PHAT- E Studios
Design and Equipment
Nerve VR60, a multitrack mixing console.
Recording studios generally consist of three rooms:
The studio itself, where the sound for the recording is created (often referred to as the
The control room, where the sound from the studio is recorded and manipulated, and
The machine room, where noisier equipment that may interfere with the recording
process is kept.
Recording studios are carefully designed around the principles of room acoustics to create a set
of spaces with the acoustical properties required for recording sound with precision and
accuracy. This will consist of both room treatment (through the use of absorption and
diffusion materials on the surfaces of the room, and also consideration of the physical
dimensions of the room itself in order to make the room respond to sound in a desired way)
and soundproofing (also to provide sonic isolation between the rooms) to prevent sound from
leaving the property. A recording studio may include additional rooms, such as a vocal booth —
a small room designed for voice recording, as well as one or more extra control rooms.
Equipment found in a recording studio commonly includes:
Reference monitors, which are loudspeakers with a flat frequency response
Acoustic drum kit
Digital audio workstation
On Air or Recording Light
Outboard effects, such as compressors, reverbs, or equalizers
Digital Audio Workstations
General purpose computers have rapidly assumed a large role in the recording process, being
able to replace the mixing consoles, recorders, synthesizers, samplers and sound effects
devices. A computer thus outfitted is called a Digital Audio Workstation, or DAW. Popular
audio-recording software includes Apple Logic Pro, Digi design’s Pro Tools—near standard for
most professional studios—Cubase and Nuendo both by Steinberg, MOTU Digital Performer—
popular for MIDI. Other software applications include Ableton Live, Cakewalk Sonar, ACID
Pro, FL Studio, Adobe Audition, Auto-Tune, Audacity, and Ardour.
Current software applications are more reliant on the audio recording hardware than the
computer they are running on, therefore typical high-end computer hardware is less of a
priority unless midi is involved. While Apple Macintosh is used for most studio work, there is a
breadth of software available for Microsoft Windows and Linux.
If no mixing console is used and all mixing is done using only a keyboard and mouse, this is
referred to as mixing in the box (“ITB”). “OTB” is used when mixing with other hardware and
not just the PC software.
An isolation booth is a standard small room in a recording studio, which is both soundproofed
to keep out external sounds and keep in the internal sounds and, like all the other recording
rooms in sound industry, it is designed for having a lesser amount of diffused reflections from
walls to make a good sounding room. A drummer, vocalist, or guitar speaker cabinet, along with
microphones, is acoustically isolated in the room. A professional recording studio has a control
room, a large live room, and one or more small isolation booths. All rooms are soundproofed
such as with double-layer walls with dead space and insulation in-between the two walls,
forming a room-within-a-room.
There are variations of the same concept, including a portable standalone isolation booth, a
compact guitar speaker isolation cabinet, or a larger guitar speaker cabinet isolation box.
A gobo panel achieves the same idea to a much more moderate extent; for example, a drum kit
that is too loud in the live room or on stage, can have acrylic glass see-through gobo panels
placed around it to deflect the sound and keep it from bleeding into the other microphones,
allowing more independent control of each instrument channel at the mixing board.
All rooms in a recording studio may have a reconfigurable combination of reflective and nonreflective
surfaces, to control the amount of reverberation.
An audio engineer is concerned with the recording, manipulation, mixing and reproduction of
sound. Many audio engineers creatively use technologies to produce sound for film, radio,
television, and music itself.
Audio engineering concerns the creative and practical aspects of sounds including speech and
music, as well as the development of new audio technologies and advancing scientific
understanding of audible sound.
There are four distinct steps to commercial production of a recording: recording, editing,
mixing, and mastering. Typically, each is performed by a sound engineer who specializes only in
that part of production.
Studio engineer – an engineer working within a studio facility, either with a producer or independently.
Recording engineer – engineer who records sound.
Assistant engineer – often employed in larger studios, allowing them to train to become full-time
engineers. They often assist full-time engineers with microphone setups, session breakdowns and in
some cases, rough mixes.
Mixing engineer – a person who creates mixes of multi-track recordings. It is common for a commercial
record to be recorded at one studio and later mixed by different engineers in other studios.
Mastering engineer – typically the person who mixes the final stereo tracks (or sometimes just a few
tracks or stems) that the mix engineer produces. The mastering engineer makes any final adjustments to
the overall sound of the record in the final step before commercial duplication. Mastering engineers use
principles of equalization and compression to affect the coloration of the sound.
Correcting a room’s frequency response.
An audio technician is proficient with different types of recording media, such as analog tape,
digital multitrack recorders and workstations, and computer knowledge. With the advent of the
digital age, it is becoming more and more important for the audio technician to be versed in the
understanding of software and hardware integration from synchronization to analog to digital
transfers. Audio engineers in their daily work operate and make use of:
Digital audio workstations (DAW)
Dynamic range compressions
A record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job is to oversee
and manage the recording (i.e. “production”) of an artist’s music. A producer has many roles
that may include, but are not limited to,
Gathering ideas for the project,
Selecting songs and/or musicians,
Coaching the artist and musicians in the studio,
Controlling the recording sessions, and
Supervising the entire process through audio mixing (recorded music) and audio
Producers also often take on a wider entrepreneurial role, with responsibility for the budget,
schedules, contracts and negotiations.
Today, the recording industry has two kinds of producers with different roles:
1. executive producer and
2. music producer.
Executive producers oversee project finances while music producers oversee the creation of
A music producer can, in some cases, be compared to a film director, with noted
practitioner describing his role as “the person who creatively guides or directs the process of
making a record, like a director would a movie.” The audio engineering would be more like the
cameraman of the movie. The music producer’s job is to create, shape, and mold a piece of
music. The scope of responsibility may be one or two songs or an artist’s entire album in which
case the producer will typically develop an overall vision for the album and how the various
songs may interrelate.
With today’s technological advances it is possible to achieve a professional quality production
without a multi-million dollar studio.
In most cases the music producer is also a competent arranger, composer, musician or
songwriter who can bring fresh ideas to a project. As well as making any songwriting
arrangement and adjustments, the producer often selects or gives suggestions to the mixing
engineer, who takes the raw recorded tracks, edits and modifies them with hardware and
software tools and creates a stereo and/or surround sound “mix” of all the individual voices, sounds and instruments, which is in turn given further adjustment by a mastering engineer. The
producer will also liaise with the recording engineer who concentrates on the technical aspects
of recording, whereas the executive producer keeps an eye on the overall project’s
Equipment and Technology
There are numerous different technologies utilized by record producers. In modern day
recordings, recording and mixing tasks are commonly centralized within computers using virtual
recording software such as logic pro, Ableton, Cubase, and Fl studio, but they all require third
party virtual studio technology plugins. However, there is also the main mixer, outboard effects
gear, MIDI controllers, and the recording device itself.
Despite the fact that much of the music production is done using sophisticated software, there
are some musicians and producers who prefer older analog technology. This is due to the fact
that “the older instruments have fewer automated features than today’s instruments and thus
allow musicians a greater deal of control”. The automated processes have caused concern
about the specific sounds that musicians are able to create.
A music executive or record executive is a person within a record label who works in senior
management, making executive decisions over the label’s artists. Their role varies greatly but in
essence, they can oversee one, or many, aspects of a record label, including