We’re living in an incredible era for sound production, because no longer are audio engineers and producers chained to a mixing board inside of a studio if they want to record professional-quality audio.
In fact, thanks to the introduction of tools like digital audio workstations (DAWs) that can operate on everything from laptops to iPhones, professional-quality microphones that can fit in your pocket, and remote collaboration tools, there’s virtually no limit to when and where you can create.
However, that doesn’t mean that recording outside of a studio doesn’t come with some hurdles. We’ll cover some of the most common challenges of working in a remote recording studio, and what tools you can use to overcome them.
What is a remote recording studio?
A remote recording studio is essentially any area you set up for recording audio that isn’t a traditional, purpose-built recording studio. This could be your home office, your bedroom, or the middle of an expansive field for that matter.
As long as you have a microphone and a recording device, it’s a remote recording studio. An internet connection helps too.
Four common challenges of recording music remotely (and solutions)
There are several common challenges that nearly all musicians and music producers will face when recording music outside of a traditional studio. Thankfully, tools have been developed to address nearly all of these challenges, which we’ll cover as well.
Challenge #1: Recording studio-quality audio without a sound booth
The number one issue that most people will face when recording remotely is getting clean, high-quality audio without the aid of things like a soundproof recording booth and a large mixing board. However, with the right tools, you can record studio-quality audio with minimal distortions no matter where you are.
Solution: a high-quality microphone.
Arguably the most important piece of equipment you need for a successful remote recording session is a high-quality microphone. The better the quality of the recording, the more possibilities you have to clean up little imperfections and create a polished sound.
Here are a few recommendations for microphones that produce studio-quality sound, while being portable enough to use anywhere:
This cardioid microphone features a steel grill that protects the receiver, a USB C port, and a headphone jack for audio monitoring. It also includes patented anti-distortion technology that prevents clipping, and can be mounted on a desktop stand or microphone arm.
Blue Yeti USB Microphone
This has become one of the rising stars of remote audio, and for good reason. For under $200, this is one of the most versatile microphones on the market. It features four different pickup patterns, onboard audio controls, and a three-capsule array that produces crisp, clean audio whether you’re recording music or your latest podcast.
Shure iOS Microphone
This pocket powerhouse allows you to record high-quality audio straight to your iPhone. It features stereo recording and an adjustable joint so you can point the microphone right where you need to. As far as remote audio equipment goes, you can’t get smaller or more convenient than this pint-sized mic.
Challenge #2: Sharing large project files
Producing professional audio has always come at the cost of producing large data files. When you’re working in the studio and have access to large local storage networks or are able to hand off portable hard drives between collaborators, this is typically not a huge issue.
However, when you’re working remotely, large file transfers become a huge hurdle, as most email clients and basic file sharing services can’t accommodate larger files.
Solution: A cloud-based file sharing service
Similar to Frame.io, Filestage allows for remote filesharing and feedback on creative projects from anywhere in the world.
It is heavily focused on making the review and approval process as simple as possible, with a clear and structured file review process that keeps everything organized. No more wondering what stage of client or producer approval your audio project is at!
Price: Starts at $9 per user, per month.
This old standby has been around for a while for good reason. Nearly everyone has access to a Google Drive account, and it can accommodate large file transfers between accounts. If you’re looking for a way to just share files without any bells and whistles, this is one of our favorite solutions.
Price: Free (with additional storage available for purchase).
Create together remotely, in real time
Challenge #3: Recording with other musicians
It’s one thing to record a solo track remotely, but it’s another thing entirely if you want to create a multi-instrument arrangement using other remote musicians. Latency issues and cross-platform incompatibility have plagued musicians for years when they attempt to record together.
Thankfully, there has been a huge boom in music industry technology designed to help musicians record together from a distance, which means a literal world of musical possibilities just opened up to remote musicians.
Solution: remote collaborative recording software.
This is an area where we’ve seen tremendous advancement in tech. There are multiple cross-platform recording solutions that allow musicians to record tracks “together” from wherever they may be. We’ve picked a few of our favorite platforms that allow musicians to collaborate remotely within the same project.
Soundtrap is a collaboration platform built by streaming giant Spotify. It is a DAW (digital audio workstation) that is purpose-built to allow for remote recording collaboration via its cloud-based platform.
It allows collaborators to long in from any device, listen to what other collaborators have recorded, and add their own tracks. It even includes looping and effects tools so each collaborator can have control over their sound.
What really stands out about this platform is its iOS compatibility. We’ve never seen a remote music production platform that can work on a mobile device, which is a huge leap forward for accessibility. Now you don’t need a super powerful CPU to create high-quality, multi-track recordings with co-creatives all over the world.
Price: Free (full tool access starts at $7.99 per month).
If you want to maximize your network of potential creative partners, you need to look at Satellite Session. With most remote collaboration software, all participants need to be working inside the same DAW in order to collaborate. But Satellite Sessions rewrites this rule, and allows anyone, on any platform, to collaborate on audio projects.
This is huge for musicians, because so many independent artists rely heavily on the DAW they’re most comfortable with, so by allowing musicians to collaborate with any other musicians without being forced to adapt to a whole new workflow. If you produce music in Pro Tools, Audition, or another professional DAW, Satellite Session is a must-have plugin.
Challenge #4: Collaborating with other creative team members
In our opinion, this is one of the biggest hurdles that remote audio producers and musicians face. Real-time collaboration inside a studio together means that you have far more opportunities to allow for a free flow of ideas.
This is one of the biggest losses most people face when they move to a remote recording environment. Even with collaborative recording software, there is usually a lack of real-time communication to simulate the brainstorming sessions that used to happen behind the board.
Until recently, technology really has not been able to serve people who are swimming in this gap created by working remotely, but thankfully, solutions now exist that allow creatives to recreate the feeling of being in a room together and working on an audio recording, while on their laptop.
Solution: live collaboration software.
Evercast is a remote creative collaboration platform that’s compatible with any professional creative software. It allows you to stream whatever your workstation may be in full HD with ultra-low latency.
While you share your editing session, you can video chat with your co-collaborators in real time. You can also use built-in annotation tools to make notes and brainstorm solutions.
Evercast is about as close as you can get to sitting in the studio with your co-creatives and running a long brainstorming session, making it perfect for any teams who miss working together face-to-face.
Price: Our flagship product for all your real-time collaboration needs, starts at $749 per month (per virtual room). Special pricing packages are available for larger studios or teams.
The freedom that comes with being able to record and edit audio files remotely is a thrilling development for the musician, composer and producer alike. With new technology being developed to help re-invigorate collaboration, we’re entering a new era of creativity that’s not bound by borders.
Hopefully, this guide will help you jumpstart your remote recording studio by providing you with the tools you need to record audio in any environment and collaborate with anyone in the world. The only limit now is deciding on what you’ll create. Happy recording!