Q: What is the best way to work in a studio if you are the musician, producer and engineer, all by yourself?

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Thursday November 30, 2006
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A question from one of our website visitors...

What is the best way to set up a home studio (that has a control room, recording room and vocal booth) so that it can also be used solo by the engineer/producer who just happens to want to record himself once in a while?

Clearly the question concerns a 'proper' recording studio - one where the main recording area and control room are separate, and there is also a vocal booth.

The advantage of working this way is the the engineer can hear the sound from the monitors completely independently from the sound the band/artist are making in the recording area.

Recently there has been a trend towards 'one-room' operation, but this is only because of lack of budget, and frequently one-person operation. It isn't the best way to work at all.

Back to the question - the person who asked the question is clearly a musician who can also produce and engineer. And he has a properly set-up. Nice.

But the problem is, how can one person be in the recording area and the control room at the same time? Clearly this is impossible.

Solution No. 1 is to forget about the recording area and vocal booth and do everything in the control room. This is often done. It seems a waste of resources, but at least everything is to hand, and hopefully the acoustics of the control room, which are designed for monitoring, will suit recording reasonably well too.

It isn't clear whether there is a separate machine room too. It could be that there are noisy computers in the control room, which would spoil the recording. This shouldn't happen, but unfortunately it all too often does.

Solution No. 2 is remote control. Having some experience of this, I can say that it is very effective. To control a computer remotely you need a 'KVM extender'. A Google search will tell you all you need to know about this. (The photo shows the controller of the IZ Radar - also an excellent solution.)

Getting the best sound requires making a test recording, going back to the studio to listen, adjusting the mics, going back again etc.

But it does work if you have the patience.

But there is a third solution...

Solution No. 3 asks the question, why do you want to work alone?

If the answer is, "Because I can work better without anyone else around" then you need an engineer.

Yes, the engineer is someone else. But you can use the engineer to help set up and get the sound right. Then send the engineer off to the studio's recreation area (you do have one?) while you record by yourself, using the remote.

I've done this myself, and seen it done by others working at the highest level of the industry. It works.

Give it a go and let us know how you get on...

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