How to Find the Best Recording Studios in San Francisco
Recording studios in San Francisco can be rented for all sound studio uses including recording music and voice-over recording and are used by both local bands, singers, and actors. The best music studios also offer professional audio engineers, singers or back up vocals, and music production assistance.
The following research by The Prime Buyer's Report identifies the best recording studios in San Francisco and issues related to hiring them.
Updated November 04, 2016
How to Find the Best Recording Studios in San Francisco
There is no state license required of recording studios in San Francisco and so no state standard for competency. This makes it all the more significant that all recording studios bearing The Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 designation have been evaluated by our research staff, and have had to pass all the requirements for Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 status such as survey phone calls to previous clients to verify high satisfaction, clean complaint record, best business practices, length of time in business, and more.
Music studios in San Francisco can vary widely in regards to their rates, equipment, abilities, and acoustics and the right sound studio for a voice over actor whose needs are simple might not be the best choice as a music studio for a local band that would benefit from isolation rooms for multiple instruments. Similarly, one music studio might be perfect for a customer who's an experienced sound engineer or musician where an amateur singer cutting their first demo might be better served by a studio with a simpler set up but more production help. Likewise sophisticated or picky musicians or music producers might insist on a sound studio with certain tube-based analog equipment in addition to the digital equipment.
Recording studios available for rent are not regulated and no state license is required, making it that much more important that you choose one with a proven track record of happy customers. All recording studios in San Francisco bearing the Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 symbol have had customer references called by researchers at The Prime Buyer's Report verifying they are satisfied with the end result and the value they received relative to the fees paid.
Recording studios are used by more than just record musicians and singers. They're also used by voice over artists for advertisements, in film, TV or animation by foley artists or for dialogue dubbing. Usually a recording studio consists of the studio (live room) where musicians and singers perform, plus a control room where the sound engineers operate digital or analog recording equipment at a music workstation to manipulate the sound. Often there are isolation rooms or isolation booths where loud instruments like drums are recorded so the microphones for other instruments are not interfered with, or to provide "drier" rooms for recording quieter acoustic instruments or certain vocals. There may also be a machine room to isolate noisier equipment that could interfere with the sound recording. Ideally the layout of the sound studio as a whole has been designed by an acoustics expert.
Listen Before You Buy With Recording Studios in San Francisco
Just like you usually do with music you buy, listen first. Meaning, ask to hear recordings made at the studio, with the most relevant recordings being ones that are similar to your intended use such as for recording a rock band versus a solo vocalist versus voice over use by actors. Likewise, recent recordings are a better indication of what the studio's abilities are now in terms of personnel and equipment versus an older sound recording made when the acoustics, equipment and staff were different than what you'll be getting. If you're a novice trying to break into the business, you may not be sophisticated or experienced enough to know what you should be listening for in such a sample of a sound studio's work, in which case it may be relevant to find out how many other clients of your exact type the music studio has served, or is serving now.
It's important to know that even talented musicians can fall victim to poor recordings, so a band's decision on where to lay down, mix and master their material can make all the difference in how well they're liked by listeners.
Visit The Recording Studios in San Francisco CA
Check out the music studios or sound studio in person. If you're inexperienced, you may not know what equipment to look for, or a good acoustical layout versus a bad one, but at the least you can get an idea of the professionalism of the studio and its staff. If you're very experienced, then ask to see the things you anticipate needing for your particular recording use, like isolation rooms, or certain analog equipment. Write your list of wants and desires beforehand so you don't forget to see everything you need to when you're there.
Sound Studios in San Francisco Provide Many Services
Recording studios provide a wide range of services including producing, sound design, editing, production, live mixing, studio mixing, mastering, tracking, forensic audio, noise reduction, vocal tuning, re-amping, rock band programming, mix consultation and more, and many have package rates available for different combinations of these services plus length of studio time needed.
Some Recording Studios in San Francisco Are Better Than Others
The Prime Buyer's Report lists these recording studios in San Francisco: One Union Recording Studios San Francisco CA, San Francisco Soundworks San Francisco CA, Studio Trilogy San Francisco CA, Hyde Street Studios San Francisco CA. Other recording studios in San Francisco CA that might still be in business include: .
Questions To Ask Recording Studios in San Francisco
When choosing a recording studio, ask to speak to the Studio Manager if not the owner, and ask the right questions about their experience, abilities and equipment, rental rates, and other qualifications.
Questions To Ask of Recording Studios in San Francisco
• How long have they been performing as a recording studio in San Francisco at their current location?
• Can they give you the names and numbers of other clients you can speak to as a reference? (All recording studios bearing the Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 symbol have already had their client references called by research staff at The Prime Buyer's Report so you don't have to.)
• Is there anything you might need or want that would cause the price to go higher than what they've already quoted and if so, by how much?
• Can you listen to samples of recordings made at their studio? And how recent are they? (Old recordings may no longer be an accurate reflection of their current set-up, equipment, and staff available to you).
• How many other clients have they had for recording similar to yours? (The needs for recording a rock band demo can be very different from those for recording for voice over or radio commercials.)
• What recording artists have recorded there who are recognizable names in the recording industry or otherwise successful?
• Aside from the needs you've already explained to the studio, are there other things you might want that you haven't asked about? Why would you want them and what is the additional cost if any?
• If you'll be needing the services of their audio engineer or music producer, ask how long that sound engineer has been in the industry, what their qualifications are and how long they've been working at that particular recording studio.
Once you've got answers to these questions, you're ready to make a decision. Price alone should rarely be the determining factor since cheap recording studios in San Francisco usually aren't the best ones. In fact, if the price quoted to you by one studio seems dirt cheap compared to other prices you've been quoted, it could be a danger sign. If a price at one music studio seems higher than others you've been given, ask them what you're getting for their higher rate that the other studios aren't providing you. Maybe it's something you don't need, or maybe you do need it and the cheap sound studio wasn't including it.
Resources About Recording Studios in San Francisco CA
Trade associations relevant to recording studios & music production in San Francisco
RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America)
NARIP (National Assocation of Record Industry Professionals)
SPARS (Society of Professional Audio Recording Services)
AES (Audio Engineering Society)
Trade publications relevant to music producers & recording studios in San Francisco
Journal of the Audio Engineering Society
Pro Sound News
EQ Magazine (has merged with Electronic Musician)
If you are looking for sound studios or music producers in San Francisco CA, The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for the TOP 10 Recording Studios in San Francisco within the following zip codes:
94164, 94158, 94170, 94140, 94159, 94169, 94126, 94157, 94168, 94125, 94147, 94167, 94120, 94146, 94166, 94119, 94188, 94142, 94165, 94101, 94172, 94141, 94127, 94109, 94116, 94124, 94108, 94134, 94115, 94123, 94107, 94133, 94114, 94122, 94105, 94132, 94112, 94121, 94104, 94131, 94111, 94118, 94130, 94110, 94117, 94129, 94103 and 94102
The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for the TOP 10 Recording Studios in San Francisco CA within the following cities:
Presidio, San Francisco, Bernal Heights, Cow Hollow, Diamond Heights, Duboce Triangle, Eureka Valley, Fisherman's Wharf, Haight-Ashbury, Hayes Valley, Inner Sunset, Japantown, Laurel Heights, Marina District, Mission District, Nob Hill, Noe Valley, North Beach, Pacific Heights, The Presidio, Rincon Hill, Russian Hill, Sea Cliff, Sunset District, Telegraph Hill, Treasure Island, Twin Peaks, Western Addition, Outer Sunset and Union Square