AF’s Weblog

May 11, 2009

Making a Studio Pt.2

Making a Studio Pt.2

Nothing will work without electricity unless you’re jamming at the local drum circles down on the beach. Electrical installation studio power is often overlooked. Studios will setup a “clean feed” that is a separate breaker from the rest of the general power that is being used for air conditioning, lighting and the basic necessities of the rest of the building. Have you ever plugged something in and heard that horrific buzzing sound coming from the speakers or guitar amp? This is usually due to bad electrical wiring, which causes ground noise. This is the first thing to listen for when going in to a studio session. A simple solution to the problem would be to use a simple ground lifter on the gear or lift the ground from a direct box which can also solve the problems. We will go into details later.


Isolated electrical circuits for each individual room are a must in a recording studio. The proper amount of amperage is also a must. Not enough amperage will surely cause your breakers to blow. Consult with an Electrician who is familiar with studio setups to insure that wiring and voltage is regulated and conforming with local codes.

Unregulated Power Supplies (UPS) should also be in place just in case there is a power failure. This will insure that valuable equipment will not blow up or cause a fire. If there is a case of a power outage the UPS will provide enough time to backup important computer files and safely turn off your equipment. Some studios will have complete generator systems in place to keep the studio running for the remainder of the session.

Improper lighting can also cause buzzing ground issues, especially fluorescent bulbs. Avoid using these in any studio. Dimmers can also cause many problems. The average household dimmers will surely put a damper into a clean sound. Make sure that professional grade dimmers are installed to avoid ground noise. Always listen carefully to signals being recorded before committing to a final take. There are a countless number of accounts that the engineer discovers electrical noise on takes during the mix process.

Plan de groupe A simple ground lifter can help to eliminate buzzes in the studio.

If you are serious about your studio, may I suggest balance power or a separated panel with neutral power conditioning. The evil problems of ground issues are a direct reflection of sources returning or looking for a different ground. Voltage potential between neutral and ground will certainly change your way of looking at things… for example, .5 volts between neutral and ground is the maximum allowance by UL code that electronics will operate optimally without potential induction issues. I would suggest having a meter installed to rate this. Logging this information and having a good rapport with the local electric company would not hurt at all.

Now let’s continue…


Booking the proper studio

Where one decides to record is as important as what they are recording. If a band is located in Los Angeles why not just find a studio in L.A.? There are plenty of studios in L.A. with amazing gear and fabulous rooms yet the distractions of being in their hometown could take away from the focus of concentrating on the recording process. Many artists will book studios in remote locations to avoid outside interference and distractions. Privacy is very important in the entire process. Friends coming over to drink beer during the sessions could definitely hinder the process.

When budgets do not permit then finding a studio in a location that is suitable for the logistics of all who are involved in the project must come into play. The most important thing is that everyone feels comfortable in the location. If you have to pack your 9mm to get from the car to the studio then you may want to reconsider. When booking the studio look for a good location, a good price and make sure the gear and the room is adequate.

Deciding where to build a studio

Plan de groupe Urban…

In business, location is everything. Asking yourself if you have enough clients in that area to sustain all of the bills that incur for your studio, must be the key to your decision. Only a few very talented industry pros have the luxury of clients going out of their way to work in a remote location.

Purchasing a building for a studio is a great option for many reasons. By owning the property you become the landlord. Therefore you can do a build out as you please. This is a great investment as an alternative to a lease. Many Artists these days are buying houses and renovating them as Recording Studios. Many mansions have been converted into studios. This option for obvious reasons definitely brings the comforts of home right to the recording process.

Plan de groupe or Rural?

Whether building a private studio, a home studio or a commercial facility, they all take a bit of investigation before committing to the expense. Parking should be considered as well as local conveniences such as anything that your focus client base may desire. If your clients are country artists I don’t think they would like recording on South Beach and if your clients are looking to be around where the action is the mountainside resort studio is probably not ideal.

Visit Audiofanzine soon for part 3 of Making of a Studio, talking about acoustics, commercial studios, home studios and more.

To read the full detailed article see Making a Studio Part2


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