A successful and high-performance commercial studio is the sum total of many things. It is more than a collection of gear. It is more than a good acoustic design. It is more than a good ergonomic design. It is more than an effective wiring scheme. It is more than a clean installation. It is more than good equipment maintenance. It is more than a comfortable lounge. It is more than a good staff. It is more because each of these elements, when done right, combine to make the proverbial "whole that is greater than the sum of its parts."
Conversely, most any single element in the formula, if compromised, can undermine other elements, reducing that sum to unacceptable levels. The best gear is ineffective without a clean and logical installation. The best gear can quickly become ineffective without proper maintenance. The latter implies maintenance staff that, with studio management and assistants, becomes a lifeline for clients, a living manual for the facility and its resources.
As our reviewer for the inaugural PAR Facility Review, Alex Oana, writes, "...features, cost, size, acoustics, location, ease of use, aesthetics, and build quality all go in to selecting a studio that's right for the project. Yes, we usually review gear. But why not review an assemblage of gear designed to bring out the music in you?"
Why not, indeed? Not only can such a review give you insight into the decisions others have made about gear selection, acoustics, studio layout, management, and more, it can also give an opportunity to investigate how a range of equipment operates in gestalt. By actually using the studio and putting it through its paces in real-world use, a Facility Review gives a completely different perspective than a descriptive feature. Alex, first at bat for this occasional series, does a thorough job of testing the facility and recounting his experiences.
There are lessons within any successful commercial facility for the personal studio owner as well. While they may not have some of the amenities, staffing, or gear budget of their larger counterparts, the personal studio does have many of the same elements. And the same conditions that affect how those elements work together apply. Maybe the staff is simply the owner/operator of the space (perhaps with a freelance tech they call upon for maintenance), but just like their commercial counterparts, this "staff" needs essential knowledge of the facility to operate it efficiently, to not waste time, to get a clean signal. They need the chops to do professional quality work. They need the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions on gear purchase and installation. They need to know the needs and expectations of their clients. Anyone with the resources can buy a big collection of quality gear and hook it all together and call it a studio, but it's getting the right combination working together effectively and operated skillfully that really makes a studio work.
Let us know what you think of our first Facility Review in concept and implementation.