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Notes on Recording Pre-production and Choosing a Recording Studio

Posted by Jeremy McPike of York Street Studios, Auckland, New Zealand on 9 November 2011


: Recording Notes from York Street Studios :

In our years of experience at York Street Studios, we have found that there are certain aspects of producing a recording that should not be overlooked.

To maximize your budget and to help you to achieve the best recording possible, we have outlined some tips below on pre-production, selecting a studio and engineer, and what to look for in the recording process in order to get the most from your budget. 


Pre-production (sometimes overseen by a producer) is the first stage in the recording process and ensures you have a smooth and time-efficient session once you get into the studio.  

Pre-production is your opportunity to ensure the successful outcome of your recording through good preparation, which is the most important part in any creative process, especially when time spent in the studio, is both limited and expensive.

Think of pre-production as the foundation that you build upon, a solid foundation is vital to a successful recording.  

Here are some areas to focus on before you enter the studio: 

Song direction, structure and arrangement:

It is important to decide early on which direction you want your song to go in as countless hours can be lost in the studio sorting out musical issues.
Pre-production is the time to fine-tune the arrangement (for example the placement and order of verses and choruses), and make key decisions such as whether you will record with a full band (live) or individually. This is also the time to decide which instruments and or backing vocals to use and in which part of the song.


Whether you are recording with a band or as a soloist, every musician needs to know the song well before going into the studio.  The only way to achieve this is through practice!

Once the song structure and arrangement has been decided, practice the song, as you would like to perform it. The main point here is that you do not want to learn or write the song in the studio.  Practice will make the performance tight and will ensure a stress free time in the studio.

If your song has drums, it is always beneficial to practice with a click-track.  Find a drum machine that you can borrow to generate a click.  In this age of digital recording, much can be achieved through the process of digital editing; a process that is made much simpler if the performance was recorded along to a click track.  Practicing to a click track can be very difficult, but we guarantee that it will achieve a better recording.  

Being organized and ready to use the limited studio time efficiently is what you can do to help the engineer get the result you want from your recording.


Assess the quality of the instruments you have at your disposal and try to acquire the best ones you can, it will make a huge difference. The studio you choose to record in may have some quality instruments available, or it may be able to hire some in for you; it is best to discuss this with the studio well in advance.  

We recommended that you re-string all guitars (but not always bass guitars as this can be an expensive exercise), and re-skin your drum kit as it can notably improve the sound. It is of particular importance that your drums have good skins and are re-tuned before a recording session.

Starting with instruments that sound great and are in good condition will get you a long way towards achieving a good sound in the studio.

Choosing a studio / engineer:

It is important to discuss your budget and expectations openly with the studio you choose so that everyone is clear on details such as how many studio hours you actually have.  

Regardless of any financial arrangements that are made between you and the studio, we strongly believe that if a studio or engineer agrees to work with you, you have every right to expect their full attention and dedication to providing you with a product that is to the best of their capabilities.  

In order to make the most of your time and money, it is important that you choose a studio and an engineer that is suitable for your project. Ask the engineer for examples of their previous recordings to get an idea of their style and abilities. It is important to visit the studio for a tour.  The day of your recording should not be the first time you set foot in the studio.  

If you are impressed with the facilities and staff, play your demo for the engineer and discuss what direction you want the song to go in.  It is a good idea to bring some reference material (for example bands that you like the style of) as it helps the engineer determine how you would like your recording to sound.

At this stage, you will need to develop a plan with the engineer as to how your studio time will be structured to ensure all elements are recorded and mixed in the time available.

We hope this information will help you achieve the best recording possible, and make your recording experience an enjoyable one.

Good luck with your music.

Jeremy McPike
York Street Recording Studios.


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About York Street Studios

"We offer the best vintage analogue and state of the art digital equipment, friendly and knowledgeable staff, a clean and comfortable environment... and extremely good espresso coffee!"

From demos to "single" production packages and full albums, your project will be given the attention and enthusiasm it deserves. It becomes your studio, with a comfortable TV lounge and a separate kitchen, even free pinball!

Located in Parnell, Auckland, our studio is only minutes from the central city and is surrounded by restaurants, bars, cafes and retails stores. It is also very close to some of New Zealand's finest hotels.

For Bookings and Studio Enquiries call Jeremy McPike
Ph: +64 9 307-1444 Fax: +64 9 3071454 Mob:  021-309-300 e-mail:, 28 York Street, Parnell, Auckland