It is difficult to dispute the fact that the room in which one records music in will have the most impact on the sound of the overall finished recording. So what does that really translate into? Let’s figure this out. I find it really interesting that many home and pro studio websites boast about how important it is to have an acoustically-treated room in order to make great recordings. Why?
Good question. They will tell you that standing waves in symmetrical rooms will effect the bass frequencies (and they do). They say that you need a non-resonant floor (well…ok) , extreme insulation to ward off outside noises (makes sense), and the space to isolate people, amps and instruments, along with an isolated vocal booth (hmm…sounds expensive). In other words, you are being told that the room should not contribute negatively to the recording by…….well, by not influencing it in any way.
What I find interesting is how a room can contribute in a positive way. The Internet is full of examples of famous and notable recordings made in some pretty wild places. Some of the infamous, large label recording studios in the past have been very large spaces full of their own audio characteristics. Some small studio spaces, such as the home of Motown originator Berry Gordy’s Hitsville U.S.A. Studio, a converted residence in Detroit, contribute a different sound.
The famous Jazz recording engineer, Rudy Van Gelder, brought many famous jazz artists to his parents’ home in Hackensack, New Jersey to record in the living room.
So, I guess my point, in a very condensed way, is that the imperfect room need not always be a detriment. A clever engineer will find ways to use it in the best way possible. Those thinking they need some elaborate studio to record in take heart. An imperfect room will only make you a better engineer and troubleshooter, and sometimes, by default, it will provide some acoustical magic of its own!
2 thoughts on “Unusual and Imperfect Recording studios and spaces”
…and lets not forget – recording is 99% performance. As musicians its easy to fall into the trap that if we only record in the right “room” or use the newest fangled plug in or piece of gear that it will somehow hide the shortcomings of our performance. But imagine how good those old Motown record would have sounded with Skip behind the board!!
Excellent point Jim. I thought about adding that at the end of the post but I figure we could write a couple chapters on that! Having been the engineer behind the console and editing program monitor yourself, you know that there is only so much you can fix! A great performance in a crummy room is, well…..a great performance.