds. Just as we stated a nice looking studio doesn’t mean nice sounds. Drum rooms can in fact be too big! The engineer at the board has to get how to use the room and shape it properly. Do not judge this book by it’s cover or it may smack you upside your head.

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.