What Is A Control Room In A Recording Studio?

Anyone that may be looking to get into music production or has been a music producer for a reasonable amount of time has probably come across the term “control room” before.

By definition, a control room in a recording studio is a central location in which music producers, technicians,  sound engineers, record engineers and mastering engineers manage their various music production operations. Control rooms are the areas responsible for the monitoring and conducting of all record production processes and the housing of equipment required in the immediate process of recording, processing and production of audio.

These are the areas that artists and musicians spend their time in because it is the place that they communicate with the producer before they go back into the booth to record.

Functions of a control room in a studio

Production control

As the name suggests, a control room acts primarily as a place in which production can be closely monitored and conducted.

Music producers usually optimize control rooms in a way that particularly serves their process best. Various processes are carried out and executed in a manner that allows for a good work flow.

This is the primary importance of a control room, all other functions come into play to basically facilitate processes like recording, mixing, mastering, making adjustments, making decisions and so forth.

Most control rooms may also be used as a recording areas when a booth isn’t present in a studio or when the producer or engineer would rather record within the control room than have the musician go into the booth to record.

As a producer it is your duty to create a control room that is well calibrated to produce the best possible music.

Point to liaise

Other than being the area in which music production is overseen, a control room is also an area which is used as point to liaise.

Artists can easily communicate with the producers within the control room before the actual process of recording begins.

The producer can also liaise with his/her engineers to deal with the technical parts that need to be handled in order for the production process to go more smoothly.

A control room in most recording studios also serves as a place in which musicians and artists can practice, write lyrics and generate ideas.

A Place for Equipment

Music production cannot be possible without the necessary equipment such as PCs, Cables, Mixing boards, audio interfaces, microphones, and other instruments that are needed.

Therefore a control also serves the function of housing equipment that is necessary in the production of music.

This equipment is usually equipment that cannot be done without in the immediate process of production such as microphones, computers and so forth.

For the much heavier equipment like bulky processors and the like, a dedicated machine room may be the place in which they are stored to free up some room for the actual process of production.

Checkout this article that details the purpose of a dedicated machine room in a recording studio set up.

Office of the producer

In most recording studios, especially ones that are run in homes. The control room is basically the office of the producer and they use it to carry out their day to day operations and any business that may be linked to music production.

Clients usually meet with the producer in these control rooms to discuss any business and any future dealings that may be needed to be carried out with the producer.

Therefore, a control room should not only be looked at as a place that houses equipment and facilitates the process of production because in most cases the control room will be the place that the music producer may use as an office to conduct business other than production.

Do I need a Control Room in my studio?

Having a control room is certainly a necessity for your recording studio.

A studio engineer needs to be able to monitor the sound of the room over headphones and over monitor speakers. This is why you need a room dedicated to recording and other room dedicated to a control room.

The reason behind this is to avoid any comb filtering that may occur when speakers are not being monitored in a dedicated control room.

Furthermore, the acoustics of a control room are by design the best to monitor sound in and process it.

Using the same room as a control room and a recording area can pose some challenges because booths and live rooms are primarily acoustically treated in a certain way to achieve a certain desired outcome.

Control rooms on the other hand are acoustically treated differently to ensure that the music can be heard over speakers without the room interfering, so it can be processed properly.

This is why its important to have a control that is separate from the area that you use to record like live rooms and vocal booths.

How big should a studio control room be?

The general rule when constructing a control room is to avoid a situation in which two or more modal frequencies end up at the same frequency.

A large area is optimal with around 2.5 – 2.8 meters of ceiling height after treatment and a 15 – 18 foot overall width of the space.

You also have to ensure that the right acoustic treatment is accounted for when looking at these dimensions because you don’t want to end up with a small space after applying the necessary treatment. This is why it wise to choose a large area if you have the option to do so.