From No Mix Training And A $500 Studio To Getting Signed

2016 May 23, 2016

If you think you need an expensive studio and years of audio training to get mixes good enough for a major label to take notice of your music, think again.

One TRR reader from Hungary, Ben Lovas and his band The SunCity Rockets, was recently signed to a subsidiary of Warner Music all because of a recording he did on his laptop with a Focusrite Scarlet interface, two $100 mics, and some cheap Logitech computer speakers. All under $500.

And the best part? The label kept his original mix and featured in this music video.

The Studio Setup

Ben’s studio is a classic home studio rig. Based around a laptop, 2 channel USB interface, and a couple of $100 microphones, it is simple yet very capable.

I recorded my songs on my laptop, my Focusrite Scarlet, my [Audio Technica] AT2020 and my [Shure] SM57. That’s it. Then I mixed my music in my bedroom, on a cheap pair of Logitech Speakers. As you can see, I didn’t have much money for gear, haha. – Ben Lovas (The SunCity Rockets)

This studio is a variation of my $300 studio suggestions and clearly it gets the job done. Ben has also taken advantage of what I call the $100 rule when it comes to his microphones. A great condenser paired with a dynamic – he has everything he needs to make a record.

Ben’s humble home studio – that got his band signed!

Vocals were recorded with an AT2020 into a Focusrite Scarlet, guitars with an SM57 into that same interface. Everything was mixed by me in my bedroom on a pair of Logitech Z523s. – Ben Lovas (The SunCity Rockets)

Vocals tracked through a $100 mic and straight into his interface. Turns out the built in preamps on a modern affordable audio interface work just great (but we already knew that).

Tracking vocals on a $99 microphone – with no acoustic treatment.

And what I absolutely love is that he mixed this track on a pair of $80 computer speakers! Not even budget studio monitors. And he got a great mix!

Not to knock on studio monitors, but this type of thing is just another example of why I believe what you monitor on really isn’t the most important thing to consider. Rather learning what your monitors (and room) are giving you is.

Ben got a killer mix on $80 Logitech speakers. Hmmm, maybe my monitors are good enough!

Education + Effort = Big Results

Beyond just how cheap and simple Ben’s studio setup is, the other powerful and encouraging lesson we can learn from his success is his lack of experience – and how it didn’t hold him back.

I have absolutely no mixing training. Literally none. I subscribed to The Recording Revolution about a year ago because I wanted to get my music sounding good, and have it released myself independently. I watched your videos religiously for months and months, trying to learn everything I could about mixing. – Ben Lovas (The SunCity Rockets)

Did you catch that? Ben started this project with absolutely zero training or experience in mixing. So instead of throwing money at gear, he dove headfirst into getting some education.

The three most important things I learned were your mindset videos (limiting your gear), the videos talking about using reference tracks and the ones on the necessity of good EQ + compression. I must have watched every single EQ and compression video on your channel! – Ben Lovas (The SunCity Rockets)

Ben clearly zeroed in on the “big wins” of mixing: limit your options, focus on strategic EQ and compression moves, and reference pro mixes in your studio. But then listen to how Ben approached mixing, it’s brilliant:

Then with all the instruments/synths/vocals I tried to capture the best performance I could, including the tones I wanted to hear in the final song. Basically I tried to make the tracks sound like I heard them in my head, and then it was just a case of glueing them together during mixing. – Ben Lovas (The SunCity Rockets)

This my friend is recording and mixing at its essence. Try and capture (and balance together) your tracks so they sound like you hear in your head. It doesn’t matter how you get there, just get there.

No one else can tell you when you’ve gotten there. But you know when you’ve arrived, and when you haven’t. The tools and techniques are just a means to an end. But you must have that end in mind in order to get a great result.

I then sent my songs to a couple of Hungarian labels, and all of them were interested. Not only that, I got signed last October to the largest Hungarian label, actually a subsidiary of Warner Music!!! They didn’t even request a new mix of my songs, they just had it mastered. That’s how much they liked the sound of the mix! – Ben Lovas (The SunCity Rockets)

This guy has never mixed before, watches some videos on YouTube, makes a record on his laptop with $500 worth of gear and then has the confidence to shop his tracks out to a bunch of labels. I love it!

You see, Ben didn’t stop at crushing a bunch of content on mixing, filling his brain up with knowledge and then let it stop there. Rather he took that education and put in a ton of effort to make the best recording and mix possible. And it paid off big time – with a record deal.

And the best part (to me anyways) is that the label didn’t even want to remix the song. It was that good.

Why Not You?

This is what is possible and what’s happening all around you, all over the world. Talented artists are making great sounding tracks with affordable gear and getting noticed. Why not you?

If you haven’t made the music you’ve wanted to make this year, then why not start with this simple one month challenge?

Stop looking at gear upgrades (both hardware and software) and instead channel that energy into cranking out a killer sounding track in the next 30 days.

In fact, why not leave a comment below letting us know that you’re taking the challenge and going to stop making excuses and instead start making music!


Also be sure to support Ben and his band The SunCity Rockets by checking out their music here.

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