I've spoken online with many serious home recording enthusiasts. They always have a thousand questions. One of the first ones on the list: ?Will buying mega high end gear greatly improve my living room recordings??. This is a question that I've asked myself a thousand times in the past too. Read on.
The New Recording Engineer Method
Let's face it. Times have changed. You can't just walk into a studio, volunteer to sweep floors, and then in 6 months record the Rolling Stones. I've read stories of this sort of thing happening 35 years ago. Now it seams that there are idiots and non idiots running off to recording school to spend $20k and there are idiots and non idiots pumping $20k into their home recording studios.
This article is designed for the non idiots who've chosen to attempt to this recording thing at home. There is no reason why you can't crank out pro recordings at home if you are lucky enough to fall into an ideal situation. Before we jump too deep into the gear end of things, let's look at what makes a great recording great.
A great song
Played by a mega great musician
Playing a great instrument
Alright, now let's look at what a great studio needs to properly capture these 3 things.
A great acoustical space
With the right microphone
The right preamp
The right processing such as compression / EQ
Listening through accurate monitors in an accurate room.
Okay, here are 8 factors. If you get most of them right, (mostly the top 3) you are well on your way. If you nail the top 3, you have to be a total idiot to screw that up.
What Do You Have Control Over In Your Home Studio?
This is an interesting question because it's up to you to decide. For example, most home recording guys do not have the acoustical space to make a great recording of all instruments. Many home recording guys are not recording great songs and great musicians. However, if you focused your energy into one area or another, you could adequately handle many or all of the factors above. I highly recommend that you focus on better songs before you worry about ?better? mics.
What Are Your Goals For Your Studio?
This another very important question. When I started recording, all I really wanted to do was figure out how to achieve mammoth guitar sounds and huge drums sounds. Somewhere in there I grew up and realized that a mean guitar sound is only as mean as the music being played with it. If you handed John Denver a Les Paul with EMG 81s through a Rectofier, the tone would NOT be ?heavy?.
My goals for my studio have changed quite a bit over the years. Now, I want to work with bands and crank out music that people like. It would be nice to have a song or two that became popular. I'm looking for songs that can be played on the radio that total strangers can say ?Hey, I want to buy this?.
I realize that other home recording studio owners have much different goals. Maybe they simply want to serve the big producer who is bringing in a band that has been through mega preproduction and written possibly hit songs. In any case, the only thing that matters is the quality of songs that come out of your studio. Everything else means very very little in most cases. If you don't know what I'm talking about, how many songs have you recorded that you truly love and listen to on a regular basis?