How to build a recording studio

For students on our Music and Sound courses, there’s lots of opportunities to explore your passion and get involved with exciting projects, which can count towards your modules and grades. We caught up with third-year international BSc (Hons) Sound Engineering and Production student, Severi Mallula, who designed and built a recording studio in Finland as part of his final-year project.

Severi sat in the production studio he designed

How did the opportunity come up for you to design and build a recording studio?

I have a background in electronic music production here in Finland and that has provided me with a lot of experience and connections. I discovered Sam Zimon (an EDM producer) had recently bought a space near my hometown that he was planning to convert into a studio. I saw this as a great opportunity for me to test the skills I learned in my year two Acoustic Applications module on a real-life project. I offered him my services and helped to design and construct the studio, which then became my final-year project!

What was the process of designing a recording studio?

It was quite a process! I asked for room dimensions before making a model in SketchUp, calculating appropriate absorption coefficients for the room, and considering the overall acoustic properties required. After modelling, I made my proposals through discussions with Sam. I visited the site and we discussed the best, most cost-effective, and safest way to construct the designed structure of his studio.

How has your course enabled you to be able to do this?

The skillset I developed in room acoustics has been vital to the success of this project. The encouraging words given from my lecturer, Dr Islah Ali-MacLachlan, was one of the main reasons I had the confidence to undertake such a task. I carried a lot of knowledge from my year two ‘Acoustic Applications’ module to this project, and without it, I wouldn’t have been able to progress this opportunity.

How has this project been a success?

One major indicator of the projects success is the growth of Sam's label. When the studio was first constructed, the label had approximately 10 artists signed. This has now increased to 25. My confidence in sound engineering and production has grown massively, as I see more and more artists using the space that I helped to create.

I was also able to do a lot of networking throughout this project, while gaining excellent experience for my portfolio and CV. I am very grateful to have had this experience between my second and third year of university.

How has this project helped your degree?

This project has allowed me to show my knowledge and skills within sound engineering and production and I have been able to use this opportunity for my final year project. My project has also been used as an example for other students on the course – I hope this inspires them!

What did you learn from this project?

I learned so much about acoustics, balancing projects, managing a budget, technical design prototyping in a 3D environment and and a great deal about customer service too. This project will benefit my future in many ways. It’s a great piece to add to my portfolio, ready for when I begin my career. It’s also allowed me to network on a much larger scale and I’ve received interest in my work on social media.

I’ve since began to get opportunities to work as an acoustic consultant. A recent project has been at my local barbers, helping to reduce reverberation and general noise levels there. My experience working on the studio has allowed me to get hands on with manual labour and craftsmanship too.

What advice would you give to students who would like to do something similar?

Networking is key, you never know when you may come across people who need your services. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to take an opportunity if it is available to you. I can honestly say that when I took on this project, I was afraid of the scale of it. But it is important not to fear failure, in projects like this, there is always going to be some issues and situations that don’t go to plan. You need to be ready to react quickly and make decisions to solve problems that may occur.

So, trust yourself if you ever get an opportunity like this and enjoy it!

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