Despite the continuous rise of the home recording studio—an effect of more affordable recording gear within the market—the larger studios across the United States are echoing the same statement, that “business is good.” Of course, this basic summary can be broken down into much more, with an array of client requests, from analog gear to larger live rooms as they rent out space in high-end studios for days, weeks, or months, depending on the project.

“We’ve been very busy this year,” said Tino Passante, VP of Operations at Avatar Studios in New York City. “Especially for a studio like ours, where it’s not as much about the gear but the rooms, we’ve had a lot of large ensemble recordings come through, including jazz, big bands, music for television, Broadway— things of that nature that require larger rooms.”

Hollywood’s Ocean Way Recording offered the same observations, saying that over the past year the studio has seen consistent business, welcoming a variety of patrons to the four-studio facility. “As opposed to last year, we really haven’t had a bad month,” said Ocean Way studio manager Robin Goodchild. “Usually people come and go from the small studios, but we’ve had a bunch of three- or four-week sessions and a few month-long sessions.”

The analog vs. digital discussion is also remains a hot topic among recording studios, and while these larger studios offer both, studio owners do notice a clear preference based on their clientele.

Over at Avatar, Passante said analog is still in high demand. “We’ve done quite a bit of analog recording this year, probably more than in recent years. We’ve gone through so much tape, it’s kind of crazy,” he said. “Personally, I think it sounds better, but it’s not cost-effective. I’m not sure if people prefer it more for the nostalgia, or they think it sounds better or different.”

“We still occasionally use tape machines, but Pro Tools has become the machine of choice for 99 percent of the industry,” said Wesley Seidman, senior staff engineer at Ocean Way. “But we pride ourselves in providing the best-quality vintage gear. Couple that with up-to-date software systems and you’ve got a great track.”

Tape is also a pricier option, which turns artists more towards the digital realm, especially if they are inexperienced in recording in analog. “I feel a lot of newer artists in the industry don’t know how tape works and don’t achieve that end desire,” said Goodchild.

The push for High Resolution Audio continues to pick up speed within the industry as well, which for recording studios, means providing the best gear for their clients. “People come here for the vintage gear and mics that work all the time,” said Seidman. “I find most clients recording at Ocean Way tend to go high-res, since they already have access to all this amazing gear.”

“I think we’re seeing a lot more high-res over the past few years, because people are pushing more on the importance of great-sounding products rather than coming up with something that sounds catchy,” added Goodchild.

On the mastering side, professionals are also seeing a consistent resurgence in vinyl on top of the demand for higher resolution audio files. “The thing that’s changed for mastering has a lot to do with what the industry thinks is sellable now,” said the namesake of the Hollywood, CA-based Bernie Grundman Mastering. “Sometimes for one album, we’ll do five different formats— vinyl, CD, special mastering for iTunes, a High-Res format for Sony and a High-Res 92 or 96 K.”

“I think what happened with vinyl, though, is that a lot of people were focused on things that were downloadable and convenient, but a big segment of the public like that physical media,” he continued.

Grundman said the biggest demand is now for High Res Audio though, as many artists are pushing to release their albums in the format, and are willing to pay extra for it. “I’ve found with a lot of younger people, they are fascinated with vinyl, but I think that’s still not as big a number compared to people downloading their music, and there are a lot of people willing to pay extra for High Res downloads.”

The demand for High-Res Audio trickles back to the studios, where engineers and studios need to provide top-notch services and gear to make sure the final track sounds great. “Everybody assumes if it’s High Res, it will sound better, but that’s not true. You can make bad music even with a High Res format,” Grundman said.

Higher-end studios like Ocean Way and Avatar also cater to the less traditional recording projects, offering services for television, movies, orchestras and more, bringing in other projects for the studios throughout the year.

Since opening in 1996 in midtown Manhattan, Avatar Studios has provided recording services to artists including The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Josh Groban, Bruno Mars and others over the years. With seven rooms, artists utilizing Avatar’s services can do everything from recording, mixing, editing, and more. “Our clients are a mix of everything,” said Passante. “In any given week, we can have a big band, or a pop or indie artist.”

Avatar’s location in the heart of New York City also opens unique opportunities for the studio, including involvement in the now-annual NBC live theatrical musical broadcast.

“We did The Sound of Music for NBC—it was two weeks of pre-recording work, then the show aired and our recordings were heard in over 18 million homes,” Passante said. “Now we’re working on Peter Pan with NBC. It’s become an annual franchise that we’re a part of.”

Avatar has also provided recording services for the Tony Awards for years. “They send in a crew and connect fiber optic lines to the show. This year the host, Hugh Jackman, wanted the orchestra on stage, but in the past, we’ve had the orchestra here and broadcast simultaneously with the show. It’s synched down to the millisecond, and gives the show studio-quality sound, which sounds great!”