There are many horror stories about how studio build has gone wrong but it can be a smooth and enjoyable time if done properly.
To ensure the studio is built to expectation, the most important step when designing a studio is to spend as much time as possible directly with the designer on the detail. This often answers the key question ‘what am I really trying to accomplish’. Most mistakes that happen later on in the studio creation can be traced back to not taking the time at the outset.
There are critical issues that need to be agreed such as how much sound isolation is required, will the music being created in the studio impact on neighbours and what could the repercussions be, and how will environmental noise impact on the studio and recordings. It’s very important to determine the exact sizes for the room or rooms and bigger does not always mean better. And, of course, these decisions are generally dependent on budget. Once these things are understood the room(s) can then be designed around them. It’s invaluable to talk with music editors, mix techs, sound supervisors, engineers & producers about their work. Hearing what they like and don’t like about studios helps refine things and make the project even better.
However it doesn’t stop there, with studios often being built in densely populated areas, isolation is a must and can be the largest construction cost for studios. It’s wise not to compromise on the acoustics; after all you wouldn’t put a Ferrari engine in a Mini! The biggest technical challenges have tended to revolve around noise isolation but the laws of physics don’t show much sign of changing, so an acoustically well-designed room should remain so indefinitely.
In music, many artists and producers are tending towards a relaxed and homely feel to their studios rather than the more traditional studio approach. Their aim is for the studio to be a comfortable space conducive to collaboration and creativity. The equipment needs to fit around that requirement and not get in the way of “the creative process”. However, there is still the requirement that they can accurately monitor and mix which can throw up some challenges in balancing layout and aesthetics with acoustic performance.
As immersive audio continues to develop and grow in post with Dolby Atmos at the forefront, a big design change has been the quantity and location of speakers, and maintaining acoustic quality in smaller spaces with tightening budgets. Timescales also remain a challenge with films booked many months in advance projects have very real deadlines and need to be finished on time.
As for the future, there’s an ongoing trend of trying to squeeze more and more out of smaller and smaller spaces. That is generally not a recipe for success! Designs can eek out every last bit of performance whilst helping clients understand as to what can realistically be achieved in a small room.