How much recording studio time do I need?



Booking time in a professional recording studio might seem like a pretty straightforward concept, especially if you are a seasoned musician or performer. But there are several important factors to consider before it is time to finally go into a recording studio to record your material. Analyzing these different factors will help you to determine roughly how long you will need to spend there to achieve your desired goal.

Recording studios offer an incredibly vast array of services and personnel who are there to help you achieve your audio goals. Before you even contact a professional studio, you should decide how you would like to utilize these different services. Once you have really fine-tuned your goals and the scope of your project, you can begin to think about how much time you might need.

How long does it take to record different types of material?


recording studio session

The level of experience that a performer has, how efficiently they perform, and the complexity of their recording session are all factors that help determine how much studio time is necessary, but there is no set time that it takes to complete any type of audio recording.

How many songs or how much material you want to record will ultimately determine how much studio time you need. If you only plan to record a song or two, this will take up significantly less time than it would to record an EP (extended play, usually three songs or more) or a whole album. Recording a song or two from scratch could take several days, whereas an EP or album will likely take several weeks or more. A smaller volume of material (fewer songs) will require less studio time than a larger one (more songs) would.

The amount of studio time you need will not be determined solely by what genre of music or performance it is, but rather by what specific things you would like to accomplish in the studio. Here are some pointers to determine how long recording may take:

Vocals

blonde woman singing in recording studio

If your song is already fully produced and you are only interested in recording vocals, this will take significantly less time than recording the song(s) from scratch. But there are still many intricacies within the recording of vocals to consider. For example; is the track already written and arranged? Is it a single vocal track or are there many other layers, such as harmonies, overdubs, fills, etc? If you wish to record vocals for more than one song, this can also tack on more time.

Your skill level as a vocalist as well as how much you've rehearsed can also play a role in how long this will take. It might be a trial and error process to choose the correct microphone for your vocals. The Recording Den is equipped with a plethora of different microphones that are suited for different sounds, so it is important that you and your engineer choose the best one for your case.

A music industry professional would likely be able to finish the vocals for a particular session within a few hours of recording, but this is only because they are highly experienced and have lots of practice. For the average or beginner artist, it may take a whole day, or anywhere between four to twelve hours of recording. The higher the quality of your performance, the faster the process will get done. An initial good recording will save everyone time and money because the engineer will have to do less to the music during post production.

Live instruments

Instruments in studio

There might be certain resources offered by a professional studio that you would like to take advantage of during your time there, such as recording live instruments or using virtual instruments that the studio has in their sound library. If this is the case, you may need session players, other musicians, or a band to be a part of your song. Coordinating with them could add more studio time, so it might be wise to have people lined up for these positions in advance. You also need to take into account rehearsal time, commuting to the studio, and the need for any sort of creative direction.

Depending on how many players or instruments you need or how involved they are with the song, the recording of these instruments alone will likely take an entire day or longer. Although, if you are working with a professional, they might be able to complete their assigned part in a few hours or as little as one hour. Audio engineers put in many hours after your session, too, for mixing and mastering. Mixing and mastering are important processes in the post production of music that can drastically improve its quality. Not surprisingly, any personal or additional elements or to the song will cost more time and money.

None of these time windows are set in stone. There are a multitude of other crucial elements that go into play with recording any type of music or audio. For example, it takes time to set up all of the audio equipment, such as microphones, pre-amps, studio monitors, instruments, and any room modifications, and much of the time you spend recording will be allotted to redoing takes, applying effects to different tracks, and communicating with the engineer. Sometimes troubleshooting technical issues with the equipment can be a factor, but ideally this will not be a problem if you are working with an experienced sound engineer.

What is the most important factor to consider when planning studio time?


recording studio with red walls

The budget factor is the ultimate decider of how much studio time you will be able to get, and will give you an idea of what you will be able to accomplish in the studio. This factor is especially important because it can help to narrow down your goals and make them more realistic. A bigger budget will allow for more time. Therefore, more elements can be added, tweaked, or effected to improve the quality of the song(s) and make it sound great.

If a client has a particular budget that they would like to adhere to, The Recording Den can offer guidance with what size of the project is accomplishable. Working with the client ahead of their studio time to map out what elements of their project would be possible within their budget is an important factor between both parties. The more that the client plans ahead of time, the better idea they will have of how much studio time they will need and how much they can accomplish.

Studio time cost is a crucial part of choosing the right facility and choosing what you decide to bring to the table. Every studio space has a different method of pricing, but usually it can be broken down like this:

How much does it cost to use a recording studio?


recording studio equipment

Generally speaking, professional recording studios base their pricing using an hourly rate. The cost per hour of recording studios can range from $30-$100 an hour. Freelance or beginner engineers may offer less, but high-end studios will charge upwards of $75-$100 an hour. Most studios will offer pricing deals when the client is booking multiple days, which can help to lessen the financial burden.

A per hour pay structure has its advantages. Rather than paying for the whole day and feeling pressured to stay a certain number of hours, you are able to pay as you go. Paying per hour in smaller increments puts less pressure on the artist and whoever else is in the studio. You should call the studios you are considering and see how they compare with one another in terms of cost and expertise. Using this information, you can determine how the amount of money you have in your budget would translate to a per hour scale.

How do I choose the right recording studios?


recording studio

The studio you decide to record at should be one that meets both your financial and creative goals. The studio time cost, location, equipment and services offered, and expertise, are all important factors that should be looked into when choosing a studio. You might consider booking a tour of the studio before you decide to officially put hours in with them.


You should also inquire about what other types of songs have been recorded at that facility, as there are many recording studios that are known to specialize in recording certain genres. Choosing a studio that matches your creative goals can help to make the recording process more efficient and maximize your creative output.

No matter what studio you chose, you want to make sure you are comfortable and are well attended to. After all, a studio is a business. If you are paying for the time at their facility then you would want to be accommodated. A good studio will work with you to thoughtfully assess your audio goals and see how they can best help you.

How should I prepare for my session?


writing music

If you have a large budget, you could come to the studio with zero preparation and start working on your music from the ground up. But ultimately, the more prepared you come to your session, the more you can accomplish within the time you have budgeted yourself. At a recording studio, time is money, both figuratively and literally, so it is highly recommended that you come with a set of realistic goals for your audio recording and are ready to work efficiently. Anything you can do to help cut back on the recording time and how long you physically spend at the studio will help.

At the bare minimum, you should have already written the lyrics and arrangement, and have a good idea of how you'd like the vocals to sound. Recording a demo ahead of your session is a pre - production technique used by many musicians that might offer you and the engineer a good idea of your idea for the final mix. This can be achieved using a home studio, or produced using Digital Audio Workstations such as Pro Tools, Logic, or FL Studio. Feel free to embellish it as much as possible, as it will only help you to be more prepared and help to speed up the creative process.

Coming with as many possible tangible elements of your song already completed or recorded, having a solid creative direction and idea of what you want from your studio time, and maintaining a productive attitude are probably the most helpful things you could do when looking to book time at a professional studio.

What should you do after your recording is complete?


instruments in recording studio

The Recording Den offers a variety of post-production services to help clients get the most out of their recording time, including mixing and mastering. Mastering is, in short, bringing music to its fullest sonic potential. It involves preparing and embedding metadata as well as creating masters for various media formats including CD and vinyl. Our mastering services also include preparation for packaging and distribution, copyright and royalty registration, as well as mastering to TIDAL and other high-end listening services' specifications.

If you would like to take your project even further, we can help you shoot and edit the accompanying album art using our talented team of photographers and videographers. We have an extensive inventory of high quality video equipment that can bring your creative visions to life.

Call The Recording Den at 203-253-6242 or email us at info@recordingden.com to book a consultation appointment or a tour of our state-of-the-art facility. We are here to assist you in all your audio or video production needs.


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