What to Buy

I recognize that a lot of people read this blog. And, sometimes a post will be taken as a personal message. This post is in response to about a dozen or so emails that I have received over the past several weeks.

I have had a number of students, primarily from the States, ask me questions about how to set up a recording studio in their homes. And I tell them that there are three critical elements to getting a decent sound from a recording studio:

  1. The recording chain (microphones, preamps, converters, recorders)
  2. The playback chain (recorders, converters, amplifiers, monitors)
  3. The room

And, to get a competitive product, there are no shortcuts. It takes a lot of talent, a lot of money and a lot of time to produce a great sounding record. Just because you have a computer, a soundcard and some cheap gear does not mean that you will produce the next Alison Krauss quality of recording.

For example, one request I received ask me for a recommendation on a good quality vocal recording chain. A minimum budget for a quality condenser, preamp and compressor would cost somewhere around $3,000 – 4,000. However, if the room is not prepared for recording, it is largely inconsequential as to which mic and preamp to buy.

The sound of the room has such a major impact on the overall quality of the recording that even with decent equipment the end result can be compromised. That is one of the main reasons why casual home recording can never produce the same quality result as a commercial studio. The other, of course, is that it takes talent and experience to do quality recording.

There are exceptions. Chris Schwartz, formerly of Ruffhouse Records, built a home studio. With a home studio like his, pictured below, you can get a competitive result. Assuming, of course, that you know how to engineer and produce.

Otherwise, consider a home recording environment for what it is. Okay for family and friends and a place to have some fun.

Serious recording won’t happen in a cheap home recording environment but it can be a great place to learn and to gain some experience.

Ruffnation Control Room

Ruffnation Talent Room

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