Studio Selection

Going Beyond Natural Sound Part 1

Studio Selection

My recording engineer on the project, Chris Minto, and I chose Monterey Studios, Glendale, California, for its flexibility, which would enable us to recreate the different environments and sound textures. The monitor system was Chris’ first consideration, and the recording environment mine. Our checklist ran as follows:

1. Sound of the studio – an open, pleasant-sounding room.

2. Monitor and foldback systems – and accurate system upon which to base our creative decisions.

3. Metering – to check our transient material, and maintain a wide dynamic range on tape.

4. Microphone selection – clear and clean-sounding mikes.

5. Hardware and application – a clean recording chain.

To test out the room’s ambience, I recorded my voice in the studio on a portable Sony cassette recorder (using its built-in condenser mike) and played it at home, listening to the room reverberation quality, and texture of the sound. Chris made a tape from an album he recently recorded, for use as a monitor test in the control room. I also played his tape in my living room and personal-use studio, to set up an acoustic benchmark for our listening tests.

We took the tape to different studios were considering buying time from and, as we listened, Chris encouraged me to tell him what nuances of sound I was hearing. He would point out in technical terms the pros and cons of each monitor system, and what we could achieve from our sounds.

In the studio area, I was looking for a flexible environment; one that was capable of providing different textures to different instruments. When we finally started to work at Monterey Studios, I ended up using every area but the restrooms. Some parts of the studio I liked, and some I didn’t. Within the recording budget I had allowed myself the luxury to explore what sound we could achieve by experimentation. Such flexibility is very important when you work in a studio for the first time; I knew the sound I wanted, and by experimenting, I eventually got it.