The Sobering Truth About What We Need Versus What We Buy For The Home Studio

2015 Mar 23, 2015

What do you want more: a killer home studio? Or killer recordings of your music?

It’s an important question to ask yourself because many of us (myself included) champion the affordable home studio and what is possible with minimal investment, and yet our actions reveal we care way more about having nice toys than we do churning out amazing songs.


Via Stevie Bond Flickr

Truth: All You Need Is $300

Let’s start with some facts. Facts that many people don’t like to hear (which is beyond me, because in reality it’s nothing but GOOD news).

These days it only costs $300 to have a killer home studio.

That $300 gives you a great sounding audio interface (preamp + converters), a studio quality mic, headphones, mic cable, mic stand, and pop filter, and very capable recording software.

With the ability to overdub (i.e. record one instrument at a time) anyone can record a full band with this one mic setup.

In fact, recent Billboard chart toppers Fitz And The Tantrums tracked their debut EP at home with one mic and a 10 year old version of Pro Tools. And popular indie artist Ari Hest famously recorded an EP in his New York apartment in Garageband with an SM57 and a $99 interface, and Columbia Records picked it up!

It’s possible people.

Fact: Most Of Us Have Spent Way More Than $300

The reality of our home studios tells a very different story though.

Most of us have spent way more than $300 on our gear (not including instruments and your computer, which let’s be honest, most of us already had).

In fact, in a completely random (and unsophisticated) survey I conducted on Twitter and my iPhone app I learned that many people have spent at least $1000 on their home studios. And the majority have spent over $2000!

I’m a great example of this.

While I believe to my core that all I need is $300 to make a record and I do silly challenges like recording an EP with a $69 microphone and a $200 interface – even I have spent way more than $300 on my studio.

Between more preamps, studio monitors, some third party plugins, acoustic treatment and an expensive but cool looking desk, the bill adds up.

So Why Are We Spending More Than We Need To?

If we’re being honest (and for at least a moment we should be truly honest) we have spent more money than we need to. Myself included.

It’s kind of hypocritical and silly if you think about it. If there were a way to get just as good of a recording while spending less money, wouldn’t we all as logical and rational human beings do it?

We would…If we indeed acted logically and rationally when it comes to home studio gear.

The truth is we don’t.

We act emotionally and we make purchases based on things other than facts and pure needs. We buy things because we WANT them.

And that’s not a bad thing. Don’t mistake my point here.

Everything I own in my studio was purchased because I wanted it. But I don’t NEED the majority of it.

Does some of it make my recording and mixing life easier? Yes. Does some of it sound really cool and inspiring? Yes. Does some of it just LOOK cool and inspiring? Yes!

But it’s not a necessity to making a killer record.

Sitting In Your Nice Studio With Nothing To Record

Maybe you can identify with this scenario. Last year I sat in my home studio, with all the gear I could possibly need, staring blankly at my computer screen, guitar in hand.

I had all the toys needed to capture a great performance, but no songs to record.

Now on the surface this was just a case of writers block and songs eventually came out, but the scene paints an interesting picture: it doesn’t matter how much you’ve spent on your studio when you don’t have any good songs to record.

Twitter 1

(Jeff on Twitter was honest about his spending vs musical output)


And this is the crux of what I’m all about here at The Recording Revolution – making better music. Not building a better studio.

I see the recording studio as a means to an end.

It is a great set of tools and (hopefully) a creative space that allows you to capture and perfect your latest musical masterpiece so you can share it with your fans and friends around the world.

If that’s what YOU are about, then you likely have seen a shift in your thoughts and conversations.

A shift AWAY from gear comparisons, shootouts, endless reviews, and pointless debates on Gearslutz and a shift TOWARDS actually making more music, writing better songs, sculpting better arrangements, and churning out better recordings and mixes with the gear you DO have.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what you built your home studio for anyways?

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