Two rooms VS one room for home recording purposes

In a professional or commercial recording studio, at least two rooms are devoted to the recording process. The control room holds all the equipment, such as the mixer, the computer, the outboard effects, and the monitor speakers. The control room is also where the engineer, producer, and other non-musicians (such as the client or record-company executive) hang out.

The studio, or live room, holds the musicians and has very little equipment in it other than microphones and whatever gear the musicians need to create their music. The studio is typically adjacent to the control room, separated by a wall with a large, multipaned window to allow visual communication between the musicians and the control room personnel. Verbal communication is accomplished electronically through the microphones in the studio (so that the musicians can speak to the control room) and through the musicians' headphones (which allows the control room, via a „talkback“ mic, to speak to the band).

To play along with previously recorded tracks, the musicians wear headphones, which allow them to hear the tracks but prevent the sound from going through the mics that are set up to record just the instruments. The people in the control room listen over speakers, which provide a more realistic picture of the final product. Because they're isolated from the studio, the control room personnel hear the live instruments (cranking away on the other side of the glass) only over the speakers and in balance with the prerecorded tracks.

Because there are no microphones in the control room (except for the talkback mic), the engineer, producer, and others are free to speak whenever they like during the recording process, between takes, and so on. The vibe in the studio is very different: The musicians don't talk much at all, except between takes, and then usually only with minimal discussion and a quiet intensity. Musicians play, stop, and wait for the reaction in the control room to come through the talkback mic.

When you record and perform in the same space, as most of us at home do, it helps to understand the different mind sets of a control room facilitator versus a studio performer. Often as not, you'll be serving in both functions, switching back and forth with dizzying frequency.

Because most people don't have the luxury of devoting two rooms to the recording process, you should focus on optimizing one room for both studio and control room activities. Read more about how to do this in the article Placing equipment at your home recording studio.