Chicago Recording Studios and Practice Spaces

By now it’s no secret that the music industry is facing an identity crisis of sorts (if not a full-blown existential dilemma). The digital revolution has blasted the doors wide open for artists of all genres to create music cheaply and efficiently by themselves with home recording software. If you’re stepping into Chicago for the first time and want to find a great recording studio for a decent price to lay down a few tracks, here are my recommendations for where to start looking.

Musicians who are plugged into the Chicago music scene pride themselves on their “do it yourself” mentality. But the city is also home to some quality studios and practice spaces where you can record and rehearse the old-fashioned way, as many people still like to do. Though Chicago has a lot of facilities to try out, here are some of our recommended practice spaces and recording studios to help get you started:

Practice Spaces

Superior Street

Located just east of California on Superior Street, this hidden gem of a rehearsal facility is spacious and also reasonably priced. While the Superior Street website doesn’t give detailed pricing information, an hour or so in one of the practice rooms will only cost you around $15. The practice rooms have P.A. systems, guitar and bass amps and a drum kit. That way you can just pretend that your roadies set everything up for you before you start playing.

Music Garage

On 345 N. Loomis St., just south of Kinzie, you’ll find Music Garage, which has locations in Chicago and in New York. This rehearsal facility takes pride in its sound isolation capabilities and the fact that you’ll find high speed internet lines in every practice room. Like Superior Street, each room has a P.A., amps and a drum kit available and will only cost you $5 per person per hour (with a $15 per hour minimum). If you don’t want to figure out the math like most of us, Music Garage offers monthly fixed-rate packages also.

Recording Studios

Electrical Audio

Electrical Audio is a studio owned and operated by Steve Albini, who has worked with numerous high-profile bands including Nirvana, Pixies and Jawbreak, all of which have recorded at his studio. Despite his impressive resume, securing a spot at Albini’s studio is relatively easy – just call and book a session. The studio website even has a “session estimate calculator” to help gauge the cost of your future record.

Electrical is located just west of the Chicago River on Belmont and has two studios that it rents out per day: “A”, the more expensive of the two, costs $650 per day; and “B”, which costs $450 per day. If you have the extra dough to throw down, you also have the option of hiring out Steve Albini himself to engineer your tracks. Though don’t expect him to be cheap — it’ll cost you $700 a day. It’s up to you to decide if his decades of legendary rock expertise are worth it.

Soundscape Studios

Soundscape is another studio in town that is relatively inexpensive to rent out, but studio owner Michael Kolar has recorded big name R&B acts such as Ludacris, Rhymefest and George Clinton. Located in the Near South Side, Soundscape starts at $40 per hour including a staff engineer to help mix (sorry, but it’s not Steve Albini).

Home/Studio Hybrids

With the amount of digital technology in the marketplace, there has also been an increase in home recording studios that operate on a smaller scale, but still have the expertise necessary to produce a great sound. AKAudio, located in the suburb of Oak Park, is one such operation. You can contact them at iblrecords@gmail.com.

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So start here, take a look around and see what you can come up with. Chicago is a hell of a town for playing and listening to quality music, so chances are high you’ll find something you’re comfortable with.

All we ask: if you choose to record with Steve Albini and end up releasing the next Nirvana “Nevermind,” remember us over here, your humble servants at UPchicago.

Jason Shough

About Jason Shough

In June of ‘09, Jason moved from Columbus, Ohio to Chicago and burrowed into the Lakeview neighborhood on the North Side of the city. He writes about arts and culture for UPchicago and contributes to a local music website. Additionally, Jason is currently earning his Master’s degree at the Medill School of Journalism where he .

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