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A Coffee Machine: The Most Important Equipment In A Recording Studio

I was recently interviewed by a local magazine about what it’s like to run a recording studio. They asked a lot of the common questions you get, but one of them surprised me a bit.

It did not surprise me because it was an uncommon question. It is one I get asked all the time. But it is one I never really knew the answer to exactly, but this time I suddenly did. This time, I answered without thinking and the answer surprised me as much as it did the interviewer.

The question was: “what’s the most important piece of equipment in your recording studio?”

In the past I always answered with some actual piece of recording equipment. The answer actually varied, because I didn’t really know which was the most important one. Most of them are vital. Without them my recording studio would just be an apartment. Really, I didn’t so much care what the answer was. I was kind of hated that question anyway.

This time, I answered: “our coffee machine.” That surprised me.

Espresso machine making coffee

Maybe it was fresh on my mind, because we had actually just gotten a new one, after bunch of research. Seriously, I researched for weeks, mostly on a site called Coffee Sultan, which has a bunch of reviews of various different espresso machines and coffee makers. I want to make sure I got the absolute right one for my needs.

I ended up buying a fairly expensive espresso machine from Cuisinart. I learned later that it wasn’t even that expensive compared to some of the other espresso machines on the market, but I thought it was a lot to pay for something that just makes coffee. But is it really?

Without access to coffee, most albums I’ve recorded would never have been recorded. All of the artists would have never stuck around. They do nothing without coffee.

None of the techs would have stuck around either. They do even less without coffee. Sometimes I think they would stop breathing if they didn’t have a cup of coffee to fuel them.

That is why I was happy to spend so much money on an espresso machine. I knew it would get a lot of use and I knew it would keep my business going. It’s really the number one way to get audio recorded.

And I suppose that is exactly why I gave the answer to that interviewer that I did. Since I’d been thinking about it so much, I realized that you could take away every other piece of equipment and you could still somehow make a record. Some of the equipment is pretty important and not having it would make it very difficult to get a record made, but you could still do it.

But if you take away the access to coffee? I don’t think any records are getting made. Coffee fuels this business.

Cup of coffee

Coffee fuels the world. Any building you go into, any office you go into, any school you go into, anywhere you go during your day, people are drinking coffee. You find very few who don’t. And the ones who don’t, they drink something else, like tea or some other drink with caffeine. Energy drinks are huge these days.

Whatever their drink, the point is people use some kind of drink that stimulates them to get themselves through the day. Or to get them started into the day. Those drinks are what run society.

I sometimes wonder what would happen if all coffee disappeared. With the world cease to function? I think it just might. People are so addicted to their coffee that I don’t think they could do anything without it anymore.

Imagine if coffee and cell phones disappeared on the same day. That would be more disastrous than a nuclear war, I think. The world would end faster anyway.

A Tour Of The World’s Most Famous Recording Studio

Abbey Road Studios in LondonOn a recent trip to somewhere I got the opportunity to tour the world’s most famous recording studio. The reason I said somewhere and not my location is that I wanted to make you guess where that recording studio is and what it is called. Do you have any idea?

Okay fine, my trip was to London and the recording studio was, you guessed it, Abby Road Studios. This, of course, is the studio where the Beatles recorded, but there were plenty of other famous acts that recorded here as well.

Some of the more notable artists to record here are Pink Floyd, Amy Winehouse, Syd Barrett, Tony Bennett, Mary J Blige, James Blunt, Blur, The Black Keys, Kate Bush, Miley Cyrus, Vanessa Carlton, Depeche Mode, Dido, Duran Duran, Placido Domingo, Enya, Ella Fitzgerald, Florence And The Machine, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Jamiroquai, Alicia Keys, Patty Labelle, Lady Gaga, mMeatloaf, Kylie Minogue, Alanis Morrissette, Oasis, Pet Shop Boys, Queen, Radiohead, Red hot Chili Peppers, Roxette, Rush, Sigur Ros, The Spice Girls, Taylor Swift, U2, Kanye West and Robbie Williams. And, of course, many, many more.

But what some people don’t know is that it was almost shut down in 2009. The British government protected it by granting it a heritage status in 2010, which preserved the building from any kind of development or alterations.

The studio actually had different names in the past. Its first well-known name was EMI studios, since EMI owned it. It wasn’t until the 1970s that it was renamed to Abbey Road studios after the famous 1969 album by the Beatles called Abbey Road. Their fame had made the studio famous, so they changed the name to reflect that. It was a brilliant move, because it is now the most famous studio in the world. People like me, who come to London on vacation, visit it as a tourist attraction.

So many famous musicians and so many famous singers have passed through the studio. If I ever learn how to sing well, you better believe it will be my ultimate goal to record at Abbey Road. And yes, I realize that will never happen. Indulge me, it’s a dream. Another dream is to outfit my own studio with some of the same equipment.

Getting to Abbey Road Studios is pretty easy. It’s only about five or 10 minutes from the tube station at St. John’s Wood. This is on the Jubilee line. I won’t give you exact walking directions, because these days we all have smart phones and we can look them up easily enough. Trust me, it’s easy to find and it’s well worth a visit, if you’re ever in London.

Abbey Road Studios were not only used for recording music, it was also the location where many film scores were recorded. Movies like Star Wars (not all of them) and the Lord of the Rings trilogy had their film scores recorded here. So if you’re a film buff, you might be interested in the studio as well. It looks really cool inside and is something I’ve actually seen before in movies, so it was really nice to actually see that in real life. I was kind of starstruck and there were no actual stars there while I was there. It was just a location.

As I said, if you ever find yourself in London, definitely make it a point to visit Abbey Road Studios. You only need an hour to to see it, so it should be easy to fit in your schedule. They have really good espresso and coffee too, as any recording studio should. If you can make it at all, check it out. You owe it to yourself. It’s a great place.

Washroom Recording Studio For Singers

Most of the requests for studio time that we get come from singers. Vocalists seem to need studio time more than anyone else. For that reason, I decided to write a brief post about some of the equipment we have especially for singers.

Obviously, we have a ton of microphones. That goes without saying, as any singer needs a microphone. We also have some very advanced keyboards and computer equipment that allows you to make your own backing tracks. If you do not have a band with you, we can provide everything you need, so that you only have to sing. Everything else is taken care of.

recording studio for singers

We also have a ton of software to make you sound better. Some people can sing great; they have all the techniques necessary. Others, not so much. We get a lot of singers in our studio that are simply not very good. Luckily, these days there is a ton of software available that can make anyone sound great. We have all of this software. At least all of the good software. Come check out our recording studio and see how much we can improve your singing voice. You will be amazed by the difference.

We also have something that a lot of people don’t in their studios and that is the technology to print your voice to vinyl. Most studios these days only do digital recordings, but we can do analog recordings to cassettes and to vinyl records.

We also have a number of high quality vinyl record players that allow you to play back the vinyl you just pressed, so you can see what you sound like immediately. A lot of people coming into the studio never even considered making a vinyl recording of their sound, but once they realize they have the option, they give it a try. Then when they hear the results, they are blown away. From that moment on, they never use another studio. They come back to Washroom Studios over and over again, simply for the ability to make a vinyl recording of their voice. It truly is a really cool thing.

We have even taken to selling some record players at our studio. Once they’ve made recordings, singers almost always want to buy a vinyl record player for their own home. But they don’t know which turntable is best. We’ve done all the research, so we can help recommend one. That’s what we used to do. Then we realized we could just sell them ourselves. Now we offer a couple of different models in different price ranges, depending on your needs. So if you want a turntable record player, we can help you with that too.

As you can see, we have a great studio that is fully equipped for the singer. Of course, it is perfect for bands or anything else, too. But since we get so many requests from vocalists, we thought it prudent to point out just how well-equipped we are for the singing musician. We hope to see you here soon.

Recording at Home: Pros and Cons

Recording your own music is always an amazing and exciting experience, yet when you’re doing it for the first time some moments and choices might be confusing for you. Most people start with the decision: home vs. studio? And there are positive as well as negative sides to recording at home, and that, in particular, is what makes this choice so hard. Let’s analyze the benefits and losses!

Advantages of Recording at Home

Most of those usually take place in the garage or some isolated rooms, and to begin with, many well-known artists started with home recording studios, especially singers. Now the trend of recording at home is returning again, and many famous performers are doing it, but their home studios are pretty much the same or even more efficient that some studios.

  • Be the boss.
    Recording in your garage makes you the boss of the whole process. No-one tells you what to do, and how the process should go. It also means you’ll have to ensure motivation all the time and don’t let yourself go down.
  • Do it whenever.
    You don’t have any specific time arrangements if you are comfortable waking up early and recording – why not? Or maybe you want to record on some days only or do it late in the evening. It’s totally up to you to fit recording into your schedule.
  • No social pressure.
    At home you have the atmosphere you got used to and pretty much it doesn’t require you to step out of your comfort zone. However, you might have some problems of that kind in a studio, with unknown people nearby, that can make you feel cautious.
  • Time aspect.
    There are many features to master and many things to understand before you will get intuitively how to record and what’s needed for the special moment in your track. In home studio, you’ll have all the time in the world to master some sounds, make it sound great for no price at all.
  • Decorate in a way that makes you feel comfortable
    I feel at home in my home and that is important. It is decorated in a way that makes me feel at ease. For example, I have a little herb garden that grows underneath an LED plant light. Looking at my little plants always relaxes me and centers me. Even the glow from the grow light is relaxing to me.

Downsides of a Home Studio

  • No help.
    If you don’t know how to do something, there is the internet, of course, but sometimes you need someone to pinpoint your mistakes and show you what’s lacking and what’s too much.

  • Lacking equipment.
    Technically, there are only some pieces of equipment you need to record at home, yet other things make it easier and make the sound good in the end. Plus the equipment also does vary and the cheap microphone will never sound like a good and expensive one. So if you’re planning to get yourself one, remember that quality does still play its role. And how many people have a high quality espresso machine at home?
  • Usually no good coffee machine
    I know I just mentioned this, but it is vital. Recording takes coffee. Good coffee. Without high quality coffee, no record would get made, so you absolutely need access to a high quality espresso machine. Most people do not have a good coffee maker at home, because they are expensive.
  • Less professional.
    So, in the end, it sounds much less professional and “clear” than a studio version. Again, there are many ways to improve it and you might be able to improve the quality gradually, with investing in your home studio, equipment, etc.

What many artists are doing is they practice at home a lot and record at home first before going to a studio and taking a final version. This allows you to experiment with the sound options and different settings and you don’t spend as much money as you would have if you tried to do all of it in a studio. The main disadvantage of the professional studio is its price, which might be high even for an hour recording session, and you might need more than that.

Conclusion

In the end, it comes down to the budget issue and your personal preferences. Maybe you should try both to make a decision, but trying to record at home is also a valuable experience, and it will teach you a lot about the process itself, so when you come to a studio you are not lost and have no idea where to start and what to do. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different things, because, in the end, all you want is to improve your quality and your performance. Try both, understand what is more suitable, just never stop improving yourself.