a question of wavelength
Of all the factors that determine which studio works best for you, the most important is probably wavelength. By that I mean how well you get on with the person who’s going to be recording you. In my experience, all the gear in the world can’t compensate for poor personal skills. And if someone doesn’t ‘get’ and like your music, I guarantee you won’t be happy with what you hear in the control room.
The second most important factor is experience. If possible, work with a professional – not someone who’s basically going to be practising on you. We all make mistakes, but when your best takes get lost or repeatedly interrupted due to operator errors (‘ooops!’) it sucks all the atmosphere out of your performance. Plus, it’s amazing how quickly an expert gets things done in post-production.
Ideally, book a single session with someone you find promising and record a track you know inside out. By the time you’ve got your pilot down, you’ll know a surprising amount about how they work and whether that works for you. Headphone settings, click-track-yes-or-no, flexibility, general demeanour (especially patience) – all these parameters make a huge difference. If things are still going smoothly after an hour or two, chances are they’re in control of their setup. And if you like the end result (and enjoyed your session), you might just be in the right place.