Building Quality Homes



Recording Studio Tips and information 1


Also see Recording Tips 2




Covering the following subjects

Studio Equipment

Studio Wiring

Patch bays



Master Controllers



Music Software (Ad links)


Anyone building their own studio could benefit from

the following Pages and Headings:-




Studio Equipment


     You don't have to have the latest gadgets and state of the art

recording tools like computers running Cubase, Pro Tools,

Garage band and many more software based programs, or

dedicated stand alone multi track recorders to get good

results in a Recording Studio. Just take a moment to think

about  The old days and how some of the best music around

today which was recorded some 40/50 years ago only had 1

Microphone and 1 track (Mono) to record on. All the band

played together in one room with the singer at the front

(close to the mike) and the band behind and it was done

in 1 take (Motown, Beetles, Stones) all went through

that process, In fact I believe it was the Beetles and

George Martin (Producer/Engineer) who came up with one

of the first multitrack recordings (Sergeant Pepper Album

only 4 tracks used!) in those early years but they did

produce some good songs and music from using just

1 microphone! A simple stereo recorder can produce

good results in a practice room if the microphones are

placed in the right place!




Studio Wiring

     One of the biggest headaches you may come across in

building your own studio is the wiring of all the equipment,

a serious problem can be caused by a phenomenon known as

  Earth Loops , this in practical terms means you can start to

hear a hum or Buzz build up in your monitoring system or

back line amps and into the line feeds of your inputs on the

mixing desk.


       This is caused by all the different pieces of equipment

having very small earth currents or slight voltage leakage

building a potential voltage between different pieces of

equipment or points, this can be solved by having what is

sometimes called a  Star Earth  wiring loom (think more like a

Star Fish). This means you start with your desk and

monitoring system only, setting up so there is no hum,

then take 1 point as an Earth and take a ground (Earth)

wire to each piece of equipment 1 piece at a time, monitoring

any Hums as you connect them. You may find that trying

different locations on your equipment such as on Rack

mounted Items try the bottom of a module or back panel

(try undoing a chassis screw and scratch off some paint then

fasten your ground wire to the screw and then tighten it

back up). Make sure your Rack (Metal frame?) Units itself

(if using one) is also grounded to this Earth point along

with your Patch bay (Your [Jack plug] connector Screens

should all be connected to this Earth).






Patch bays

         There is a constant need to connect various pieces of

equipment to one another in the control room,  Inserts  which

I will cover next constantly need connection to effects such

as compressors, gates, flanges, phasers, equalizers the list is

endless, however flexibility is the key word, patch bays are

not just connector sockets in a rack, they are the way

effects can be daisy chained and connected to each other.

Most of your rack effects will have rear connector sockets,

these are all copied, to the front of your patch bay for easy

use along with more commonly used connections from

your mixing desk.


Midi and Data patch bays are becoming more common in

use these days as technology grows with fibre  optics being

used to connect equipment, with computer ports like USB

and SD card slots being required more in sessions for

mastering and for transfers of large Data.



          Inserts are usually found on Mixing desks near the

input connection stage, they commonly break the circuit

between the input and gain stage or after the gain stage but

before the EQ section of a Chanel on your Desk. This allows

signal sources such as from a drum mic to be sent to the

Rack of effects through the patch bay wiring to an effect like a 

Gate which can have a trigger threshold to only allow the main

signal from say a snare drum to pass cutting off the background

noise when it is not being hit. To have the Snare drum on its

own track gives tremendous opportunities later in mixing to add

specific Reverbs creating and sometimes making a song or

piece of music ROCK. 





        Most musicians know about or have at least heard of midi,

midi is a form of digital signals sent from one piece of equipment

to another, a good analogy would be to consider a piano

keyboard being like a row of switches either pressed on or off.

There is other information included in this switching information

like how hard you pressed the switch(velocity) and for how

long it is held down(length), popular music software allows

you to record yourself pressing these switches and then

replay them.


        Once the information is recorded it can be manipulated

to play with different timings, strengths, lengths or use different

sounds, so in the studio Midi is widely used to record drum loops,

piano, string sections again the list is endless usually from a

Master keyboard, you are probably going to use some kind of

Computer based system (who doesn't in these days?) in your

Studio, whether it's a PC or Mac you will probably need a

Midi patch bay and a Midi signal splitter/ booster box to

send a copy of the Midi signal you have recorded to several

rack mounted pieces of kit/ Synth modules/ effects etc. at

the same time.


             If you try to daisy chain the signal using  Midi through 

from one Unit to the next, Delays in the signal can get

introduced and you find units at the end of the chain

sometimes not responding or having a delay or other

unwanted effects happen





Midi Controllers

            Electronic piano keyboards usually have Midi

included into them these days and a studio will usually have

one where the keys are  weighted  to give the feel of a real Piano,

however Midi has or had when I last checked only around

128 different velocity points for each note. That is to say

apart from Volume (which is kind of the same thing, and

also has 128 variable levels one of which is usually set for

all the keys) you can only strike a note 128 different ways!


            So there is a difference between the feel and sound

level/ tone of a real Piano but not many people have room for

them and you can't easily sync what you play on a real

piano with modern electronic formats without having a Midi

conversion done on the Piano, or trying to use software to

recognize what has been played and covert it to Midi in a

modern sequencing/ Recording Software package.


             Other types of Midi controllers can operate and

store EQ positions and levels on Modern Mixing desks

along with which digital effects to call up and effect amounts,

even routing Patch bays without the need to unplug a single

Jack!. Although Modern Computer Softwarepackages are

now including digital on screen versions of all these functions

down to including Inserting, Mixing, EQ'ing, Patching, adding

effects to Audio recordings, and playing Midi Sounds with

effects all at the same time practically all from one box!.









      Sampling for those who don't know by now is the

conversion of analogue sound into a digital format that

is to say for those who remember cassettes and tape recorders,

sound on a tape, is stored as electromagnetic information

as a continuous strip which is picked up as it passes a coil

of wire (the Playback head) and boosted to an audible level

through an amplifier. Sampling effectively cuts the sound strip 

up into thousands of small sections almost like cutting the

strip of tape into a thousand or more pieces and then converts

each section into a number, over a one second period,

anything from a few thousand to usually 44100 (44.1 kHz )

sections (or samples) a second is common for CD quality.


            Studios can operate at 48 kHz or more for initial

recordings for higher quality capture of sound, converting

down to 44.1 kHz when eventually mastering onto CD.

From personal experience, I could tell the difference between

44.1kHz and 48kHz when recording and playing back, but at

48kHz, nobody could tell the difference between someone

talking live and the same voice being played back after

recording it!.

Can anyone remember that phrase  Is it live, or is it Memorex?

Well I was caught out many a time thinking a voice recorded

was singing or talking live and vise versa.

      These days Sampling usually means copying a drum loop

or piece of music from someone else's music, or using a sound

such as a bowed string, capturing a small snippet of it and then

looping the sound so it is a continuous note when played back,

then using a master keyboard, triggering the sound to play and/or

pitching up or down the sound to make different notes and

harmonies by playing 2 or more notes (triggers) at the same time.







         Mic's come in many shapes and forms but good

quality microphones are essential for good recordings,

Neumann , Senhheiser, Sure, AKG are common

makes and old industry standards such as the famous

AKG D112 for the kick drum and Neumann mics

for vocals but cheap condenser mics can perform very

well for a range of recordings and cheap mics like PZM's

are still great for getting general overhead stereo mixes

especially if you have a small modification done to them

to run them on Phantom power, a brighter top end

is enhanced.

          A good idea when first setting up a Studio if you are

struggling to buy mics is to get your first few bands that

you are going to record to bring all their mics along to

the session to add more choice and Oomph to their

recordings (At least thats what you tell them.Psychology

and handling clients comes later!)