Buy the studio gear you need, not the gear you want.
The age old debate, which speakers are the best? Which microphone should I buy? Is this compressor the best piece for the money? We all do it. There’s thousands of threads all over about it. We love fancy, nice, impressive recording studio gear. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s all a waste, and I’ll explain why. It’s not just for the obvious reasons of good recordings aren’t gear dependent. Graham from the Recording Revolution proved that already. It is more of the fact that all of a recording studio’s gear is only as good and as useful as the weakest link in the chain.
What do I mean?
Why would you spend $1000 on a microphone if your computer crashes once you have more than 25 tracks of audio? Your new Focal speakers sound great but how can you be comfortable listening to them when your studio chair hurts your back after an hour of work? What about power? Do you have proper power conditions and surge protectors? If not, that $3500 la2a is going to cost a lot to repair when you have a surge.
It’s really nothing more than common sense. The problem is that our desire for fancy things often overlooks the functional side of what it actually takes to make things work.
Imagine someone buying a brand new, top of the line Corvette. Fully loaded, leather interior, heated seats built in tv screen and whatever other nonsense comes with cars now a days. The only problem is that instead of super beefy v8 engine all that they put under the hood was a wimpy little 4 cylinder motor. No one would ever buy that. It makes no sense. That car would be laughed at when it went to perform in a race like it was designed to do. So why do studio owners do it all the time?
I once worked in a studio where they had a pair of $3k studio monitors. They were gorgeous, the top end was crystal clear while the midrange was open and honest, but the desk that the studio owned was so inconveniently shaped that it forced the speakers to be a few feet above my head and nowhere near the optimal listening position. A pair of $3k speakers became essentially useless.
Another studio I was in had great outboard gear. Analog gear for days. Both vintage and modern compressors, preamps and eq’s that would make a gearhead drool. The only problem was that their patchbay and patch cables were a $100 piece of gear that degraded the quality of anything running through it.
I know that desks and patchbays don’t exactly get a studio owner fired up, but simple pieces like those are integral to making the whole system work. Invest in the essentials before you start going out and getting fancy. Find a studio chair, desk, mouse, keyboard and computer that work for you. Make the foundation of your studio solid before you invest money in something that will only add as much value as its weakest link.
What are the weakest links in your recording studio gear? What do you plan on improving upon next? Interested in my suggestions or ideas for the best, most practical gear? Get your questions answered and sign up for my email list for more tips, tricks and practical advice!
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