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How to Build a Professional Recording Studio: A Step-By-Step Guide

Opening a recording studio requires a daunting investment of time and money. Learn how to build a professional recording studio here.

There’s a lot of confusing information online about how to build a professional recording studio.

Firstly, building a studio is unlike any other kind of building design. Every aspect is customized for sound quality; including the walls, roof, and air conditioning.

Secondly, the price varies quite spectacularly depending on your needs. A basic room conversion can start at $1000-$1500, whereas a top-end studio build will see your budget into the millions and beyond.

For a newbie engineer, this is confusing at best.

This guide will show you how to build a studio recording space; from a basic room conversion to a professional studio.

Step 1: Define Your Needs

Once you define what your needs are you can build a recording studio to match them, which sounds obvious but is extremely important when your costs can range from a few thousand to a few million. 

Decide what kind of music you will be recording. Making hip-hop? Great! You won’t need the same space as an orchestra. Recording live drums? You’re going to need to max out on soundproofing. Just recording for fun? Well, you can do that with a laptop and a well-treated room.

Step 2: Map Out Your Design

A standard recording studio will have a control room for mixing, an isolation booth for recording instruments separately, and a live room for the rest of the band.

Measure up your space and decide on the dimensions of each room.

Step 3: Soundproofing 

Unless you plan to never record drums or loud guitars, soundproofing is a must. It will likely be the most time consuming and expensive part of the whole project.

Soundproofing is basically stopping any sound from leaving or entering a space. 

On that note, it’s not the kind of thing you can fix-up after it’s been done badly. This is because proper soundproofing is built into the structure of the studio. 

If it’s in your budget to properly soundproof your studio here’s how it’s done.

Build a Room Within a Room

The idea of a room within a room is that sound hits the inside walls and ceiling but can’t transfer through the air gap to the outside world. This is done by building the walls and ceiling of the inner room so that they have little to no contact with each other or the outside room.

This is also what we call “de-coupling”.

Raise the Floor

Sound can easily transfer in and out of your studio through the floor. Most professional recording studios will have a raised floor. Adding mass underneath the floor will help with this. A lot of studios raise the floor and pack the underneath with sand. 

On a Budget

If you can’t build into the structure of your room your best bet is to make it airtight. You can do this by sealing off doors and windows with rubber seals.

Step 4: Air Circulation

This raises the question of “how is everybody going to breathe?” Airtight spaces full of people making music get pretty stuffy pretty fast.

But air conditioning creates the issue of added noise in the room, so be careful when choosing and installing an air conditioning unit

Step 5: Acoustic Treatment

Acoustic treatment is the art of manipulating the sound waves in the room to create the best sound possible.

The two main techniques used are absorption and diffusion.

Absorption and Base Traps

Absorption stops too much noise from bouncing around the room creating nodes and standing waves (frequency build-ups). 

You can make absorbers out of Rockwool or any kind of thick absorbent material. 

Diffusion

Too much absorption can make your studio sound dead. Instead of absorbing all of the sound, diffusers are used to scatter frequencies around the room in different directions.

This creates a more “alive” sound in your studio without creating nodes. 

Step 6: Essential Equipment

For a basic set up you will need a computer, recording software, an audio interface, midi keyboard, microphone, headphones and small studio monitors (also called near field monitors).

Near field monitors have more clarity than main monitors because they are designed for accuracy over volume. They are handy as they sit closer to the sound engineer and are better for your clients to reference the mix on.

Now You Know How to Build a Professional Recording Studio

Now that you’ve got an idea of how to build a professional recording studio, have fun making your studio your own. You’re no doubt going to spend a lot of time here so make it comfortable for yourself and your clients.

For informative reads, check out the rest of our blog. 

 

Dave
Dave
In addition to exploring topics related to civil engineering, I enjoy making house beats.

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