What Do You Really Need In Your Studio?

2010 Apr 21, 2010

Do you own a lot of recording equipment? If not, do you wish you did? Do you spend your evenings and time sitting on the John pouring over the latest Sweetwater or Musicians Friend catalog? I know I have. Don’t be ashamed. It all looks so darn cool doesn’t it?! And heck, these days you can actually afford a lot of it thanks to this recording revolution we are living in.

But what of the gear you own (and even use) do you really need to make quality music in your home studio? Do you need all of your microphones? Preamps? Probably not. Now don’t blow me off just yet. I know what you might be thinking. “This question is irrelevant because of course I don’t need everything. It’s just nice to have choice.” Fair enough. But I have a hypothesis. All that gear in your studio might just be weighing you down. The more stuff you have, the less productive you’re bound to become.


Via Steffan Scherz Flickr

If There Were a Fire…

One day when I was young, I remember a friend’s mother telling me how much she loved her photo albums. They were of great value to her as she appreciated all the memories they brought back. She told me something I still remember to this day, “Graham, if there were a fire in our house, my photo albums would be the one thing I’m sure to grab.”

If there were a fire in your house or studio, what of your equipment that you could carry would you grab and run? If you knew you only had a few moments to grab the most important elements of your studio what would they be? Here is what I would grab, in order of importance: my iMac, Digi 002 rack, some AKG headphones, and my trusty Behringer B1.  It would be a heavy handful, but those four items are all I need to make great music.

What You Really Need

Take a closer look at what I chose. My computer (including software, obviously), my audio interface, headphones, and one microphone. Minus some cables and a stand, that is all you need to record great music. I’ve written about it a few times already, but it doesn’t take much to put together a top notch signal chain. If that’s the case, why then do we keep adding to our arsenal? Why do we keep buying stuff if what we have already gets the job done?

There are some legitimate times when we need a certain product or piece of gear to do something that you can’t do with your current setup, no problem. But what I want you and I to be absolutely clear on is knowing what we truly need in our studio and then using it like crazy. Get the most value out of your software, your audio interface, and your microphones. Practically speaking, learn more about your DAW and all the features it offers. Use your interfaces built in mic pres instead of acting like they are garbage. Make sure you actually know good mic placement technique before you accuse your $100 mic of giving you bad recordings.

If you want to make better recordings in your home studio then trust me on this…don’t get caught up in the hype telling you to buy more stuff. Buy what you need, but then get on with what got you into this in the first place, your love for music.

Interested in more tips on how to mentally approach the art of home recording and get to making better music, faster? Download my free eBook The #1 Rule of Home Recording at the top right of this page!

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