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How To Waste $10,000 On Recording Gear You Don’t Like

Brandon Drury —  June 28, 2010

I’ve had a long week. I’ve just been reminded that I need to follow my own advice from Killer Home Recording. In short, it goes a little something like this.

A buddy of mine in high school didn’t do what everyone else did. (I seem to remember a slew of brand new 1997/1998 Chevy Cavaliers in our school parking lot.) His first car was a Corvette. It was a Corvette that was 15 years old. This means it was at it’s all-time lowest value and would soon be going up. He bought the car for $10,000 and sold it for $11,000. He did have some upkeep bills that were certainly higher than my Honda Civic. I’d say he spent $3,000 on it.

The moral of the story was he got to drive a classic Corvette for six years for $2,000. I remember most of the Cavalier people paying $13,000 and selling them for $3,000 in that same time frame.

Why in hell would a person pay $10,000 to drive a miserable Chevy Cavalier when they could drive a Corvette for 1/5 the price?

This sort of thinking is quite common in circles of people with money. Why the hell I can’t remember it is beyond me! (Besides the obvious fact that I DON’T HAVE MONEY!)

What’s Magic Worth?

After going to Disney World, the largest digital camera vacuum the Earth has ever scene, I’ve really gotten into this “value of magic” idea. The bottom line is magical items are priceless. An otherwise poor recorder will pay $2,000 for a microphone that is going to give him the magic. The wife can’t see (or hear) this magic and will tell him it doesn’t sound any better than his $400 mic. However, most of us in recording land believe in this magic and can generally hear it, too.

Cubase 5 costs $499 (the upgrade is much cheaper). It has more automation, features, total recall, and convenience than many consoles costing over $100,000. We all know that there are many records out there these days that are mixed in the box even though it’s probably safe to say the big consoles sound a little better. But why do people buy these consoles? Because there is magic in them! If you don’t believe me, take a picture of your studio and then take a look at these pictures.

THAT is magic!

Where I’ve Screwed Up #1

I had a rack full of stuff I never sold on Ebay that I found this week. I had forgotten all about my Presonus M80. It’s an 8-channel preamp that was a heavily marketed 10 years ago back when I was first starting. It sold for $2,000 originally, but I snagged it for $1,000 used on Ebay. That should have been a clue! If the preamp lost half it’s value in a year or two, what’s it going to be worth in 7 years?

I can answer that question because I watched a few of these on Ebay just to see. The answer is $350! Great. So this preamp has handed me a loss of $650. A person could argue that I got to use it all this time. They wouldn’t be wrong. However, if I would have bought anything used with MAGIC in it, I could easily see that I had lost zero. My Vintech 1272 costs on Ebay now what I paid for mine back in 2001. (Ignore inflation, that’s a political issue I’m choosing to ignore for your sake!) My Vintech is a superior product, too. So, because I chose to CHEAT myself out of a high end product and the improved sound that comes with it, I’m rewarded with $650 subtracted from my net worth. Great!

Where I’ve Screwed Up #2

Two years ago I was low on cash and my Delta 1010s, which had served me very, very well for 7 years, were toast. I decided to save money and take a chance with a Presonus Firestudio, a $700 interface, knowing there were some presumably fancier options out there. The Firestudio is fine on many levels, but always seems to get buggy when I don’t want it to be buggy.

I did the math on a few recent sessions to calculate how many billable hours I had to take off a clients bill because I was restarting my computer 10 times to get the dumb thing to sync up. It became obvious that if I could get an interface that ran well pretty much every day, it would easily pay for itself in only a few months.

I’ve decided to try out the Steinberg MR816 CSX interface. If it doesn’t offer bulletproof reliability, I’m off to RME. If that can’t do it, I’ll spend big bucks and just make credit card payments. Interest will be cheaper than refunded hours!

These Firestudio interfaces are going for about $350-400 on Ebay right now, so that means it’s lost half it’s value in just 2 years. Not good!

Long story short: The Presonus Firestudio bugs cost me A LOT of money AND I didn’t get to have the fun of a “magical” interface AND the damn thing has lost half its value.

Where I’ve Screwed Up #3

After I got up to #8 I decided to simply say, YOU GET THE POINT!

Is Paul999 Screwing Up?

Paul999 runs a full blown studio with a big ol’ console and a stupid amount of hardware most of us would give our left wife for. He was using the kind of logic that I don’t seem to ever follow but am well aware of in this thread:

True cost analysis of ITB vs OTB. Is ITB actually cheaper?

I’ve got to say that it seems a little counter intuitive to think that a $2,000 compressor would be CHEAPER than a plugin. The idea of $20,000 in hardware compressors being cheaper than plugins is so extreme that a person MUST take a second look. Either way, Paul999 may be on to something!….or totally out of his mind!

Who Are You?

Guys like Paull999 and I may have different needs than you do. We’ll be recording music until we croak. Thinking 2-30 years into the future changes the way a person looks at most of this stuff, and there are certainly savings to be made with a bit of strategy. Paul999 and I are also guys that want high end gear. Is it NEEDED? No. But it makes my job easier and I’m cool with making huge investments that give me 1% benefit.

The idea of buying magical gear because it is CHEAPER may not occur to you or you may not be in the position to invest so much into these magical items. However, if your needs change you find yourself going a little fancier, it may be cheaper in the long run to treat yourself to a big, ol’ dumb purchase!

When Just Getting Started

When a person is just getting started, rarely are they thinking they are going to surpass X big boy production on the first try. Just finding the bare minimum gear for their needs is a total pain. (See the Killer Home Recording: Setting UP freebie ). It’s when people start upgrading to marginally better that that things can go wrong in the long term.

Winners and Losers Is The Long Term Value War

Winners
– Magic hardware items (mics, preamps, and compressors) with big time names (Neumann, Neve, API, SSL, etc)

– Specific magic items (LA-2A hardware compressors) that people SPECIFICALLY search for.

– Super hyped items. When Musician’s Friend has a high end product, that product becomes an instant celebrity. I get asked by clients (who don’t even know what a compressor is) if I have any Avalon gear. Why? They saw it in the catalog. This definitely spills over into recording land. I expect Avalon products to maintain their value for a long while. Then again, if Musician’s Friend and a few other dealers pull the plug, the could be forgotten. Regardless, hype generally sticks when it comes to perceived value in recording land.

– Anything You Can’t Afford. You already know you can’t afford a full-blown Pro Tools HD3 system, right? No need in looking, right? This whole “no need to look” thing is a big reason guys like Paul999 and my buddy with the Corvette have fun toys and get to play with them often for profit. Basically, this “can’t afford it” business is a lie, more or less. While Pro Tools HD3 isn’t going to be tip-top for 20 years, it may actually be less expensive than a “decked out” typical home recording setup. Maybe not. The point isn’t that I’m pushing Pro Tools HD3. (Most people know my views on Pro Tools.) The point is that the very fact that everyone THINKS they can’t afford something is why that particular item is so inexpensive, both in the long term and maybe even in the short term!

So So
– High end brands that come and go or may take a quality hit – My Soundelux U99 ain’t worth the $2,600 I paid for it anymore. Much of that has to do with the fact that Soundelux is long gone. The mic is still the mic, but it’s value is not what it used to be. A Neumann U87 would have held all of its value for sure.

– There are many high end companies that may or may not be around in a few years. As much as I like to buy “fringe companies”, some of them won’t be around in a few years. Even worse, people won’t be talking about them. The magic will be gone even if the products are stellar.

– Ultra value companies. I’m talking about the current crop of mega bang-for-the-buck gear that is attempting to run with the big boys at a for cheaper price. Off the top of my head Peluso, Sebatron, and Chameleon Labs come to mind. These brands are cheaper to get your hands on, are very very effective, but don’t have the pizazz of the magic gear. It’s hard to say how the market will deal with them. These are the “Bud Light” of magic. I suspect the kid using duct taped adapters into his laptop that will be getting an Mbox for Christmas this year thinks a Peluso 47 is some serious magic. So….for the low end, there may be this “affordable magic” thing going on. We’ll see.

Losers
– Budget gear. Gear that is a bargain always seems to lose its value quickly. It has zero magical value. You’ll see quite a few 8-channel preamps that cost $600-800 that end up going for $200 on Ebay in a few years. As a rule, the bottom feeders tend to have to reinvent themselves and their products constantly. Brent Averill doesn’t need new products. In fact, he’s built his business on racking up really old products. Regardless, find a budget 1980s Peavey 16-channel mixer and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

– Budget Companies Making Mid-Level Gear. This is where my Presonus M80 comes in. $2k for an 8-channel preamp isn’t cheap. It’s not exactly budget-gear. It may not be Mercenary caliber, but it’s not cheap. However, the budget name automatically kills the long term value.

– Computers. Have you ever had a buddy who went to the Mac website and did his “dream computer” for $16,000? This does qualify as what I’m calling “Marriage Magic”. In other words, it seems really good at first, but it won’t be long and the magic will be gone. Until you’ve been ultra excited about a computer and then 10 years later smashed the thing into a dumpster, you won’t quite get this one.

It’s a given that computers have horrendous resale value. We all know they are disposable. The reason I’m emphasizing it here is I see practically EVERYONE feeling the need for a brand new computer every two years. A person buying a new computer every four years, in comparison, could add quite a bit of magic gear to their rack and their net worth.

Conclusion

Not everyone is a position to blow big bucks on the magic gear, but for those who can scrape up the cash now, there could be tremendous savings in the long haul. I’ll be hitting 10 years of recording before too long. I suspect 20 years is only 2 or 3 years away. Plan ahead! If you are addicted to this stupid craft, adjust your habits for maximum domination.

Love,
Brandon

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of RecordingReview.com and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.
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32 responses to How To Waste $10,000 On Recording Gear You Don’t Like

  1. Your conclusion was exactly the point I was trying to get people to think about. Well put! You know I buy a suit for $400 and it lasts longer then 8 pair of levi jeans. It costs less to wear a suit then jeans and a T-shirt. The same is true of shoes, cars, food. The list goes on.

    Okay the rant stops now. LOL

  2. Brandon – loved this article but isn’t it rather at odds with your usual position on the value of recording gear? If a piece of kit has magic it has magic, and unless it breaks or wears-out it will continue to have magic so long as you use it. You may get bored with it but that applies to everything, it may dump resale value, but who cares until you sell it? I have guitars that are now worth twice what I paid for them- big names on the headstock and lotsa built-in special, but I still put them away in their cases and play other stuff for a change. If a Peluso sounds better on your voice than a U47 which should you buy?

  3. Brandon, This is an awesome article. I try and tell people the same thing, but you really did a good job of laying it out there for ‘em.

    One way to really win on quality gear is the used market. Just like the Vette, you can often make money when you decide to get rid of that high end mic for something else. I have some old Quad Eight mic pres I bought used. a year later some one offered me twice what I paid for them (I turned them down)

    - Ronan

  4. It’s like this. If you have gear that works for you and you like the way it sounds, USE IT!! Who cares about if it has magic? This ‘you get what you pay for’ idea is true in many, maybe even most cases, but, hey, I’m sure we all have an ‘el cheapo’ piece of gear or guitar , or something, that has it’s own ‘mojo’ and we swear by it. So you have to use your critical thinking ability when you buy something. Brand names like Fender, Gibson, Neumann, etc, always have cache…but there are plenty of others, lesser known, cheaper maybe, that will do as good a job if not better.

  5. Brandon, I think the point to your article is for people interested in recording not to buy something because the big boys own it but because YOU NEED IT! And, needing something comes with experience. Buying the best quality products in the price range that you can afford is paramount. How does one know what to buy? It takes time and a few missteps. It takes careful assessment and it does not require following the leader. I use Logic and it has been quite good. But is it the best? Maybe for me it is. But for someone else… The point is that the song and arrangement means more than the actual sound because there is a lot of trash out there that has been produced and manipulated electronically to sound good but does it really? Content is everything and recording it to high standards is ART.

  6. I would add there is magic in cheap gear: in particular recorders. Many of these big time studios rely on looks of a big console to attract customers when they know that the lowly $300 8 track digital recorder can sound just as good if not better. for example, they will have a huge old analog console that is scratchy as hell (ever turn a knob while recording? bad ide “but they have a warm sound” haaha)I have heard many big studio recordings that were blown away by cheap digital home recorders.though lets face it, how many customers would come to your studio if all they saw was a few little roland vs880 8 track recorders or just a computer?! haha and thing like cubase protools,etc… even this out even more

  7. NymphadoraHexx June 29, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    SOOOooo…If I’m reading this correctly, we should purchase only what will resale for a decent price..??! This will “qualify” the purchase as a good one. We can always find something with the highest price tag that we simply HAVE to have. For instance, I would really like to have a Neve preamp.(pant, pant..) Or some Chandler gear with red paint and real VU meters. However, since money is very skinny for me right now (my total life savings jingles)I have decided to hand build my own Neve clone.. It will cost about $450.00, but will have an external real VU meter in a separate bridge so I can use it “where ever”. Will I ever get my money out of it if I sell it? No, because I’m building for ME, because I deserve it, and I don’t WANT to sell it. If I like tube pre amps but don’t want one of the $49 ones from MF, I can run vocals through my ’65 Bandmaster and mic it. Yes, I still have, and use my Bandmaster. I don’t care what it’s worth if I sell it. Or my EV664, or the EV644 shotgun, the SG Custom, or the Roy Smeck Ukulele. I bought them because I wanted them, and the magic will always be there as long as I believe it’s there. I don’t consider any of them wasted money. When you buy something, USE it, for heaven’s sake…wishing it was something else just so you can sell it is wasted effort, not wasted money. Oh, my little black Radio Shack 4 channel mic mixer has bailed me out of weird situations more times than I can remember. I paid $12 for it 25 years ago and on ebay it’s worth about $32… think I’ll keep and see if it hits $38. I bought a second one to give to my friend. I beat 9 other bidders for that little unwanted cheapo… Hugs and Bites…Nymphadora

  8. Interesting, I mostly agree. I’ve gone through a similar thing with guitars. Over 30+ years, I’ve owned lots of consumer-oriented decent, but not great, guitars (sub $1000). About 10 years ago, I decided to treat myself. I spent stupid money (more than I spend on cars) on three custom made guitars (buying three may have been overkill, but at the time, I was making good money). To this day, I get giddy just looking at them, and playing them is truly magical. I plan on owning, playing, and enjoying these guitars until I die. I also tell everyone they were the best purchasing decisions I’ve ever made about anything.
    Where I question the logic is when it comes to technology. Interfaces, converters, etc. are all subject to technology improvements. In the early 1980′s (I could be off on the time frame), you could have spent a fortune on 8-bit synthesizers, that would have been boat anchors 10 years later. It’s a tricky game for many of us who can’t afford the time to keep up on everything.

  9. Brandon

    MR816csx = MAGIC

  10. I agree with andy. Your article seems to go against your usual “vibe” on gear lust. Did something happen besides the Firepod bugging out every once in a while? I do understand and agree that you should purchase the best quality stuff you can afford but everything (sound) has it’s place. I know you know this … and just like Andy I have some expensive guitars and my favorite is a 300 dollar fernandes.

  11. I used this logic when I decided to splurge on a used UA LA610 channel strip. I am just a hobbyist who has made two solo CDs in his basement. I saw this for $800- they are $1600 new. I figured I could always sell it if I stop recording for a couple years and it is just gathering dust. If I had bought a Presonus $500 channel strip, it wouldn’t be worth much later.

    The channel strip has improved my sound. It is a great mic pre. It makes my vocals sound better. I prefer the sound of the built in tube gain, the two band eq, and the compressor section to the similarly functioned plug ins I have. I do still need the plugins for some things, but I am not using many plugins on bass or vocals. This thing even makes my guitars sound better whether I mic an amp, plug a PODxt into the front end, or use a guitar modeling plug in. It does have a hi-z input.

    I learned from playing guitar that it is ok to buy high end. big name gear used because you can sell it later for what you paid if you don’t use it much, but mid level stuff loses value.

    I can’t knock anyone for buying entry level stuff if you’re beginning- which I still consider myself. A relative beginner- well maybe intermediate. I still have a $300 condenser and use Shure beta58s, etc.- no high end mics. It works well for me and didn’t cost a fortune.

    I don’t deserve the LA610, but I figure, if you can score a high end piece for little money and can afford it, why not try it out? My stuff does sound better. Definitely no more harsh guitars or vocals that sound like they were recorded on a cheap mono tape recorder in the 80s.

    I suppose another way to play it would be to buy the mid level stuff of 3 years ago for peanuts today. Then you are getting entry level prices on stuff that is actually decent. I got my first preamp- a Joe Meek VC3 for $90 on eBay. It was $400 new.

    Anyway, I’m happy for now and won’t be doing any more upgrades, so I guess aiming high stopped my low end, entry level gear lust. Here is my mic pre progression: Audio Buddy, Behringer mic2200 mic pre, Joe Meek VC3, Presonus Tube Pre, UA LA610. Done, forever. I am not going to bother worrying about UALA610 v Avalon, Neve, etc. I sold most of those entry level units for close to what i paid for them- made a profit on one.

    Anyway, after reading Brandon’s book, I was a little surprised to read this post. I’m still not going to spend $2k on a mic though. I’m done. If anyone wants to sell me a used Shure SM7b, I might like one more piece of gear before I quit.

  12. Dear Brandon,
    Give me a moment to wipe the tears of laughter from my eyes. I related well to the Corvette story. When I was in my late 20′s (back in the 1970′s) I used to buy and sell exotic cars – keep them for 30-90 days and sell them at a small profit or break even. I had Jags, Mercedes, Lancias, etc., and was able to drive magic cars for nothing or very cheap. My version of this story is that now that I am old enough and flush enough to buy the gear I want, I have a few thousand bucks of regret since I got dazzled by the new stuff out there and went for bells and whistles and hype instead of solid, tried and true gear, albeit more expensive – especially in mics and pre-amps. I do some music but mostly my work is voiceovers. Readers – TAKE BRANDON’S ADVICE!!! Wait a couple of extra months if you have to, but buy quality and magic………

  13. Your article seems to go against your usual “vibe” on gear lust.

    I don’t think so. The article is simply discussing one of the downsides of buying “non-magical” gear. The article was only about money. I’m simply laying out that my Presonus preamps cost me WAY more than my Vintech Neve clones if/when I sell them.

    By thinking 10 years ahead, a broke person can afford better gear BECAUSE they bought better gear. If a Presonus M80 is more expensive than a 1272, which one meets the criteria for gear lust? It gets complex, but I think it’s an argument worth implying.

    I’m not advocating that a person must have fancy gear. I’m just saying there are times when the fancy stuff is actually cheaper.

    Brandon

  14. I suppose another way to play it would be to buy the mid level stuff of 3 years ago for peanuts today. Then you are getting entry level prices on stuff that is actually decent. I got my first preamp- a Joe Meek VC3 for $90 on eBay. It was $400 new.

    Great point! I should have included that in the article, for sure! The budget gear that has lost it’s value (I just about mentioned Joe Meek in the article as being a brand that used to have a huge buzz and now is barely mentioned) is often a hell of a steal for a person on a budget.

    I guess aiming high stopped my low end, entry level gear lust.

    I’ve noticed that when you go all-out, you question whether you need better. You quit thinking about it and just have fun. I was constantly thinking about what guitar to buy there for a long time. I’ve gotten my PRS now (used at an ultra-low price) and just play it all the time. The idea of searching for a Les Paul or Strat on Ebay doesn’t make a bit of sense to me. I’m happy.

    Anyway, after reading Brandon’s book, I was a little surprised to read this post.

    Maybe I should add this article (or something similar) to the book. While my views haven’t changed on the diminishing return of high end gear, there are some of us who won’t be happy until we know we’ve gone all-out. For these people, or people who just want to save money in the long term, the concepts in this article need to be mentioned.

    I might like one more piece of gear before I quit.

    This is the problem. Most smokers always need just one more smoke before they quit, too. The guys who say there are amazing sounding cheapo gear out there are right. I agree 1000%. However, the second a person changes their mind about the gear is the instant that this article becomes relevant. For the kind of person who can be dead sure that X mic is going to be THE mic for them for eternity, they don’t need this article. It’s the other 99.99% of us that do.

  15. I agree, buying better quality gear is always better if you can afford it, or even if you can’t. To the broke people like me who have fun just trying to keep the bills paid–We have to be a little more resourcefull. I think I saved myself about $600 or $800 building my own rig from old stuff. #1- A Dell Dim. 4500, #2- 4 soundcards/Asio4All/CoolEdit/Cakewalk2002 #3 Circa 1980′s Canary 10/2 mixerboard modified and hardwired to said 4 soundcards via rs232 parallel cable and connectors from the board to the tower. This equals 8 channel mixing to the tower independant of the mixing faders and outputs of the board. Still working a few very small bugs out of the system, but overall I am happy with how it’s working out. The magic of it all is that I have virtually NO money tied up in this rig,it works well for what it is, and that I did it all on my own. I wish more people knew the joy of being able to solve their problems without having to throw money at the problem. –B

  16. NymphadoraHexx June 30, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Truth be known, the Gibson SG Custom I have is a near perfect replica I built, I’m also a luthier. I needed 24 frets, not 22, and a stiffer neck that will never twist. Mine has two grafite rods next to the truss rod. So, what do you do when “top of the line” can’t give you what you need? You build it your way, or go to “non top of the line” to get it done. Everyone THINKS it’s a real Gibson. And Denis taaffe is correct…there IS magic in the cheaper stuff. I have ProTools in a box somewhere. My laptop hates it (Vista64), I hate it…I bought it because everyone seemed to be using it. Or, did they just want the client to see that they had it? So, what do I use now? My magic is PreSonus Studio One Pro if I need it, and two Teac 10″ reel to reel 4-tracks, an Otari half track, and people are happy with the sound. Did we REALLY all go digital, and then buy a plugin to simulate tape hiss!!?? I use 2 DBX units to get rid of 95% of the hiss and leave it like that. At the end of the song I drop the faders and it’s quiet between songs. Have we really forgotten how well that works? I’m thinking of having a mural size screen shot of ProTools covering one wall in the studio so my clients have something to look at while I convert the finished tape to WAV. I’m beginning to feel a great engineer MIGHT be in knowing where to buy a pancake of 1/4 inch tape. Hugs and Bites….Nymphadora

  17. I agree with Peter.
    The song and arrangement means more than the actual sound.
    I work in studios since early 90s, and it bugs me all the time talking about this gear and that software etc.
    I understand people who likes to collect gears, but it’s nothing more than an expensive hobby for me.

  18. Good article with many interesting points but these arguments are ALWAYS contextual and full of soooooo many variables! For instance, how much is a 10,000 home stereo system worth in an era where iPods and MP3s rule the day? To some audiophiles, maybe it’s worth that but I doubt it. Who is to say we will even be using all of this hardware in the future? Hard to tell. Maybe software will take over in the same way CDs took over LPs. Doesn’t make LPs less magical but value is a tricky thing in the long haul. Generally speaking though, high gear will hold it’s value. Just not always…

  19. NymphadoraHexx June 30, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Rich is right…everyone(except me) has iPods and MP3′s. Usually, I not sure what I’m mixing FOR, anymore. Is high end studio porn worth the quality, or is it simply a convenience? It bothers me that most people use earbuds to listen to music. I don’t expect the public to use audiophile speakers…I sure can’t afford them but I at least try to use headphones that sound good. I shop by sound, not name or price. Because of the way people listen nowadays my studio monitors are an assortment of medium priced powered and passives, and a battered set of gray plastic York speakers coughed up by a dying boombox. I hope this will cover the field of what the listener may use. Now I’m wondering if I should invest in a set of Walgreen earbuds for my vintage gear to funnel into… Hugs and Bites

  20. The comments are all good. The article is right on. Magic is in the eye of the beholder on that piece of gear you have that is great and was cheap. There are proven go to pieces that all great producers name when they talk about their go to gear. These are the ones where you have to get them and learn how to use it. When you hear it you know it is Magic.

  21. Great article.

    Reminded me of some of the mistakes that I’ve made in gear purchases but more importantly somethings I can try to avoid similar mistakes when buying into short term hype of a product.

    I am however a fan of buying things after the hype is gone. Example being picking up something like an M80 now that they can be picked up for a song. Still a decent unit that is way better than any new product you could pick up for the same price now.

  22. Many people are using lower fidelity equipment like I-pudds and ear budds, I am as guilty as they are. I use a cell phone and ear budds while I’m at work. But I’m not scrutinizing the sound quality while I’m using them. The point of producing quality recordings comes down to personal preference sometimes. We all have our own standards, right? If you produce for a living or get paid for it somehow, obviously it’s worth the effort and expense to do the best you can in order to enhance your own reputation regardless of who will hear and what they are using for playback. If recording is just a hobby, then why blow an ungodly amount of money on equipment unless it’s for the sake of personal satifaction.—B

  23. For the people who think better equipment means better music I always bleat that age old chant “The Beatles and lots of others, were recorded in mono and then later merely 4 track blah blah etc”
    The people I feel most sorry for are the ones that think that if you buy the “Eric Clapton Special” Strat they will play like him….bad choice actually, as I can’t think of anyone that would want to play like “Pub Band Eric” but you get the drift.
    For every well known guitarist (Except the best one, FZ) there seems to be a copy of his guitar available.
    I think it depends alot on whether you are professional or hobbyist when it comes to budget for equipment.
    As a hobbyist, part of the challenge is using cheap stuff, as you will have much more time than a professional to hone the sounds….or just call it grunge, or whatever this weeks category is called.
    Sound quality has gradually gone downhill anyway since vinyl was swapped for the greatest con ever – CD
    This has since been downgraded to mp3…I’m rambling, so I’d best stop now.

  24. What about the price of software?

    Cubase 5 costs $500 but you have to upgrade for another $300 in the next 2 years in order to get your plugins that you paid $1000 for to work, then you have to upgrade the plugins and so forth…it never ends. So you keep on buying the same slightly improved old piece of crap unless the company goes bankrupt or abandons the platform (Logic for Windows anyone?) and in that case you move onto something else.

    As opposed to that say a Neve console is a Neve console and still sounds good 20 years later if properly maintained.

    So in the end a software studio essentially costs more and you’re not even sold a tangible product with real tech support behind it. If you’ve had to deal with say Cubase tech support (or pick your choice – Sonar, Acid, Logic, etc) you’d know what I mean.

  25. NymphadoraHexx July 2, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Actually,BeaverCleaver, you’re correct…I DO record and mix to the best of my abilities. It’s just that when you put all that time and effort into a song and then the client says, ” Yeah, great, I love it, can you turn it into an MP3…?” sometimes you wonder if it WAS worth all that. But, it IS the listener’s problem as to whether or not to listen to it on decent equipment or speakers suitable for a Barbie Dreamhouse. Most of my rant was simply food for thought. SOOOooo… I use the equipment I like, do the best I can with it, and leave the “keeping up with the Jones” to….the Smiths..?? Hugs

  26. NymphadoraHexx July 3, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    ADorian nailed it by saying, “So in the end a software studio essentially costs more and you’re not even sold a tangible product with real tech support behind it.”
    When I buy software for $300.00 and open the box to find a loose disc, and clues where to find an owners manual… Do you know how difficult it is to try learning the program and then minimize to read the manual on the same screen? Try printing it: 200+ pages and find only a quarter of it is in English. I really DO like to play with real buttons and knobs. Sorry…this turned into a rant. All of you have such great thoughts about this. I learn sooo much from all of you. Hugs…..Nymphadora

  27. Nym…Hex, I usually mix down to mp3 anyway just to get tracks on my player so I can listen to them at work. My situation is different in that I’m recording my own band(while I’m playing in it) and using the recordings for reference and study. If we get something worth keeping or publishing(I wish), then I already have the recordings to work with, and just finish mixing them out. And props on your mix method. Yorks? haven’t seen any of those in years! yah, I’ve noticed it helps to audition my own mixes on different systems, found myself running around with a CD, playing it on everything I could find to test my mixes. It’s funny sometimes what you THINK will sound good ends up sounding like crap on another system or stereo or whatever.

  28. Wow, well I haven’t checked back in a couple of weeks because I’ve been so busy, but I’m honored that Brandon responded in such depth to my comments. I’m a hobbyist who really doesn’t have much interaction with other recording hobbyists, so I barely know what I’m talking about. However, I stand by what I say in that if you can get an iconic piece of gear for half price (used obviously), it is a better gamble than going through a ton of entry level to mid level stuff. If you sell it later, as I’ve done now with 2 used SGs (they just don’t do it for me) you can do ok. I sold one SG for what I paid and traded another for a PRS even Steven.

    Anyway, I supposed if I were recording all day long like Brandon, I’d like to try out more stuff. I was just saying that I am done acquiring gear, because I just record myself and have finally gotten to a place where I’m happy with the sound. I started with stuff like the MXL 990 and a Behringer pre into an Emu 1404 and just have this tin-like crap sound- didn’t know what a compressor even was. Then I upgraded to a Presonus Firebox and had this harshness to everything and now I have the UA LA610 and a Presonus Firestudio Mobile and everything is probably not perfect, but it is not harsh and not muddy, so I’m happy for now and probably will be for years.

    If I started recording other people’s bands, I could probably find lots of stuff to buy.

    I’ll stop blabbing, but here is a last second thought. I bought a used Fender American Jazz bass a few years ago used for $580. I new American Fender is over $1000. I just bought it to to bass lines on my original recordings. I am not really a bass player. If I had spent that same money on a new Schecter or Ibanez for $500, it would not still be worth anything near the $500 I paid. Meanwhile, I started playing bass in a friend’s band on weekends because their regular guy moved and we’ll have a gig next month. The bass is comfortable to play and sounds good. Money well spent.

    Sometimes going cheap is all you need, but sometimes a calculated higher end purchase can end up better in the long run.

    I bought the DynaMod overdrive Brandon hyped and it is arriving sometime this week. I hope I am as blown away as Brandon was. After playing a great sounding Fulltone OCD last week, I figured that I could use a second overdrive to my Ibanez TS9dx (which is velcroed semi-permanently to my board and hard to remove) and figured the DynaMod was a cheap thing worth trying if he’s happy with it. I’ve come to think that the boutique pedals really do sound better than the Boss stuff, which often sounds like crap to me now- except the delays and tuners. Kind of off topic I guess. No Boss endorsements for Brandon if he prints this.

  29. The Track Studio July 16, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    spot on and so true. some of the best recordings of all time were made with such modest equipment! do you know of any other music blogs i can learn from and link to?

  30. The Track Studio July 21, 2010 at 9:24 am

    hey this is a really great blog, it is so true how many people waste money on recording gear that is unimportant and doesn’t effect the sound. i will guide all of our interns here to learn from your blog. thanks!

  31. Johns recording equipment August 8, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Ya a lot of that recording gear is not really necessary for making great music.

  32. Any recording equipment I ever purchased I bought for performance, not for resale value. Up to now I never felt the need to resale any recording gear and never did.
    The only thing I own of which the value remarkably grew is a very rare guitar. I know another owner of that particular model, but nor he neither me would part with it if not in a desperate pinch. We both own it for performance, not as an object to speculate with.