Don’t Drool On Your Keyboard: Inside LA Home Recording Studios


An article in Curbed LA takes a look at the “underground world” of Los Angeles’ home-based recording studios.

Home recording studios, along with “bootblack stands, rubber or metal stamp stores, typewriter or adding machine repair concerns,” aren’t officially allowed in LA. But home-based professional recording studios, well-soundproofed for acoustic reasons to begin with, seem to escape the building inspectors’ scrutiny — as long as the neighbors don’t notice and complain.


Shifts in the music industry, and changes in the quality, price, (and sheer size) of audio recording gear, along with better options for audio software, have led to a proliferation in the creation of professional recording studios that just happen to be located in the producer/musician’s basement, garage, or guest house.

Since much of the music-recording industry has been LA-based for decades, it makes sense that the shift to professional/DIY home studios would end up having a greater number of practitioners there.


Pretty sweet home studios, eh? Check out the Curbed LA site for more examples.

(Hat tip to Bert from Percussa Audiocubes for sharing this article, and mad props to Elizabeth Daniels, who photographed the pretty home studios for the piece.)

3 thoughts on “Don’t Drool On Your Keyboard: Inside LA Home Recording Studios

  1. “10 years ago?” Apparently this was written by a kid who thinks nothing happened pre-2000.

    In 1991 the ADAT came out. That was the beginning of the end for the reign of commercial studios. Stories like this ran over and over and over again throughout the late 1990s.

    If a record label gives an act a $50K recording budget, the artist is an idiot if they don’t spend it on a good “home” recording studio rather than 2-3 weeks at an Ocean Way-esque studio.

    I’m not sure how many giant Hit Factory-style studios the nation can actually keep busy and profitable. I suspect the answer is “under a dozen.”

  2. The only thing illegal about a home studio is if you ARE recording. Mixing, editing is just fine – i.e. legal. What’s not legal is having more than one employee for your home based business unless they live there.
    Noise and parking are the issues that neighbors care about. Dispers your street parking and properly attenuate your STC levels (by calling me of course) and you will be fine. If the neighbors do gang up on you and a city inspector does come knocking on the door don’t panic when you answer. Politely tell him or her that now is a bad time because you are getting ready to leave for the airport (etc) BUT that they are welcome back at THEIR convenience … “Here’s my personal cell number, call me and let’s make an appointment.” Be extra cool/nice like (providing nothing is viewable from front door open)…”It’s a hot day would you like a cold glass of water before you go?” etc.
    Now get busy taking out all the instruments in the recording area and drop a ping pong table and some ‘family’ & ‘children’s’ games in there. Leave the eh-hem ‘mixing room’ or ‘editing room’ alone.
    When the inspector comes back give them FREE reign of the house, casually offer beverages, but humbly tag along for the tour. Show the house as a proud real estate agent would – “Here’s where I mix & catalog music” etc. NEVER use the word record. “Oh, the neighbors …. I see, I think that when friends sometimes visit it might create a parking issue – I WILL MAKE SURE THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN ANYMORE”. Repeat that. DO NOT turn on any playback gear or attempt to demonstrate the spl levels inside compared to outside. DO NOT have ANY employees in house – period.
    They won’t say much, but it’s ok to ask questions though. You won’t hear back from them because 1) they really don’t care – their real job is to make sure you don’t operate a meth lab or run a whore house or worse use your house as a warehouse for manufacturing or shipping of anything. 2) that you don’t have more than one employee. 3) that you CLEARLY understand that they don’t want the neighbors to contact them again 4) they are busy and forgot about your paperwork.
    Most likely you will have to call their office and leave a message whereupon they will apologize about forgetting about your insignificant neighborhood squabble and inform you of zoning laws and that if you abide by those laws & the neighbors don’t call everything is o.k.
    Next c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y bro hug it out with your neighbors, find out their exact concerns. Do not argue with them, drive towards one of tow issues ‘noise’ or ‘parking’. If unresolvable dig up all the dirt possible on your surrounding neighbors for future ammo, you’ll need it. Get things handled before the city gets involved again. If the issue was sound – you are a total D*ck for not controlling it properly in the first place. Getting the best price on construction is always the worst value.

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